Looking for a suitable Virtual Private Network (VPN) for Beijing? Whether you need to protect your online privacy or access your usual streaming services back home, a VPN can help. We reveal the best VPNs for Beijing, how to set them up and how to use them to unblock everything from social media to streaming services.
You may have heard that certain websites are unavailable in China, but most people aren’t aware of the true scale of the country’s web-filtering. Everyday services like Twitter, YouTube, Wikipedia, and Google are simply inaccessible without the right tools. Additionally, the government monitors citizens’ activities and there are reports of critics being jailed for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” or “inciting subversion”.
Despite a long-term crackdown on VPNs, visitors still have several options when it comes to accessing the wider internet. These tend to cloak internet traffic, hiding the telltale signs of VPN protocols that the government looks out for. As an added bonus, your data will be encrypted, so even if it’s intercepted, it’s effectively impossible to tell what you’re doing.
Without further ado, let’s hear a bit more about some of the top VPN services. If any of these stand out to you, just scroll down for a longer review:
Best VPNs for Beijing
- NordVPN: Our #1 VPN for Beijing. Provides high speeds and obfuscated servers that are specifically designed to beat censorship. Also boasts an impeccable security offering, a proven zero-logs policy, and a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk-free.
- Surfshark: The best low-cost VPN for Beijing. Extremely fast, even with stealth mode active. Allows any number of connections, keeps no logs, and can unblock just about anything.
- ExpressVPN: A fast, veteran provider that doesn’t need to be configured to work in China. Has a great set of security and privacy features, plus it accepts Bitcoin for extra anonymity.
- VyprVPN: Quick, reliable, and versatile, with a real focus on security. Doesn’t keep any logs and has its own anti-censorship protocol. Owns its DNS servers outright.
- Hotspot Shield: An easy-to-use VPN with reliable speeds and a decent set of security tools built-in. Proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol makes it easy to beat Chinese web censorship.
- PrivateVPN: Leads the industry on privacy and ranks highly for speed. Smaller network but extremely strong on security. Just toggle the stealth mode to use the web freely in China.
WANT TO TRY THE TOP VPN RISK FREE?
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There are no hidden terms—just contact support within 30 days if you decide NordVPN isn't right for you and you'll get a full refund. Start your NordVPN trial here.
Although there are hundreds of VPNs out there (and more appearing every week), it pays to do your research before signing up. After all, most simply won’t work in China. Further, those that do vary in terms of their speed, security features, and network size. To ensure we only suggest the best possible VPNs for Beijing, we required services to meet all of the criteria below (more on these later):
- Must be able to bypass Chinese internet restrictions
- Is fast enough for streaming, torrenting, and general browsing
- Can reliably access geo-blocked platforms like Hulu abroad
- Protects your privacy by refusing to keep any logs
- Uses effectively uncrackable encryption to keep your activities hidden
- Provides apps for all major operating systems
Best VPN for Beijing
Now, we’ll take a closer look at our top VPNs for Beijing:
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
NordVPN is our top choice for anyone traveling in Beijing. It operates several mirror sites that are (at the time of writing) still accessible in China, making it easy to get help with setup or connection problems. Additionally, this provider has special obfuscated servers that are specifically designed to bypass countrywide blocking. While these are slightly slower than the general-purpose servers, they’re still more than fast enough for everyday tasks like streaming.
That’s not all this provider has to offer, either. It boasts an expansive security toolkit, with 256-bit encryption, a customizable kill switch, tracker-blocking, and protection against WebRTC, DNS, and IPv6 leaks. What’s more, NordVPN has a twice-verified zero-logs policy and recently moved to RAM-only servers for even greater data-protection. Users can pay in Bitcoin, Ripple, or Ethereum to sign up without providing any personally identifiable information.
NordVPN apps are available for MacOS, Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS. If you’d rather protect an entire network, you can manually configure this VPN to run on supported routers.
- Impressive speeds
- Obfuscated servers make it easy to browse freely in China
- Fantastic set of security tools
- Proven to keep no logs
- Offers 24/7 live chat
- Obfuscated servers only work on OpenVPN connections
BEST VPN FOR BEIJING:NordVPN is our top pick. Its obfuscated servers easily bypass state censorship, and don’t compromise on speed to do so. With several anonymous payment methods, a zero-logs policy, and a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee, there’s a lot to like.
Check out our full NordVPN review to find out more.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Surfshark is our first choice for anyone looking to stay safe on a budget. This service actually has two ways of bypassing the Great Firewall, giving you an alternative in case one stops working temporarily: you can either activate the NoBorders mode or switch to the Shadowsocks protocol. Either way, you’ll be able to use any of Surfshark’s 3,200 high-speed servers. What’s more, there’s no connection limit, meaning you can browse securely on any device you like.
Surfshark has its own Linux, Android, iOS, MacOS, and WIndows apps. Alternatively, it can be manually installed on a wide range of wireless routers.
