Best Free VPN services for China in 2023 🎖️

Best VPN for China

Written by: Per-Erik Eriksson

China uses a variety of sophisticated measures to censor the information and platforms that people can access on the internet.

In addition to internet censorship, China’s online surveillance practices are also a major privacy concern for people living in or visiting the country. These collective methods are known as “The Great Firewall of China” or, officially, the Golden Shield project.

Due to these restrictions and practices, tourists, ex-pats, and business people alike use VPNs to get over the wall.

In case you don't want to read the entire article, here’s a quick summary:
  1. NordVPN Best VPN for most purposes. Incredibly fast speeds, easy to set up, and includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. Surfshark VPN This is the best, cheap VPN service with many included features and strong security.
  3. PrivateInternetAccess VPN PIA VPN is one of the best VPNs for streaming and unblocking content.
  4. CyberGhost VPN Best low-latency VPN for P2P sharing and gaming.
  5. Atlas VPN Atlas VPN has one of the biggest discounts on this list and supports 4K streaming.
  6. ProtonVPN (Free Version) Proton is perhaps the most trustworthy company in the VPN business. They focus on security over anything else and offer the best free VPN available.


NordVPN offers a risk-free 30-day free trial if you sign up here. Use the VPN service for free with no restrictions for a full 30 days, before deciding if it's the right choice for you. You can cancel your free trial anytime and get refunded within seconds.

Best Free China VPNs

NordVPN Logo

30 day money-back guarantee.

  • ★ Fastest VPN
  • ★ Servers: 5300+
  • ★ Countries: 60+

WHY I LIKE NORDVPN: NordVPN has long been regarded as one of the strongest brands in cybersecurity. With one of the largest server offerings on my list and support for most, if not all operating systems, making NordVPN an obvious choice for many. They have 24/7 customer support if you need help getting started. Their app is one of the most well-designed apps I have ever used. NordVPN even accepts cryptocurrencies as payment for extra anonymity.

Surfshark logo

30 day money-back guarantee.

  • ★ Best cheap VPN
  • ★ Servers: 3200+
  • ★ Countries: 65+

WHY I LIKE SURFSHARK: Surfshark VPN is perfect for those who want a cheap and reliable VPN that also has many extra features. "Camouflage Mode" hides your usage from your ISP, "Kill Switch" suspends your connection and protects your information if you temporarily lose Internet access, "MultiHop" to connect from multiple countries at the same time just to name a few. My favorite feature of Surfshark is "Whitelists" which allow the user to exclude specific apps and programs from the VPN connection.

Private Internet Access VPN Logo

30 day money-back guarantee.

  • ★ Best Netflix VPN
  • ★ Servers: 35500+
  • ★ Countries: 84+

WHY I LIKE PIA VPN: PrivateInternetAccess is at the top of my streaming tests, which is a great combination with their easy-to-use UI, Open-Source software and built in adblocker. PIA is also perfect for those who want to be able to pay with PayPal which for some reason, many other VPN services do not support. 30-day money-back guarantee, multiple Netflix libraries, and extremely affordable are the three main selling points for this VPN service.

Cyberghost VPN Logo

45 day money-back guarantee.

  • ★ Best torrent VPN
  • ★ Servers: 7400+
  • ★ Countries: 91+

WHY I LIKE CYBERGHOST: CyberGhost VPN is the first choice of many other cybersecurity experts, and the reason is clear; they have the most complete VPN service. An incredible number of extra features that are best suited for the more advanced users but also work flawlessly for every-day purposes like P2P-filesharing. Cyberghost VPN also has the longest stretching money-back guarantee at a full 45 days.

Atlas VPN Logo

30 day money-back guarantee.

  • ★ Incredibly cheap VPN
  • ★ Servers: 750+
  • ★ Countries: 43+

WHY I LIKE ATLAS VPN: Atlas VPN is one of the best new free VPN services. With the free version, you get unlimited data, no ads and zero logging. During my speed tests, Atlas VPN performed very well and could compete with mainstream services. Kill Switch, Ad-blocker, and P2P support all included with a regular subscription, which is incredibly cheap for such a robust service.

ProtonVPN Logo

30 day money-back guarantee.

  • ★ Best free VPN
  • ★ Servers: 1713+
  • ★ Countries: 63+

WHY I LIKE PROTONVPN: ProtonVPN is based in Switzerland and is most known for their e-mail service ProtonMail. They currently offer the safest free VPN services on the market. There is also support for TOR usage and P2P file sharing. I highly recommend ProtonVPN if you are intending to do some extensive online sharing. It goes without saying that Proton does not collect logs of any kind and is completely safe to use.

