Vietnam’s internet is heavily regulated and censored to the extent that advocacy body Freedom House gives it a firm “not-free” status. Websites critical of the government are routinely banned, along with those of international human rights organizations and expatriate political parties. Access to social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram has been sporadically restricted too with the Vietnamese government cracking down on material that “harms national security”.
If you don’t want to read the rest of this article, here’s our list of the best VPNs for Vietnam:
In 2016, law enforcement authorities detained 35 bloggers and online activists with some sentenced to jail terms of up to 13 years. The country has over 700 media outlets – including television, radio, print, and online media, but all are tightly regulated and subject to restrictions under the absolutist control of the Communist Party.
UPDATE: Vietnamese legislators have approved new cybersecurity laws that compel global technology companies operating in the country to open physical offices there and store personal data of their users.
According to Amnesty International, the law will be a “devastating blow” for freedom of expression. It’ll grant the government sweeping powers to force tech companies to hand over gargantuan amounts of personal data as well as censoring individual posts.
Social media companies operating in Vietnam will be required to remove posts within one day of receiving a request from state authorities.
The law doesn’t take effect until the start of next year, but it’s understandable that users might be feeling nervous. It’s impossible to say for sure that online monitoring hasn’t started already; the government may well be collecting data preemptively. Hence, we recommend that you immediately start using a VPN at all times when surfing the web in Vietnam.
A VPN will greatly obfuscate your digital footprint and allow you to access sites that state authorities might try to block or censor. It’ll also encrypt all internet traffic so your communications will be secure. In this article, we’ve outlined the 5 best VPNs for Vietnam so try to settle on a provider that works for you and sign up as soon as you can. It’s overwhelmingly in your best interests.
That’s why Vietnam was ranked 172 out of 176 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. The Central Department of Propaganda and Education plays a crucial role in ensuring all public information is tailored according to state interests. Individuals or institutions daring to step out of line are dealt with a heavy hand.
Because of these reasons we recommend that you use a VPN while accessing the web in Vietnam. Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN encrypts all the internet traffic flowing to and from your device and masks your location by routing it via an intermediary server. Your internet activity is largely hidden from prying eyes such as surveillance agencies and hackers.
Our list of the best VPNs for Vietnam is based on the following factors:
- Speed and stability of service
- Large network of servers across the world
- Strong encryption parameters to maintain privacy and anonymity
- Ease of use
- Apps for Android and iOS
ExpressVPN is one of our highly-recommended services because it offers robust speeds with stringent encryption protocols. The internet in Vietnam is severely restricted so users definitely wouldn’t want any sort of privacy invasion or data leakage. ExpressVPN has you covered on these fronts.
The provider boasts an impressive 1500+ server locations spread across a sprawling network of 145 countries. There’s also an option to connect to local servers in Vietnam – ideal for local residents trying to acquire an IP address from back home when abroad.
It has a strict policy of not storing any traffic logs. The only tiny bit of metadata retention pertains to the date (not time) of connection, choice of server location, and total bandwidth used. The company says your individual IP address won’t be recorded under any circumstances.
We understand that some users might still be uncomfortable with this minute data storage. To ease concerns, we recommend you sign up for the service with a burner email account and pay via Bitcoin. This means your digital footprint will be largely restricted.
Encryption protocols are considered to be top-tier. It deploys 256-bit AES-CBC with utilization of both HMAC authentication and perfect forward secrecy. An internet kill switch, referred to by ExpressVPN as a ‘network lock’, is included with all packages. This feature temporarily halts all web traffic if the connection drops unexpectedly, keeping your connection secure.
There are apps for Android and iOS as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS.
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Read our review of ExpressVPN.
NordVPN has been in the VPN business for over a decade and combines several powerful features into an intuitive app. Speeds are impressive along with military-grade encryption protocols.
It’s also another example of a completely logless service. Hence there isn’t any data capture about user sessions, traffic, or timestamps. The company is headquartered in Panama – out of the jurisdiction of Western government agencies or mandatory data retention laws.
NordVPN operates 1081 servers in 61 countries, so it’s easy to find a stable, secure connection. Two servers are located in Vietnam too along with a wealth of options in Southeast Asia, Europe, and North America.
It unlocks most online streaming services including Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer and supports torrenting.
There’s no compromise on encryption protocols. All internet traffic is encrypted via the 256-bit AES protocol by default and uses 2,048-bit SSL keys. DNS leak protection is enabled. These are considered to be top-tier standards.
There’s support for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
Here’s our in-depth review of NordVPN.
IPVanish prioritizes speed, security, and privacy. Users will be pleased with the fact that it’s relatively inexpensive and delivers a premium product at the same time.
Its logging policy is a bit different to ExpressVPN. IPVanish is completely logless meaning there’s no retention of any data related to session history, choice of servers, or bandwidth utilized. Only a tiny bit of data is retained when an account is registered for the first time.
Encryption parameters are strong, too. The company uses 256-bit encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default, SHA512 authentication, and a DHE-RSA 2,048 key exchange with perfect forward secrecy. This feature makes it impossible for intrusive entities to decrypt past session data. An internet kill switch is included.
There are over 850 servers spread across 60 countries to choose from, including a location in Hanoi, Vietnam.
IPVanish is a recommended choice for BBC iPlayer and permits torrenting on all servers.
There are apps for both iOS and Android as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS.
Many users find it an excellent option for Kodi because it allows them to download the Android APK directly to their device. The interface is also remote control friendly for Kodi devices that lack a keyboard and mouse.
Read our review of IPVanish.
