VPN for China

Updated Jan 2018

ATTN: China has blocked a lot of VPN services in conjunction with the recent crackdown on human rights activists in the country. The services featured below have mirror sites or encrypted pages that should work in most areas. If you find that one doesn’t work, try another. Accessibility varies based on location.


It doesn’t matter whether you’re here traveling for a short amount of time, if you’ve just arrived and are planning to teach English for a year, or if you’ve married a local and are preparing for your first kid – you need a VPN for China.

As the Chinese government gains more control over the Internet, and blocks more and more sites, it’s no longer just Wikipedia pages about Tibet that are blocked. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are pretty obvious ones, but they are adding to the growing list of blocked sites every year.

great firewall china

What people are needing a VPN in China for now is those small sites you’d never expect were blocked.  Not just political, international news, social networking sites, and anti-China sites are banned now.  Cooking, technology, home decoration, and tons other personal blogs and business websites are wiped off of the Internet for reasons we can’t understand.

Video and image hosting sites like Flikr, Picasa, Vine, and Vimeo are blocked, which means without a VPN for the Internet in China, you’re going to be missing out on a lot of stuff. By rerouting your traffic and getting yourself a non-Chinese IP address, you can bypass The Great Firewall of China and access any blocked site, service, app, or software.

What about Proxies?

Many people are familiar with these, but unfortunately most proxies don’t work in China. There used to be one or two that I recommended back in 2011-2013, but VPN companies have become creative lately and have created some cool DNS and/or browser based products.

VPNs in almost all cases are going to be superior to proxies.

With a VPN, you can connect to a VPN and then forget about it.  Your entire DEVICE (not just the browser) will use your non-Chinese IP (Probably American or British), meaning software and apps you run will also be receive the benefits of an encrypted and tunneled Internet connection.  This way you can run any apps or software that may be blocked as well.

Although it’s generally not a problem, a VPN for China will also keep you more secure.  Let’s admit it, we’re not trying to take down the government with our Facebook accounts and YouTube videos.  Security is not really a big issue.

However, the reliability of the connection counts, and VPNs will provide you with a much more stable connection any day.

Are PPTP and L2TP VPN Blocked in China?

Yes and No.  It kind of depends on where you are. Lots of companies have reported that since March 2011 none of their PPTP and L2TP VPN protocols are working properly.  Some say that it’s only because some ISPs don’t support these VPN protocols that they don’t work in China.  Some say that there isn’t any issue at all, and it was just a period of a week that they experienced connectivity issues.

ios logo

In case you have no idea what PPTP and L2TP are, they’re the VPNs you use for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices in China.

The trend is now that many VPN services have developed special VPN settings for China.  I don’t know what these settings are, or how they work, but they do. I’ve connected to a PPTP VPN in China as recently as August 2014m so yes, you can get a VPN for your iPhone and Android.

My #1 recommendation for Mobile Devices: 12VPN

What’s the best VPN for China?

This is a matter of opinion, but to be honest my opinion is generally more informed that other sites.  First and foremost, I live in China.  Tons of companies and bloggers write on this subject, but they learn their stuff second hand. They read something in the news, or follow Tweets of some VPN services. I can’t stand places like Mashable and Lifehacker that write about this but have no idea what they are talking about.

I experience this stuff first hand.

Second, I use the Internet every day, for several hours a day – usually all day.  I own a couple websites, and do a lot of blogging. I know which sites are blocked, when Gmail isn’t connecting properly, and if there’s any developments regarding China trying to block VPN sites.

Third, I actually use these VPNs.  Sure, there are quite a few VPN review sites out there, but very few have actually tested whether these VPNs for China actually work.  I’ve seen at least two “Top 5” lists that have Hide My Ass included, despite their main domain being blocked in China since 2009.  It’s bad research and an uninformed site owner

Top 2 List of VPNs

Here are some short reviews of the best VPNs I’ve used in China.  As of the writing of this post (and updating), none of these sites are blocked, and I’m able to connect to their VPN servers.  They all provide great support, fast/reliable connection speeds, and are decently priced.  You could blindly pick one of these VPNs for China and be happy. But read about some of the features and find something you like.

