Best VPNs for Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s status as an open and autonomous region is increasingly under threat with growing interference from Beijing. Its internet freedom status has now slipped to a “partly free” ranking by advocacy body Freedom House. We take a look at the best Virtual Private Networks for Hong Kong, whether you want to protect your digital privacy or access blocked content such as US Netflix or BBC iPlayer.

Residents of Hong Kong don’t have the same kind of walled-off internet that’s prevalent in mainland China, but that doesn’t mean the Communist Party isn’t watching your every move. Many people were arrested last year for holding views that advocated independence from China as well as being critical of the Chinese government.

With increased unrest over China’s influence on Hong Kong and growing concerns around privacy, VPNs have become increasingly popular in Hong Kong with some protesters urging people to buy VPNs.

We’ll cover the VPN providers we recommend for Hong Kong in detail, but here’s a quick run down:

Best VPNs for Hong Kong in 2021:

  1. NordVPN Our top VPN for Hong Kong. Veteran provider that doesn’t compromise on speed. Good at unblocking popular streaming content. Strong privacy and security. Strict no-logs policy. 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. Surfshark Best budget VPN for Hong Kong. A relatively fast service that puts major emphasis on security and privacy. Boasts excellent unblocking ability and even works in mainland China.
  3. ExpressVPN Well-designed apps that provide strong privacy and excellent security, fast speeds, and the ability to unblock tons of restricted overseas content.
  4. CyberGhost Caters to those who want privacy and the ability to unblock Netflix.
  5. IPVanish Torrent-friendly VPN service with good speeds, no logs, and strong encryption.
  6. VyprVPN Strong security and privacy, good speeds, and can unblock US Netflix. Owns its own data centers. Popular in Hong Kong and works in China too.

For these reasons, we recommend you use a VPN while browsing the web in Hong Kong. Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN encrypts all the internet traffic flowing to and from your device by routing it via an intermediary server. It helps maintain privacy and anonymity on the internet and makes it difficult for hackers and government agencies to spy on your internet activity.

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A VPN is also an excellent choice for foreign expatriates living in Hong Kong as well as local residents traveling abroad as it allows them to unlock content such as BBC iPlayer, Netflix, HuluESPNBeIN Sports, and others.

Our ranking methodology of the best VPNs for Hong Kong is based on many factors which we have discussed under the following reviews.

The Best VPNs for Hong Kong

Here is our list of the best VPNs for Hong Kong:

1. NordVPN

NordVPN Nov 2021 Works in Hong KongTested Nov 2021

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.NordVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

NordVPN is well-known in the VPN business because it’s been around for over a decade and has built a winning product. It’s fast, doesn’t store any user data, allows multiple connections, and has an excellent network of servers.

NordVPN retains no metadata about browsing habits, timestamps, or choice of servers. The policy has thwarted attempts by authorities to obtain user information; there simply wasn’t anything available on its servers. The company is also based in Panama, which means there aren’t any mandatory data retention laws to comply with.

NordVPN has over 5,700 servers in 59 countries – with options to connect depending on your specific requirement. There are 82 servers in their Hong Kong server network.

The service works with Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer without breaking a sweat. A total of six connected devices can be used with a paid subscription.

All internet traffic is secured by 256-bit AES encryption, which comes as standard. It’s coupled with 2,048-bit SSL keys and DNS leak protection.

iOS and Android easy-to-use apps are available as well as desktop software for Windows, Linux, and MacOS.

Pros:

  • Operates over 50 servers in Hong Kong
  • Very fast speeds
  • Strict no-logs policy
  • Unblocks all major streaming platforms, e.g. Netflix and Amazon Prime Video
  • Top-notch security and online privacy protection

Cons:

  • Isn’t primed for novice users

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST VPN FOR HONG KONG:NordVPN is our first choice.Extremely fast and versatile. Works well in Hong Kong and even mainland China. Excellent security features and accommodates up to 6 devices. Includes a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

Here’s our full review of NordVPN.

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2. Surfshark

Surfshark Works in Hong KongTested Nov 2021

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Surfshark.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Surfshark is a highly versatile service, with 1,700+ servers across 60+ countries. It’s fast enough for flawless live streaming and unblocks some of the most stubborn services abroad, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer.

It uses 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and protection against WebRTC, DNS, and IPv6 leaks to keep your activities hidden from prying eyes. There’s also a NoBorders feature that reshapes your traffic, hiding the telltale characteristics of VPN data, and concealing the fact that you’re using a VPN at all.

