How to watch Netflix in China

Are you traveling to China and worried about getting your Netflix fix? Although most of the world has access to Netflix, the service is still not available in China. Thankfully, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) can help. This will route your internet traffic through a secondary server in another country, so it will appear you’re somewhere other than China. With your location spoofed, you can access content from Netflix and other geo-restricted sites, such as Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.

One problem with VPNs is that the Chinese government attempts to block them. That said, a few VPNs can bypass these restrictions and still work in China. In this post, we explain the step-by-step process for watching Netflix in China and reveal the best VPNs for the job.

How to watch Netflix in China

New to using VPNs? Just follow these steps below. Don’t worry even if you’ve never heard of a VPN before they’re very easy to set up and use.

Important note: While the VPNs we recommend work in China the VPNs sites will be often be blocked so travelers should sign up before visiting China.

Here’s how to watch Netflix in China with a VPN:

  1. Choose a VPN provider from the list below and subscribe. We particularly recommend ExpressVPN for use in China.
  2. Download and install the native VPN app for your device. Note that you should aim to set up your VPN before traveling to China.
  3. Connect to a server in the Netflix region you want to unblock. For example, connect to a US VPN server to watch US Netflix.
  4. Sign up for a Netflix account (if you haven’t already).
  5. Log in to your Netflix account and try playing a video. Enjoy!

If you’re having issues, it may be a simple case of needing to clear your browser’s cache and cookies and trying again.

If you’re still having problems, you might need to connect to a specific server or change your VPN settings so that cloaking technology is enabled. In both cases, you need to consult your VPN provider’s website for details or talk with a customer support representative. Because most VPN websites are blocked in China, it’s best to get set up and gather troubleshooting information before traveling to the country.

Do all VPNs unblock Netflix in China?

Netflix attempts to block the use of VPNs to protect its licensing agreements with production companies. As such, not all VPNs have the ability to evade the streaming platform’s detection measures.

Even fewer can bypass the notoriously tough “Great Firewall of China.” Because VPNs can be used to access censored content, China actively blocks most VPN connections. However, there are some that are up to the job.

We’ll go into more detail on these later but here’s a quick list of the best VPNs that can manage both.

Best VPNs for watching Netflix in China

  1. ExpressVPN: Our top pick for watching Netflix in China. ExpressVPN is fast and reliable and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. NordVPN: Best value option. Boasts a large server network, excellent cloaking technology, and the ability to unblock geo-restricted sites.
  3. Hotspot Shield: Has fast speeds, works in China, and can unblock Netflix and other sites.
  4. Surfshark: Works with Netflix in China and allows an unlimited number of simultaneous connections.
  5. PrivateVPN: A secure, private network with excellent unblocking abilities.

As mentioned, even if you find a VPN that works in China, it might not work with Netflix, and you’ll be presented with an error, such as:

“Whoops, something went wrong. Streaming error. You seem to be using an unblocker or proxy. Please turn off any of these services and try again.”

PureVPN Netflix proxy error.

The right VPN can help you avoid this error. But that’s not all you want from your VPN. You also need to know you’re going to get an enjoyable streaming experience and that your information will remain secure and private. Here are the criteria we used to select the best VPNs for watching Netflix in China:

  • Bypasses restrictions imposed by Netflix and other streaming sites
  • Works reliably in China
  • Provides fast connections suitable for streaming HD video
  • Offers plenty of server location options
  • Employs strong encryption and other security features
  • Doesn’t keep user-identifying logs
  • Provides knowledgeable customer support

Best VPNs to watch Netflix in China

Here’s our list of the best VPNs for Netflix in China:

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPNNov 2019unblocks netflixTested Nov 2019

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website: www.ExpressVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

ExpressVPN is hugely popular in China and is one of the few VPNs that works reliably in the country. It has a ton of server location options with a network spanning 94 countries. Blazing fast speeds make ExpressVPN an ideal streaming VPN. It easily unblocks Netflix US, as well as several other Netflix libraries, including the UK, Australia, Canada, and Japan versions. Looking to unblock other streaming services, like Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer? ExpressVPN can help with those too.

Security and privacy are important when traveling anywhere and especially in China. ExpressVPN has you covered with a strong suite of security features, including military-grade encryption, a kill switch, and leak protection. It keeps no logs of user-identifying data and allows you to sign up with bitcoin and a throwaway email address.

Apps are available for Linux, Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. Up to five connections are permitted at a time.

Pros:

  • Works reliably in China
  • Unblocks multiple Netflix libraries
  • Extremely fast speeds
  • Strong security and privacy features
  • 24/7 live chat support

Cons:

  • Price is a little higher than rivals

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST VPN FOR NETFLIX IN CHINA:ExpressVPN is our top pick for unblocking Netflix in China. It provides fast, reliable connections, can unblock a ton of streaming sites, and offers unrivaled customer support. A 30-day money-back guarantee makes it a risk-free option.

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

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2. NordVPN

NordVPNunblocks netflixTested Nov 2019

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website: www.NordVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

NordVPN is an excellent budget VPN for users in China. It has a huge network of more than 5,600 servers in 60 countries. This provider is known for its unblocking abilities. It provides access to multiple Netflix libraries, including the US and UK catalogs. If it can’t connect you to the library that corresponds to your chosen server, it will redirect you to the US Netflix site. This is handy since it means that every server works with Netflix.

NordVPN keeps no logs at all and employs strong encryption standards. Extras include automatic wifi protection and servers optimized for particular tasks such as P2P and double VPN. If you’re having trouble connecting in China, using a server that’s labeled Obfuscated will improve your chance of success.

NordVPN apps can be downloaded for Windows, Linux, MacOS, iOS, and Android. Up to six simultaneous connections are allowed under each plan.

Pros:

  • Evades government blocking in China
  • Bypasses Netflix’s geo-restriction measures
  • No-logs provider
  • Advanced security features

Cons:

  • Some servers are slow at times

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST BUDGET CHINA VPN:NordVPN is an ideal budget alternative. It has a large server network, can unblock Netflix, and works well in China. Plans include a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our in-depth NordVPN review.

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3. Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shieldunblocks netflixTested Nov 2019

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android

Website: www.Hotspotshield.com

Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS

Hotspot Shield has been improving its service in recent months, although it has always been renowned for its extremely fast speeds. It provides a selection of more than 3,200 servers in over 70 countries. Plus it works in China and unblocks Netflix and other streaming sites with ease.

This provider utilizes top-notch security features, including strong encryption and perfect forward secrecy. Connections use the proprietary “Catapult Hydra” protocol that is also used by several top cybersecurity firms. Hotspot Shield doesn’t keep logs of any user-identifying information.

You can download software versions for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android, and connect up to five devices at a time.

Pros:

  • Bypasses the Great Firewall of China
  • Unlocks Netflix abroad
  • Strong encryption

Cons:

  • Doesn’t accept bitcoin

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

FAST CONNECTIONS:Hotspot Shield offers a fast, secure service and excellent unblocking abilities. It comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee.

Check out the full review of Hotspot Shield.

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4. Surfshark

SurfShark VPNunblocks netflixTested Nov 2019

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website: www.Surfshark.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Surfshark hasn’t been around for as long as most of its rivals, but the company burst onto the scene with a well-rounded package. It has over 1,000 servers in more than 60 countries and is adept at bypassing the restrictions set in place by the Chinese government. This VPN is fast and great at providing access to geo-blocked sites like Netflix. As with NordVPN, any Surfshark server will give you access to Netflix, defaulting to the US library when others are unavailable.

Security is in the form of strong encryption, along with essentials such as a kill switch and leak protection. Surfshark won’t log any of your data.

Native apps are available for Linux, Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. There’s no limit on the number of devices you can connect.

Pros:

  • Apps work in China
  • Provides access to Netflix and other streaming sites
  • Unlimited number of connections

Cons:

  • Small server network than some rivals
  • Some speeds can be slow

Our score:

4 out of 5

USE ON ALL DEVICES:Surfshark is a strong contender, especially when you consider it imposes no device limit. Plans include a 30-day money-back guarantee.

See the full Surfshark review.

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5. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPNunblocks netflixTested Nov 2019

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website: www.PrivateVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

PrivateVPN seems like a relatively meek competitor on the surface. It runs a network of just over 150 servers in 60 countries. However, this service works in China and is well-known for its ability to fly under the radar of Netflix and sites like Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer.

PrivateVPN doesn’t keep any logs and secures your information with the same level of security its larger competitors provide. Plus it has great speeds and reliable connections.

Desktop clients are available for Windows and MacOS, and mobile apps for iOS and Android. Six simultaneous connections are permitted.

Pros:

  • Works in China
  • Unblocks Netflix US, UK, and others
  • Keeps no logs whatsoever

Cons:

  • Small selection of servers
  • Customer support doesn’t match that of rivals

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

SECURE AND RELIABLE:PrivateVPN is small yet powerful. It can help you watch Netflix in China while providing you with a fast, secure, and reliable connection. Subscriptions include a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our in-depth PrivateVPN review.

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Can I watch Netflix in China with a free VPN?

The chances of you being able to use a free VPN to watch Netflix in China are very slim. In fact, finding one that will work in China or unblock Netflix is unlikely, so discovering one that can do both would take a small miracle.

Netflix has cracked down on VPN usage and free VPNs simply don’t have the resources to spend on finding ways around the blocks. Similarly, they’re unable to develop superior cloaking technology to evade China’s Great Firewall.

Even if you do find a suitable free VPN, you’ll be unsatisfied with the service. These VPNs provide slow, unreliable connections and often bombard users with ads. They are also unsuitable for keeping your data secure and private. Many use weak encryption standards and some track your online activity and sell the data to the highest bidder.

These services also offer next to no support. You could find yourself in China with no access to geo-restricted content and no one to help you.

Opting to pay a nominal fee for a reputable provider is your best bet.

Why can’t I access Netflix in China?

Contrary to some reports, Netflix isn’t actually blocked in China, but rather the streaming platform has never been launched there. It’s possible to access the Netflix website in China, but there will be no library of content for you to view.

Netflix is available in more than 200 countries. However, the Chinese market is extremely difficult to crack, mainly due to strict regulations imposed by the government. Netflix did have a deal with iQiyi (owned by Chinese search engine giant Baidu), whereby some of its content was shown, but that has since ended.

For now, Netflix is producing a growing number of Mandarin titles. While this is reportedly intended to appease the global Chinese population, it may signal that the company is poised for another attempt to enter the Chinese market. However, with iQiyi pursuing aggressive growth, it could still be a long time before we see a Netflix China.

Meanwhile, users in China who want to watch Netflix have no choice but to use a VPN to access a Netflix library from another country.

Using a VPN in China

As mentioned, the Chinese government makes efforts to block VPN traffic within the country. They use sophisticated methods to detect VPN connections, such as Deep Packet Inspection (DPI). Even many VPNs that attempt to hide their traffic can’t bypass the restrictions. As such, you need a VPN with advanced cloaking technology (such as those listed above) that successfully disguise their traffic as a regular internet connection.

A more primitive method used to stop VPN usage is the forcing of ISPs to blacklist the websites of VPN providers. In addition, companies like Apple have agreed not to include VPN apps in their Chinese app stores. This means that once you’re in China, it’s very difficult to download and install a VPN app. If you plan to use a VPN while in China, you should download the software before you enter the country.

With VPN websites blocked, it’s also tough to locate tutorials and guides for VPN setup and troubleshooting. To get around this, it’s a good idea to download and save any relevant setup and troubleshooting guides so that you can view them offline if needed.

Note that although VPNs are banned in China, their use is not illegal. However, there have been reports of the government cracking down on providers of VPNs, including a nine-month jail sentence in a 2017 case.