A major crackdown on internet freedoms in Bangladesh began in late 2015 after the government ordered a complete blockade of Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Viber. The same year saw an arrest of an online blogger after he posted harsh comments about a government minister on his Facebook page.
Internet freedom in the South Asian country hasn’t really improved since and we provide a detailed explanation towards the end of this article. To reliably navigate the internet in Bangladesh, it’s in your best interests to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). As such, this article will take a look at the best VPNs for Bangladesh — the software that keeps your web activity encrypted and private.
VPN providers set up an encrypted tunnel which routes all the internet traffic to and from your device via an intermediary server of your choice. This forces host websites and apps to assume you’re accessing the web from a location outside your current city/town.
To make our list of the best VPNs for Bangladesh, providers have to conform to these exacting standards:
- Operates a wide network of servers across the world (bonus points for an option in Bangladesh)
- Uses best-in-class encryption standards so that your location is safely hidden
- Unblocks geo-restricted streaming services
- Offers a fast and reliable service with excellent customer support
- Has provision for simultaneous connections
- Includes mobile and desktop apps
Here is our list of the best VPNs for Bangladesh:
ExpressVPN is at the top of our list due to its military-grade encryption standards, fast speeds, and a wide network.
The company operates over 2,000 servers across the world. There are lots of options in nearby countries such as India and Singapore as well as in Europe and North America. This provider is one of only two on our list that offers servers in Bangladesh. This means that if you’re a Bangladesh resident but happen to be traveling outside the country, you can use the VPN to unblock content that is only available back home. Furthermore, it’s headquartered in the British Virgin Islands — that’s an independent country and doesn’t impose any data retention requirements.
ExpressVPN uses 256-bit AES encryption which is commonly referred to as ‘military-grade.’ An internet kill switch and DNS leak protection are included and act as additional security layers.
This service has proven to be quick, and it reliably unblocks a number of geo-restricted streaming services, including Netflix. ExpressVPN does not store any detailed user logs and privacy is a top priority for the company.
Apps for Android and iOS are included, as well as desktop versions for Windows and MacOS. There’s 24/7 live chat support should you need any help with setup or troubleshooting. A single subscription allows for three simultaneous connections.
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Read our review of ExpressVPN.
Panama-headquartered NordVPN has been in the VPN business for over a decade, thereby engendering a privacy-focused reputation.
The provider offers 4,826 servers in 62 countries. There are no options for Bangladesh but you shouldn’t face any issues connecting to a server elsewhere in Asia, or in Europe and North America.
Security and privacy are NordVPN’s forte. It has a policy of not storing any user data and is considered to be a ‘logless VPN.’ It’s based in Panama and therefore doesn’t have to comply with any mandatory data retention laws. Furthermore, it allows users to firm up their connection by selecting a ‘double VPN’ option.
NordVPN uses 256-bit encryption, the OpenVPN protocol, an internet kill switch, and DNS leak protection. These are industry-leading standards. The provider displays quick, consistent speeds and unblocks media sites like US Netflix.
Apps are available for Android, iOS, Windows, and MacOS. A basic plan allows for six devices to connect concurrently.
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Read our review of NordVPN.
Romania-headquartered CyberGhost has invested considerably in its core product in recent months with a clear focus on stringent encryption and fast speeds.
Its server network totals 2,683 spread across 60 countries. Bangladesh isn’t included.
Security and encryption standards are top-notch. It offers 256-bit encryption, perfect forward secrecy, an internet kill switch, and DNS leak protection. CyberGhost has an internal policy of not storing any user data and additional security features include an ad blocker, anti-malware defense, and anti-tracking.
This provider unblocks a bunch of geo-restricted streaming media services, including US Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. A single subscription allows for seven devices to connect simultaneously.
You can access CyberGhost on Android, iOS, Windows, and MacOS.
Read our full user review of CyberGhost.
Sweden-headquartered PrivateVPN was initially engineered specifically for torrenting, so it performs well from both a security and speed standpoint.
Its server network isn’t as vast as some of the other VPNs on this list, but you’ll still find enough options to secure your internet connection. Bangladesh, however, doesn’t host any PrivateVPN servers.
Users can choose between 128 and 256-bit encryption. All packages include perfect forward secrecy, an internet kill switch, and DNS leak protection. A basic plan allows for six devices to connect at the same time.
This provider offers apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
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Read our review of PrivateVPN.
IPVanish is headquartered in the United States but its strong privacy policies will keep you secure and hidden on the internet.
It’s one of the few VPN providers that chooses to operate its entire network of servers independently, rather than renting or outsourcing to a third party. This gives it complete control over the traffic flowing through servers, which should augment security. An additional factor is that the company adheres to a ‘no-logs’ policy, so there’s no storage of personally identifiable information in the first place.
IPVanish operates 1,000 servers spread across 60 countries. Bangladesh isn’t included in the list, but lots of closeby countries are. The service is popular with Kodi users because it enables them to download the Android APK directly to their device. The interface is remote control-friendly for Kodi devices that lack a keyboard and mouse. It works with several streaming media sites such as BBC iPlayer.
Military-grade encryption protocols are par for the course. Specifically, IPVanish secures all connections with 256-bit encryption, perfect forward secrecy, DNS leak protection, and an internet kill switch.
