Best Vpns for China
One of the most common questions asked by any visitor to China is “what are the best VPNs for China?” If you don’t know what a VPN is, read on and if you do, skip to the review section.
Please note: This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you.
Best VPNs for China in 2021
After testing various VPNs over a six-year period, we have discovered that Astrill is one of the best VPNs for China. Below we will investigate each one in detail, but first, a little bit of information on VPNs and why you will probably need one in China.
What is a VPN?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a piece of software that allows you to mask your IP address by linking to a different proxy server in locations around the world. This enables you to access websites banned in certain countries like China, Iran and Turkmenistan. HowtoGeek explain in more detail in their article “What is a VPN and Why Would I Need One?”
Why do I need a VPN?
For anyone travelling to China or any other country where the internet is tightly controlled, you will require a VPN to access social media, news and many other sites that are available in the west.
VPNs are also a useful tool for privacy and security. If you access things like personal banking or email online, then it gives you a better layer of protection as it makes it harder for hackers to access your information.
How do VPNs work?
A VPN works by giving you access to different servers around the world. When you are in China you can fool the “great firewall” by linking to a server in South Korea or Japan so you can then access the site. VPN providers have a large list of servers, so if you have problems connecting to one, you can switch to another. Some people alsso recommend having more than one VPN to get around this.
VPNs can be downloaded onto any phone, tablet or computer, but it becomes more difficult in CHina where obviously, the sites selling them are blocked. Be sure to download before you travel!
Are VPNs illegal in China?
This a question that is often asked and the answer is something of a grey area. Every now and then (more and more so recently), the Chinese authorities talk about a crack-down on VPNs. However, no foreigner has ever been arrested for using one.
There are stories of the authorities charging local people selling VPNs, and all VPNs have been removed from China’s app stores, however the authorities turn a blind eye to usage. Why? Simple, companies in China (both domestic and international) cannot operate without unrestricted access to the internet, and China knows this.
As such, their use is tolerated as a neccesary part of doing business with the rest of the world.
Can I stream/download with a VPN?
Streaming, downloading and online gaming are all possible with a VPN.
Are VPNs free?
Free VPNs are usually shut down as soon as they spring up. Some open-source services like Lantern have endured, but if you want a reliable connection, then you will need to purchase a paid subscription. The fees are generally low ($10 to $20 per month).
Download your VPN Before you come to China!
It is a lot easier to sign up and download a VPN before you get to China. Once you have arrived, it will be a lot more difficult as the sites are blocked.
So, now you’ve discovered that you need a VPN, let’s have a look at the best VPNs for China.
Best VPNs for China in 2021
Astrill (one of the best VPNs in China)
Atrill is definitely one of the best vpns for China thanks to its uninterrupted service, even when other VPNs are down. It’s a little pricier than the others, but absolutely worth it fo seamless connectivity.
Express is by far the most popular VPN in China, however connection to servers can sometimes be an isssue. That being said, Express has the largest list of servers out of all VPN providers so it’s usually possible to connect with a little perseverence. Express is also one of the cheapest VPNs on the market which makes it excellent for travellers.
NordVPN are another giant in the VPN world and are one of the most reputable providers. The services bridges the gap between Astrill and Express in terms of price and connectivity.
Best Free VPN for China
Lantern (one of the best free VPNs for China)
Lantern offer a free open source VPN but it can be difficult to connect sometimes and the bandwidth is very low (you can upgrade to a premium account). Lantern can be useful as a backup VPN as it’s a little easier to install from China. It is then recommended to take a paid subscription to ensure uninterrupted connection.
About this author: Steve Rohan has lived in China for six years. He has lived in the frozen city of Harbin, ancient capital of Luoyang and tropical paradise that is Sanya.
After teaching English for a number of years, he now blogs full time for this site and adventure travel blog thetripgoeson.com.