Best VPNs for China in 2021: Real Test Results – Ranked!

Best VPNs for China looking for that really works?

To help you select the right one, we flew into Beijing and tested 28 paid VPNs against two of their ISP networks.

The reason we did this often is that China is the most censored country in the world, so you will stop accessing sites like Google, Facebook, or Twitter using your standard internet connections.

Even premium VPNs rarely work.

And that’s not ideal, especially for ex-pats and residents looking to access what the rest of the planet can access without a burden.

So what is the solution?

Identify which VPNs they actually add to China.

A Few Things Before We Dive In


Disclaimer: Our trial time in Beijing lasted three days. Using a VPN in China is often problematic due to network efforts to ban VPNs. As a consequence, what worked for us might not work for you and vice versa. Furthermore, what occurs in Beijing may or may not have an effect in other regions of China.

We recently paid a visit to China to continue our mission of allowing you to recognize the simplest VPN services backed by hands-on experience and extensive testing. We reviewed various VPN services while we were there to determine which is the best VPN for China.

Before we begin, a few facts:

  • On two Chinese ISPs, we reviewed 28 VPN services:
    • China Unicom
    • Ultra Kings Limited (or Voiz Plus)
  • Just 19 of the 28 VPNs we tested were compatible with Ultra Kings Limited, and only 13 with China Unicom.
  • Both ISPs had blocked the homepages of 26 of the 28 VPNs we reviewed. Nine of the 28 VPNs are frequently downloaded from the Chinese App Store by Ultra Kings Limited, and ten of the 28 VPNs are frequently downloaded from China Unicom.
  • We checked the VPNs that linked successfully on 19 separate websites. These are the websites:
sites tested in china for best vpn
Article: Best VPNs for China in 2021

More

  • We also tested the VPNs that were connected to determine if we could use WhatsApp, Telegram, Viber, and Skype.
  • Just 11 of the 28 VPNs we tried were compatible with both ISPs.
  • Of the 11 that worked, the 7 simplest are shown below.

At the main ISP we tested, Ultra Kings Limited, we got a baseline download speed of three .9Mbps and an upload speed of three .3Mbps.

benchmark speed test in china ultra kings limited
Article: Best VPNs for China in 2021

At the second ISP we tested, China Unicom, we got a baseline download speed of 5.14 Mbps and an upload speed of 0.52 Mbps.

benchmark speed test in china for unicom
Article: Best VPNs for China in 2021

It is also worth mentioning that Ultra Kings Limited seems to be the highest ISP for VPN, as China Unicom seems to ban more VPN IPs.

Just 11 of the 28 worked for China Unicom, while 18 worked for Ultra Kings Capped. China Unicom, on the other hand, was a little quicker.

Top 7 Best VPNs for China in 2021


ExpressVPN


Finding a VPN that offers privacy and performance is often difficult. Especially one that really works from within China.

What Our Tests in China Revealed

  • Our first-hand experience shows that ExpressVPN is the simplest VPN for China.
  • It’s one of the few VPNs we tested in China that operated with both Ultra Kings Limited and China Unicom’s ISPs.
  • The 19 places we reviewed were also accessible with ExpressVPN. Not only that, but WhatsApp, Telegram, Viber, and Skype all worked on both ISPs.

ExpressVPN had a two .7Mbps download speed and 2Mbps upload speed on Ultra Kings Limited (with benchmarks of three .9Mbps and three .3Mbps respectively).

expressvpn speed test from china on ultra kings limited
Article: Best VPNs for China in 2021

For China Unicom, we got a download speed of 4.28Mbps and an upload speed of 0.4Mbps (compared to the benchmarks of 5.14Mbps and 0.52Mbps).

expressvpn speed test from china on unicom
Article: Best VPNs for China in 2021

ExpressVPN’s commitment to keeping one step ahead of Chinese censors is even more remarkable, as it proactively tracks its servers for accessibility in China and uses sophisticated technology protocols behind the scenes.

ExpressVPN Summary


The claim of not logging ExpressVPN logs has been proven in the real world – the Turkish government once raided its data center and seized its servers in an effort to access a specific user’s logs. Guess what they found? Not a thing. This, and thus the incontrovertible fact that ExpressVPN is located within the British Virgin Islands, a VPN-compliant jurisdiction, makes it a beautiful place for VPN users from China.

Here are some high points that brought ExpressVPN to the top of the list:

  • Accounts are protected by a kill switch feature that cuts off your internet access completely when your VPN connection fails, preventing your connection from switching to a publicly visible alternative.
  • The service provides strong AES-256 encryption with OpenVPN support, P2P server availability for torrents, and support for up to 5 simultaneous connections.
  • The customer support team is readily available and reliable, especially considering that they need 24/7 email and live chat support that is not blocked in China.

Although ExpressVPN can be a bit pricey at $ 6.67 / month, we are quite impressed with its real-life performance in China. We think the value is justified if you want a reliable VPN for China. There is also a 30-day money-back guarantee.

ProtonVPN


What Our Tests in China Revealed

  • Overall, ProtonVPN performed well on the two ISPs we tested in China.
  • Unfortunately, he was only able to access 18 of the 19 sites we tested on the main ISP (he couldn’t access Pornhub).
  • However, you accessed all 19 sites on the second ISP.
  • On both ISPs, WhatsApp, Telegram, Viber, and Skype were available.

At Ultra Kings Limited, with a benchmark of three .9Mbps downloads and three .3Mbps uploads, we got a 3.7Mbps download and three .7Mbps uploads. (That faster upload speed is not a typo. A VPN sometimes improves speed! – mainly due to ISP’s bandwidth limitation)

protonvpn speed test from china on ultra kings limited
Article: Best VPNs for China in 2021

At China Unicom, with a download benchmark of 5.14 Mbps and 0.52 Mbps upload, we got a 4.69 Mbps download and 0.53 Mbps upload.

protonvpn speed test from china on unicom
Article: Best VPNs for China in 2021

We found their customer support to be decent too. They fully understand that your VPN may be in China today and not tomorrow, whose connections can vary significantly from one Chinese region to another. As such, they need a support team on standby to help with solutions while continually working on countermeasures.

ProtonVPN Summary


ProtonVPN is a tour of the Swiss company Proton Technologies AG. They are also the brains behind ProtonMail’s favorite service, which happens to be the world’s largest encrypted email network.

Run by privacy advocates, ProtonVPN understandably doesn’t record any of your personal browsing data. They are also located in Switzerland, a country that respects the privacy and takes individual privacy rights very seriously.

ProtonVPN has the following advantages over ExpressVPN, our top pick:

  • A much smaller server park (400 in more than 30 countries)
  • Same super secure AES-256 encryption
  • A kill switch
  • Netflix support
  • Up to 10 simultaneous connections

ProtonVPN features a number of affordable paid plans, but they are the only VPN on this list that features a free option. Your free plan offers:

  • Average speed
  • Access to 3 countries
  • No data limit
  • Can be used on one device

Otherwise, their cheapest plan is only $ 4 / month, allowing access to all or any country and can be used on two devices. You’ll get a pro-rated refund with your 30-day money-back guarantee. Considering the fact that they provide a free and untethered option, this is often still quite impressive.

Mullvad


What Our Tests in China Revealed

  • Mullvad was ready to unblock all 19 websites we tested on both ISPs, also like Whatsapp, Telegram, Viber, and Skype.
  • However, we found their customer support to be quite weak.

At Ultra Kings Limited, with a benchmark download speed of three .9Mbps and an upload speed of three .3Mbps, we got an ideal download speed of three .9Mbps and an upload speed of three .5Mbps. (Yet another instance of a VPN that performs better than the ISP in speed tests.)

mullvad speed test from china ultra kings limited
Article: Best VPNs for China in 2021

At China Unicom, with a download benchmark of 5.14 Mbps and 0.52 Mbps upload, we got a download speed of 4.4 Mbps and an upload speed of 0.46 Mbps.

mullvad speed test from china unicom
Article: Best VPNs for China in 2021

Mullvad Summary


Mullvad is one of our favorite VPNs because it is one of the few services that does not require an email address or password to use it.

Simply generate an account number on your site and you are good to go. Payment options that include the power to pay with a cryptocurrency further enhance your privacy. Mullvad’s strong specialization in privacy allays our fears about its location in Sweden, a member of the 14 Eyes Alliance.

One way Mullvad ensures that Chinese residents are ready to access blocked websites is through port forwarding and port selection. Aside from a couple of blocked ports to regulate spam and other security concerns, Mullvad often runs on virtually any port. Also, it’s great to support Shadowshocks, an open-source proxy project built specifically to bypass the good Firewall.

Other highlights of Mullvad:

  • Offers more than 370 servers in more than 30 countries
  • Allows up to 5 simultaneous connections
  • Offers P2P servers that support anonymous torrents
  • Provides a kill switch
  • Uses industry-standard AES-256 encryption

Part of the simplicity of Mullvad is that you just don’t need to worry about VPN plans. Oftentimes, all features are accessed for an equivalent flat fee of € 5 / month. While it is not the most profitable, it is not the most expensive either. And most importantly, you don’t have to worry about losing key features because there are no more expensive plans. For all payment options other than cash, they also provide a 30-day money-back guarantee.

StrongVPN


At 28th in our overall ranking for VPN services, StrongVPN is far from being a favorite. However, we must confess that we were quite impressed with their performance in China.

The Great Firewall of China has a reputation for rendering once-effective VPNs useless. This explains why many other branded VPNs don’t appear in China.

What Our Tests in China Revealed

  • StrongVPN worked quite well on the two ISPs we tested.
  • StrongVPN was also ready to access the 19 websites we tested.
  • Whatsapp, Telegram, Viber, and Skype also worked on the two ISPs we tested.

At Ultra Kings Limited, with a baseline download speed of three .9Mbps and a baseline upload speed of three .3Mbps, we got a 2.7Mbps download and .8Mbps upload torque.

strongvpn speed test from china ultra kings limited
Article: Best VPNs for China in 2021

At China Unicom, with a baseline download speed of 5.14 Mbps and a baseline upload speed of 0.52 Mbps, we got a download speed of 4.76 Mbps and an upload speed of 0.4 Mbps.

strongvpn speed test from china unicom
Article: Best VPNs for China in 2021

StrongVPN Summary


Especially for Chinese residents, StrongVPN offers Scramble, a complicated obfuscation technique that works as another layer of security for users, making it difficult for state censors to detect VPN traffic.

Additionally, StrongVPN assigns dynamic IP addresses instead of the standard static IP addresses provided by other VPN providers. this will even be inconvenient because while they need a lot of servers, you don’t have much to say about which server you can use. StrongVPN randomly assigns servers to users every time they connect.

Adding to the list of StrongVPN main features are:

  • A reliable no-logs policy
  • Strong AES-256 encryption
  • Netflix support
  • P2P servers leaving anonymous torrents

The fact that StrongVPN has fast and helpful customer support also makes it a beautiful option. That being said, is located within the US can be a disadvantage in our book.

Starting at $ 5.83 / month, StrongVPN includes 680+ robust servers spread across 25+ countries. This server number puts them somewhere in the middle of our overall list (not the most important number, but not the smallest either). While we think this is usually a bit pricey, it’s worth noting that they need a 30-day money-back guarantee.

PrivateVPN


PrivateVPN’s Swedish base of operations places them firmly within 14 Eyes’ jurisdiction. That’s a drag, considering we also found their logging policy questionable.

So this is by no means among our top picks when it comes to a privacy-oriented VPN.

That said, when it comes to VPNs in China, beggars have no choice.

What Our Tests in China Revealed

  • PrivateVPN dressed to be one of our best-performing VPNs.
  • Besides being relatively fast, PrivateVPN also managed to unblock all 19 sites we tested on both ISPs, also like Whatsapp, Telegram, Viber, and Skype.

At Ultra Kings Limited, in a benchmark of three .9Mbps downloads and three .3Mbps downloads, PrivateVPN had a download speed of 4.1Mbps and an upload speed of threes .1Mbps, which is almost an ideal speed.

Article: Best VPNs for China in 2021

At China Unicom, at a 5.14Mbps download and 0.52Mbps upload benchmark, PrivateVPN had a download speed of 3.81Mbps and an upload speed of 0.56Mbps. That is still pretty impressive in our book!

Article: Best VPNs for China in 2021

PrivateVPN Summary


What makes PrivateVPN an honest choice for Chinese residents is its stealth mode. Simply put, stealth VPN disguises VPN traffic as regular traffic in an attempt to fool censorship apps and firewalls. With this feature, PrivateVPN is in a position to make a VPN tunnel through the good Firewall, allowing users to access their chosen websites.

PrivateVPN has:

  • Strong AES-256 encryption
  • Availability of P2P servers that leave anonymous torrents
  • Works perfectly with Netflix
  • Strong customer support

However, we found PrivateVPN to be expensive compared to the opposing options available. Starting at $ 5.95 / month, they only offer access to 150+ conservative servers in roughly 60 countries. They could certainly do much better, but it’s still an honest decision to bypass China’s firewall. If you don’t like them, you can also claim their 30-day money-back guarantee.

Hotspot Shield


We are not huge fans of Hotspot Shield for a number of reasons including DNS leaks, a misleading sign-in policy, and virtually zero customer support. It didn’t help that Hotspot Shield is within the US.

However, we have to offer it to you when it comes to China – Hotspot Shield works!

What Our Tests in China Revealed

  • Our Hotspot Shield test showed strong performance within China. Users, however, report a hit or miss, with the majority leaning on the “failed” side of things, so we’re glad it worked, so we’ll let you do the skills that you did.
  • Hotspot Shield was ready to unblock 18 of the 19 sites we tested on the main ISP (TorProject.org was inaccessible) and 19 sites each on the second ISP.
  • Both allowed users to use Whatsapp, Telegram, Viber, and Skype.

At Ultra Kings Limited, at a benchmark of three .9Mbps downloads and three .3Mbps downloads, Hotspot Shield had a download speed of three .4Mbps and an upload speed of 0.9Mbps.

Article: Best VPNs for China in 2021

At China Unicom, at a 5.14Mbps download and 0.52Mbps upload benchmark, Hotspot Shield had a download speed of 3.77Mbps and an upload speed of 0.76Mbps.

Article: Best VPNs for China in 2021

Hotspot Shield Summary


Hotspot Shield has been in business since 2005 (much longer than most of the opposing options on this list). They have a user base of 650 million users.

Hotspot Shield has:

  • A secure AES-256 encryption
  • Support for P2P servers
  • Netflix compatibility

While they do need a free ad-supported version (which we are wary of for privacy reasons), their premium plan is affordable at $ 3.49 / month. The paid plan comes with servers in more than 70 countries and supports up to 5 simultaneous devices. We’re not impressed with their customer service, but a 45-day money-back guarantee is enough to guarantee to give them a try.

VPNSecure


Finally, we have VPNSecure, an Australia-based VPN founded in 2010.

What Our Tests in China Revealed

  • Performance-wise, VPNSecure was only able to access 18 out of 19 websites with the two ISPs we tested (SoundCloud was inaccessible on both).
  • Fortunately, WhatsApp, Telegram, Viber, and Skype were accessible.
  • His speed performance was good overall.

At Ultra Kings Limited, with a benchmark of three .9Mbps downloads and three .3Mbps downloads, we got a download speed of two Mbps and an upload speed of 2.6Mbps.

Article: Best VPNs for China in 2021

At China Unicom, with a download benchmark of 5.14Mbps and 0.52Mbps upload, we had a download speed of 2.81Mbps and an upload speed of 0.61Mbps.

Article: Best VPNs for China in 2021

VPNSecure Summary


VPNSecure’s logging policy is extremely difficult to decode. Therefore, we cannot say exactly where they are by recording their browsing or downloading activity.

They offer really limited 80 servers in 50 countries (the smallest among all the opposing options on this list). And at a great and expensive price no less – their cheapest plan starts at $ 6.66 / mo!

Like PrivateVPN, what makes VPNSecure add to China is its stealth VPN protocol. However, stealth mode currently only works for desktop computers.

They boast:

  • A kill switch
  • Unlimited device support
  • P2P Servers
  • AES-256 and AES-128 encryption
  • Netflix support
  • Impressive customer support

However, they only offer a seven-day money-back guarantee, which is on the low side compared to the opposing options on this list.

Conclusion


China’s great firewalls are often unpredictable.

VPNs known to feature impressively are suddenly blocked, particularly during major political events when the ruling Communist Party finds it necessary to clamp down on dissent and tightly control access to information.

While there is no guarantee that the above VPNs will always add China, our personal hands-on tests from inside China show that these seven perform well at the time of writing this review.

For other VPN reviews and more information on how VPNs work and what they will do for you, check out the simplest VPN services for 2020.


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