5 Best Free VPNs for China (That ACTUALLY Work in 2023)
Whether you live in China or simply work in the country, there are various reasons to acquire a VPN service. First and foremost, government surveillance acts as an obvious reason to get a VPN, such that one can have the privacy they deserve. Removal of geographical restrictions on content such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Netflix are also major reasons for getting a VPN.
However, few individuals want to pay for a VPN service, despite the immense value it can add to your life online. That is why, much like other product categories, people look to the free alternatives first. In this article, we will discuss whether there are any good free VPNs out there, and which one is the best free VPN for China.
Can Free VPN Services Be Any Good?
When you are looking for the best free VPN for China, it might be helpful to understand whether any of the free services can even be good. In our experience, paid VPNs are much better than free VPNs. Later in this article, we will explain all the reasons for this, but for now, we can summarize it shortly:
First off, free VPNs rarely have servers in more than a few countries, so the list of countries you can connect to is limited. China also constantly bans VPN services, so operating a VPN service that works in China is hard for even paid VPNs. For free VPN services, this is even more difficult, as they don’t have the resources. Also, some free VPNs have deep security and safety issues.
Because of this, we mostly recommend VPNs with a money-back guarantee that you can use for free for 30 days. However, some free VPNs are also known to be better than others, so below, we will first present two solid VPNs with a money-back guarantee and then four free VPNs that are decent options.
Best “Risk-Free” VPN Services with Money Back Guarantee
The market for VPN services has exploded over recent years. That means there is a vast amount of available opportunities. However, some of the paid VPN services also suffer under the same fate as the free alternatives. There are two services that can be specifically recommended among the VPN services with a money-back guarantee.
- Number of servers: More than 3,000
- Speeds: Unlimited
- Server locations: 160 in 94 countries
- Maximum devices supported: 5
- 24 live chat: Yes
- 30 day money back guarantee: Yes
- Fastest VPN out there
- Strict no logs policy
- 256-bit AES encryption
- Few discounts
ExpressVPN is one of the leading services in the VPN market. They are a trusted help for individuals in need of anonymity, security, and unblocking of content online. The service is recognized for its no-logs policy, great selection of high-speed servers, and user-friendliness. For use in China, ExpressVPN should be your first consideration.
ExpressVPN is located in the British Virgin Islands. That means the company is under a jurisdiction that does not require them to log your traffic. This way, you can actually have full privacy while surfing on a VPN server through ExpressVPN. If you live in China, this is an absolutely essential point. The Chinese authorities will be unable to work with the VPN provider’s country to access your data.
Furthermore, ExpressVPN provides a vast selection of servers worldwide. At last count, it has 3000+ servers in 160 locations. It does not have any physically stationed in China but has in the neighboring countries of Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, etc. Also, its worldwide coverage means that you can connect to any location from China. This provider is safe, reliable and amazing when it comes to being useful for China.
Finally, user-friendliness is certainly important with VPN services. After all, not everyone is familiar with the technology behind masking your current IP and routing your traffic through a different server. However, ExpressVPN makes it easy. You can connect with simply just one click. If you ever have any questions, ExpressVPN also offers 24/7 customer support. In our test for paid VPNs for China, ExpressVPN also ranked first.
- Cryptocurrency accepted? Yes
- Simultaneous connections: 6
- Dedicated IP-addresses? Yes
- Servers: 5342 in 58 countries
- Lots of pricing options
- Netflix support kept up to date
- 256-bit AES encryption
- Slow app
NordVPN pretty much falls into the same category as ExpressVPN. They reign on the top of the market, and few services can compete with them. The company that was founded in the Nordic areas, but has since moved to sunny Panama, offers a great VPN service that will certainly help you greatly. You can trust its excellent features to ferry you across China’s encryptions with no hassle at all.
NordVPN has stellar security features which makes sure that not only do you stay safe but that you stay safe from the Chinese authorities. Thus, you find the AES 256-bit encryption model on the platform. It also supports excellent protocols, including its proprietary creation known as NordLynx. Its obfuscated servers scramble your connection, making you undetectable to even the watchful eyes of the Chinese. More so, it offers dedicated IP addresses for a small fee. Dedicated IP addresses have unique features, separating them from regular identifiable VPN-provided ones. This is also necessary for accessing high-surveillance places like China.
As mentioned, NordVPN is located in Panama. This is of great significance because Panama is located outside of both European and U.S. jurisdiction. In addition, NordVPN’s no-logs policy is top-notch. It has even been verified by independent auditors. You can rest assured that the Chinese authorities will not chance upon your cache of information as this provider retains none.