Cyberghost Pro is a no-frills VPN service that delivers on its core promise of privacy, speed, and encryption without breaking the bank. It may not boast the same kind of expansive server network like the previous three options, but it gets the job done.
The company is registered in Romania and isn’t subjected to any mandatory data retention laws. It also has a policy of not logging any user behavior which should ease concerns. However, we’re on the lookout for any changes in this policy after its recent acquisition by a UK-headquartered firm. At the time of writing, however, the policy stands.
Cyberghost Pro offers a decent package of over 1,000 servers spread across 27 countries, but there isn’t an option for a Vietnamese server just yet. Having said that, there are enough servers in nearby countries and Europe so users looking to circumvent internet restrictions in Vietnam should be able to do so without any worries.
Apps are available for both Android and iOS as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS.
Cyberghost Pro uses 256-bit AES encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default along with 2,048-bit RSA keys and MD5 HMAC authentication. An internet kill switch is included.
Here’s our full review of Cyberghost Pro.
VyprVPN should appeal to users looking for world-class encryption standards. The proprietary tech engineered by the company manages to overcome some of the most rigorous blockades that governments impose – including China’s Great Firewall.
There is a logging policy, however. Specifically, VyprVPN will record the “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.”
The information is kept on servers for a period of 30 days and is used to enhance overall service. VyprVPN says it does not log the content of web traffic.
It uses the OpenVPN protocol, 256-bit AES encryption, 2,048-bit RSA keys without perfect forward secrecy, and SHA256 authentication. There’s an internet kill switch included. It’s also able to unblock content on US Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer while supporting torrents. There is a decent network of servers with over 700 of them spread across the world, including an option in Vietnam.
Apps are available for both Android and iOS as well as desktop support for Windows and MacOS.
Read our full review of VyprVPN.
What about a free VPN?
You could opt not to fork over your credit card details and settle for a free VPN instead, but bear in mind that it’ll come with weak encryption and poor speeds.
Free VPNs don’t invest in building the product at the same level as paid options. Furthermore, these companies (yes, they’re registered businesses and need to make money!) will monetize by bombarding you with advertisements and sending spammy affiliate links. Some free VPNs have also been caught inserting tracking cookies in browsers, mining user data, and selling it to advertisers. Definitely not the kind of thing you want.
We think it’s best if you avoid them.
Further reading: Best VPNs with a free trial
Some VPNs to avoid completely
We’ve mentioned before how carefully restricted and surveilled the Vietnamese internet landscape is. Users opting for a VPN to browse the web in the Southeast Asian country will definitely be mindful of their privacy and security – after all, lots of people have been arrested for minor transgressions.
When you settle on a VPN provider, you want to be assured that the company has user privacy as one of its top priorities. The providers in our recommended list have safeguarded this commitment and upheld those values. But not all VPNs are born equal – others have a history of violating this commitment. We recommend you avoid them.
Here are two examples:
Israel-based Hola unethically, and probably illegally, leveraged its massive base of almost 50 million users into a massive botnet in 2013. What this meant was that a part of each user’s’ bandwidth was put aside to engage in nefarious DDoS attacks, distributing copyrighted content, and pornography. And that’s without any consent whatsoever.
2. Hotspot Shield
Hotspot Shield has been around for several years and operates a well-known freemium VPN service. But it’s been accused of behaving unethically and not fulfilling its commitment to users.
In July, a privacy advocacy group alleged that the company forcefully inserted tracking cookies in browsers without user consent and sold the mined data to advertisers. The same accusation also stated that it had been redirecting e-commerce traffic to partner domains. Legitimate HTTP requests were navigated to affiliate sites instead, where the VPN company would earn a commission.
It’s important to state here that these allegations have yet to be proven in a court of law. If true, however, they’re a serious transgression which forces Hotspot Shield into this list.
How do I use a VPN in Vietnam?
Follow these steps for a seamless experience:
- Browse through our recommended list of VPN services and decide on a plan that works for you
- Register and pay for the service
- Once that’s done, download the companion apps for your phone or computer
- Clear your cookies and cache in all web browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera, UC Web) to remove old location identifiers
- Restart your device
- Open the VPN app and login
- Select a server in the country where you’re trying to obtain an IP address such as the US or UK, or a local IP address in Vietnam if you’re traveling abroad
- Allow a few seconds for the connection to be established. Once that’s done there should be a green notification icon in the taskbar or on the top of your smartphone screen
- Browse the web like you normally would. Host websites will assume your location is in the country you’re currently connected to. This will unlock things like streaming media content and local online banking services
How do I blog anonymously in Vietnam?
We’ve mentioned earlier in this article that bloggers in Vietnam have been subjected to intense government scrutiny and even incarceration in some cases. We understand the importance of trying to get your message across but it shouldn’t come at the risk of your personal safety. It’s best to remain anonymous and hidden when attempting to reach a wider audience – this ensures your tracks are covered.
Read our extensive guide for activists, whistleblowers, and journalists to mask your identity while continuing to blog at the same time. It should ensure that you remain away from the clutches of law enforcement apparatus.
How do I access porn in Vietnam?
Vietnamese law makes it illegal to import pornographic content into the country or be involved in its production, distribution, and possession. That’s because authorities think said material runs contrary to traditional Vietnamese values.
We can’t find any instances where people have been arrested for downloading pornographic content from the internet, but it’s best to stay on the safe side. Use the steps outlined in the “How do I use a VPN in Vietnam?” section to mask your identity on the web. Once that’s done, login and access these sites normally.
See also : Best VPNs for porn