#1 Pick: PandaPow
Simple Setup: PandaPow

URL: Pandapow.co

Don’t be fooled by their mouse-eared-panda-fighting-ninja-girl logo, this is a great VPN service and definitely in China.  This is by far the easiest VPN to set up and connect to. They’ve simplified everything so that even my grandma could set up and connect to a VPN.

The pricing and VPN packages are also very easy to understand, making it an awesome choice for anyone that doesn’t care about anything but connecting and using the sites they love.

Great customer service, fast connection speeds, and servers in The US, UK, and Europe.  Plans range from $7-$9 USD depending on the length of your subscription. Apps available for Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS.

>>> Go To Pandapow for China

Best Price: 12VPN

URL: 12VPN.com (redirects for privacy)

12vpn-new-logo-500This is the VPN I’ve used longest in China and they are also the least expensive!.

  • Mobile: $2.49/month
  • Basic: $4.08/month
  • Unlimited: $8.25/month

In case you didn’t know, those are some insanely cheap prices, especially for the level of customer service and VPN quality that these guys provide. They don’t have mobile apps, but do have apps for desktops.

They also have a cool service called SmartDNS and AutoProxy which allow you to get the features of a VPN without actually connecting to the VPN server! This is a new thing they introduced, and great if you want to connect to Netflix on Apple TV or other situations where a specific device isn’t VPN-enabled (Playstation, Xbox, etc)

Oh, and they’re stationed in HK, which means they’re close to the action, and know what’s going on in China.

>>> Go To 12VPN for China (the URL will be ‘get setup file’ because it’s their secret domain for users in China)


pandapow china


  1. Christoforos Ioannidis says:

    What do you think of Astrill?

    • admin says:

      Astrill is a big fat scam. Can’t stand them. Rude service, and low quality VPN.

      • Stefan says:

        I’m currently using Astrill with their “RouterPro” plugin on my DD-WRT router. This gives internet access via VPN to all devices connected to this WLAN. This is a pretty nice feature IMHO. And it also provides Astrill’s “Stealth” protection to the VPN. This – as I understand it – is a feature comparable to Vypr’s “Chameleon”.
        Does anybody know of another VPN with comparable features, especially with enhanced VPN (Stealth, Chameleon, …) running directly on the router?

      • Anonymously Written says:

        I never heard of Astrill actually. Maybe it is below of all VPN’s. Trust me, everytime I look at the bottom, I am mind-blowen and always says “lol”

        Anonymously Written

      • ronghua says:

        agree. Astrill is a scam.

  2. Mitch K says:

    Thanks for the clear analysis and recommendations. I was in China in the 90’s but just returned again. Just got to a point where I gotta do sth about the Great Firewall. I can’t even go to Google Play and shop for apps for my phones. Surprisingly my phones can still automatically update the existing apps, but I can’t get to the website myself. Weird or what? Lots of people are recommending Vypr right now. !2vpn and PandaPow are new names, so thanks for that. !2VPN looks attractive for a mobile VPN. I plan to get a couple of subscriptions to different VPN’s, just for insurance. 12VPN mobile looks great to put on my phones. Just wanted to reply there are people like me out here who appreciate you taking the time to post and explain things. 元宵节快乐!

  3. liagn says:

    how about vpn.ac?

  4. Zain says:

    Living in Huhehaote at the moment and noticed that Avast Antivirus has been blocked in China – Sucks coz I used VPN through Avast (Avast Secureline). Desperately needed to book flight tickets online but I required access to my email to do so (gmail)! Read through your page, headed over to 12VPN and now I’m sorted! Thanks a million brother!

  5. Stefan says:

    Do you know of anything comparable to Astrill’s plugin for DD-WRT routers?

  6. Jim says:

    I live in China. I’ve been using VyprVPN for three years or more, and it has worked very well for me, even in the worst times, except for one time when it was interrupted for a few days. There are often a few servers that aren’t available, especially in the US, but I can always find one that works.

    • admin says:

      Cool! Glad you are having a good experience with this company.

    • Jim Habegger says:

      This is very strange. That’s my photo, from my Gravatar profile, but I could not possibly have posted that comment here. I did say exactly that, somewhere, but certainly not here, and the VPN that I named was not VyprVPN. I’ve never used VyprVPN.

      • Jim Habegger says:

        It is possible that I did post that comment here, even if I don’t remember ever seeing this Web site before. In my searches for VPN services, I’ve visited dozens of Web sites, and I probably wouldn’t recognize most of them if I saw them again. In any case, I’ve never used VyperVPN, even temporarily.

        • Cool Dude says:

          Ya, not sure what happened. I’m not even sure you’re a real person or an advertiser. Lots of people leave weird comments on my site trying to advertise VPN services. Looks like the comment was from a while ago so I’m not sure what happened. Someone could have copy/pasted your email address from another site, maybe, but I’m not sure what the motivations would be.

      • Cool Dude says:

        Dunno man. Magic? Would you like me to delete or edit the comment?

  7. Min he says:

    Thanks for your recommendation.Government can’t breed people like what happened in feudal dynasties.We have justifiable reason to connect the rest of the world. Government feared that people get consciousness to reject the nonsense it publicized.

  8. KZ says:

    This is the biggest surprise I have ever had searching for VPN.
    Before I read ur article I thought Astrill was the best, coz it’s the only VPN that i could watch youtube smoothly, but yet not stable, you have to change ur servers constantly. I hope you could fill me in more about why it’s crappy.
    Second, u said this is the “top 4 lists” but I can only see 3…. it there misunderstanding?
    Third, ur options are very valuable, pls keep updating and make this webstie stay “alive”, I’m a fan now.

    last, I’m looking for a VPN watching youtube, at least 480p videos, it seems 12 vpn is the best choice right? thx

    • admin says:

      Sorry! I had to remove one because it was blocked for a while. I’ll update that info. All services listed here can watch video, so it’s up to you which one you like.

  9. Li says:

    Tried PandaPow, works awesome, I can get my instagram and google service back now in China

  10. KZ says:

    ExpressVPN claims they r the fastest VPN for China, is it? and I am looking for a VPN to speed up my online game Ping, so….?

    • admin says:

      Well, every VPN company claims they are the fastest 🙂 I recommend trying one and seeing if it’s good for your gaming. Try connecting to US or Japanese servers for fastest speeds. VyprVPN has a cool feature where you can pick the fastest server, and it’ll automatically calculate which one works best for you.

    • ger says:

      I paid for ExpressVPN and it didn’t work. They are crap! Avoid!

    • LOU says:

      ExpressVPN is suuuuuuuuck!!!!!!
      can’t do nothing in China i tried.

  11. Sky says:

    Thanks for your article. I will try VyprVPN.

    I had signed up for PureVPN last week with understanding of Google Mail would work with it in China. However, I can’t access Gmail or any other Google apps after starting PureVPN after landed in Beijing today. I chatted with their support guy who told me to pick “Fastest USA” servers when I am in China. None of the servers (US and China) worked for me in accessing Google Apps in China. I may have to cancel it.

  12. Greg says:

    I tried PandaPow a couple of years ago. I couldn’t access anything and ended going back to Astrill.

    To be honest, I’m not totally satisfied with Astrill, but they have allowed me to access foreign websites for the past few years. Recently (since about May) I find that Astrill is blocked when I try to use it at work (though not at home), which is a major deal-breaker.

  13. Greg says:

    A friend of mine recently told me that the Chinese government had cracked down on Golden Frog and it’s no longer any good for accessing the Internet. Do you have any comment on this?

    • admin says:

      It’s working for me personally. Might just be the region your friend is in. Depending on when and where crackdowns happen, it can affect some services. There are a few listed on this page, so you may have to experiment. Sucks to do that, but if you’re in China for a while it’ll be worth the research to find something that works for you.

