2019 VPN in China Blog - Real VPN speed tests

Happy New Year and welcome to the 2019 VPN in China blog page.

This is the page where you can find real VPN speed test results and performance testing using top recommended VPNs for China and tips for getting the best performance when using a VPN in China.

I have been testing VPNs in China extensively since 2016. This is the fourth annual VPN in China blog page.

Archive of previous VPN in China blog pages: 2016, 2017, 2018

Unless stated otherwise, all tests are done from my Guangdong China Telecom 100/20M residential internet connection.

Page Navigation

  1. January
  2. February
  3. March
  4. April
  5. May
  6. June
  7. July (no tests done)
  8. August
  9. September
  10. October

January 27, 2019 - ExpressVPN vs VPN.ac vs NordVPN

I have some great news for ExpressVPN users to start off the new year.

Hong Kong 3 is back.

If you have been following the previous year's VPN in China blog pages, then you will know that ExpressVPN Hong Kong 3 is the best VPN server available anywhere. Hosted on Rackspace Hong Kong special China Telecom CN2 lines, this server is fast as lightning 24 hours a day. Even during the peak bandwidth congestion at 11pm. Not only does this server have CN2 routing for China Telecom, it is also directly connected to China Unicom and China Mobile.

Although ExpressVPN did a great job keeping their VPN service working in China during the great VPN crackdown of 2017, Hong Kong 3 was not one of the servers that was kept online during this time.

It feels good to finally feel the speed of Hong Kong 3 again.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 3 OpenVPN UDP

Here are a few more of my top recommended ExpressVPN servers for China.

ExpressVPN Taiwan 3 OpenVPN UDP

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 1 OpenVPN UDP

Hong Kong 1 has stealth CN2 routing, but the speed is limited to 10Mbps. It's a good alternative if Hong Kong 3 is not working. You still get the same low latency and low packet loss, but with a slightly slower download speed.

All of the ExpressVPN links from Tips for China come with a special offer of 3 months free when you buy a new 12 month subscription. You still get the famous 30 day no hassle money back guarantee with this offer, so you can try it risk-free and get 3 months free.

On to my second favorite VPN to use in China, VPN.ac.

VPN.ac Taiwan OpenVPN XOR TCP

VPN.ac Hong Kong Kowloon OpenVPN XOR TCP

Hong Kong Kowloon is my favorite VPN server to use in China for VPN.ac. Although it lacks the China Telecom CN2 routing like ExpressVPN Hong Kong 3 and Hong Kong 1, it still performs very well most of the time. However, it will slow down sometimes especially during peak night time hours.

Finally, here is a test from NordVPN using the third party open-source OpenVPN GUI app. I prefer to use the manual OpenVPN configurations with NordVPN because the Windows app does not work good on my computer (possible conflict with other VPN apps).

NordVPN USA 2506 OpenVPN UDP via manual config

I couldn't find any NordVPN Asian servers that would connect for me today, so I tested a US server.

NordVPN doesn't come close to matching the performance of my top 2 recommended VPNs, but it does have a very big advantage.

The price.

NordVPN is always running some kind of promotion. Currently, you can get 3 years for only $107.55 (works out to $2.99 per month).

February 25, 2019 - ExpressVPN vs VyprVPN vs NordVPN -Tested in China

I'm currently travelling outside of China, but I left a computer running at home, which I can access remotely. These tests were done from my China Telecom 100/20M Fibre home internet connection on an old Windows 7 computer.

Someone told me that ExpressVPN Hong Kong 3 is no longer working in China. That appears to be the case, as I was unable to make a connection to Hong Kong 3. This is unfortunate, but not too surprising. China is really cracking down hard on VPNs these days.

Here are the best working ExpressVPN servers to use in China right now.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 1

Although Hong Kong 1 is limited to 10Mbps download speed, the stealth-CN2 China routing will always give you ultra low latency and packet loss (even during peak bandwidth hours at night). Use this server if you need reliable connection for gaming, web browsing, or video streaming (up to 1080p).

If you're torrenting or downloading large files, you might need something with higher download speed.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 5

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 5

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 4

Normally I would test VPN.ac now, but my subscription just expired. I'm going to wait until I get back to China in a few weeks before I renew it, so check back soon for some VPN.ac speed test results.

VyprVPN has been having major issues in China lately, but someone told me that it was working again.

It certainly is not working for me. I downloaded the latest app for Windows, and tried several server locations and protocols (including Chameleon). But I was unable to get a single successful connection.

If anyone is able to get a successful connection with VyprVPN in China right now, please leave a comment below and tell me how you did it!

If you want to try for yourself, you can always get a free 3 day trial. However, you will need to sign up for it using another VPN if you are in China. All of their domains (including the ones normally accessible form China) seem to be blocked.

The last time I tested NordVPN, I wasn't able to connect using the standard OpenVPN config files (which is my preferred way to connect to NordVPN). Today I had to install the latest NordVPN app for Windows to test the "obfuscated" servers.

NordVPN seems to be working relatively well with the obfuscated servers.

NordVPN Hong Kong #82

The NordVPN Hong Kong obfuscated servers are hosted on Leaseweb, which does not have direct peering with China Telecom, hence the very high latency. However, it does have direct peering with China Unicom if I recall correctly. I will be sure to test this one again using my China Unicom data connection when I get back to China.

For now, I can only test China Telecom.

NordVPN USA #3167

NordVPN Singapore #186

NordVPN Japan #135

The Japan #135 server seems to be the best NordVPN to use with China Telecom right now.

Of course, none of the NordVPN servers have good latency to China Telecom like the ExpressVPN Hong Kong servers, but the performance is pretty good for the price.

NordVPN is still offering the 3 year special for $107.55, that works out to only $2.99/month. It's hard to beat that price for any VPN, never mind one that works in China.

Unfortunately, NordVPN has recently stopped accepting PayPal payments for VPN subscriptions. This will make things more difficult for foreigners in China. Alipay and WeChat require a Chinese ID card to make payments to overseas merchants, so that only leaves UnionPay (Chinese bank card) and credit cards as payment options.

Check back soon for more VPN testing from China.

VyprVPN Update - Found out how to make it work in China

After talking with VyprVPN support, they suggested setting the Chameleon port setting from Automatic to manual port 15001. So I did that, as shown below.

VyprVPN - Set chameleon port to 15001

After setting the port to 15001, I can connect!

VyprVPN Los Angeles

VyprVPN Hong Kong

VyprVPN South Korea

These speeds are nothing to get excited about, but at least it works.

March 2, 2019 - ExpressVPN Alternatives - NordVPN vs VyprVPN vs WannaFlix

It appears that ExpressVPN is currently having connectivity issues for users in China. This is likely caused by another government meeting going on in China.

I can only test using China Telecom on Windows (via remote access) because I'm not in China right now. Some servers might be working with different combinations of ISPs and operating systems. For example, my friend told me that Los Angeles 2 is working on his iPhone.

This is the second time ever since 2016 that I have not been able to get a single working connection using ExpressVPN in China (see update below). The last time was on June 25, 2018. You can read the details on the 2018 blog page. ExpressVPN restored connectivity in China within 24 hours, so I don't expect we will be waiting too long this time either.

This is one of the main advantages of ExpressVPN. Any VPN service can get blocked, but only a really good one will get back online quickly. For example, VyprVPN was completely blocked recently and it was dead for almost a month!

Update - I spoke too soon. There is 1 server that is working. Thanks to Twitter user @Dillon_lu for recommending Taiwan via HK 2.

ExpressVPN Taiwan via HK 2

Those of you who followed my advice and got a backup VPN in addition to ExpressVPN will be glad that you did so.

For those who don't have a backup yet and can't wait to get back online, here are some options to consider.

#1 - NordVPN with Obfuscated setting

NordVPN Hong Kong #82

NordVPN USA #3167

NordVPN Japan #135

The NordVPN obfuscated Japan #135 server seems to be the best option right now.

NordVPN japan #135 obfuscated server connected

I played a few YouTube videos to check the stability and so far so good.

No problem streaming 1080p resolution, getting around 19 Mbps.

NordVPN YouTube streaming from China with Japan #135 obfuscated server

#2 - VyprVPN with Chameleon

VyprVPN seems to still be working with the Chameleon port manually set to 15001, although the speed is extremely slow.

VyprVPN San Francisco

VyprVPN South Korea

If you are in China and want to try VyprVPN, it will be tricky because there is no China accessible site available right now. So you will need to use another working VPN in order to sign up for the free trial.

#3 - WannaFlix ShadowsocksR proxy (VPN alternative)

Although a proxy lacks the security and full compatibility of a VPN, ShadowsocksR is a very good protocol for China. Although you can rent a VPS and make your own ShadowsocksR server on a VPS, subscribing to WannaFlix is a much better option.