PrivateVPN Logo

30 day money-back guarantee.

  • ★ Best gaming VPN
  • ★ Servers: 200+
  • ★ Countries: 63+

WHY I LIKE PRIVATEVPN: PrivateVPN is the strong underdog in the world of VPNs. With a shy number of servers, it is evident that they are focusing on quality over quantity. Overall, PrivateVPN is a very decent choice of VPN, especially if you had enough of the excessive advertising by some of the other more known brands in this list. Setting up the VPN requires extremely little intervention, and you can even pay with Bitcoin.

ExpressVPN Logo

30 day money-back guarantee.

  • ★ Best Android VPN
  • ★ Servers: 3000+
  • ★ Countries: 94+

WHY I LIKE EXPRESSVPN: ExpressVPN is one of the fastest and most reliable VPN services. With the 30-day money-back guarantee, you will have a fair chance to see if you are happy with the service. They support almost every device and OS out there, and their 24/7 customer support is the best I have experienced among all the VPNs in this list. The only pitfall that ExpressVPN has is the price. It is double the price as some of the other services in this list. Despite that, I strongly believe ExpressVPN is one of the best VPN services you can get.


10 day money-back guarantee.

  • ★ Best reputation
  • ★ Servers: 91+
  • ★ Countries: 17+

WHY I LIKE OVPN: OVPN is the best alternative for people who expect heavy security from their VPN provider. No other operator has the same level of physical security that OVPN has. All their servers operate without any type of storing media, which would otherwise log information. One selling point that really stands out, is their insurance. They go out of their way to protect their customers by having insurance so that when some government requests documents, they will have the resources needed to fight the claim in court.

Hotspot Shield VPN Logo

45 day money-back guarantee.

  • ★ Fastest free VPN
  • ★ Servers: 3200+
  • ★ Countries: 80+

WHY I LIKE HOTSPOT SHIELD: Protect your personal information from hackers, snoopers, and ISPs with the fastest free VPN of 2021. That is right, the crown for fastest free VPN has already been claimed by Hotspot Shield, supported by multiple speed tests around the web, including my own. While their premium VPN service is one of the more expensive ones, the free version is good enough for people who just cannot pay for a VPN service, but still value their online privacy.

Best Free China VPNs

Free VPN Average Rating Logs Netflix Countries
Windscribe VPN 79,83% No Yes* 10
Hotspot Shield VPN 77,14% No* No 1
ProtonVPN 76,37% No No* 3
TunnelBear VPN 71,50% No No 34
FlyVPN 59% Yes Yes 13
Hola Free VPN 55,75% Yes No 1
Opera VPN 52,83% No Yes 4

How to choose the best VPN for China

No matter which VPN you choose, the most important step is to remember to download it and set it up before you enter China. Once you are there, it will be incredibly difficult to download a VPN as most of these websites are blocked.

Additional factors to take under consideration:

Server locations

The closer the servers are to your location, the more stable your connection will be. I highly recommend that you choose a VPN with servers in Asia.


VPNs can be a bit slow in China. If speed is important to you, make sure you read reviews.

Number of available servers

The more servers your provider has available, the more spread out users will be. This means you won’t have so many people using up the same resources at once.

Live chat customer support

Some VPN providers offer 24/7 customer support. This could be particularly useful if you have little experience using a VPN.

Targeted optimizations specifically for China

Several providers dedicate resources to make sure that they are always one step ahead of countries, like China, that block content.

Device limit

Some VPNs limit the number of devices that can be connected at once. This may be an issue if you plan to share your VPN with family, friends, or colleagues.

Compatibility with streaming services

If you know that you will want to use a particular service while you’re in China, check to make sure that it is supported by your chosen VPN. Many streaming services actively block VPNs.

Plans and pricing

The cost of VPNs can vary greatly. Most providers also offer discounts based on the amount of time you subscribe to their service.

Ease of use

Not all VPNs are easy to use. So if you are unfamiliar with this technology, you may want to use one that offers a good user experience and a simple user interface.

Additional features

VPNs can offer a variety of other features such as a kill switch for when your connection drops or extra security and encryption protocols.

How China’s internet censorship works

China’s internet censorship is a result of a multitude of techniques and technological methods. The Chinese government is infamous for having built, what many people consider to be, the most extensive and sophisticated internet censorship mechanisms in the world. The Great Firewall of China is a way in which the government can control the content people have access to and influence their opinions.