This provider allows users to connect 10 devices simultaneously. That’s the most generous allocation on this list. Apps are available for Android, iOS, Windows, and MacOS, and there’s 24/7 live chat for customer support.
Read our full review of IPVanish.
Hong Kong-based PureVPN has revamped its product in recent months, with a renewed focus on privacy as well as product innovation.
Global servers number 750 across 140 countries. As is the case with ExpressVPN, there are many options in Asia, Europe, and North America. Bangladesh is included in the list of supported locations.
Speeds were reliable during our extensive testing. PureVPN was also able to unblock Netflix, so that’s a positive. Plus, it’s one of the rare VPN providers that works inside mainland China.
As for encryption standards, it uses some of the toughest protocols in the industry today. These are 256-bit encryption in conjunction with 2,048-bit RSA keys. An internet kill switch is available.
PureVPN allows five devices to connect concurrently. Mobile apps are available for Android and iOS, and desktop clients for Windows and MacOS. Customer support is provided around the clock.
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Read our review of PureVPN.
Should I use a free VPN in Bangladesh?
Free VPNs exist in abundance and you will likely come across a few during your VPN search. However, use such providers at your own peril.
To evade social media restrictions and other clampdowns on the web in Bangladesh, you need a VPN service that uses foolproof encryption and location-evading tech. Free VPNs aren’t at the same level as the recommended services on this list; they use poor encryption protocols, have a choice of maybe one or two servers, and will enforce data caps. Yes, they seem tempting because there’s no upfront payment involved, but that’s just a ruse to make money off you in the long run.
There are many examples of free services that have unethically mined user data to sell for a profit, or leveraged idle bandwidth to build a botnet army. At the very least you can expect a lot of invasive advertisements. We don’t recommend that you go down this path. Keep yourself safe and secure on the web by using a paid service; a couple of dollars will go a long way to ensuring peace of mind.
How free and open is the Bangladeshi internet?
The first signs of trouble in Bangladesh emerged after the passage of the 2006 Information and Communication Technology (ICT) act. Applied for the first time in 2013, it was used by the government to arrest four bloggers who had voiced concerns over the rising tide of religious extremism and other social issues. Penalties under the law were increased the same year, ranging from incarceration of a minimum of 7 years up to a maximum of 14. The same amendment also allowed police to make arrests without seeking prior warrants.
In 2015, there was even more violence. A number of fatal attacks by extremists targeting online bloggers, along with the arrest of prominent journalist Probir Shikdar, led to an ‘environment of fear’ as described by advocacy body Freedom House. This forced netizens in Bangladesh into an environment of self-censorship.
A further crackdown on the internet was witnessed between 2016 and 2017. A total of 35 news websites were blocked by the government on a baseless charge of being biased towards the opposition party. 300 people were also arrested under the same ICT laws as mentioned earlier, with some remaining in state custody for several weeks. Overall, the country retained a ‘partly-free’ ranking from Freedom House, with the body noting that the environment of fear and intimidation had contributed towards a ‘not-free’ status for press freedoms.
If you’re a blogger, social media commentator, journalist, or whistleblower in Bangladesh, it is likely that your communications are being monitored. For further clarity on this topic, read our guide to blogging safely.
Online gambling is technically illegal in the strictly Muslim country but laws are rarely enforced. However, the government has shown to be intolerant towards online activity in the past and it could very well use prevailing laws to further impinge on internet freedoms. You can use a VPN to stay safe.
DISCLAIMER: Comparitech does not encourage using a VPN to flout laws. Please consult a local lawyer for expert advice before deciding to embark on this route.
Tips for using a VPN in Bangladesh
Whether you’re an expat living in Bangladesh or a local resident traveling abroad, the first order of business is to understand which VPN provider works for you. We’ve provided some details in each mini-review but feel free to peruse through the detailed reviews referenced at the end of each.
Once you’ve decided on a provider and a plan, then sign up with your chosen form of payment. After the payment has been processed successfully, you should receive an email with login information directly from the VPN provider. Download the requisite apps for your device, use the authentication details, and connect to a VPN server of your choice.
Accessing Netflix in Bangladesh
Netflix is technically available all over the world, but the library of content varies greatly between each country. This is because of copyright laws and restrictions. If you log in to Netflix from Bangladesh, you’ll be directed to the local library regardless of whether the account was registered in another country. For expats living in Bangladesh, as well as locals who want a better experience, the only way around this restriction is to use a VPN first. For example, if you want to access US Netflix, connect to a US VPN server.
Netflix has been at war with VPNs for some time now. As such, not all VPNs work with the streaming media behemoth. If you encounter any problems, it’s best to speak with customer support for each individual VPN. In most cases, they’ll be able to direct you to a server that works. Bear in mind that most VPNs focus on providing access to the US Netflix library, and unlocking other catalogs might be more difficult.
Watching Bangladeshi television and sports when abroad
Bangladeshis living or traveling outside their country can use a VPN to tune into content from back home. Using a VPN with servers in Bangladesh will help unlock content from channels like NTV and Gazi Television. It can also assist with watching cricket games whenever the Bangladeshi Tigers play, either at home or abroad.
Some Bangladeshi content aggregators like JagoBD operate on a freemium model — you can stream their content online for free as long as you don’t mind the occasional interruption for advertisements. However, a bunch of these channels aren’t available for users in the United States and Canada, and a VPN will come into play here, too.