- Very high speeds
- Excels at beating regional restrictions
- Extremely strong security offering
- Zero-logs provider
- Secure all of your devices at once
- Can be tricky finding a specific option in the menus
BEST BUDGET VPN:Surfshark is the best budget option for travelers in Beijing. Not only can it help you beat the Great Firewall, but it’s one of the fastest providers around and prioritizes user security above all else. All plans include a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Take a look at the complete Surfshark review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
ExpressVPN is a rarity in that it just works in China with no special setup, protocol switching, or server selection required. In other words, you’ll have access to over 3,000 servers in 94 countries, and this provider’s lightning-quick Lightway protocol. If you have any problems, you can contact support staff or consult help articles using several mirror sites, including one that’s hosted on the dark web. Up to five devices can be connected at once, which is adequate, although we’d like to see a slightly higher limit.
This provider’s apps offer a kill switch, protection against DNS and IPv6 leaks, and 256-bit encryption, plus the ability to restrict access to other devices on the network. Most importantly, it refuses to log any data that could identify you. Anonymous registration is possible, provided you pay using Bitcoin or a prepaid card.
ExpressVPN offers apps for iOS, MacOS, Android, Windows, and Linux. It also has custom firmware for routers, and recently updated this to provide an easier installation and more consistent performance.
- Superfast Lightway protocol works in China
- More supported locations than any other major VPN
- Solid security offering
- Keeps no logs, accepts Bitcoin, and operates a .onion website
- Fairly low connection limit
EASY TO USE:ExpressVPN doesn’t require any special configuration to work in China. This means you can take advantage of its extremely high speeds to video call, stream, or browse safely, without having to get set up beforehand. This VPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Interested? Read our full ExpressVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
VyprVPN has around 700 servers in 60+ countries, and since it bypasses China’s blocking using its proprietary Chameleon protocol rather than specific servers, you can use whichever you like. One of the best things about this provider is that it lists ongoing status problems on its website and lets you know how to get connected in the meantime. Further, each account allows a maximum of 30 simultaneous connections, which is almost unheard of.
Users can take advantage of 256-bit encryption, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, and a kill switch. There’s also an automatic reconnection option, plus a feature that’ll connect to the VPN any time you use an unsecured network. VyprVPN has a true no-logs policy and uses its own DNS servers to reduce the risk of third-party interference. There are several mirror sites currently accessible in China, and you can use these to contact the 24/7 help desk in case of any issues.
VyprVPN has Windows, Android, MacOS, iOS, and Linux apps. It supports Tomato, DD-WRT, AsusWRT, and OpenWRT routers too, just in case you’d like to secure a whole network.
- Impeccable reputation
- Impressive security offering and a no-logs policy
- Has a mirror site and a dedicated status page letting you know about any issues
- Permits up to 30 connections at a time
- Doesn’t have the best speeds
ZERO LOGS KEPT:VyprVPN is a no-logs service that works reliably in China and puts your privacy above all else. It’s highly versatile, with a good selection of server locations, and even includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Find answers to any lingering questions in our full VyprVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
Editor’s Note: Hotspot Shield is owned by Pango, Comparitech’s parent company.
Hotspot Shield prioritizes ease of use, making it an appealing option for travelers who’ve never tried a VPN before. You can access the wider internet in Beijing simply by switching to the Catapult Hydra protocol and selecting any of the available 1,800+ servers. This service is fast enough for just about any task and even has some servers optimized for streaming and gaming.
This VPN protects you from surveillance using 256-bit encryption, leak protection, and a kill switch. You can also enable automatic wi-fi protection or allow specific websites to pass through the VPN entirely (for instance, Chinese streaming services). Hotspot Shield deletes all personally identifiable data once your session ends, so your privacy is in good hands. If you need help, you can contact support staff 24/7 over email or live chat.
Hotspot Shield apps are available for MacOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android. Users can also follow manual setup instructions to get this service running on supported routers.
- Fast, effective, and secure
- Very easy to use
- Offers around-the-clock support
- Doesn’t accept Bitcoin
- Limited selection of settings
SIMPLE YET SECURE:Hotspot Shield is a fantastic choice for anyone new to VPNs. It’s fast, user-friendly, and capable of beating Chinese internet restrictions with the help of its Catapult Hydra protocol. Not only that, but there’s 24/7 support and a 45-day money-back guarantee.
Why not check out our detailed Hotspot Shield review?
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
PrivateVPN has around 200 servers globally, including in Hong Kong, making it easy to browse safely or get a Chinese IP address. The only catch is that you’ll have to enable the service’s stealth mode first. Still, with some of the fastest speeds on the market and the ability to securely access a huge range of platforms (including Netflix, Skype, and WhatsApp), this is a small price to pay. There are no bandwidth limits and users are free to connect up to six of their devices at the same time.
