Tested and reviewed in China
Last Published on June 16, 2019
China's VPN crackdown has caused most VPNs to stop working in China recently. These are the 3 best working VPNs to use in China as of (tested and verified in June 2019).
If you would like to see hard evidence to back up my claims, check the 2019 China VPN performance blog for the latest VPN speed test results.
Every VPN service shown here is available with either a free trial or a money back guarantee, so you can try all of them risk-free. You will also find the best available discount offers for new customers here.
#1 Top Recommendation
#2 Top Recommendation
#3 Top Recommendation
| Monthly Price|
| Monthly Price|
| Tips for China|
|+3 Months FREE||$1.99/mo|
2 Year Special
|30% off any plan|
|Recommended for Privacy|
(P2P, Torrenting, etc)
|Netflix Supported|| |
|High Performance Servers||Hong Kong 3/4/5|
Los Angeles 4/5
|Dedicated Apps |
(Working in China)
|Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Router App||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS||N/A (using third party apps only)|
|# of Devices|
|Money Back Guarantee|
30 day no-hassle money back guarantee
No questions asked
30 day money back guarantee
30 day money back guarantee
** Note about simultaneous connections. You can install the VPN apps on as many devices as you want. The simultaneous connection limit only applies to how many devices you can connect at the same time.
Not only does Express VPN work in China, it's the best overall VPN to use in China. Their service is the fastest and most reliable option that I have ever used in my many years in China.
The FAST Hong Kong servers. ExpressVPN always has at least one premium server in Hong Kong with direct routing to China Telecom. Right now that servers are Hong Kong 3 and Hong Kong 5. It might take a while to make the initial connection, but be patient. You can rely on these servers to stream high definition video, any time of the day (even during peak bandwidth hours at night).
The Apps. ExpressVPN is the absolute leader in the industry when it comes to VPN app development. Dedicated apps are available for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, and Routers. All the apps I have used personally (Windows, Android, iOS, and Router) are extremely good and updated often.
The ExpressVPN iOS app is the only dedicated app produced by a VPN provider that supports the OpenVPN protocol. Previously, it was believed that OpenVPN connections were only possible on iOS by using the OpenVPN Connect app. However, ExpressVPN has managed to get approval from Apple to use OpenVPN in their app. This is something that, to the best of my knowledge, no other VPN company has ever been able to do.
Actually, the ExpressVPN iOS app supports 3 different VPN protocols: OpenVPN (both UDP and TCP), IPsec, and IKEv2. Most other iOS VPN apps only support 1 protocol (usually IKEv2).
If you need to use a VPN on your iPhone or iPad in China, then ExpressVPN is significantly better than anything else available.
ExpressVPN is also the only VPN company (that I know of) that has a dedicated app for Linux.
The ease of use. ExpressVPN is what I like to call an idiot-proof VPN. If you are an idiot when it comes to technology, then ExpressVPN is the VPN for you. It's the only VPN that I would recommend to people who have never used a VPN and are not good with technology.
Everything, from signing up, to downloading and using the apps, is extremely easy. The ExpressVPN links on the Tips for China website are smart-links that will automatically direct you to a website domain that is accessible from China. Although these links work 99% of the time, it's still a good idea to sign up and download the apps before you come to China just in case.
After making your payment, you will immediately see a setup page as shown below. No need to sit around like an idiot waiting for a confirmation email! Make your payment and then get connected right away!
Here is a video I made recently showing you exactly how the signup process for ExpressVPN works from within China.
Downloading and setting up a VPN doesn't get any easier than this!
The MediaStreamer DNS. You can watch USA Netflix on your PS4, Apple TV, etc in China without using a VPN. Here is a video I made showing how to do this on a PS4.
The Router App. ExpressVPN has a very nice Router App available the following routers.
Linksys EA6200 (tutorial)
Linksys WRT1900AC V1
Linksys WRT1900AC V2
Netgear Nighthawk R7000
I highly recommend the Linksys WRT1900ACS (an expensive router but well worth the cost).
I also tested a cheaper model Linksys router recently, which performs quite well for the price.