  14. nina says:

    I cannot even leave an email for reply as I am currently in Shanghai. I downloaded Vypr vpn for my mac laptop & iphone & installed apps accordingly. Yesterday it worked on and off but now i cannot get it to connect AT ALL. I’m wondering if it has to do with the ‘certificates’ or what? I am not tech savvy at all and do not have a phone to call internationally and ask for customer service. I’m hoping you can help me? thanks so much!

  15. eric fan says:


  16. Tony says:

    3Q. info helpful cheers

  17. Sameer says:

    Thanks for the info sir, I appreciate a lot , even I heard a lot about astrill but I guess it’s too expensive and complicated packages , but I guess vypr has just 3 simultaneous device support and only 500mb on free package , 12vpn and pandapow are yet to be tried , do you happen to know any free vpns especially for iOS ,

    • admin says:

      Freebie stuff is gonna suck, plain and simple. My advice is that if you are in China, especially if you are working, don’t be a cheapskate. lol. Not to offend, but if you spend a couple hours a day on the net watching movies, working, or emailing, $20/month or $10/month works out to fractions of pennies per minute.

  18. kevin says:

    no Comment

  19. May says:

    I am from CHINA

  20. James says:

    What about the Chinese ones like 333VPN???

    • admin says:

      I avoid Chinese technology personally. I highly doubt a Chinese VPN that’s running hasn’t been tainted by the government.

  21. Chris says:

    I’m planning on living in China a majority of the year for my business. But life without Netflix ….. Do you know if China outright blocks OpenVPN and there 1194 port? ExpressVPN told me to use port tcp(443), but it’s a Netflix no go.. Trying VyprVPN now, but having connection issues using chameleon.

    • admin says:

      Have you tried it without Chameleon? I’m not having any issues connecting or using Netflix. The other option is to just try another service. The real bummer about these VPNs is that they work in some cities, and not others.

  22. i need open the gmail help please urgent

  23. Helen says:

    What’s recently better for China, VyprVPN or ExpressVPN?

  24. Rodrigo C. says:

    What about recently? I am having a huge trouble accessing my gmail based e-mails from my company because of this. I have tried installing and using Vypr but i only had trouble trying to sign myself in. I have sent them na email (had to create another non-google account) and they answered me saying they are working on my subscription. Is Vypr still working? I am in Shanghai and will be in Yiwu, Guangzhou and Beijing in the following days.

    • Cool Dude says:

      Yes, it is still working, but access will vary from region to region. If Vypr is not working for you, you can try another service and see if it works better. China is a big country, so it’s hard to get 100% connection rate everywhere.

  25. Philip Harding says:

    I wouldn’t call Astrill a ‘scam.’ It does work. I’ve used it for several years anyway. And Panda Pow. Didn’t see much difference. Internet in China just sucks, period- unless you’re Chinese and don’t care about anything in English, which is the vast majority of the population. Blocking makes no sense at all except for certain images I guess- Tiananmen, Tibet, etc.

    • Cool Dude says:

      It works, but in my experience, there’s A LOT of complaints about rude customer service, shady billing practices, and I’ve personally had money issues involved with them. With all the choices out there, I would just avoid the hassle and choose someone else.

  26. Abby says:

    Hi Thanks for this! Its really helpful.
    Ill be in shanghai next year for a year, do you know which one of the three above works best in this region?
    Also, if The VPN I get doesn’t work when I get there, is it possible to access the websites to get another one?

    • Cool Dude says:

      All of these have solutions to get around the firewall, so if you buy before you go, you can just email the company for redirect links or they may email you a private link. There are many custom solutions. Actually, the email thing works for most companies! Many times, even if you can’t use the VPN you can still access the site, and a contact form, or you can guess their email (they may have a catchall address) and send an email to contact@vpnprovider.com or support@vpnprovider.com and someone will respond.

  27. Jessica says:

    Do you have another mirror link for 12vpn? The one you have linked is coming up blocked.