WannaFlix Hong Kong

WannaFlix Russia

WannaFlix Singapore

That's all I have time for right now.

I will be travelling over the next few days and won't have time to do many tests. Please help me keep this page up to date by leaving your comments below!

March 3, 2019 - More ExpressVPN servers are working

Although the Taiwan via Hong Kong 2 server is no longer working, I found 3 other ExpressVPN servers that are working today.

All of these servers took a very long time to connect (1 to 2 minutes). So don't cancel the connection attempt, just keep waiting.

ExpressVPN Tokyo 1

ExpressVPN USA Hollywood

ExpressVPN Australia Sydney 2

All 3 servers are giving very good download speeds, but Tokyo 2 and Sydney 2 have a high ping.

The Hollywood server has the best performance. Low ping (for USA) and good download speed too.
ExpressVPN Hollywood server connected

Let's see how the NordVPN obfuscated servers are working today.

NordVPN Japan #135

NordVPN France #283

And finally VyprVPN, using Chameleon with port 15001.

VyprVPN Tokyo

VyprVPN Los Angeles

All of the speeds are quite fast today (except VyprVPN) because it's 4:00am (Mar 4) in China right now.

I will try to do some more tests during normal China hours in the next few days.

NordVPN 3 Month Special

Just a quick note that NordVPN has introduced a new special for China users. The offer is 3 months for the price of 2 months.

To take advantage of this offer, you need to go to NordVPN with your VPN or proxy turned OFF. The offer is only available if you are accessing the NordVPN website with a Chinese IP address.

Unfortunately, the landing page is only in Chinese so I will provide a brief translation here.

NordVPN special offers for China

Once you choose one of the 2 offers, you can then change the language to English on the order page (at the bottom right of the page).

March 5, 2019 (11:00am China time) - VPNs working in China right now

Today is the first day of the "big meetings" in Beijing. The Great Firewall has really tightened up. Right now I can't get any working connection on ExpressVPN.

I connected successfully to NordVPN, but it seems to be a bad connection because it disconnected my remote connection to my computer in China. So now I'm locked out of my computer and need to wait until someone can go into my apartment and disconnect the NordVPN connection.

Once I get back on my China computer, I will test WannaFlix first because there is no risk of getting locked out when using a proxy instead of a VPN.

Update (12:00pm noon - China time)

I managed to get back on my computer and disconnect NordVPN.

I think ShadowsocksR might be a better option to use right now.

WannaFlix ShadowsocksR proxy speed tests

WannaFlix Hong Kong

The speed is even faster than testing to a China server without any VPN/proxy!

China Telecom direct connection (No VPN or proxy)

The Hong Kong server is definitely the best server of WannaFlix. But here are a few more tests.

WannaFlix Singapore

WannaFlix South Korea

WannaFlix Japan

March 6, 2019 - Found a working solution for ExpressVPN in China (Windows)

I managed to eventually get ExpressVPN to connect to Los Angeles 5 using the latest Windows app.

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 5

The connection took about 5 minutes, so be patient if you try this.

However, once I disconnected and tried to connect to Los Angeles 5 again, it didn't work the second time.

I then decided to go on the ExpressVPN website and ask the live chat support what else I could try. After troubleshooting for some time, I was told to try using an old version of the app. Version 3.626 is meant for Windows XP and older operating system, but it also works on Windows 7 and Windows 10.

I uninstalled the latest version and then installed the old version 3.626, and it works quite well.

ExpressVPN San Francisco (Windows app v3.626)

ExpressVPN Seattle (Windows app v3.626)

This version is working much better. Connections are fast and consistent to these 2 server locations.

To download version 3.626 of the Windows app, go to the ExpressVPN website and log into your account. Choose Set up on More Devices, then click the link that says Show all versions.

How to download ExpressVPN old version 3.626 for China connections

I should note that I was told to only use this old version if you absolutely cannot connect to any server using the newest version.

You will need to uninstall the current version before installing this old version, you cannot have both installed at the same time.

NordVPN Japan #135 is still working in China

I'm not sure what happened last night when I got locked out of my remote access connection to my computer in China after connecting to NordVPN, but it seems to be working fine today.

NordVPN Japan #135

March 6, 2019 (11:00am China time) - More working servers on ExpressVPN old Windows app

I tried some more of the servers with the old version 3.626 Windows app and I found that many of them are working.

This old app is a hidden gold mine of working servers!

ExpressVPN Singapore CBD (Windows app v3.626)

This is interesting because none of the Singapore servers have a ping time this low to China Telecom on the newer apps, even during normal times when those servers are working. It appears that some of these servers on the old app are on completely different networks. That would explain why they are still working right now.

Here are some more.

ExpressVPN Hollywood (Windows app v3.626)

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 3 (Windows app v3.626)

ExpressVPN Tokyo 2 (Windows app v3.626)

ExpressVPN San Jose (Windows app v3.626)

ExpressVPN Seattle (Windows app v3.626)

I noticed that there are also older versions of the app available for Mac OS, but I'm not sure if you will get the same results as Windows. You can certainly give it a try if you are using Mac and unable to connect to any server using the normal app.

I believe the Android and iOS apps have working servers, but if you are having trouble, you can always use the old Windows app version 3.626 and set up your computer as a virtual VPN router.

March 8, 2019 - Using ExpressVPN in China (update)

The old app v3.626 is still working very well. Connections are quick and reliable. I think the Hollywood server is the best one.

ExpressVPN Hollywood (Windows app v3.626)

ExpressVPN San Francisco (Windows app v3.626)

ExpressVPN Seattle (Windows app v3.626)

Now I'm going to install the latest app version 6.92 and see if that is working better now.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 5 (Windows app v6.92)

It took a long time to connect, but Hong Kong 5 is performing very well. Nice to see a server with a low ping again.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 4 (Windows app v6.92)

Good speed, but very high ping. The connection from China Telecom to this Hong Kong server seems to be getting routed through Japan.

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 5 (Windows app v6.92)

Very good ping (for USA server) and download speed.

ExpressVPN Hollywood (Wiindows app v6.92)

It takes a long time to connect sometimes, but the newest app seems to be reliable again and connecting consistently without issues to several server locations.

March 13, 2019 - Testing WireGuard in China

I am back in China and I just renewed my VPN.ac subscription. I have been looking forward to finally trying the WireGuard protocol, which VPN.ac is currently beta testing.

There seems to be only 1 server that works in China for WireGuard, a Taiwan Hi-Net server.

My test was done using the TunSafe client for Windows.

VPN.ac Taiwan (WireGuard)

The speed is not very fast, but it is around 11pm right now, so that is to be expected.

One good aspect of WireGuard is that the connection happens very quickly. As soon as I pressed connect, it immediately connected. Not even 1 second of waiting time.

I'm going to try the same server using the VPN.ac Windows app with the OpenVPN XOR protocol to compare.

VPN.ac Taiwan 2 (Windows app)

WireGuard does seem to perform a little bit better.

One more quick test for VPN.ac.

VPN.ac Hong Kong Kowloon (Windows app)

Let's see how ExpressVPN is performing at 11pm in China.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 5

The first time I got a bad connection and couldn't even finish the speed test. But then I disconnected and tried again, getting a much better connection the second time.

Very good speed and latency for this time of night!

But if you really want lightning fast speed at this time of night, then none of these VPNs can compete with a fast ShadowsocksR proxy server.

WannaFlix Hong Kong (ShadowsocksR proxy)

The WannaFlix 30% off promotion for Tips for China visitors will be ending soon. So if you are thinking about trying WannaFlix, then now is the time to do it!

I have to get to bed now, I'm still feeling jet-lagged from my flight back to China.

I'll be in Hong Kong most of the day tomorrow. I will probably do some more VPN tests on the weekend.

March 16, 2019 - ExpressVPN is working good on all devices (except router)

Now that I'm physically back in China, I can test some more devices.

First, I will try ExpressVPN on my Android phone using China Unicom mobile data. As I recall, the Tokyo 1 server works well with China Unicom.

First, a control test without VPN.

China Unicom mobile data without VPN

Now I will test the Tokyo 1 server.

ExpressVPN Tokyo 1 on Android with China Unicom mobile data

Almost the full speed of my connection with decent ping time too.

I would like to test more servers with mobile data, but I don't have enough data to spare right now. I need to find that SMS code to sign up for the 1 GB daily data package for 5 yuan. I also wanted to test China Mobile, but it seems that my SIM card has expired. I will have to get another one.

Now I will test my Android phone using China Telecom WiFi.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 5 on Android with China Telecom WiFi

Very good speed and latency with Hong Kong today!

Now I will test Hong Kong 5 on my computer.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 5 on Windows 10 computer with China Telecom WiFi

Finally, a test on an iPad using the latest ExpressVPN iOS app.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 5 on iPad with China Telecom WiFi

ExpressVPN service seems to be fully working again on all devices in China, with one exception. I cannot connect to any server using my ExpressVPN router.

Hopefully ExpressVPN will update the router app soon.

No more time for VPN tests today. Check back soon for more updates. Enjoy your weekend everyone!

March 22, 2019 - Asian and USA servers - NordVPN vs ExpressVPN

Someone asked in the comments to test some US servers of NordVPN. Today I'm going to compare Asian servers and US servers for NordVPN and ExpressVPN.

For NordVPN, I am using the obfuscated servers. For ExpressVPN, I am using the Auto setting.

These tests were done between 8pm and 9pm on my Windows computer, connected to my China Telecom 100/20M home internet connection.

NordVPN Japan #135

It was difficult to find a working USA server for NordVPN, but I did find one eventually.

NordVPN USA #2443

Now I will test an Asian and US server using ExpressVPN.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 5

I have been using Hong Kong 5 over the past few days and I have to say that it's performing very well. It sometimes takes a while to connect, but just be patient.

Now for a US server.

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 5

And one more US server.

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 2

March 24, 2019 - Extensive WireGuard Tests - 12VPN vs VPN.ac vs TorGuard

I did quite a few speed tests using the WireGuard protocol as part of a new article that I published today. Check the article here for the details of the speed tests.

Does WireGuard work in China?

March 31, 2019 - New ExpressVPN router

I finally got myself a new ExpressVPN router. I purchased the Netgear R6300v2 from Taobao, but there was a complication because I got a special version made for Charter Communications ISP in the US.

I wrote a tutorial on how I finally got this version to work with the new v2 ExpressVPN router app.

The router performance is pretty good for the price of 328 CNY.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 5 via router app

April 6, 2019 - China Unicom Test - 11pm peak bandwidth congestion time - ExpressVPN vs NordVPN vs VPN.ac

Today I am in Guangxi province using a China Unicom Fibre connection. These tests were done at 11pm on my Android phone connected by WiFi. I'm using the Android apps of ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and VPN.ac.

Here is my speed without VPN.

The China Unicom international bandwidth congestion during peak night time hours is not as bad as China Telecom. So I'm expecting some pretty good results tonight.

First I will test ExpressVPN using the Auto setting in the app.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 5

Very good speed and latency. Surprisingly, the latency is only 2ms higher than the test without VPN using the Nanning location (less than 100 miles from my location).

ExpressVPN Tokyo 1

Unlike the connection to China Telecom, the ExpressVPN Tokyo 1 server has direct peering with China Unicom. Hence the good ping time of 68ms.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 4

High ping, but very fast download speed. This would be a good server for torrenting with China Unicom.

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 5

Not much to say about this one. Pretty good for a USA server I guess.

Next up is NordVPN using the obfuscated server setting on the Android app.

NordVPN Japan #135

I thought I remember this server having better ping time with China Unicom. I guess I was mistaken, or maybe that has changed since I last tested China Unicom. Pretty good download speed for NordVPN though.

NordVPN Singapore #212

NordVPN USA #3284

NordVPN Hong Kong #82

I'm sure this server used to have much better peering to China Unicom. The ping time to from China Unicom to Leaseweb was definitely under 100ms before.

Overall, nothing too impressive with the NordVPN servers. But not terrible either.

Next is VPN.ac using the OpenVPN XOR setting on the Android app.

VPN.ac Hong Kong TSO

Like the NordVPN Hong Kong server, this one is also hosted on Leaseweb, which no longer has good peering with China Unicom.

VPN.ac Tokyo 2

Good ping time, but the download speed is too slow.

VPN.ac Taiwan

Good ping time and download speed. I would be lucky to get 2Mbps on this server with China Telecom at 11pm!

VPN.ac Los Angeles 4

Good ping (for USA) and download speed.

That's all for tonight. Check back again tomorrow night for more China Unicom tests.

April 7, 2019 - 11pm - ShadowsocksR with China Unicom

Last night I tested some VPNs using China Unicom during peak bandwidth congestion time at 11pm. Tonight I will be testing Shadowsocks.

Here is a control test without any proxy connected.

WiFi speed on my computer is a little slower than my phone here.

First up is my favorite paid ShadowsocksR service called WannaFlix.

WannaFlix offers a variety of ShadowsocksR servers with great performance in China and very reasonable prices.

The very reasonable prices get even better if you use the Tips for China coupon code to save an additional 30%.

These tests were done using the ShadowsocksR client for Windows.

WannaFlix Hong Kong Netflix - China Users

WannaFlix Taiwan Netflix - China Users

WannaFlix Los Angeles 1 - China Direct

Server not working (blocked???)

WannaFlix US Netflix 2

WannaFlix Japan Netflix

There are many more servers, but I don't have time to test all of them.

The best feature of WannaFlix is that most of the servers work for Netflix, as indicated in the server names.

Next up is 12VPN. Unlike WannaFlix, they are using the original version of Shadowsocks instead of ShadowsocksR with better obfuscation options.

The following tests were done using the original Shadowsocks client for Windows. Although 12VPN doesn't offer Shadowsocks instructions for Windows users (they prefer you to use their dedicated app, which I don't like very much), I was able to get the Shadowsocks configurations from their Android setup page.

12VPN China Optimized 2 (Hong Kong)

There is something very strange going on with this server. It is hosted on Aliyun Hong Kong, one of the best hosting providers for China. Normally, I can almost max out my connection speed with this server (close to 100Mbps when I'm at home using China Telecom).

A friend sent me a message on Twitter a few days ago telling me that this server became extremely slow all of the sudden. He asked me to test my personal Aliyun server to see if the problem was with Aliyun or 12VPN.

My personal Aliyun server is working fine, so the problem seems to be with 12VPN. I think they are intentionally throttling the speed on this server.

Here is the reply that my friend got from 12VPN when he inquired about this.

12VPN reply to my friend on Twitter

I also sent an email to 12VPN asking about this and their answer to me was "please try CN Optimized 2 (HK) now, it should be working".

Anyway, here are some more 12VPN Shadowsocks tests with some of their other China optimized servers.

12VPN China Optimized 5 (Japan)

12VPN China Optimized 3 (USA)

12VPN China Optimized 4 (Singapore)

Unable to test.

This server doesn't work on speedtest.net. I just get a message telling me that my ad-blocker is preventing the speed test from working. This is probably caused by some kind of port blocking or server blocking.

That is one thing that I really don't like about 12VPN. Too much port blocking and traffic shaping.

I think the WannaFlix service is far superior to 12VPN for Shadowsocks. The main advantage of 12VPN is that they offer many other protocols in addition to Shadowsocks, such as WireGuard for example.

If you want to try 12VPN yourself, you can use the Tips for China coupon code for 25% off.

For those of you who prefer to set up your own Shadowsocks server, here are some speed test results from a few of my personal servers.

James' personal server - Aliyun Hong Kong

Even faster than the control test without a proxy! Aliyun Hong Kong really is the best of the best when it comes to affordable CN2 servers (as long as the speed is not throttled like the 12VPN server).

The only problem with Aliyun is that it's a division of Alibaba, which is a Chinese company. I don't really feel comfortable trusting a Chinese company with my internet connection data.

The best solution for this problem is to tunnel OpenVPN over Shadowsocks.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 2 tunneled over Aliyun ShadowsocksR

You do lose some speed this way, but you gain a lot more privacy. Not only does this hide all of your traffic from the proxy provider, it also hides your real IP address from the VPN provider.

James' personal server - Vultr Los Angeles

It appears that Vultr is not very good on China Unicom. At least the Los Angeles location is not very good. This server works much better at home with my China Telecom connection.

James' personal server - Russia (secret location)

SSR test result secret location

Sorry for being so secretive about this one. This is not a well known provider, and I prefer to keep it that way. I have been using this server for years, and it never gets blocked. Probably because it's not on the radar of the GFW due to it's low profile and few users in China.

It's a direct connection from Beijing to Russia on China Telecom and China Unicom, and performs quite well.

If you really want to know the provider, I just lightly blurred out the host information in the image above so you might be able to see it if you stare at it long enough.

That's all for today. I will be going back home tomorrow so check back soon for China Telecom VPN performance testing in China.

April 8, 2019 - Shadowsocks on Unicom - WannaFlix vs 12VPN retest

I wish I would have thought of this last night, but I can get faster speeds on this connection by plugging directly into the router with a LAN cable (the WiFi router is not very good).

So here are a few retests showing the full speeds of the fastest Shadowsocks servers.

Control test without proxy

WannaFlix Hong Kong Netflix - China Users (SSR)

WannaFlix Taiwan Netflix - China Users (SSR)

12VPN China Optimized 5 (Japan) (SS)

12VPN China Optimized 3 (USA) (SS)

I'm going back home today, no more time for testing.

April 9, 2019 - China has UNBLOCKED some VPN servers

Yes, you read the title right.

The great firewall of China has unblocked many VPN servers that were blocked during the latest VPN crackdown that started in February, 2019.

Even some VPN services that don't normally work in China might be working right now.

I can actually connect to almost all locations using the ExpressVPN manual OpenVPN config files with the OpenVPN GUI client.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 2 - Manual OpenVPN config

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 4 - Manual OpenVPN config

ExpressVPN Tokyo 1 - Manual OpenVPN config

ExpressVPN South Korea - Manual OpenVPN config

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 1 - Manual OpenVPN config

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 2 - Manual OpenVPN config

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 3 - Manual OpenVPN config

Unfortunately, the Great Firewall didn't show any mercy for the Taiwan 3 manual OpenVPN server. That one is still blocked.

Strange behavior of some ExpressVPN apps

Although the performance of the ExpressVPN manual OpenVPN servers is pretty good, the best servers with low latency to China are only offered in the ExpressVPN apps.

Currently, the best server for China is Hong Kong 5. So you can image my frustration when I was unable to connect to this server using the Windows app today.

No matter how hard I tried, the progress circle meter wouldn't even move.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 5 connection failure

It would just stay like this for about 5 minutes before showing the failure message.

I found a way to make it connect that doesn't make sense at all, but it works.

Step 1 - Initiate a connection attempt to Hong Kong 5 using the Windows app.

Step 2 - While the Windows app is trying to connect, initiate a second connection attempt to Hong Kong 5 using another device other than Windows (Android, iOS, or router).

When you do this, then both devices will connect to Hong Kong 5.

At first I thought this was just a coincidence, but I found this behavior to be repeatable and consistent throughout the whole afternoon today.

When I try to connect to Hong Kong 5 on Windows normally, it will fail every time. If I initiate a connection attempt to Hong Kong 5 on another device while the Windows app is trying to connect, then the Windows app will connection successfully every time.

The other device has to make a new connection, it won't work if it's already connected.

So strange.

Anyway, here is the performance when connected using the above procedure.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 5

Another problem that I noticed with this new version 7 Windows app is that sometimes cancelling a connection attempt does not work. It just keeps trying to connect and won't let me change settings or choose another location until is finishes the connection attempt, which takes up to 5 minutes sometimes.

These new app updates from ExpressVPN have very nice user interfaces and look great, but I find that the basic functionality of the VPN connections are getting worse and worse. I think ExpressVPN needs to spend less resources on the UX and more resources on the basic functionality of these apps.

Something else I find very strange is that my old ExpressVPN router with the standard v1 router app still cannot connect to any server, despite the fact that so many servers are not blocked in China anymore.

I know that there is no problem with that router because it works fine when I plug it into my Shadowsocks router (my current setup for streaming Netflix on my living room TV). But when I plug it into my normal router, not even 1 single server will connect.

At least my new ExpressVPN router with the v2 beta router app is working fine.

I wanted to test some more VPNs today, but I wasted too much time troubleshooting these ExpressVPN issues.

April 14, 2019 - ExpressVPN Hong Kong 3 is back!

I'm currently on an overseas trip, but I had to remote access my computer in China to check a rumor that ExpressVPN Hong Kong 3 is working again.

I'm happy to report that it is in fact working.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 3 connected

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 3

Very nice to see ExpressVPN Hong Kong 3 back in service again. It was gone so long, I was starting to think that it would never work in China again.

I just hope that it's still working when I get back to China next week.

April 26, 2019 - Best VPN servers for Android users in China

The following tests were done on my Android phone connected to my China Telecom 100/20M home WiFi.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 3

When it comes to VPN servers to use in China, it really doesn't get any better than ExpressVPN Hong Kong 3. Low latency, high download speed, premium CN2 network. What more can you ask for?

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 5

If Hong Kong 3 is not working then Hong Kong 5 is the next best alternative.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 4

Interesting how Hong Kong 4 consistently gets extremely high download speeds but high ping.

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 5

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 4

ExpressVPN seems to be working very well these days. No failed connections at all.

Let's see how VPN.ac is performing.

VPN.ac Hong Kong Kowloon

VPN.ac Taiwan 2

VPN.ac Los Angeles 4 (CN2)

VPN.ac seems to be getting slower and slower lately. I don't know if their servers are getting overloaded or what the problem is. The speeds on all of these servers should be much faster at this time of day (morning).

Lastly, here are a few tests using NordVPN.

NordVPN Japan #213

NordVPN United States #3279

April 28, 2019 - Best performing ExpressVPN servers for China Mobile

I finally got myself a new China Mobile SIM card for VPN testing after my previous one expired because I didn't use it for a long time.

I have the SIM card in an old phone, which I am using as a WiFi hotspot for my computer.

The following tests were done on my Windows computer connected to the China Mobile hotspot.

Here is the speed from my hotspot without VPN.

China Mobile direct connection

The China Mobile towers near my home don't offer very high speeds. I will have to find another place to do the test next time.

Obviously, the first server I want to test is ExpressVPN Hong Kong 3. However, the upload always fails and the test can't complete.

Here are the best working ExpressVPN servers for China Mobile.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 4 via China Mobile

Unlike the connection with China Telecom, the China Mobile connection to Hong Kong 4 is a direct connection from Guangzhou to Hong Kong, which gives a much lower ping (keep in mind that my ping is a little bit higher because I'm using a mobile network).

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 5 via China Mobile

ExpressVPN Tokyo 1 via China Mobile

Although ExpressVPN Tokyo 1 does not have a good connection to China Telecom, this server is good for both China Unicom and China Mobile.

I'm going to do a more extensive test with China Mobile once I find a better place with a good signal to get higher speeds.

Check back again soon.

May 7, 2019 - Testing a new VPN: Surfshark

Surfshark Windows app

Are you looking for another option for a VPN that works in China? I recently started testing out a new VPN called Surfshark. It comes with a very good offer.

Get the Surfshark 2 year plan for only $47.76 ($1.99/month)

2 years for under $50 is pretty incredible deal. I don't think I've ever seen prices this good for a VPN that works in China before. It's even cheaper than the NordVPN 3 year deal.

The interesting thing about Surfshark is that they are offering the IKEv2 protocol as the default protocol on all of their apps. IKEv2 works quite well in China, but most VPN providers only offer it on their iOS apps.

So far I have tested the Surfshark apps for Windows, Android, and iOS (I believe the Mac app also offers IKEv2).

The following tests were done using the Surfshark app for Windows with the IKEv2 protocol on my China Telecom 100/20M home Wi-Fi connection.

SurfShark Taiwan

This Taiwan server is the best one for China Telecom that I could find. The performance is very similar to the Hi-Net servers offered by VPN.ac and ExpressVPN, but the ping time is lower! Only 27ms (I normally get around 50ms from Hi-Net servers).

However, the connection with China Telecom does slow down to around 2Mbps during peak bandwidth hours at night, same as the Hi-Net servers. The main advantage of this server compared to Hi-Net servers is the better latency.

Unfortunately, the Taiwan server is not available on the Surfshark iOS app (server list is limited on the iOS app). However, I was able to connect to it on iOS using the manual OpenVPN config with the OpenVPN Connect app.

Here are some speed tests on some of the other servers.

Surfshark Hong Kong

Latency is very high, as expected with any server hosted on Leaseweb Hong Kong if you are using China Telecom. I will have to test this one on China Unicom and China Mobile soon to see if it's any better.

Surfshark South Korea (Germany)

The South Korea server seems to connect to a server in Germany. This must be a configuration error, I will try it again in a few days.

The selection of USA servers is very limited. There are only 4 US servers, and they are all on the East Coast.

Surfshark United States Manassas

Surfshark United States Chicago

I think Surfshark should add a US West Coast server such as Los Angeles for their users in Asia, but overall the results are not too bad. For those of you who like to watch Netflix in China, you will be happy to know that I had no problems streaming Netflix with these US servers.

Lastly, I will test 1 server in Europe.

Surfshark London

Overall, here are my first impressions after using Surfshark for a few days.

The good

  • The price for the 2 year special is really good. $1.99/month is the best priced VPN that works in China that I have ever come across.
  • 30 day money back guarantee.
  • Apps have a very nice user interface, nice features (such as ad-blocking and split tunneling), and very quick connections (fast connection time with IKEv2).
  • The connection was successful with all server locations that I tried.

The bad
  • Price of the monthly plan is expensive, and the 1 year plan is more expensive than the 2 year plan. So the 2 year plan is the only good option.
  • The Windows app often takes a long time to load. It gets stuck on the splash screen for a few minutes. I have reported this problem to Surfshark and tried a few steps to solve it, but it still happens.
  • No high performance servers for China. Although there are many servers to choose from, none of them are really high performance.
  • Limited servers available on the iOS app.
  • Setting up the manual OpenVPN config files on iOS is not very convenient because you can only download the config files in .zip format, which makes it very difficult to import them into the OpenVPN Connect app. The best way is to download the config files on a computer, unzip them, and then email them to yourself.

Want to try Surfshark for yourself? They are offering a 30 day money back guarantee so you can try it risk-free!

Don't forget to take advantage of the special 2 year deal for only $1.99/month.

And please leave a comment below to let me know it works for you if you try it.

May 7, 2019 - 11pm peak China Telecom bandwidth hours - Surfshark vs VPN.ac vs ExpressVPN

Right now is the worst time of day to use a VPN with China Telecom. After 11pm, the international bandwidth gets very congested.

Surfshark Taiwan

What a big difference from the test just a few hours ago when the speed was almost 30Mbps.

The Surfshark Hong Kong server slowdown is ever worse.

Surfshark Hong Kong

Let's see how the Taiwan and Hong Kong servers of VPN.ac compare.

VPN.ac Taiwan

About the same speed as the Surfshark Taiwan server, but with higher latency.

VPN.ac Hong Kong Kowloon 2

If you want fast VPN speed at this time of night, you need to use a premium server. Time to call in the big guns.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 3

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 5

When people ask me why ExpressVPN is the best VPN for China, this is the answer. Although it's more expensive than other VPNs, and the it takes a while to connect sometimes, these premium servers are the best ones you will find anywhere. The difference is especially noticeable with China Telecom after 11pm.

May 9, 2019 - ExpressVPN original router app firmware is working again

ExpressVPN recently released beta versions of their new router app for users in China after the last round of VPN blocks.

Today I tried the original router app firmware again, and it seems to be working again.

I have 1 router with the old router app and 1 router with the new router app.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 3 via my Linksys EA6200/XAC1200 (original version router app)

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 3 via my Negear R6300v2 (new beta version router app)

The speed on both of these routers is limited by the CPU of the router itself (they are both low end routers, the R6300v2 has a slightly better CPU). If you want higher speed, I recommend the Linksys WRT1900ACS or WRT3200ACM.

In additional to Hong Kong 3, I also had no problems connecting to Hong Kong 4 and Hong Kong 5 using the router with the original router app firmware.

In related news, ExpressVPN has now released the new beta router app for all versions of supported routers, so you can use either version no matter which support router you have. I prefer the original version because the new beta version is missing many features such as being able to set the frequency band of the WiFi signals, or set different WiFi passowrds for the 2.4 Ghz and 5Ghz signals.

Are you using ExpressVPN on your router? Which router are you using? Which firmware version? Leave a comment below to share your experience.

May 21, 2019 - Latest China VPN Updates

Did ExpressVPN remove the 3 device limit?

ExpressVPN has a limit of 3 simultaneous connections (3 devices connected at the same time). However, I currently have 5 devices connected.

2 routers, 2 computers, and 1 Android phone are all connected to ExpressVPN right now.

I can't find any official announcement about this, and the ExpressVPN website still states 3 connections, so I assume this is some kind of bug. Please leave a comment below if you find the same behavior with your account.

11pm VPN speeds with China Telecom

Right now is the peak bandwidth congestion time for international connections from China. But you can still get pretty good performance if you find the right servers.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 3

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 4

Hong Kong 5 is not working for me right now on this computer with ExpressVPN Windows app version 7.0.1. However, it works on my other computer with Windows app version 6.9.2. Strange.

Surfshark Taiwan

What's interesting about this Surfshark Taiwan server is that I can only get 2-3 Mbps on speed testing websites at this time of night (also checked on fast.com and dslreports). But I can stream 1080p on YouTube without any problem, and the streaming speed is between 15-20 Mbps. Very strange.

WannaFlix has a new Hong Kong ShadowsocksR server

The WannaFlix Hong Kong server started getting slower lately, so WannaFlix added a new one. It's good to know they are committed to always having fast servers for China available and willing to add new ones if necessary.

WannaFlix Hong Kong (PCCW host)

WannaFlix Hong Kong 2 (HKBN host)

WannaFlix is still offering the limited time 30% off discount for Tips for China visitors. If you haven't WannaFlix yet, now is the time to do it!

June 1, 2019 - VPN problems in China

There is an important anniversary coming up in 3 days and the government is cracking down hard on VPNs today.

I am currently on a trip in Shanghai. My hotel WiFi is not very good, so you won't see speed test results to get excited about today.

Here is my speed without a VPN using my hotel WiFi.

I did not have any luck with the latest version of the ExpressVPN app for Windows, so I uninstalled it and installed the old version that is meant for Windows XP/Vista (version 3.626).

If you are an ExpressVPN Windows user and having trouble connecting, I highly suggest that you scroll up and check my blog post from March 6, 2019 on this page.

The old version Windows app has many working servers that connect quickly and reliably.

Expressvpn old version Windows app connected

I can't say for sure that the new version will not work, but all the usual servers I tried didn't connect. I don't really have the patience to try all of them and wait for the extremely long connection attempts. I'm just about ready to go to bed, so I used the solution that I know works.

ExpressVPN Singapore Jurong (via Windows app version 3.626)

ExpressVPN Seattle (via Windows app version 3.626)

Keep in mind that it is 11pm right now, and my speed without a VPN here is only 5Mbps.

My favorite Surfshark server (Taiwan) also got blocked today. But I found a new server that works quite well.

Surfshark Australia Perth

Don't think that Shadowsocks is immune to this blocking. The WannaFlix Shadowsocks service also had several servers blocked today (so did my personal Aliyun HK server).

Luckily WannaFlix is working very hard and fast to restore the blocked servers, and most of them are back online already.

WannaFlix Singapore

WannaFlix VIP 3 (Taiwan via China relay server)

I will remind everyone once again that my speeds today are limited by my hotel WiFi connection. I should also mention that this hotel WiFi is a China Telecom connection.

I will be busy in Shanghai tomorrow and Monday, so I will probably not update this page again until Tuesday.

If you find good servers or other tips for better connections these days, please share them in the comments below to help others.

June 3, 2019 China VPN Status Update

Today is my last day in Shanghai using the slow hotel WiFi connection. Maximum speeds will be around 6-7 Mbps today.

I don't want to spend my whole vacation testing VPNs, so just a few quick ones today.

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 3 (via Windows app version 3.626)

ExpressVPN Seattle (via Windows app version 3.626)

I just updated the Surfshark Windows app and saw something very interesting.

Surfshark now supports Shadowsocks

Surfshark Shadowsocks protocol

Surfshark Australia Perth (Shadowsocks)

Surfshark USA Denver (Shadowsocks)

Although I think it's great that Surfshark has added Shadowsocks to their Windows app, there are a few problems with it.

  • VPN and Shadowsocks are sharing the same servers. When a server gets IP blocked due to VPN traffic being detected by GFW, Shadowsocks will stop working too. I suggest using separate server infrastructure for the Shadowsocks servers.
  • If you connect to a blocked server, the app shows it as connected successfully but no traffic will pass through. This is probably a limitation of the Shadowsocks protocol because the standard Shadowsocks app behaves the same way.
  • The Surfshark app interfers with the standard Shadowsocks app. Even though I exited the Surfshark app, I was unable to use the ShadowsocksR app for Windows (it said the port was already in use). I had to kill the Surfshark process from task manager to solve this problem.

It is still in beta, so maybe some of these problems will solved in a future update. Overall, I'm very impressed with Surfshark for doing this.

Speaking of Shadowsocks, here are few tests for WannaFlix. My favorite servers (the Hong Kong ones) are back in service.

WannaFlix Hong Kong

WannaFlix Hong Kong 2

Got to love that low ping. Even from Shanghai, it's still pretty good.

June 5, 2019 - ExpressVPN New Apps for China

ExpressVPN has released new beta version apps for improved connectivity in China.

The new beta apps can be downloaded from the China Status Page.

Here are a few tests using the new beta app for Android. It is currently 11:45pm, so I'm not expecting very fast speeds right now.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 4 (Android app version 7.5.0)

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 5 (Android app version 7.5.0)

Pretty good speed from Los Angeles 5, especially considering that it is China Telecom peak night time bandwidth congestion hours right now

For Windows, the old version 3.626 is not working for me right now. I can connect to the servers, but the DNS doesn't work, so I can't load any web pages. I'm not sure if it's something with my computer, or a configuration error on ExpressVPN's end. Anyway, I will try the new beta app for Windows tomorrow.

I will be testing some more VPNs tomorrow as well.

June 6, 2019 - 10:00am to 11:30am

ExpressVPN vs Surfshark vs WannaFlix vs NordVPN vs VPN.ac

I uninstalled the ExpressVPN old Windows version 3.626 and re-installed it again to see if it would solve my problem from last night. And it did solve it. It's working again now.

ExpressVPN Seattle (old Windows app version 3.626)

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 3 (old Windows app version 3.626)

Now I'm going to uninstall this old version and try the new beta version for Windows.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 4 (new beta Windows app version 7.2.0)

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 5 (new beta Windows app version 7.2.0)

Wow, look at that speed! Los Angeles 5 is BLAZING FAST. I don't think I have ever tested this high of download speed with ExpressVPN before!

ExpressVPN Santa Monica (new beta Windows app version 7.2.0)

Very similar speed as Los Angeles 5.

I'm very impressed with this new beta version. ExpressVPN has made some real improvements. Not only are the speeds better than ever, but the connection time is much faster. These servers connected in under 20 seconds instead of the usual 1-5 minutes.

It appears they also fixed a bug where cancelling a connection attempt sometimes didn't work.

Remember, you can find the latest beta apps on the ExpressVPN China Status page. I have also added a link to that page on the China-accessible VPN links page.

Time to test some more VPNs.

Although Surfshark has added Shadowsocks to their Windows app, I'm going to be using IKEv2 today.

Surfshark Australia Perth (Windows app IKEv2 protocol)

Surfshark Denver (Windows app IKEv2 protocol)

WannaFlix has been hit hard by GFW blocking these last few days. Almost all of the servers are blocked right now. The Taiwan server is the only one working good for me today.

WannaFlix Taiwan (ShadowsocksR)

The Hong Kong server is working too, but the speed and stability is not very good.

WannaFlix Hong Kong (ShadowsocksR)

Now I'm going to test some VPNs that I have not tested recently.

Let's see how NordVPN is performing these days.

NordVPN Japan #167 (obfuscated setting)

NordVPN Singapore #151 (obfuscated setting)

Not the greatest speeds, but their Windows app was updated and the connection time and reliability has improved.

Finally, let's see how VPN.ac is doing.

VPN.ac Los Angeles 4 (OpenVPN XOR)

VPN.ac Taiwan (OpenVPN XOR)

Not too bad.

That's all for today. Check back soon for more updates.

June 20, 2019 - China VPN Status Updates - ExpressVPN, Surfshark, and WannaFlix

Here are the latest China VPN performance updates.

ExpressVPN China Status

ExpressVPN is still working well in China, but there are only 5-6 servers that are not blocked. You will also need to make sure you have downloaded the latest updates from the ExpressVPN China Status page.

Although ExpressVPN is the best VPN to use during normal times, their service does seem to take longer than others to recover after VPN crackdowns, such as the recent sensitive anniversary date on the day after June 3.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 4

Not so fast today.

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 5

ExpressVPN Santa Monica

USA servers are pretty fast, but the latency is a little higher than normal.

Surfshark China Status

I was planning to use the Shadowsocks protocol with Surfshark today, but I kept getting an error message. It's still in beta, so I guess they have some issues to work out. These Surfshark tests were done using the IKEv2 protocol today.

I have some good news to report. The Taiwan server is back online.

Actually, not only Taiwan is working again. All of the Surfshark servers seem to be working now.

Surfshark Taiwan

27ms ping time, very good!

Surfshark Tokyo

Surfshark Phoenix

Surfshark Denver

Surfshark UK Manchester

The speeds are not great on some of the servers, but at least all of them are working.

Considering that Surfshark is offering the 2 year special for only $47, I can't complain too much about the speeds. Overall, it's working great. This deal comes with a 30 day money back guarantee, so you can try it out yourself without any risk.

WannaFlix China Status

Some WannaFlix servers are still blocked, but most of them are back online.

WannaFlix Hong Kong 2 (ShadowsocksR)

WannaFlix Taiwan (ShadowsocksR)

WannaFlix Singapore (ShadowsocksR)

WannaFlix is still offering the 30% off coupon code for Tips for China visitors. They have a 30 day money back guarantee too, so you can try it risk-free.

June 23, 2019 - Best VPN for Shanghai China Unicom

This is a test result sent to me by someone from Shanghai using China Unicom.

Surfshark Taiwan (manual OpenVPN UDP)

The China Unicom route to this server is through Shanghai, not Guangzhou like the China Telecom route.

By the way, if you are looking for the manual OpenVPN config file for the Taiwan server, you will need to ask the Surfshark live chat support for it.

This test was done at 8:45pm.

Really incredible speed. If anyone is using China Unicom near Shanghai, I highly recommend you try this Surfshark Taiwan server!

Surfshark is still offering the 2 year special deal for $47, which comes with a 30 day money back guarantee.

June 24, 2019 - ExpressVPN Hong Kong 3 is Back!

The best VPN server for China is back online again.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 3

Thanks to Simon in the comment section for letting everyone know about this.

August 23, 2019 - China VPN Testing is Back

Long time no update. I have been outside of China the last 1.5 months and had problems with my computer in China that I access remotely. I finally got everything fixed now.

The following tests were done on my Windows 7 computer in China via Teamviewer remote access.

After installing the latest ExpressVPN version 7.2.3 on this computer, I was not able to connect to any server. However, I can connect successfully using the standard OpenVPN config files.

I will do more troubleshooting with the app when I have more time.

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 3 - Manual OpenVPN

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 4 - Manual OpenVPN

Let's see how Surfshark is performing in China these days.

Surfshark Hong Kong (IKEv2)

Surfshark Taiwan (IKEv2)

Finally, let's see how well the WannaFlix Shadowsocks service is doing.

WannaFlix Hong Kong HKBN

WannaFlix Hong Kong PCCW 3

FYI - The computer I'm using to do these tests seems to be limited to 50Mbps over WiFi. I'm also getting 50Mbps on the China Telecom website test. I will check later if I can update the WiFi driver or something.

Check back again soon for more VPN speed tests.

September 21, 2019 - James is back in China

I just got back to China today. I heard there was another VPN crackdown going on, but I was having trouble accessing my computer in China remotely.

Indeed, there is a very big crackdown going on right now. This one is probably related to the China Cyber Security week, and possibly the upcoming 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China coming up on October 1.

Using the latest ExpressVPN app for Windows, I was only able to connect to Hong Kong 4 and the speed was pretty slow.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 4 (via Windows app)

However, I was able to connect to several working server locations with better speeds by using the manual OpenVPN config files.

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 2 (via manual OpenVPN)

ExpressVPN Singapore CBD (via manual OpenVPN)

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 4 (via manual OpenVPN)

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 5 (via manual OpenVPN)

If you are having trouble connecting to ExpressVPN using the apps, I recommend using manual OpenVPN connections instead. Here is a guide on how to set up ExpressVPN manual OpenVPN.

You may find the ExpressVPN apps to be hit and miss these days. Certain servers may work on certain devices at certain times. The manual OpenVPN connections are much more stable and reliable.

You can also try the old version 3.626 of the ExpressVPN app for Windows, as I have done during previous VPN crackdowns (see previous posts for the details).

Sept 22, 2019 - Non-peak hours VPN testing

It's currently 4am and I can't sleep (my body is still on Canadian time I guess).

After yesterday's post someone sent me a message on Twitter asking why I didn't test ExpressVPN Hong Kong 3. I didn't even think to try HK3, I just assumed that it wouldn't work. But I was wrong!

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 3 (via Windows app)

The speed is much slower than expected for Hong Kong 3, especially for 4am. But at least it works.

Here are some more working servers that I found using the ExpressVPN windows app.

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 2 (via Windows app)

ExpressVPN Denmark (via Windows app)

ExpressVPN Switzerland 2 (via Windows app)

Ok, enough with ExpressVPN. Time to test some others now.

I had major problems with the Surfshark app yesterday. I reset all settings to default, but then was unable to log in. Eventually I logged in successfully after retrying many times, but the server list was completely empty. Eventually, I got it working.

Here are some Surfshark test results.

Surfshark Phoenix (IKEv2)

Surfshark Phoenix (Shadowsocks)

Surfshark Poland (IKEv2)

Surfshark Poland (Shadowsocks)

Surfshark Canada (IKEv2)

Surfshark USA Manassas (IKEv2)

The Taiwan server was removed from the server list when using the Surfshark app in China, but I found a way to access it through a manual OpenVPN connection. However, I had to edit the .ovpn config file and change the hostname to an IP address (

The complete line, after the change:

remote 1194

And of course I also added the line block-outside-dns because I am using Windows 10.

Surfshark Taiwan (manual OpenVPN with direct IP)

Now I am going to test WannaFlix. I have been following their Telegram chat and email notifications. It appears that all of their Shadowsocks servers are now blocked, and they have decided to roll out a new system rather than continuing to change their server IPs.

They say that it will take around 1 week to launch the new system, but they are offering a temporary solution in the meantime. The solution is a special OpenVPN configuration that proxies the connection through a CDN. This is very clever because it makes it impossible to get blocked (China will never block CDNs because this would break 80% of the internet).

For some reason, I cannot test this server on the speedtest.net website. I keep getting a "latency test error". So here is a test from the fast.com site.

WannaFlix fast.com speed test

The speed is not great, but it's only a temporary solution until they upgrade their hardware to support faster OpenVPN speeds.

If you are thinking of trying WannaFlix, I would hold off and wait until next week when their new system is launched. Check back here to see what the speeds are like. I would not recommend it as a top VPN for China in the current state.

Next I will test VPN.ac, which I have not used in a very long time.

None of the servers seem to be working with the default UDP-6999, but I was able to connect to several servers with TCP-443.

VPN.ac Hong Kong Kowloon 2

VPN.ac Taiwan

VPN.ac Los Angeles 4 (CN2)

Next up is NordVPN. The latest instructions for China users say to use TCP instead of UDP with the obfuscated setting.

NordVPN Japan #258

NordVPN Germany #666

NordVPN United States #4442

NordVPN seems to be working a bit better than before. Connections are much faster, but you need to know which specific servers to connect to after changing the settings to TCP/obfuscated.

Here is a list of the current supported NordVPN servers for users in China. I didn't try all of them, but the 3 that I tried were all working.

United States # 4408-4410, 4413, 4415-4416, 4419, 4429-4430, 4432, 4439, 4441-4443, 4445, 4447-4452, 4454, 4456, 4459-4461;
United Kingdom # 1491, 1493, 1497-1498, 1501-1502;
Germany # 666-673;
Japan # 258, 267;
Switzerland # 180-183;
United Arab Emirates # 9-10, 14, 16-18, 20, 23-24, 26-28;
Singapore # 233, 235-236, 240, 243, 247-248, 250, 252-253;
Hong Kong # 146;
France # 391-398;

That's all for today. Time for me to go to bed.

September 24, 2019 - 12:00pm noon VPN speed tests

The last time I did my VPN testing, it was during the time period of 4:00am to 6:00am. Speeds are usually much faster during this time because the international networks are less congested than normal.

Here are some tests done at 12:00 noon today.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 3 (via Windows app)

Got to love that ultra low latency and lightning fast speed. Good to see that my VPN server for China is back to normal.

Hong Kong 4 and 5 did not connect successfully.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 2 (via Windows app)

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 5 (via Windows app)

I think that things are starting to get back to normal now that the Cyber Security event ended on Sunday. Although I couldn't connect to HK4/5, the others connected fairly quickly.

The Surfshark app is now only showing servers in Europe and USA when using the app in China. I guess they are only showing the ones that will work, which is useful.

I will test a few servers with the IKEv2 protocol and then change to the Shadowsocks protocol and test them again.

Surfshark Germany (IKEv2)

Surfshark USA Manassas (IKEv2)

Surfshark UK London (IKEv2)

The connections and fast and reliable, but the speeds are not great. Let's see if changing the protocol to Shadowsocks offers better speeds.

Note - If you are using the Shadowsocks protocol with the Surfshark app, make sure that you first you exit any other Shadowsocks apps that you might be running.

The Germany server did not work with Shadowsocks.

Surfshark USA Manassas (Shadowsocks)

Surfshark UK London (Shadowsocks)

Changing the protocol to Shadowsocks didn't make much difference for the US Manassas server, but it made a big difference for the UK London server!

Now I will try the Surfshark Taiwan server with the manual OpenVPN config (using the special method described in my previous post).

Surfshark Taiwan (manual OpenVPN)

This Taiwan server is much slower now compared to the last test at 4:00am.

I remember that this server performs much faster with China Unicom according to some test results that someone in Shanghai sent me that I posted here previously.

Out of curiosity, I'm going to try tethering to my China Unicom connection to my computer and see how it compares.

But first, here is a control test without VPN.

Surfshark Taiwan (manual OpenVPN via China Unicom mobile tethering)

Wow, what a difference!

I got the full speed of my China Unicom connection with this server.

I highly recommend the Surfshark Taiwan server for anyone using China Unicom as their home ISP or mobile service provider.

Now let's see how NordVPN servers perform at this time compared to 4:00am.

All of the 3 servers I connected to last time have been blocked, but NordVPN has a new list of working servers for users in China (with TCP/Obfuscated setting).

United States # 4429;
Singapore # 257, 259-260, 262-263, 265-267, 269-270, 274-275, 277-278;
Japan # 279-280, 282-285, 288, 292, 294;

If you are wondering where I am getting these lists from, you can find them on the NordVPN website. Just click on the help icon on the bottom right side of the website and then choose the first article in the list "connecting from a country with internet restrictions".

Anyway, here are the test results.

I connected to several of the Japan servers, but the connection is so slow that I can't even complete a speed test.

The United States #4429 server does not show up, even after I logged out and logged back in. Not sure what's going on there.

I connected to 5 or 6 Singapore servers, but ran into the same problem as the Japan ones. Too slow to complete a speed test.

I'm going to try a test with my China Unicom connection to see if I can get a usable connection.

NordVPN Japan #285 (via China Unicom mobile tethering)

NordVPN seems to be working extremely poorly on China Telecom today, but I was able to get a working connection with China Unicom.

September 25, 2019 - James can't sleep again

It's currently 1:30am (technically Sept 26) and I can't sleep again.

I will remind everyone once again. If you are using ExpressVPN then I highly recommend setting up manual OpenVPN.

The speeds seem to be slower today. I think the Great Firewall is throttling the speed of VPN connections that are not blocked.

ExpressVPN Singapore CBD (via manual OpenVPN)

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 5 (via manual OpenVPN)

ExpressVPN San Francisco 2 (via manual OpenVPN)

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 2 (via manual OpenVPN)

I was also able to find a few working servers using the ExpressVPN Windows app.

ExpressVPN Austria (via Windows app)

ExpressVPN New Zealand (via Windows app)

The Austria server with the Windows app seems to be working the best right now. I think European locations are not getting speed throttled as bad as the US. I might try some European locations later with manual OpenVPN configs as well.

Next up is Surfshark.

Surfshark Singapore (IKEv2)

The speed is too slow to complete a speed test. Fast.com speed is 140Kbps (0.14Mbps).

Surfshark Singapore (Shadowsocks)

The Singapore server is the only location that is working for me with the Surfshark Windows app right now. My special manual OpenVPN config for the Taiwan server is still working, but the speed is too slow to complete a speed test.

WannaFlix Shadowsocks servers are still 100% blocked. Sometimes 1 or 2 of the Hong Kong servers are working but they tend to get blocked again within hours. They did add a second OpenVPN server using their special un-blockable method. This one is working on speedtest.net for a speed test.

WannaFlix US 2 (special OpenVPN)

That ping time is sky high, but the download speed is good. Upload speed not so good.

WannaFlix says they are getting their new hardware for a permanent OpenVPN solution with better speeds in the next few days. I'm holding off on updating the Best VPN for China page until after this new solution is in place to see whether I need to remove WannaFlix from the top 3 or not.

Next up is VPN.ac.

VPN.ac Taiwan 2 (TCP-443)

VPN.ac Hong Kong Kowloon 2 (TCP-443)

I should also mention that 12VPN is working quite well right now. I'm not going to bother doing any speed tests because they have blocked the ports used by the speed test on most of their servers. I'm currently getting around 5Mbps on YouTube with their CN USA 3 Shadowsocks server.

12VPN offers a 14 day money back guarantee and you can get 25% off your first billing cycle with the Tips for China coupon code.

Before I sign off and try to go back to bed I just want to address one issue. Many people have been saying that "Shadowsocks is dead" recently. That is not really true.

While Shadowsocks has been detectable by the GFW for over a year, I think it's still a good option. If you are using your own personal server without too much traffic, there is not much to worry about. I'm running some servers that I share with a small group of friends and I have not had much trouble recently. My Vultr US server was blocked but my UK one still works. My Aliyun HK server was blocked last week but I made a new one right away and it has not been blocked again since.

Here are the speeds of my top 3 Shadowsocks servers right now.

James' personal SSR server performance

Whether your Shadowsocks server gets blocked and how quickly it gets blocked seems to be highly correlated with the amount of traffic you are using. If you are not sharing your servers with too many people then they are not as likely to get blocked. More popular hosts such as Vultr USA locations tend to get blocked easier (I recommend using a Europe location right now if you are using Vultr).

Ok, that's all for today. Check back soon for more China VPN testing.

September 27, 2019 - Surfshark hidden Shadowsocks servers

I found a very interesting way to find working Surfshark Shadowsocks servers for manual connections (using the Shadowsocks app instead of the Surfshark app).

Following the instructions for manual Shadowsocks setup on the Surfshark website, find the server hostname of the location you want to connect to. For example, the Taiwan location:


Now open the OpenDNS CacheCheck website and enter the hostname to get a full list of the server IPs for that location.

But don't use these IPs directly. Rather, add 1 to the address. For example, one of the IPs for Taiwan is Adding 1 to this gives

Here are some speed test results from servers I found using this method.