The Netflix support. ExpressVPN is one of the few VPNs that is still working with Netflix in 2019. Not only US Netflix, but also Canada, UK, Hong Kong, and Taiwan (possibly other regions as well). You will never run out of movies and TV shows to watch with ExpressVPN and a Netflix subscription.
The Support. Online chat is available 24/7. No need to wait for an email or start a support ticket, their knowledgeable staff can help you immediately. Even if you are not a customer, you can still visit the ExpressVPN website and use the online chat to ask them any questions you have before signing up. Just click the icon shown below.
Split tunneling on Android (new). The ExpressVPN Android app (version 7.3) now supports split tunneling! That means you can set a list of apps to bypass the VPN. This is very useful for Chinese apps that don't work well with VPNs.
Split tunneling has already been available on the ExpressVPN desktop apps for some time now, but I think this function is much more useful on mobile.
The logging and torrenting policies. No activity logging, torrents allowed on all servers, and shared IP addresses make ExpressVPN a great choice for downloading torrents or other activities that demand a high level of privacy and anonymity.
Unlike some VPN providers, who have complicated terms and conditions, you can always get a 100% refund for ExpressVPN within the first 30 days no matter how many connections you have made, how much bandwidth you have used, or what payment method you used to pay.
Learn more about the ExpressVPN Risk-Free 30 Day Money Back Policy.
Server Configurations. While ExpressVPN works great in China if you are using the ExpressVPN apps, support is very limited for connections with third party apps.
You will also find many server locations missing when changing the protocol to PPTP, L2TP, or SSTP within the ExpressVPN app. Most of the good servers for China are only available when using the OpenVPN protocol from within the ExpressVPN apps.
Lack of advanced options. Unlike other VPN providers, ExpressVPN doesn't have many advanced options in their apps. For example, there is no option to change the port or specify custom DNS servers. They probably do this to improve the user experience and avoid confusing people with options they don't need, but some advanced users (like myself) would prefer to see a few more options and configurations available.
No support for WireGuard. Some VPN providers are now supporting the WireGuard protocol. I recently tested WireGuard in China with VPN.ac, 12VPN, and TorGuard and found that this protocol works quite well. It would be nice if ExpressVPN supported WireGuard as well.
The price. Compared to the competition, ExpressVPN is priced a little bit higher. For me personally, having access to the premium Hong Kong servers is enough to justify the price, and I would even be willing to pay more if the price was higher.
If you demand the best high speed servers, low latency, and the best apps, then you will not consider ExpressVPN to be expensive.
However, if you only need a VPN for simple web browsing, or don't care too much about high speed connections, or you are on a tight budget, then ExpressVPN might be overpriced for your needs.
Device limit. The limit of 3 devices connected at the same time is a little low compared to other VPN providers. Most VPN providers these days are offering 5-6 devices connected at the same time. You have more than 3 devices that you need to connect at the same time, I suggest using an ExpressVPN router. Then you can connect as many devices as you want to the VPN router, and it only counts as one connection.
Surfshark is a fairly new service that I just started using recently. So far, I am very impressed with what I have seen. While it's not nearly as fast as ExpressVPN, they have very good apps, good support, and the best deal for a 2 year subscription that you will find anywhere.
The price. Surfshark is currently offering an amazing deal for a 2 year subscription. It almost seems to good to be true.
That comes out to $1.99/month.
One of their marketing slogans is "eating other VPN deals alive". I couldn't agree more. They really are.
So far I have used the Surfshark apps for Windows, Android, and iOS. The screenshot shown above is from the Windows app.
I did have a few problems with the Windows and iOS apps (see below section of what I don't like for details). But overall, very nice apps.
The simultaneous connection limit. These days many VPN providers are allowing more and more simultaneous connections. Surfshark has taken it a step further and is offering UNLIMITED simultaneous connections.
Yes, you read that correctly. Unlimited simultaneous connections. You could literally connect 20 different devices at the same time if you wanted to (but please note that sharing your account with others is against the TOS).
The ad-blocker. Surfshark has an option called "Safeweb" that you can enable in the apps. This will automatically block advertisements, trackers, malware, and phishing attempts.