This service is based in the British Virgin Islands, a country with no mandatory data retention laws. Accordingly, it doesn’t keep any personally identifiable information, which means that once connected, you’re effectively untraceable. If you’d prefer even greater protection, you can pay in Bitcoin, Ripple, or Ethereum.

Surfshark has apps for Android, Windows, iOS, MacOS, and Linux. Manual installation is required for use on supported internet routers.

Pros:

  • Highly secure
  • Fast enough for most purposes
  • Keeps no logs
  • Great unblocking ability
  • No connection limit

Cons:

  • Some servers slower than others
  • Fewer servers than some of its rivals

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

Read our full review of Surfshark here.

BEST BUDGET VPN:Surfshark not only keeps your activities private, it does so at a very reasonable price. Allows you to secure all of your devices at once. Decent speeds, powerful security features, a no-logs policy, and a 30-day money-back guarantee make this service a great choice for anyone in Hong Kong.

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3. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN Works in Hong KongTested Nov 2021

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.ExpressVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

ExpressVPN offers fast speeds combined with military-grade encryption protocols and attractive design. It’s easy to setup and simple enough for even newcomers to the VPN world to figure out.

The company operates over 3,000 servers spread across 94 countries. Hong Kong is included in the list. Local residents can use this choice of server location to access local content and information services.

ExpressVPN doesn’t store any detailed user logs. The only information recorded is the metadata of the “date (not time) of connection, choice of server location, and total bandwidth used”. Your individual IP address will never be logged. This should ease privacy concerns.

Encryption parameters are hardy and DNS leak protection is included as standard. ExpressVPN uses 256-bit AES-CBC protocols as well as HMAC authentication and perfect forward secrecy. There’s an internet kill switch included, which the company calls a ‘network lock’. This excellent security feature means all web traffic will be temporarily halted if the connection drops unexpectedly.

ExpressVPN can circumvent the Netflix VPN ban. It’s also compatible with both Hulu and BBC iPlayer and supports torrenting. The provider allows three simultaneous connections—which isn’t huge—but the service and unlimited bandwidth makes up for it.

Included are easy-to-use apps for Android and iOS as well as desktop clients for Windows, MacOS, and Linux.

Pros:

  • Fast and reliable choice, works flawlessly for Hong Kong
  • Can unblock most geo-restricted content at HD speeds
  • High-grade online security features and no logs policy protects your privacy
  • Strict zero-logs policy and solid security on apps

Cons:

  • Power user would prefer more advanced configuration options
  • Higher price than others in this list

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

SPEED AND SECURITY:ExpressVPN is privacy-focused but doesn’t compromise on speed. Scores high above its rivals for unblocking Netflix and other streaming sites. Top-notch privacy and online security. 30-day no-quibbles money-back guarantee.

Here’s our in-depth review of ExpressVPN.

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4. CyberGhost

CyberGhost Works in Hong KongTested Nov 2021

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Cyberghost.com

Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS

CyberGhost is a good option for beginner users because it’s inexpensive, fast, incorporates military-grade encryption protocols, and is easy to set up.

The company is headquartered in Romania which means there aren’t any mandatory data retention laws to comply with. It also has a stated policy of not storing any user data. This should ease privacy concerns.

CyberGhost has been adding new server location options at breakneck speeds. Right now there are over 6,400 servers spread across 90 countries. 71 VPN servers are in Hong Kong.

CyberGhost unblocks both Netflix and BBC iPlayer with their specialized servers for the streaming user.

Encryption standards are robust – the company deploys 256-bit AES encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default along with 2,048-bit RSA keys and SHA256 authentication. These are considered to be top-tier. An internet kill switch is also included.

Apps are available for both Android and iOS as well as a desktop client for Windows and MacOS. One paid account allows for five devices to connect at a single time.

Pros:

  • Operates 24 fast servers in Hong Kong
  • Low server to user ratio ensures good access to bandwidth and best speeds
  • Scores highly in terms of security and privacy
  • Apps are great for beginners

Cons:

  • Doesn’t work in China
  • Few customizable features

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

VALUE AND PERFORMANCE:CyberGhost has a simple set up. Works well in Hong Kong. Good option if you are looking for a fast, reliable connection and an easy-to-use interface. Can struggle with unblocking some popular streaming services. 45-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full review of CyberGhost.

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5. IPVanish

IPVanish Works in Hong KongTested Nov 2021

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.IPVanish.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

IPVanish is another feature-rich VPN service that prioritizes strong encryption, stringent privacy policy, and fast connection speeds. It’s a completely log-less VPN which means there’s absolutely no data retention of any kind.

To secure web traffic, IPVanish uses 256-bit encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default, SHA512 authentication, and a DHE-RSA 2,048-bit key exchange with perfect forward secrecy. The lattermost feature means that your past data will remain encrypted, even if there’s a breach.

The company allows any number of connected devices on one account.

Their server network is spread out worldwide with an option to connect to over 1,300 possible choices, including several in Hong Kong.

IPVanish works well with BBC iPlayer.

Apps for both iOS and Android are available as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS.

Pros:

  • Hong Kong servers have good connection speeds for downloading and streaming
  • Unblocks Netflix US
  • Keeps no logs whatsoever
  • Owns rather than rents its server network

Cons:

  • Apps didn’t work in China during our testing
  • Customer support can be a little slow

Our score:

4 out of 5

LARGE NETWORK:IPVanish can connect any number of devices. Uncongested network with good connection speeds, privacy and extra security. A favourite for Kodi and Amazon Fire Stick. Works well in Hong Kong but won’t work in China. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full review of IPVanish.

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6. VyprVPN

VyprVPN Works in Hong KongTested Nov 2021

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.VyprVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

VyprVPN has some of the most robust encryption protocols and remains popular with users. It also offers a large network of servers, an initial free trial, and excellent connection speeds.

VyprVPN’s proprietary tech uses the OpenVPN protocol by default, 256-bit AES encryption, 2,048-bit RSA keys without perfect forward secrecy, and SHA256 authentication. There’s also an option of paying extra to access the Chameleon ™ protocol, which scrambles OpenVPN metadata so deep packet inspection cannot recognize it. An internet kill switch is included with all packages.

VyprVPN is one of the few companies that’s able to bypass China’s Great Firewall.

The company also owns and manages entire data centers – as opposed to other services that choose to rent or outsource. The policy means it’s in total control of all web traffic, which helps it guard against attacks and ensures minimal downtime.

There is a bit of a data retention policy – specifically “the user’s source IP address, the VyprVPN IP address used by the user, connection start and stop time, and total number of bytes used.”

But it adds that all such data is only kept on servers for 30 days and is used for improving service quality. There’s no way of determining exact details of web traffic.

There are over 700 servers spread across the world including a few in their Hong Kong server network.

Apps are available for both Android and iOS as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS. Premium subscribers can use up to five connected devices at a time.

VyprVPN can unlock online content on US Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer.

Pros:

  • Fast speeds are great for streaming and downloading
  • Strong security and privacy credentials
  • Keeps no logs

Cons:

  • A bit pricey
  • Could have more options for advanced configuration
  • No Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency payment method

Our score:

4 out of 5

INDEPENDENT NETWORK:VyprVPN is user friendly. Speeds were surprisingly good for the cheaper end of the market. Privacy and security are solid to keep prying eyes out. Could do with having more servers and lacks 24/7 support. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full review of VyprVPN.

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Our methodology: identifying the best VPNs for Hong Kong

China has some of the most stringent online restrictions in the world, and a great many VPNs are blocked outright. There are still a handful that work reliably, but we like to make sure that the services we recommend are a good fit for any task you have in mind. That’s why we evaluate VPNs on the areas below before coming to a decision:

  • Unblocking ability: First and foremost, the VPN should be able to bypass Chinese online restrictions reliably. If it can do this, accessing geo-blocked services like Sling TV or Amazon Prime Video should be a snap.
  • Speed: Every VPN will slow you down to some degree but we prioritize those that have the smallest impact possible. No matter which you choose, your connection should be fast enough to stream live HD video without any problems.
  • Security: All of the services we recommend offer, at a minimum, 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and leak protection. Naturally, we prefer providers that include more advanced security tools like stealth modes or automatic wifi protection.
  • Privacy: Given the scale of state surveillance in China, your privacy is of paramount importance. We look for VPNs with a no-logs policy (and if they’ve been audited to prove it, even better). We’d also like to see some sort of anonymous payment option, whether it’s via cryptocurrency, prepaid cards, or something similar.
  • Server choice: The more countries your network covers, the larger the range of content you can theoretically access. Additionally, having multiple servers in each location helps spread the load during peak times and gives you a backup in case one goes offline.
  • Ease of use: Some VPNs have to be manually configured to work in China, but we prefer those with a toggleable stealth mode, or better yet, those that just work without any settings changes. Other quality of life features like 24/7 live chat are welcome too.

Would you believe the checks above are only the first step in our vetting process? If you’d like to learn more, we’ve dedicated a whole post to explaining our complete VPN testing methodology.

Why do you need a VPN in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong residents have free and open access to the internet with very few restrictions. It’s a complete about-face from the strict online censorship applied by the government across the border in mainland China.

But even though no websites are censored, democratic activists in Hong Kong attest that Chinese authorities are monitoring residents’ web activity, emails, and online communications. A VPN encrypts all of this information so that anyone snooping on your connection won’t be able to decipher its contents or what you do online.

Furthermore, a VPN can unblock a wide range of content and services from abroad. These include geo-blocked streaming sites like Hulu, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, and other countries’ Netflix libraries.

Finally, a VPN protects you from a variety of online threats including malware, man-in-the-middle attacks, and denial-of-service attacks. This is especially important for people visiting Hong Kong for business or leisure travel and plan to use public and/or unsecured wi-fi networks at hotels, restaurants, airports, and cafes.

In 2018, Hong Kong authorities reported the number of data breaches in their jurisdiction reached an all time high, highlighting the need to prioritize online security.

Should I use a free VPN?

Some cash-strapped users tend to opt for a free VPN service. But it’s better if you know the full picture before diving into something you might regret.

Many free VPN providers have been caught mining and selling user data. Even if that doesn’t happen to you, there’s definitely going to be things like download data caps, bandwidth throttling, and a feeble selection of servers. Such services aren’t built to relentlessly guard your privacy either, so don’t expect world-class service.

Free VPN companies have to make money, too. You’ll definitely be bombarded with invasive advertisements and migraine-inducing popup windows. Our recommendation is to stay safe on the internet and cough up a few dollars each month. Free VPNs just aren’t worth the additional risk you take.

Some VPNs to avoid in Hong Kong

One of the major factors of opting to use a VPN to browse the web is the reassurance that your privacy and anonymity will be respected. After all, that’s why they were conceptualized in the first place. The VPNs we’ve recommended in this list have no documented cases of handing over customer data but there are a few out there that aren’t so forthcoming. We recommend you avoid them.

Here are two such cases:

1. HolaVPN

Israel-based Hola once had a massive user base of almost 50 million – people were attracted to its free VPN extension for Chrome. Unfortunately, it chose to undo all the good work and turned the community into a huge botnet army.

A part of individual bandwidth was put aside for attacks on other websites, distribution of pornography, and other notorious online activities. And that’s with users completely in the dark.

2. PureVPN

Reports in the media claimed that well-known VPN company PureVPN allegedly collaborated with the FBI to identify Massachusetts resident Ryan Lin, believed to be stalking an unnamed 24-year-old woman.

Ryan had apparently used PureVPN to hide his digital footprint while attempting to blackmail the woman. The FBI got involved after a complaint was lodged.

PureVPN insists that it didn’t record the online content of Ryan’s communications and only traced the activity back to him, but it had boasted of a ‘no-logs’ policy prior to this episode. The company could have been more transparent.

At Comparitech we don’t condone using VPNs to openly flout laws and commit illegal acts. But providers do need to be completely open and transparent about logging policies – when that’s not followed we believe it’s a massive red flag.

How do I use a VPN in Hong Kong?

In this section, we’ll take you through two use cases. Follow these steps if you’re a foreign expatriate and would like to obtain an IP address from outside of Hong Kong while physically located in the country.

Here’s how to use a VPN in Hong Kong:

  1. Browse through our list of suitable VPN services, we particularly recommend NordVPN.
  2. Register and pay for the online service. Once that’s done, download the companion apps (for your phone) or software (for PC or MacOS)
  3. Clear your cookies and cache in all web browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, UC Web) to remove old location identifiers
  4. Restart your device
  5. Open the VPN companion software and log in
  6. Select a server from the country you’re trying to obtain an IP address – such as the US or UK
  7. Allow a few seconds for the connection to be established. Once that’s done there should be a green notification icon in the taskbar
  8. Browse the web like you normally would. You’ll notice that host websites will assume your true location is in the country you’re currently connected to. This will open up things like streaming media content and local online banking services

The other scenario is for residents of Hong Kong that are traveling abroad and need a local IP address. This could be for streaming content, accessing online banking, or any other requirement.

Here’s how to get a Hong King IP address from abroad:

  1. Browse through our recommendations and settle for an option that works for you
  2. Register and pay for the online service – select either a monthly or annual plan depending on how much you would like to spend initially
  3. Once that’s done, download the companion apps (for your phone) or software (for PC or MacOS)
  4. Clear your cookies in all web browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer) to remove old location identifiers
  5. Restart your device
  6. Open the VPN companion software and log in
  7. Select a server in Hong Kong and click connect
  8. Allow a few seconds for the connection to be established. Once that’s done there should be a green notification icon in the taskbar
  9. Browse the web like you normally would. You’ll notice that host websites will assume you’re now physically located in Hong Kong

See also: The best VPNs for China

Hong Kong VPN FAQ

Are VPNs illegal in Hong Kong?

Under the “One Country, Two Systems” policy, Hong Kong has different digital privacy laws. At the moment, VPNs are perfectly legal in Hong Kong, and freely available on major app marketplaces. Remember though: if you use a VPN to commit crimes, you could still find yourself in hot water.

Is it legal to use a VPN in China?

Technically, VPNs are legal in China. That said, most services based outside of China are blocked, as are domestic providers capable of bypassing the Great Firewall. To ensure you’re able to browse safely in China, it’s best to install a VPN before arriving in the country.

Do I still need a VPN if I already have a Hong Kong IP address?

VPNs are useful for all kinds of things, not just unblocking geo-restricted content. For instance, once connected, your activities are hidden from your Internet Service Provider, employer, and government, which greatly enhances your online privacy. For this reason, it’s a good idea to always browse with a VPN on whenever possible.

Will the new Hong Kong privacy laws affect VPNs?

Some providers certainly seem to think so. In the summer of 2020, two well-known VPNs, Private Internet Access and Tunnelbear, both stopped offering access to servers in Hong Kong. The reason for this was simple: they were concerned that the government would gain access to them, which could put their users at risk. 

Other providers, on the other hand, see no reason to change. NordVPN, for instance, specifically configures its servers so that no identifiable data is stored, meaning authorities wouldn’t find any useful information even if they seized NordVPN’s servers.

Will the Great firewall of China be extended to Hong Kong in the future?

While we can’t say for sure, it’s easy to imagine the Chinese government arguing that it doesn’t make sense for two regions of a country to have different levels of freedom now that the “one country, two systems” rule is dead.

In fact, the crackdown has already begun in Hong Kong, with police gaining sweeping new powers to identify users who post content that the government doesn’t like. Naturally, having experienced the open internet already, Hongkongers have no desire to have their freedoms restricted, which has led to a spike in VPN sales. Even still, though, the future of the internet in Hong Kong remains extremely uncertain.

Which VPN with a Chrome extension is best for Hong Kong?

Browsing the internet in Hong Kong has its own unique challenges, primarily because of the Chinese government’s expansive web-filtering technologies (sometimes referred to as The Great Firewall). For this reason, the key aim when choosing a VPN is finding one that can reliably bypass these restrictions. At the time of writing, NordVPN, Surfshark, and VyprVPN all work in China and all offer easy-to-use extensions for Google Chrome.

Can I download VPN software in Hong Kong?

VPNs aren’t actually illegal in Hong Kong, or China as a whole. However, most major providers have been removed from app stores and their websites are usually blocked as well. Even if you download the apps directly from somewhere else, you’ll often find that they don’t work, since their protocols or servers have been blacklisted. 

This is why it pays to plan ahead: where possible, it’s best to install the VPN before actually arriving in Hong Kong. We also recommend keeping a set of manual setup instructions handy, just in case you’re unable to connect normally. 

Hong Kong’s legal situation is fluid and ever-changing. As always, we encourage readers to do their own research before attempting to connect to a VPN in China.

TikTok is currently banned in Hong Kong, can I use a VPN to unblock it?

If you connect to a VPN, your data is routed through servers in a different country. This means that as long as a service is available wherever your chosen server is, you should be able to access it. International travelers could, for instance, use an American server to watch Hulu or regain access to TikTok while visiting China.