Surfshark Taiwan (manual Shadowsocks)

This Taiwan location works better with China Unicom, not so fast with China Telecom.

Here are some better locations for China Telecom.

Surfshark Japan (manual Shadowsocks)

Good ping and good download speed on this one.

Surfshark USA Seattle (manual Shadowsocks)

There are many working servers that you can find using this method that are not available on the Surfshark app. If you find any good ones, leave a comment below.

September 27, 2019 - ExpressVPN has updated all apps

ExpressVPN now has new apps available for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, and Routers. Get the latest versions from the China status page.

The latest version for Windows is 7.5.1.

Connection reliability seems to be better, but there are only a few servers working.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 4 (via Windows app v7.5.1)

ExpressVPN Singapore Marina Bay (via Windows app v7.5.1)

ExpressVPN Tokyo 3 (via Windows app v7.5.1)

Personally, I still prefer the manual OpenVPN connections. Connection time is faster and more servers are working. I recommend having both the apps and the manual OpenVPN configs installed to increase your chances of always finding a working server during the holidays.

Here are a few tests using the manual OpenVPN configs.

ExpressVPN Singapore CBD (via manual OpenVPN)

I think this server has the best latency that you will find right now.

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 5 (via manual OpenVPN)

And I think this one is the best performing US server.

September 28, 2019 - WannaFlix Update

WannaFlix now has their new hardware in place for their special un-blockable OpenVPN system. They already have their first server up and running with the new technology.

WannaFlix US 2 OpenVPN (new un-blockable system)

Big improvement in the speed and latency compared to the temporary system they were using before. Can't wait to test the rest of the servers once they are online.

September 30, 2019 - WannaFlix Eclipse

Today WannaFlix has officially launched their new system of un-blockable OpenVPN, which is called "Eclipse".

There are currently 4 servers available.

WannaFlix Singapore (Eclipse)

WannaFlix Japan (Eclipse)

WannaFlix USA (Eclipse)

WannaFlix London (Eclipse)

The best server is Singapore. Good ping, good download speed, and good upload speed.

October 1, 2019 - China Unicom Testing

Happy 70th birthday to the People's Republic of China!

I am currently at my girlfriend's hometown in Guangxi province using a China Unicom Wi-Fi connection. This Surfshark Taiwan server is really amazing on China Unicom. I would say that Surfshark Taiwan on China Unicom is like ExpressVPN Hong Kong 3 on China Telecom.

Here is a control test of my speed without any VPN or proxy running.

Surfshark Taiwan (manual Shadowsocks with direct IP via China Unicom)

Let me see which ExpressVPN servers are best on China Unicom right now.

Using the Windows app, the only working server I can find right now is Singapore Marina Bay.

ExpressVPN Singapore Marina Bay (via Windows app on China Unicom)

I could probably find more working servers on the app, but I don't want to spend all day hunting for servers. I'll just use the manual OpenVPN configs instead.

ExpressVPN Tokyo 3 (via manual OpenVPN on China Unicom)

ExpressVPN Tokyo 1 (via manual OpenVPN on China Unicom)

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 5 (via manual OpenVPN on China Unicom)

The Tokyo 1 manual OpenVPN server works very well on China Unicom.

October 3, 2019 - Surfshark China Update

Here is an update for Surfshark users in China.

All of the servers on the Windows app seem to be dead. I can't connect to any of the locations. At first, I thought the manual Shadowsocks connections were dead too, but then I realized that my port number and password somehow got changed. After updating my settings with the port/password shown in the client area of the website, I was able to connect.

Surfshark Taiwan (manual Shadowsocks with direct IP via China Unicom)

I've been connected to this server for about half an hour and it seems to be very stable so far. I'm using IP, but others should be working too. See my post on Sept 27 for the instructions on how to find the working IPs.

I know that I won't find any better server for China Unicom, but I'll try a few others anyway.

Surfshark Japan (manual Shadowsocks with direct IP via China Unicom)

It took me a long time to find this one. Most of the Japan IPs did not work, even though they could be pinged. Eventually I found to be working.

Surfshark Seattle (manual Shadowsocks with direct IP via China Unicom)

IP for this one is

It's a bit tedious to find these IPs, but there are many working ones to be found. Look at it this way. If they were easy to find, then they would probably be blocked already.

If you prefer OpenVPN instead of Shadowsocks, you can use the same method to find working servers. Except that you can't add 1 to the IP address. You need to find one that responds to ping that is directly listed on the results from the OpenDNS CacheCheck site.

These are harder to find, but still possible. I found one in Japan (

If you are using Windows 10, remember to add the line "block-outside-dns" to the config file in addition to changing the server hostname to the IP address.

I should probably put a quick guide together explaining these things more clearly, but hopefully everyone can figure it out in the meantime.

Anyway, here is the OpenVPN speed on the Japan server.

Surfshark Japan (manual OpenVPN with direct IP via China Unicom)

The speed is much slower compared to Shadowsocks. But there is something strange going on with the OpenVPN speeds with Surfshark. The speed test shows very low speed, but when I go to YouTube the videos play immediately in 1080p without buffering. And the speed is around 10Mbps.

Surfshark YouTube streaming speed

October 9, 2019 - WannaFlix SSR has risen from the dead

Several of the WannaFlix Shadowsocks servers are working again. While it's great that they developed the new "Eclipse" protocol to deal with GFW blocks, I'm happy to see that they didn't give up on Shadowsocks, which is really the core feature of the service.

I should mention that I'm back home now using my Guangdong China Telecom 100/20M Fibre connection.

WannaFlix Taiwan Netflix (ShadowsocksR)

WannaFlix Philippines (ShadowsocksR)

WannaFlix China VIP 1 / Hong Kong (ShadowsocksR)

WannaFlix Canada Netflix (ShadowsocksR)

WannaFlix Germany Netflix (ShadowsocksR)

The UK and Australia servers are working too, but the speeds are slow.

According to the latest news on the Telegram group, more servers will be back online soon.

If you were thinking about trying WannaFlix, now is the time to do it. Don't forget to use the Tips for China 25% off coupon code. There is a 30 day money back guarantee too!

October 11, 2019 - ExpressVPN & Surfshark Updates

Not much has changed with ExpressVPN and Surfshark since my last updates. The same servers I tested last time are still working now.

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 5 (via Windows app)

ExpressVPN Singapore Marina Bay (via Windows app)

The app can take a very long time to connect, which I find frustrating. So I still prefer manual OpenVPN connections (until HK3 comes back).

ExpressVPN Los Angeles 5 (via manual OpenVPN)

ExpressVPN Singapore CBD (via manual OpenVPN)

The frustration I experienced waiting for the ExpressVPN app to connect was nothing compared to the frustration with Surfshark today.

All of the servers on the app are still not working, so don't even bother with that. I tried every single one. Just go directly to manual connections.

Surfshark Japan (manual OpenVPN IP

Next I tried the manual Shadowsocks connections that I set up last time, but none of them worked!

At first I thought maybe they all got blocked. So I connected to ExpressVPN and tried again (SS running on top of VPN), but still no dice.

Then I carefully checked the settings again and made sure the port number and password matched with what is shown in the client area of the website.

Everything matched, but still nothing!

I ended up clicking the "Disable Shadowsocks" button in the client area of the website and then enabled it again. This generated a new port and password. Now it's working.

And wow, not only is it working, but these are the fastest speeds I have ever seen from Surfshark.

Surfshark Taiwan (manual Shadowsocks IP

Surfshark Seattle (manual Shadowsocks IP

Surfshark Japan (manual Shadowsocks IP

I don't know what happened recently, but the Taiwan and Japan servers are now very fast on China Telecom. This was not the case before. Taiwan had a low ping, but was never that fast. Japan never had such a low ping before or high speed. Maybe China Telecom upgraded their peering infrastructure with those 2 hosting providers.

I don't think it will be so fast at night though (now is around 12 noon). Maybe I'll do a night time test tonight and compare the Shadowsocks speeds of Surfshark vs WannaFlix. That should be interesting.

In summary, I think Surfshark can be really annoying to use sometimes. But it's a great value for money at $2/month if you know how to use it. If you just try to use the apps and don't spend time finding good servers for manual connections, then you will probably be disappointed and take advantage of the 30 day money back guarantee.

So if you decide to try Surfshark in China, make sure you put in some effort in setting up some good manual connections.

October 11, 2019 - 11pm Shadowsocks Test- Surfshark vs WannaFlix

Now is the peak congestion time for China Telecom international connections.

Surfshark Taiwan (manual Shadowsocks)

Surfshark Japan (manual Shadowsocks)

WannaFlix Hong Kong PCCW 2 Netflix (ShadowsocksR)

WannaFlix Taiwan (ShadowsocksR)

Surfshark was a bit faster than I expected for this time of night, and WannaFlix was a bit slower than I expected. Overall, they both performed around the same.

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