This is a very nice feature, especially for non-rooted Android devices. That is because it's not possible to use ad-blocking apps and a VPN at the same time.
The split-tunneling options. Surfshark calls this option the "Whitelister". Not only can you white list selected apps to bypass the VPN, you can also white list specific websites as well.
The IKEv2 protocol. IKEv2 works quite well in China, but most VPN providers only offer this protocol in their iOS apps.
Surfshark is using IKEv2 as the default protocol on all of their apps (at least the ones I have tried, not sure about the Mac app). The connection time is very fast with IKEv2 compared to OpenVPN. When I press the connect button, I am connected within 1-2 seconds.
The selection of servers. Although there are many servers that work in China, none of them are high performance. The best one is Taiwan, but it can slow down to around 1-2 Mbps during peak bandwidth hours at night with China Telecom.
There are only 4 server locations in the USA, and all of them are on the East Coast. East Coast servers don't perform as well as servers on the West Coast, which is where the undersea cables from Asia come into the US.
If getting the best speed is important to you, then you will be much better off using the ExpressVPN, which offers servers with better performance.
A bug in the Windows app. There is a very annoying problem with the Windows app. It gets stuck on the loading screen when launching the app. It sometimes stays like this for up to 5 minutes.
After analyzing the network activity with Wireshark when starting the Surfshark app, I found that this problem is caused by DNS poisoning. The Surfshark app makes a request to an API server using a hostname, but my ISP (China Telecom) DNS servers return the wrong IP address for this API server.
I was able to solve this problem by installing Simple DNSCrypt, which prevents DNS poisoning in China (guide on how to do this coming soon).
Limited server selection in the iOS app. The Surfshark iOS app is missing around half of the server locations, including the Taiwan server. I had to use the manual OpenVPN config files with the third party OpenVPN Connect app to connect to the Taiwan server.
OpenVPN config files in .zip format. When downloading the OpenVPN config files from the Surfshark website, I found that the .ovpn files can only be downloaded in a .zip archive. You can either download a single location with the TCP and UDP files in the zip archive, or all locations in a zip archive.
This made it very difficult and frustrating to import these config files into the OpenVPN Connect app. With other VPN providers, you can just download the .ovpn file using Safari and open it with the OpenVPN Connect app to import the profile. With the zip file, this is not possible.
To import the Surfshark manual OpenVPN config files on iOS, you need to download the files on a computer, unzip them, then Email them to yourself. Very inconvenient.
This whole process wouldn't even be necessary if they just offered the complete server list in their own iOS app.
Overall, I'm not very impressed with Surfshark on iOS.
The Paypal limitation. Surfshark does not offer PayPal as a payment option if visit thier website with a Chinese IP address. If you are in China and want to pay for your subscription using PayPal, you need to use another VPN to sign up.
The speed. It's not really fair to compare the speed of Shadowsocks to a VPN. That is like bringing a gun to a knife fight. Shadowsocks is much faster.
But using Shadowsocks instead of VPN protocols is only part of the equation. Wannaflix is also hosting their Shadowsocks servers in premium data centers with the best peering to China. These servers are much faster than making your own Shadowsocks server on a normal VPS provider such as Vultr, Digital Ocean, etc.
The Netflix support. It's very difficult to find hosting providers with IP addresses that are not blacklisted by Netflix. Somehow, WannaFlix managed to find quite a few of them. They have servers for Netflix in USA, Canada, UK, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
VPN into China. WannaFlix is offering a server in mainland China that enables access to Chinese geo-restricted services such as QQ Music, iQiYi, etc from outside of China. This is a very rare feature among VPN providers these days.
The deceptive marketing. WannaFlix markets itself as a VPN service, which it is not. You wouldn't know from reading their website that the service is exclusively Shadowsocks. There is nothing wrong with offering a Shadowsocks service, but it should be advertised for what it is.
The apps. WannaFlix doesn't have any of their own apps. Rather, they offering various third party Shadowsocks apps for different platforms. These apps don't have very good user interfaces and some of them have bugs.
Privacy and security. Part of the problem is that Shadowsocks can get bypassed and leak your real IP address under various circumstances. The other part of the problem is that the WannaFlix servers are hosted on VPS providers rather than dedicated servers. The risk is that the data on the server could fall into the wrong hands.
If your only worried about speed, then this probably isn't much to worry about it. But if you value privacy and security, you may want to use a real VPN. Or, you can tunnel a VPN connection over Shadowsocks using the WannaFlix service combined with any VPN service that offers OpenVPN TCP.
Limited payment options. WannaFlix doesn't accept credit card payments. Nor do they accept PayPal payments from Chinese PayPal accounts. They do offer Alipay, but that only works for Chinese citizens with a China ID card. If you are a non-Chinese citizen with a Chinese PayPal account, then your payment options are limited. You should be able to use Union pay in this case if you have a Chinese bank account.
Other VPN Options
The above 3 are my personal top recommendations. What I consider to be the best may not be the same for you. Here are some more options to consider that can also circumvent the great firewall.
The Secure.Proxy browser add-on. VPN.ac also offers a proxy service in addition to the VPN for no extra cost. You can think of this as a "VPN within your browser". The browser add-on is available for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.
The best thing about the browser proxy is that most of the server network is hosted on different networks than the VPN servers. There have been a few times over the years when all of the VPN servers were completely blocked in China for a short period of time, but the browser proxy servers were still working. Although I don't normally use this browser proxy, it's good to have it as a backup.
The video streaming. Another great feature of VPN.ac is an unofficial and unadvertised feature that I stumbled upon. I don't know how it works exactly, but I can watch any geo-restricted content (except for Netflix) no matter which server location I connected to.
For example, I can connect to a server in Hong Kong and still watch BBC iPlayer (UK), Channel 4 (UK), Hulu (US), etc. There is no need to change servers to match the country of the service you want to watch. Most streaming servers just seem to work, as if by magic.
Privacy, security, and torrenting. If you are concerned about security and privacy, then VPN.ac is a very good choice. Their DNS servers are private and secure, all DNS queries are sent to their private revolvers and encrypted with AES 128-bit encryption. They don't keep any traffic logs, and they allow torrents on all servers. They even have some special servers optimized for P2P.
VPN.ac is offered by a company called Netsec Interactive Solutions based in Romania. This company has been in the business of online security and privacy since 2009. You may wonder how a company based in the EU can get away with not keeping activity logs of their VPN users. The answer is that the EU Data Retention Directive was declared unconstitutional by the Romanian Constitutional Court.
The apps. The Windows and Android apps have a few bugs and are not updated as often as the apps of ExpressVPN.
The main complaint I have with the Windows app is that sometimes the "China Users" server list fails to load (VPN.ac has special servers labelled as "China Users" that you need to use when connecting in China). I have experienced this behavior on all of the apps I have used (Android, iOS, and Windows).
You can set the option "I am in China" in the advanced settings to force the "China Users" servers to load, but many of the servers are missing from the list when loaded that way. The only way to get the full China Users server list is by exiting the app and re-starting it (sometimes several times).
Another bug in the Windows app happens when connecting by PPTP or L2TP. If the connection fails the first time, then each subsequent connection attempt will fail with a weird error message, as shown below.
You will need to exit the app and restart it after the first failed connection to PPTP or L2TP. Otherwise, each subsequent attempt to connect with PPTP or L2TP will keep giving you the "RasDial" error.
The android app can be buggy as well. Sometimes certain servers (even though selected from the China list) will will revert to the normal server instead of the "China Users" server and fail to connect (connecting to the same server on the Windows pp works fine).
Another bug in the Android app is that it shows the connection as successful before the connection is actually made. You need to pull down the status bar to see the actual status.
One more drawback of the VPN.ac apps is that they don't have any way to check the server latency or speed. It can take a long time trying to find the good servers if you don't know which ones to use.
ExpressVPN, on the other hand, has an in-app speed test that not only tests the latency of each server, but also the download speed!
The speed of support. VPN.ac doesn't offer live chat support, and the regular support is not available 24/7. The support staff is based in Romania so you will likely not get an answer until the early afternoon if you submit a support ticket in the morning in China.