Furthermore, this VPN service provides servers in pretty much every country one could think of. Its server count stands at about 5000 in 59 countries, including Chinese neighbors like Taiwan and Hong Kong. With such a wide variety of servers, NordVPN helps you essentially to open up the Internet. Even while in China, VPN keeps you updated with content available in various other countries.
NordVPN is easy to install and use. It has compatible apps for various devices and lets you connect 6 at a time. If you encounter challenges while using this service in China, you can contact the customer service personnel available. They will guide you to the best servers and features you can rely on for undetected use of the internet in China.
Best Completely Free VPN Services
If you are insistent on trying a free VPN service, there are some okay alternatives out there within this segment too. For instance, it could be useful to try a free VPN service to see what the technology can do for you, or if you only need it for one-time use, it could also be a beneficial tool for you. We have reviewed the four best free VPN services in the market from our perspective.
- Cryptocurrency accepted? Yes, bitcoin
- Dedicated IP-adresses? Yes
- Simultaneous connections: 5
- Locations: 28 countries
- Unlimited browsing
- Account manager
- Military grade encryption
- Free version allows only 500MB data
Tunnelbear provides both free VPN services and paid subscriptions. The free version comes with many perks, as well as some limitations that are to be expected with free VPN services. Anyways, Tunnelbear is a serious competitor in the market, and since McAfee just recently acquired the service, more is to be expected. Specifically for use in China, Tunnelbear is as reliable as can be.
Much like most other free VPN services, Tunnelbear has a limitation on monthly data usage. Their limitation is 500MB of data per month. After you reach this limit, you will have to get a paid subscription. In the big picture, 500MB is not a whole lot of data, although this perception of course also relies on your normal usage.
Unlike many free providers, Tunnelbear does not compromise your security even when you use the free version. This is the reason you can unblock China from that location. Tunnelbear has a feature known as Ghostbear. Ghostbear works with an obfuscation process referred to as Obfsproxy to obfuscate your network and disguise the fact that you are using a VPN. That way, the authorities do not clock in on you. Furthermore, this provider has servers in Hong Kong. Since this is a neighboring country to China, it offers you close access to the region even if Tunnelbear has no servers in China currently.
On the brighter side, the service is extremely easy to use. It takes on the popular map interface, where you simply click on a country on the map to connect with an IP address in the respective country. This process only takes a few seconds, and there is no need to change any settings or configurations.
Note: You may want to download the app before you touchdown in China. It is a lot easier if the VPN is already operational before you get into the country.
- P2P support? Yes
- 30-day money-back guarantee? Yes
- Country of origin? Switzerland
- Servers: 600+ in over 40 countries
- Simultaneous devices: 5
- Professional support
- Modern interface and apps
- AES-256 encryption
- Lesser known provider
ProtonVPN is another recognized VPN service with both a free option and several paid subscriptions available. The service differentiates itself from many other free VPN services due to the quality of its unpaid plan. Their greatest perk is undoubtedly the amount of data you can use through their program. We have no qualms recommending ProtonVPN for use while you are in China.
Data is actually unlimited at ProtonVPN, meaning you will not need to upgrade once you have hit a certain limit, which is usually the case with free VPN services. This also means that while you stream or download content from China, you need not worry about exceeding your limit. Furthermore, there are no speed limits. Hence, you can unblock Chinese blocks at breakneck speed.
ProtonVPN is lauded as the best free VPN service, and for good reasons, too. Its free service gives access to 3 countries, including Japan, an Asian country with some similar offerings as China. Thus from China, you can connect to this Japanese server for unhindered internet access. Furthermore, free users get excellent security protection using the Standard of the Swiss authorities. Switzerland is noted for its commitment to privacy; hence, it is unlikely that the country will acquiesce to any data-sharing request from China.
Generally, ProtonVPN provides guidance on how to bypass the Great Firewall of China while using the VPN. It suggests using a Tor bridge for this purpose. Understandably, priority is given to paid subscribers. However, this provider does not throw you under the bus. If you need a VPN to access the Chinese internet space with, ProtonVPN is as good as any.
- Number of servers: 2000+
- Server locations: 75 locations
- Maximum devices supported: 10
- 24 live chat: Yes
- 30 day money back guarantee: Yes
- Has free option
- No log policy
- Secure connection
- Not very cheap
Hide.me is a modest service provider. Its paid plan is pretty decent. You get access to amazing features. In addition, its free plan is one of the best in the industry. There are no strings attached and no downsides whatsoever. To blaze through the restrictions employed by the Chinese authorities, we have no qualms recommending this provider.
