Which VPN Works the Best in China? We Have the Answer!

The_Great_Wall_of_China
If you plan to visit China you will have to learn how to climb the The Great Firewall (GFW) of China, otherwise maintaining contact with your loved ones at home will be difficult. Facebook, Twitter, Gmail[1], Youtube, Instagram and many other websites you routinely rely on to connect with your family and friends are not easily accessible from China, making you feel that the Information Super Highway has suddenly narrowed and has potholes[2].Tech savvy readers are probably thinking: Can I use Tor or a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service to circumvent the block? Based on my experience, Tor does not work in China. I was unable to connect to the Tor network even once. However, VPN does work, but not all the time and not on all devices. I tested a few popular VPN services and found most don’t work on smartphones, and very few can work on any device. To help those of you who are planning to travel to China I will explain to you, which VPNs work best in China.

Install VPN before Takeoff

Because almost all VPN websites are blocked in China there is no way to download VPN software (other than through the App store) while there[3]. That’s why I recommend you install at least two VPN apps from the list below – before you get on an airplane.

My China VPN
VPN ServiceOn computers?On mobile devices?
IPVanishYesYes
vyprvpnYesYes
ExpressVPNYesYes
TunnelBearYesNo
HideMyAssYesNo

These VPNs Work Best in China

Only IPVanish, VyprVPN, and ExpressVPN work both on computers and mobile devices in China.

Only IPVanish, VyprVPN, and ExpressVPN work both on computers and mobile devices in China.

The VPN services I tested all worked on computers, though the speeds were slow and the connections were interrupted frequently. IPVanish and ExpressVPN were the fastest and most stable. Only IPVanish, VyprVPN and ExpressVPN worked on mobile devices. So, if you want a VPN that works on both computers and mobile, IPVanish, VyprVPN and ExpressVPN are the only services, of the ones I have tested, that will work.

One is Never Enough

I strongly recommend you prepare two VPN accounts before your China visit. VPNs in China rarely work as reliably as they do in other places. Should one connection fail, you can simply switch to the other VPN to avoid interruption. Another reason for you to have two VPN accounts is for updates. VPN services need to frequently ‘push’ configuration updates to their customers’ devices. This means the software needs to connect to the VPN provider’s website, which is often blocked. With two VPNs you can use one to update the other.

Conclusion

To bypass the GFW of China you need a VPN, and ideally two VPNs. Among all the VPN services I tested only IPVanish, VyprVPN, and ExpressVPN work both on computers and mobile devices in China. If you’re looking for the VPNs that work best in China, choose from my China VPN list above. If you’d like me to test your VPN service, just email me and I’ll do it when I’m next there.

Enjoy your trip to China. It’s a fascinating country with wonderful people, and many worthwhile things to see.

References:
  • [1] You can use Gmail without a VPN through the iPhone Mail app.
  • [2] For a list of popular websites and Internet tools that are blocked in China, click here.
  • [3] VyprVPN has an alias website that is accessible from China.

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