No China Telecom CN2 servers in Asia. Although VPN.ac does offer some servers with China Telecom CN2 peering, they are located in Germany and USA. For the best VPN performance in China, you need to be using a CN2 server hosted in Hong Kong or other region near China.
NordVPN has made some big improvements since first introducing support for users in China with "obfuscated" servers last year. At that time, making a successful connection was inconsistent and the peformance was never very good.
Although the performance has improved greatly, it's still not on the same level as ExpressVPN and my other top 3 recommended services. I certainly wouldn't recommend it as your only VPN in China, but it's a good choice as a secondary/backup VPN.
Although the performance is not great in China, it's one of the best choices for privacy.
The special offers. NordVPN is usually offering some kind of deal for a 2 year or 3 year plan.
NordVPN Winter Deal - 3 Years for $107.55 ($2.99/mo).
The CyberSec option. Enabling the CyberSec option in the NordVPN apps will not only block unwanted advertisements, but also protect you from malware and DDos attacks while connected to the VPN. This is similar to the SafeWeb option offered by Surfshark.
The Jurisdiction and logging policies. NordVPN is based in Panama, which is completely outside of the "fourteen eyes" countries. They also don't keep any kind of logs, not even connection/session logs.
While most VPN providers don't keep activity logs, most of them (including ExpressVPN and VPN.ac) do keep some non-identifying (anonymized) session logs. Session logs usually include what server location you connected to, when you connected to it, and how much data was transferred. For example, you can find the detailed logging policies of ExpressVPN on this page.
For most average users, these non-identifying session logs are nothing to worry about. However, if you are under a high level of threat (privacy activist, high level target of a government entity, or journalist in certain countries, etc) or suffer from a high degree of paranoia, then you might want to consider a truly log-free VPN such as NordVPN.
The 30 day money back guarantee. You can try it risk-free for 30 days, but according to some reports, the money back guarantee is not hassle-free like ExpressVPN's hassle-free money back guarantee. You will likely be asked to provide a reason for cancelling, and they may try to encourage you to try some troubleshooting steps first before cancelling.
But if you are persistent then you should still be able to get your money back.
Server performance. Compared to the performance of the top 3 recommendations, NordVPN servers are not as fast or reliable. Although I can usually find a few servers that work in China, they are not very fast.
Then again, you get what you pay for. Given the low price of some of their deals, it can be good to keep as a back up VPN if you get one of their good deals. It's always best to have more than 1 VPN these days anyway.
Currently, you can get the 3 year deal for $2.99/month.
#6 VPN for China - 12VPN
Although not my personal favorite, 12VPN does have some nice features.
What I like about 12VPN
The premium add-on servers. In addition to the standard servers, you can assign an additional 5 premium servers to your account. These servers have limited capacity and the choices may depend on availability.
The best premium server is CN Optimized 2 (HK). I highly recommend this server.
Shadowsocks. A SOCKS5 proxy protocol that works extremely well in China. In fact, it's much faster and more stable than most VPN connections (but is less secure than a VPN because it does not tunnel all of your traffic).
Personally, I have set up my own Shadowsocks servers and made a tutorial on how to do it. However, if you're not very technical, 12VPN is an easy way to use Shadowsocks without setting up your own server.
Other alternative protocols. In addition to Shadowsocks, 12VPN also offers all the latest protocols that work good in China such as Outline, WireGuard, v2Ray, and Openconnect.
Good support. Based in Hong Kong, 12VPN knows the China market very well. They seem to have some staff located in mainland China, so they know very well what protocols and configurations work well in China.
Their customer support is pretty good too, I usually get my emails answered within 1 hour.
What I don't like about 12VPN
The lack of VPN connection options. The service offered by 12VPN is more geared towards proxy instead of VPN connections. Most of the connection options available in their dedicated app is a type of proxy, not a single VPN connection option.
This is ironic, because the name of their software is called "VPNGUI". I think the should change the name to "ProxyGUI" or something similar to more accurately reflect the type of service offered.
They do offer VPN connections through some third party apps such as Cisco Anyconnect (Mac and iOS) and SoftEther (Windows). However, support for these protocols is limited and the premium servers are restricted from using these protocols.