This provider goes above and beyond on privacy. As well as keeping no logs and accepting Bitcoin, it hosts its own servers and acts as its own ISP, all but eliminating any chance of third-party interference. Not just that, but its apps include 256-bit encryption, a customizable kill switch, and leak protection. Support is available most hours of the day over email and live chat, but you’ll have to contact support before you leave to ask for the mirror URL.
PrivateVPN comes with its own Android, iOS, MacOS, and Windows apps. Alternatively, it can be manually configured to work with Linux systems and a wide variety of network routers.
- Industry-leading privacy protections
- High speeds, even in China
- Fewer servers to choose from than other providers higher on this list
- Doesn’t have 24/7 live chat
PUTS PRIVACY FIRST:PrivateVPN makes every effort to ensure your activities are never revealed to anyone. What’s more, it boasts top-tier speeds and a stealth mode that makes it easy to access your usual services in Beijing. This no-logs VPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our comprehensive PrivateVPN review.
How to access any website in Beijing using a VPN
It’s much simpler than you might expect to access blocked websites while in China. However, because access to most VPN websites are inaccessible themselves, you’ll have to plan ahead. Follow the steps below before you leave and you shouldn’t have any problems browsing safely.
Here’s how to set up a VPN for Beijing:
- Begin by signing up for one of the VPNs above (we recommend NordVPN).
- Install the app on any device you’re taking with you and familiarize yourself with its stealth mode and cloaking features.
- Make a note of your provider’s manual setup instructions and mirror URLs (if available) just in case the apps aren’t working properly when you arrive.
- That’s all there is to it—when you arrive in China, just enable the stealth mode and connect as normal to access the wider internet.
Not sure if your favorite website is available? We’ve created a handy tool that can quickly check if a particular site is blocked in China.
Methodology: How we found the best VPNs for Beijing
As we mentioned above, there really aren’t many VPNs that work reliably in mainland China. Finding one that can bypass the Great Firewall is only the beginning, though. Below, we’ve laid out a few key areas we look at when evaluating VPN providers and listed what we expect in each:
- Unblocking ability: Obviously, services have to be able to access the wider internet in China. However, we also look at reliability—how often a service is blocked and how quickly it can become operational again after the Great Firewall is updated
- Security: In order to beat China’s online restrictions, your VPN will likely use some sort of cloaking mechanism. However, we also require 256-bit encryption, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, and a kill switch at a minimum, with priority given to services with more advanced security offerings
- Privacy: This is crucial given the extent of the state’s surveillance. The VPNs we recommend must have a no-logs policy and will ideally accept anonymous payment methods like Bitcoin or prepaid cards
- Speeds: VPN speed is secondary to security in this situation, but we still need to make sure your connection is fast enough for day-to-day tasks like video calling. Note that you’ll often notice slower connections than usual in China because you’ll be using protocols and servers that prioritize privacy at the cost of speed
- Ease of use: We only recommend VPNs that are easily set up for safe browsing in China. In other words, the apps should work most of the time and manual configuration should be a last resort. Ideally, there’d be a high connection limit too, since this prevents you from leaving any of your devices’ traffic exposed
- Relevant functionality: Some providers have mirror sites hosted on alternative URLs or the dark web that you can use if the main website is blocked. We also look for those that let you sign up anonymously and operate a 24/7 live chat-based help desk
This is far from the only testing we do. In fact, you can read all about our process in the VPN testing methodology post.
VPNs in China: Frequently Asked Questions
Will I get into trouble for using a VPN in China?
This isn’t as simple a question as you might think. Technically, VPNs are legal (however an illegal activity is still illegal even if you use a VPN), provided you use only government-approved services. The problem with this is that there’s no way of telling whether these providers truly have your privacy in mind, and based on the government’s drive to block access to around foreign services, we’d have to assume they don’t.
Important: tourists aren’t usually targeted for using VPNs but based on prior reports, Muslims may be particularly at risk of being detained for this “offense”. We research our articles to the highest standard we can but as we are not legal professionals nothing in this article should be taken as legal advice. Given the stakes, we urge readers to research local laws for themselves and be aware of the risks involved before attempting to use a VPN in China.
Why should I use a VPN in China?
There are two primary reasons to consider using a VPN while visiting China. The first is to regain access to your usual services like Facebook so that you can keep in touch with those back home. The second is to prevent the government or a local ISP from keeping tabs on your activities. This might sound extreme, but if authorities don’t like the things you’re doing online, the consequences can be very real.
In its 2021 Freedom on the Net report, Freedom House said China had cemented its status as “the world’s worst abuser of internet freedom for the seventh consecutive year”. This report also documents several cases where journalists and activists received jail terms for speaking out against the government. Uyghur Muslims are even more at risk, with their devices being specifically targeted with malware and thousands being taken to reeducation camps for something as simple as downloading WhatsApp.
Can I access social media in China?
China has its own social networks like WeChat, Sina Weibo, and Douyin (known as TikTok in the rest of the world). However, services that aren’t based in China are blocked, since the government can’t force compliance with its laws like it can with domestic companies. This means that if you visit China, you won’t normally be able to access platforms like: