Are you traveling to China and worried about accessing your Netflix? Although most of the world has access to Netflix, the service is still not available in China. So if you want access to your home Netflix library, you will need to use a VPN.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) 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 services you’d use back home, such as Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.
In this post, we explain the step-by-step process for watching Netflix in China and reveal the best VPNs for the job. If you don’t have time to read the whole thing, here’s a quick list of the best VPNs for watching Netflix in China:
- ExpressVPN: Our top pick for watching Netflix in China. ExpressVPN is fast and reliable and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- NordVPN: Best value option. Boasts a large server network, excellent cloaking technology, and the ability to securely access Netflix..
- Hotspot Shield: Has fast speeds, works in China, works with Netflix and many other sites.
- Surfshark: Works with Netflix in China and allows an unlimited number of simultaneous connections.
- PrivateVPN: A secure, private network with exceptional speed and versatility.
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How to watch Netflix in China
New to using VPNs? Just follow the steps below. 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:
- Choose a VPN provider from the list below and subscribe. We particularly recommend ExpressVPN for use in China.
- Download and install the native VPN app for your device. Note that you should aim to set up your VPN before traveling to China.
- Connect to a server in your home country. For example, connect to a US VPN server to get an American IP address and watch US Netflix.
- 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 cookies and cache and trying again.
Because most VPN websites are blocked in China, it’s best to get set up and gather troubleshooting information before traveling to the country.
Best VPNs to watch Netflix in China
China is notoriously difficult for VPNs, and so each service has to be tested vigorously. Here are some of the criteria we used before recommending the services in this article:
- Works with 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
Here’s our list of the best VPNs for Netflix in China:
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 works well with Netflix US, as well as several other Netflix libraries, including the UK, Australia, Canada, and Japan versions. Looking to securely access other streaming services, like Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu? 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.
- Works reliably in China
- Stream multiple Netflix libraries
- Reliable and fast speeds
- Apps for all popular devices
- Strong security and privacy features
- 24/7 live chat support
- Price is a little higher than rivals
BEST VPN FOR NETFLIX IN CHINA:ExpressVPN is our top pick for watching Netflix in China. It provides fast, reliable connections, works with 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.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
NordVPN is an excellent budget VPN for users in China. It has a huge network of more than 5,200 servers in 60+ countries. This provider is known for its ability to securely 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.
- Evades government blocking in China
- Great for streaming
- No-logs provider
- Advanced security features
- Has 24/7 live chat support
- Some servers can be slow to connect
A RELIABLE CHOICE:NordVPN is a great option for Netflix in China. It has a large server network, works with Netflix, and lets you browse freely in China. Plans include a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our in-depth NordVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Surfshark is the best budget choice for Netflix in China. It 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 3,200 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 for streaming. As with NordVPN, any Surfshark server will give you secure 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.
- Apps work in China
- Provides secure access to Netflix and other streaming sites
- Unlimited number of connections
- Apps for most devices
- Customer support available 24/7
- Small server network than some rivals
- Some speeds can be slow
BEST BUDGET CHOICE: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.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
Editor’s Note: Hotspot Shield is owned by Pango, Comparitech’s parent company.
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 1,800 servers in over 80 countries. Plus it works in China and can securely access Netflix and other streaming sites.
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.
- Bypasses the Great Firewall of China
- Has consistent speeds
- Strong 256-bit encryption
- User-friendly apps
- Doesn’t accept Bitcoin
- Apps can be complicated
FAST CONNECTIONS:Hotspot Shield offers a fast, secure service and real day-to-day usage potential. It comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee.
Check out the full review of Hotspot Shield.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
PrivateVPN seems like a relatively meek competitor on the surface. It runs a network of just over 200 servers in 60+ countries. However, this service works in China and is well-known for its ability to fly under the radar. Not only that, but it works well with 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.
- Works in China
- No issues with Netflix US
- Keeps no logs whatsoever
- Small selection of servers
- Customer support doesn’t match that of rivals
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.
How we find the best VPNs for Netflix in China
To ensure consumers select the right VPN for their requirements and enjoy a VPN experience that’s nothing less than excellent, we put VPNs through rigorous testing. During testing, several factors are considered, detailed within our VPN testing methodology guide. Some of the most significant testing factors are included below:
- Servers in China – Whether China is your home country or you’re visiting from abroad, you might want to access region-locked content in other locations. A VPN with servers in China will prevent surveillance and logging even when using local Chinese services.
- Robust encryption – The effectiveness of a VPN is determined by the encryption it uses. Unfortunately, many VPNs use substandard encryption that doesn’t adhere to modern standards. The VPNs we recommend for China use military-grade encryption above to ensure watertight privacy.
- Servers spanning the globe – If you want to access the content you already pay for at home from anywhere globally, a VPN with a global server network will make it possible.
- A zero logs policy – What you get up to online is your business. Selecting a VPN that doesn’t collect logs ensures your data remains private and anonymous from the likes of ISPs who can share your data with local authorities.
- Excellent customer support – Getting support when you’re using a VPN in a heavily-censored country like China is vital, so we always recommend VPNs with live chat or ticketing support that’s available 24/7.
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 securely access 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 workarounds. 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, travelers in China who want to watch Netflix have no choice but to use a VPN to regain access to their home country’s Netflix library.
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 avoid these 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.