The logging policy (or lack thereof). I have searched all over the 12VPN website but I cannot find anything about their logging policy. Nothing in the FAQ or TOS pages. In this case, I have to assume the worst case.
12VPN is definitely not a privacy-focused VPN service. Instead, they are targeting the market of users in China who only use a VPN for accessing blocked websites.
The restrictive money back guarantee. The money back guarantee comes with quite a few strings attached.
"You are entitled to a full refund if all of the following apply:
* You claim your refund within 14 days of your order date.
* It is the first order made on your account (e.g. renewals do not qualify).
* You have fully complied with our Acceptable Use Policy and our Terms of Service.
* You send an e-mail to email@example.com or use the Support section on our website to request your cancelation.
* You have used less than 5GB of bandwidth.
* You have not previously claimed a refund from us under this policy (e.g. for another account).
* Apply for the refund by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org."
The condition that I highlighted above is the one that concerns me. 5GB is a very small amount of data. I assume they mean 5GB of data, as "5GB of bandwidth" doesn't make any sense. Bandwidth is a measurement of speed (data transfer over time, usually quoted in Mbps or MB/s).
Anyway, you will need to be very careful not to use 12VPN too much when testing it. Otherwise, you will not be eligible for the money back guarantee.
The BitTorrent policy. I will quote from their website (FAQ section):
"Do you allow Bittorrent?
Unfortunately we do not allow Bittorrent. Allowing bittorrent would dramatically reduce the number of data centres willing to host our servers."
I find this explanation highly questionable, seeing how other VPN providers don't have this problem. For example, VPN.ac and ExpressVPN both have more server locations than 12VPN and they allow BitTorrent on every one of their servers. They don't seem to have any problem finding data centers willing to host their servers.
Why would 12VPN have such problems?
Despite this policy, I have noticed that 2 of their servers are now labelled as "Bittorrent: allowed" so it seems they are finally starting to change this policy (FAQ needs to be updated I guess).
12VPN offers 3 billing plans.
1 months - $10.99
6 months - $53.95
12 months - $71.88
Use the Tips for China promo code and save 25% from your first billing cycle.
VyprVPN had major problems in China last month. Although it's working again now, their service was completely down for China users for almost a full month. Although this can happen to any VPN provider, the better ones like ExpressVPN get their service restored much faster (usually within hours, not days or weeks).
The apps. Not quite as nice as the apps from ExpressVPN, but still pretty good. I like how it shows the latency (ping time) of each server in the server list. This is the one feature that I like better than the ExpressVPN apps. With ExpressVPN, you need to do a complete server speed test (which takes 30 minutes or more) just to see the latency (although it also tests the download speed for each server in addition to the latency).
There is also a nice speed graph shown in the Windows app that shows you the speed in real time.
The Hong Kong server with China Mobile. Although VyprVPN doesn't have any good servers for China Telecom or China Unicom, the Hong Kong server has direct peering with China Mobile, and it works quite well (only with China Mobile ISP).
The lack of good servers for China Telecom. Not a single China Telecom CN2 server, or even a single server in Asia with direct peering to China Telecom. All of their Asian servers are routed through the USA or other countries to China Telecom, resulting in high latency and low speed (especially noticeable at night).
If your ISP is China Telecom or China Unicom and you like fast internet, then don't bother with VyprVPN.
The logging policy.
Update - VyprVPN has recently changed their policy and is no longer keeping these kinds of logs. Good move, it's about time they did this.
Each time a user connects to VyprVPN, we retain the following data for 30 days: 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.
Why Golden Frog Retains VyprVPN Session Data:
We retain VyprVPN session data for 30 days to use with billing issues, troubleshooting, service offering evaluation, TOS issues, AUP issues, and for handling crimes performed over the service."