Some examples of the technical strategies used are:

URL analysis and filtering

Links that contain forbidden keywords will be blocked.

Blacklisting IPs

If an IP address has been associated with a blacklisted VPN, the IP will be automatically blacklisted.

Slowing down internet connections

If your device is suspected of suspicious activity or traffic, your connection will be throttled so that it becomes so slow it is virtually unusable or results in a connection timeout.

DNS spoofing

When you type in any website in your browser, your computer is actually calling for the site’s IP address. If you try to access a blacklisted website in China, the DNS cache will send back the wrong IP address. This means that your device will look for the website in the wrong place and, ultimately, be unable to find it.

Are VPNs legal in China?

Surprisingly, this cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”.

While the government has taken steps to make VPNs less accessible such as blocking the websites of VPN providers or removing VPNs from app stores, it is not officially illegal. In fact, many would actually say this is a gray area. Employees at many companies use VPNs on a daily basis. And many of them receive permission from the government to use these VPNs. However, it is absolutely necessary that a company secures this permission from the responsible authority before building or using a VPN. This permission is critical as most companies would not be able to conduct business on an international level without using one. Unfortunately, this does not guarantee that permission will be granted.

When it comes to the VPN usage of private individuals, the regulations become even less clear. While individuals are able to access and use VPNs, it is unclear what the consequences will be if caught.

Can you get in trouble for using a VPN in China?

While we know that it is highly discouraged to use a VPN in China and that the government takes many measures to block VPNs, the potential consequences of using one vary greatly. Chinese citizens have been known to receive fines for using VPNs and, in some parts of China, there have even been accounts of locals receiving prison sentences. However, there have not been any reported cases of a foreigner receiving a formal punishment for using a VPN in China.

It seems that when it comes to tourists and ex-pats, China is less strict. So far, it appears that the worst-case scenario is your cell phone service getting shut down. If this happens, the only way to get it turned on again is to go to the local police station. When you arrive, the police may go through your phone and tell you what needs to be deleted in order to get your service turned back on.

What sites are blocked in China?

Many of the most popular websites in the Western world are blocked in China. Some say that this is an attempt by the government to reduce the influence Western culture has on Chinese citizens. Some examples of blocked websites include:

  • Google
  • Yahoo
  • YouTube
  • Netflix
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Snapchat
  • WhatsApp
  • Spotify

Do any free VPNs work in China?

Several free VPNs claim to work in China. However, I wouldn’t recommend using one of them. Not only can free VPNs be slow and unreliable, but many of them are also blocked by popular streaming services. Even worse, many of them have been found to have major security flaws and may even try to make money by selling your data. The best recommendation I can give you is to sign up for a paid VPN service that actively invests in fighting The Great Firewall of China. These companies make sure to stay up-to-date on the newest anti-VPN initiatives in China and implement countermeasures on a regular basis. If you’re budget-conscious or just unsure if you want to invest in a VPN, I would recommend signing up for a free trial — most providers offer new customers a free 30-day trial. If you want to learn more about free VPNs in China, read this article by our friends at

Why is my VPN slow in China?

Generally speaking, VPNs tend to be a little slower than just simply using the internet by themselves. This is because VPNs take various steps to encrypt your activity. Some technical reasons for experiencing slow VPN connectivity can be due to the fact that your chosen provider does not have servers located in Asia. It can also be the case that they don’t have enough servers to support all of their China-based customers. However, many people may also experience performance issues that are a direct result of the various internet censorship measures put in place by the Chinese government. If you contact your VPN’s customer support team, they will do their best to help you minimize these effects.

How to unblock Google, YouTube, and more in China

The best way to unblock websites, such as Google or YouTube, is to use a reliable VPN service. Be sure that you download and install the VPN on all of your devices before you enter China. After you have successfully installed the software, be sure to sign up, pick a plan and test it before you go to China. Otherwise, due to their rigid internet restrictions, it may be nearly impossible to download and install once there.

What to do if your VPN isn’t working in China

If you find that you are in China and your VPN stops working, there are several steps you can take to try to fix it. Some of these steps include:

  • Make sure that you have the most recent version of the app installed on your devices.
  • Contact customer support.
  • Check the dedicated Chinese server status page of your VPN provider. On this page, you will find important or relevant information in real-time.
  • Change servers multiple times. Sometimes hopping from server to server will fix connection issues.
  • If there is a big event going on, like a public holiday or a major incident, you might just have to wait a few days. Unfortunately, it is known that the Chinese government’s increase will increase restrictions during important events which will result in normally accessible VPNs becoming temporarily inaccessible.

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