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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
URL: 12VPN.com (redirects for privacy)
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)