From reading this, it's difficult to understand where the problem lies. Normally, it wouldn't matter if your source IP address and the VPN IP address you used are logged because most VPN providers are using shared IP addresses that are common to all users connected to that server. Therefore, your online activities are still anonymous (assuming that the VPN doesn't keep activity logs, which VyprVPN doesn't). If there was a complaint (lets say a DCMA violation, for example) related to that IP address of the VPN server, the VPN providers normally cannot do anything about it. Because there are hundreds of users using that same IP address simultaneously, there is no way of knowing which user the complaint is related to. VPN companies engineer their services like this on purpose, to protect the anonymity of their users. Not VyprVPN. When you connect to VyprVPN, the IP address assigned to you is not shared with anyone else during the time you are connected. If VyprVPN receives a complaint (from law enforcement agencies or whatever), they will know who was using that IP address at the time of the complaint. In fact, one of the biggest complaints about VyprVPN is that they will ban your account for torrenting if they receive a DCMA notice. This has happened to several people who I know personally.
If you want to try VyprVPN for yourself, I have 2 promos available. Both of these promos come with a 3 day free trial.
You will not be billed anything if you cancel within the first 3 days.
Monthly Promo - Save 50% off your first month + 3 day FREE TRIAL
Annual Promo - Save 25% off your first year + 3 day FREE TRIAL
I don't recommend Astrill because of their poor customer service and unstable VPN service. For their customers outside of China, they offer a free 7 day trial. For their customers in China, they offer neither a free trial nor a money back guarantee. Any time there is a sensitive political event in China, they are the first to be blocked.
You have been warned. Just search for the word Astrill on Twitter, Reddit, etc and you will find hundreds of unresolved customer complaints (as well as some obvious shill postings from Astill themselves pretending to be happy customers).
StrongVPN used to be rated #3 on this page. Although their apps and server switching process is among the worst I have ever seen, they did have 2 servers in Hong Kong with good peering to China Telecom. They were not CN2, but it was a direct connection on the PCCW network, and performed quite well.
Recently, these servers disappeared and then were later replaced with inferior servers with poor routing to China Telecom. Now, there is nothing good about StrongVPN for users in China.
This is probably the worst VPN that I have ever tested. It's so bad that I don't even want to include a link to their website.
Terrible software, bad support, and extremely slow and unstable server performance. Seriously, this VPN makes VyprVPN on China Telecom look fast.
And many people have complained that getting a refund is difficult or impossible. Stay away from PureVPN.
I tested PIA after seeing this YouTube video from Linus Tech Tips. At the end of the video, he recommended using PIA in China and claimed to be using it in Shenzhen, where he shot the video.
When I tested PIA (extensively), I was unable to get even a single working connection despite trying every protocol available and sending a support ticket for further troubleshooting steps. I even got all of their server IPs by entering their hostnames into the OpenDNS CacheCheck and then batch pinged all of them using a special software I have. Every single one of their servers is IP blocked in China, not even one single server IP will respond to a ping.
My only conclusion from this is that Linus Tech Tips is a liar. He was likely roaming with a foreign SIM card during his time in China.
Don't get me wrong, PIA seems like a great VPN service. It's just not one that works in China.
It's illegal to operate a VPN service in China and these are the ones that will be targeted by the government. For example, a Chinese service called GreenVPN recently got shut down.
When choosing a VPN, always choose one whose legal jurisdiction is outside of China.
Due to the way that international data-roaming works, you can bypass the Great Firewall (GFW) by roaming on a foreign SIM card while in China. If you don't have a mobile phone carrier outside of China, I recommend using a pre-paid SIM card from China Unicom Hong Kong. They offer very reasonable rates for data-roaming in mainland China. It's also good to use a SIM card from Hong Kong because it's located near mainland China (when roaming, your data is sent back to your home carrier first, before going out to the internet). You can find these SIM cards at most convenience stores in Hong Kong, such as 711. They are not for sale in mainland China, you will need to go to Hong Kong to get one.
Unfortunately, this also works the other way around. If you use your China SIM card for data-roaming while overseas, you will still need to use a VPN to access Gmail, Google Maps, etc.
Shadowsocks is a light weight SOCKS5 proxy, designed specifically for the Great Firewall of China. Compared to a VPN, it can offer much faster speeds (if it's properly configured and optimized for speed).
When it comes to Shadowsocks, you have 2 options.
If you want to combine the privacy and anonymity of a VPN service with the speed of a Shadowsocks server, you tunnel OpenVPN over Shadowsocks.