In case you haven’t heard, the internet in China is censored.
Many of the websites and apps that you rely on every day are inaccessible.
It’s known as the Great Firewall of China and it affects more than 1.3 billion people.
The good news is that a virtual private network – or VPN for short – ensures you can stay connected with the outside world while you’re using WiFi in China.
This means you won’t have to go without your daily fix of Facebook, Instagram, Google, Gmail, YouTube, WhatsApp… and even Tinder!
However, as China continues to crack down on VPNs, what might have been a good VPN last year may not be the case anymore. Plus, some VPNs simply don’t work in China at all.
So, what are the best VPNs for China in 2021? Here are five options to consider.
Before I jump into the list…
At the end of the day, there are two things that matter most when it comes to a VPN in China – reliability and speed.
That’s why this blog is a summary and I don’t go into all the bells and whistles of each VPN provider.
If you’re a tech-head and need in-depth analysis, there are links to further reading at the end of this blog.
ExpressVPN is a widely used VPN in China.
Why? It’s got a great reputation for ensuring foreigners in China have quick and reliable access to the internet.
I’ve used it across numerous cities in China and found it to be excellent.
ExpressVPN has a huge network of over 2,000 VPN servers optimized for fast connections.
It’s easy to use for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and more. If you happen to get stuck, there’s 24/7 live chat support.
A VPN can help you overcome the Great Firewall of China.
One subscription covers up to five devices simultaneously, meaning you can access the internet in China on your phone, tablet, laptop and more.
If you’re not satisfied with ExpressVPN for any reason in the first 30 days, you can take advantage of the money-back guarantee.
This is nice, but just remember to have a back-up plan (i.e. a second VPN) if you're going to be living or teaching in China long term.
It’s a little pricier than the others, but for blazing fast and consistent service, who cares?
More than 200,000 customers enjoy Ivacy’s fast speed and great price.
Ivacy prides itself on its strategic network of 1,000+ servers in over 100 locations.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android.
The Smart Connect Feature connects automatically to the fastest server available within a few seconds. This is great for lazy travelers!
Ivacy is a fast VPN for China.
Like the other VPN providers in this blog, Ivacy has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
It’s for these reasons that it’s one of the best VPNs for China in 2021.
StrongVPN is another solid choice if you’re looking for a VPN for China this year.
It offers servers around the world, including cities close to mainland China such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo.
The ‘best available location’ option takes the guess work out of choosing the best server.
StrongVPN supports a wide variety of VPN connection types to make its service accessible to everyone, including OpenVPN depending on your operating system (OS).
Speed and uptime are reliable and the company is small enough to sometimes be overlooked by censors while the bigger VPN providers get hammered.
StrongVPN is a great choice for accessing Western websites (like Google) in China.
You can secure up to 12 devices simultaneously, ensuring access on more devices than you probably own!
If you’re one of those people who gets frustrated with online chat (theirs is available 24/7), you can call them. For me, this is a big plus.
Apps are available on almost any OS, including Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android. And, they've recently been refreshed with a much simpler and friendlier user interface.
If you choose StrongVPN, check the Coupons link in their footer for any special offers. They have a 30-day money-back guarantee.
NordVPN is another reputable VPN that works in China in 2021.
Most foreigners in China just want a VPN that gives them access to Google, YouTube and Instagram. But with NordVPN, you get military-grade encryption as well!
You can secure up to six devices with a single NordVPN account which, like StrongVPN, is more than enough for the average user.
NordVPN gives you VPN access in China on your Android phone.
I recently used NordVPN in Dalian, a big city in northern China, and it worked well. However, in a rural area near Qingdao the service was scratchy.
Comparitech, a tech comparison website, advises that NordVPN’s iOS app cannot evade the Great Firewall at this time. Other major apps are fine.
It too offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
With VyprVPN, you’re able to circumvent the Great Firewall of China and surf the internet freely.
The proprietary Chameleon technology masks VPN traffic so it is less susceptible to China’s censorship tactics.
Unlike other providers, VyprVPN owns and manages its VPN servers. This means they can deliver fast, secure connections.
They’ve been independently audited as a ‘No Log VPN’. So you can be assured they don’t track or retain any user activity while connected to their service.
Get a VPN if you want to access Facebook while in China.
I recently used VyprVPN in Chengdu and it worked well, but I couldn’t get online in downtown Guangzhou.
Apps are available for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS.
They recently phased out their three-day free trial and now offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
If you want in-depth analysis and a review of all the bells and whistles for some of these VPN providers and more, here are a few detailed blogs you could read:
In addition, customer reviews of these VPNs can be found on sites like Trustpilot.
My most important, final advice
Things can change quickly in China, and you don’t want to be stuck with a VPN that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to.
So, think carefully before going with anything longer than a one-year plan.
If I had to choose just one VPN, it would be ExpressVPN for its supreme reliability and speed.
Finally, and most importantly, set up your VPN before you touch down on Chinese soil.
VPN websites are blocked in China, so if you leave it until you arrive you can kiss your favorite sites and apps goodbye.
Can you imagine a life without Facebook and Google? I sure can't!
Have you used a VPN in China? What do you think is the best VPN for China? Please comment below.