    Any thoughts on strongvpn? It’s mostly worked for me but they have started nickel and diming for support and at the moment it seems completely blocked.

  28. ssuresh says:

    iam in china.google is notvworking .what i can do.iam in thhe shenyanng , liaoning provvince

  29. ThePixelArrow says:

    the fact is that “CHINESE GOVERNMENT SUCKS”

  30. Wu Yuanhun says:

    Actually, when i worked in Wuhan,China, tried several chinese VPN.The most of chinese VPN have no limited on speed and traffic.And it’s very wonderful and cheap.

  31. Tony Welch says:

    I notice the last comment was late November 2015, its now May 2016, Is Vypr still recommended, or are there newer candidates that rate higher?

    AM thinking of getting Pro, rather than Basic..?

  32. Michelle Bubke says:

    oh my goodness!

    I Hope this is still current!

    I have just moved from Australia to China (as in 2 weeks ago!) Non VPN speed test I’m getting Download speed of 25.08 and Upload 9.98.

    I used ExpressVPN for a week as they told us the speed would be fine. (I run an online business and conduct webinars and run lots of facebook advertising).

    the BEST I got with them was Download 1.12 and Upload 0.96 This was after i spoke to their help desk and they talked me through changing DNS settings.

    I am not a very teccy person at all, i just know i cannot run my business on slow speed and it frustrates me! I bought a brand new laptop before i moved to china with a Static Drive and an I7 processer as my old one was HDD and i believe the SSD does help with speed.

    I am soooo lost and frustrated!

    Is there settings I should change when i use a VPN? I don’t really mind about the cost, i just need it to work!

  33. Ray Z says:

    Thanks for the recommendations. I ended up using Vypr, and it works great, but it took several hours (mostly cause I’m an idiot and used my Gmail for the account). Downloading the app itself took some time though, as I had to contact them to receive a server IP so I could use Play Store. There were then odd issues with logging in, still happening on iOS (request timed out?), but the team responds very quickly when asked. I’m glad I found your article.

  34. Harm Meijer says:

    I agree with Admin about Astrill. Over the last 4 months I had it working for 2 hours on a windows machine.

    They flat out say it won’t work on Android or Linux and mostly doesn’t work on Windows either.

    Their servers are constantly blocked by China and Astrill doesn’t seem to care about it. If you like it then by all means try it but it would save you a lot of frustrating hours of your time trying to get it to work and contacting their support if you would just flush that money down the toilet.

  35. Ron says:

    We got multiple solutions capable of breaking through China’s speed barriers. Our background is software R&D so we are different from VPN companies. Most of these so called VPN companies are just recipe companies (copy/paste VPN configurations) lacking R&D skills. Our member recently tested VPN speed from China to US using our VPN router and US VPN server.

    We got 50+ Mbps on speedtest.net.

  36. Jones says:

    I was in China for half a year and I’m coming back to for a new project in China, I think Astrill is not a scam as it works but I’m looking for a faster vpn in China and something that can work with linux, I heard and search about 51chinavpn.com and seems they are simple and fast, please advise.

  37. quanxie says:

    why vyprvpn can not use now ??? i can use last night .. but can not connect it today.. pls help.

  38. mda says:

    Thanks for the information. Have been using PandaPow for a couple of years now and works very well. Agree on the ease of use and set-up.

    Will give the other two a try at some point too.

  39. Nads says:

    I’m already in China (Shanghai) and if I download Vypr here, will I be able to use it for should I have downloaded it before coming?

    • Cool Dude says:

      You should be able to get it while you’re there, but no reason to wait if you know you want one. Just to be safe!

  40. Jessica Lichy says:

    I’m working in China for a month as a guest lecturer – and it was somehow overlooked that I should be informed about Internet censorship or whatever you prefer to call it. I was recommended Astrill but it hasn’t worked for me. At all! I am motivated to inform others about the Internet situation. I enjoyed reading all your posts – from both natives and incoming expats (I loved especially the post from the Chinese guy who commented on this conversation).


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