If you’re life in China and were hoping that its vast system of online censorship will be relaxed, then prepare yourself for disappointment. If anything online scrutiny from the Chinese authorities seems to be getting even tighter – there’s a good reason why it’s been branded the ‘Great Firewall of China’. That’s why getting the best VPN has become invaluable for residents and visitors to obtain access to restricted online content.
VPNs – or Virtual Private Networks – have become a commonly used method for the likes of expatriates and those in academic circles in China to get around the state’s very strict policies regarding online content. So if you’re looking to access a restricted website then downloading a VPN in China is a solid solution.
Although the country routinely campaigns against VPNs, and most recently enacted a ban against VPN services not approved by the government, although it’s not yet clear exactly how this will play out, certainly in terms of whether users will be punished for using an ‘unauthorized’ service. And some VPN providers are continuing to offer the service to people within China.
We’ve picked out five top-notch efforts for your use.
Best all-round VPN for China
Number of servers: 1500+ | Server locations: 148 | IP addresses: 30,000 | Maximum devices supported: 3
Works in China from any deviceWide range of China-optimized serversA bit more expensive than rivalsOnly 3 simultaneous connections
ExpressVPN is one of the most popular VPNs in China, and it’s a go-to provider for many because it deftly navigates around the Great Firewall. The service’s wide array of server locations is a big plus, with Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan-based servers being especially relevant in this case.
ExpressVPN offers consistent and reliable performance, with smart dedicated apps for most devices including routers. For any trouble that might occur, there’s round-the-clock live chat and email support available from China (the website is not blocked).
This provider actively monitors its network for China accessibility and ensures that its software stays ahead of the censors’ efforts to block connections. Under the hood, ExpressVPN uses obfuscation protocols and advanced technology to provide the best possible experience for users in China.
Best balance of speed and security
Number of servers: 700+ | Server locations: 70+ | IP addresses: 200,000+ | Maximum devices supported: 3-5
Nifty Chameleon security protocolImpressive speedsSome logging (connection times, IPs)No refund policy
(25% Off) Exclusive VyprVPN Deal: TechRadar readers get 25% off VyprVPN annual plans ($45 USD for 1 year). VyprVPN is a fast, highly secure VPN without third parties.
One of the main advantages of VyprVPN is its proprietary Chameleon security protocol which can help bypass VPN blocking, scrambling OpenVPN packet metadata to ensure it’s safe from the tendrils of deep packet inspection. However, note that there is some logging with regards to connection times and IP addresses.
VyprVPN is a tier-1 VPN network, which means the outfit owns all of its servers. There are enough of them to ensure good performance (14 are located in Asia), along with solid support for mobile operating systems, and 24/7 live chat for troubleshooting.
The much-praised Chameleon protocol is excluded from the basic plan, which offers three simultaneous connections. On top of that, the service is expensive, but does boast a 30-day refund period and a three-day trial. Despite the cost, what’s on offer here could well be worth paying for – your best bet is the annual Premium plan to make sure you get the benefit from Chameleon, and save the most money.