This service provider has a totally free version. It requires just your email address to sign up and use the free version. This is great because the Chinese authorities will be unable to verify your identity when you use this service.
Furthermore, you get 10GB of data per month, connect one device to the free plan and freedom from ads while at it. Your security will not be compromised as the AES 256-bit encryption secures your data. It also maintains a strict no-logs policy. Even if anyone can manage to hack the VPN’s servers, there will be nothing incriminating about you there.
With this option, you have access to 5 servers in Germany, the United States, the Netherlands and Canada. Thus, from China, you can connect to any of these locations to access platforms blocked in Japan. For instance, connecting to a VPN server in these locations makes available Facebook, Whatsapp, Netflix, Chrome, and a host of others.
Hide.me is transparent about its efficacy in China. It mentions expressly that due to the Great Firewall of China, its services may not always be reliable. This sort of transparency is actually commendable. It helps you parse your expectations and know if you want to go along with the service.
In addition, the service provider shares tips on steps to take when you run into challenges when using their VPN service in Japan. These include switching DNS servers on the platform and also changing VPN protocols. The provider provides elaborate steps users can take in each situation, depending on the device you use. If the steps do not work, you then have the option of reaching out to the provider’s customer support system to have the issue resolved.
- Complete anonymity? Yes
- Unblocking of all websites? Yes
- Pricing options: 4
- Servers: 164 in 80+ zones
- Free trial: Yes
- Military grade encryption
- Bitcoin accepted
- App for mobile devices
- Lesser known provider
As a final option in the selection of determining the best free VPN for China, we find Trust.Zone. This free VPN service helps you effectively hide your online activity from third parties, your ISP, and even the government. Trust.Zone is free for 3 days. This may not be as comparable as ProtonVPN’s unlimited offer. However, if you are making a quick trip to China, this provider will be more than reliable for accessing the internet unhindered.
In addition to the 3 days you get, you also can use up to 1GB of data on the platform. 156 locations are available to you, although you can only connect one device per time. Generally, Trust.Zone is a great free provider to use for a short while. In addition, for a free provider, it does reliably well for Chinese users.
Trust.Zone is firm about its capabilities in China. To use the service excellently in the region, you have to download the latest version of the app, choose a nearby server (such as one in Hong Kong, and switch your VPN port to 443, 33 or 22. You may also want to enable DNS leak protection to secure your traffic the entire time you are in the country. Even when you experience difficulties, you can always reach out to the provider’s customer care agents to have the issue resolved immediately.
If you need a good-enough free VPN for China, you can try out Trust.Zone.
What You Need To Know About Free VPN Services in China
As mentioned above, even the best free VPN for China will come with some sort of limitation. Limitations in terms of traffic, server selections, server speed, logging policy, and more are only natural. After all, the service is free for a reason, and reduction in quality one way or the other is the price to pay.
Free Means Limited Traffic
The greatest limitation of them all is likely the traffic. Oftentimes free VPN services will only give the users a limited amount of traffic per day. The cap is more than enough in terms of surfing, but the instant you want to stream content or play video games, it does not suffice.
The same goes for downloads or uploads of files. If you would like to download an HD movie, this is normally enough to cap the data restrictions of a free VPN alone. When it comes to streaming, you might luck out and be able to watch half a movie before the service puts a pause to your surfing for the day.
Thus, free VPNs are ideal if you are in China for a short while. Of course, you can opt for ProtonVPN, which has no cap on data or speed while you are using its free offer in China. However, as a general rule, you should take the subject of data speed and cap seriously. It will determine how secure your connection will be and how undetected you will remain while surfing the internet in China.
Free VPN Limitations On Servers and Speed
Many limitations are also put in place in terms of servers and their corresponding speed. First and foremost, the quality on the servers is never as good as for paid VPN services. For instance, if you are looking for the best free VPN for China to watch Netflix, you might not even find one that can ever pass the Netflix IP ban. The Great Firewall of China and the restrictions found on Netflix may prove too strong for a free VPN.
The limitations might also apply to server locations in unique countries. While you might be happy to see servers in big countries such as the U.S., UK, and Australia for instance, smaller countries where you might want to watch content in your native language are usually not available. Most free providers, however, have servers in Hong Kong or China. That is as close to home as you can get while using the internet in China.
Furthermore, the selection of servers in the bigger countries, such as the U.S. for instance, is normally not as big with free VPN services. If you are looking for the best VPN for China, then you would preferably have many servers to pick from in the U.S.
The greater the number of servers, the better the connection quality and stability. With the best VPN services, you can simply connect to a new server in the instant that another service stops working. This might not be an option with free VPN services, as the selection of servers here is never as big.
Logging and Bad Reputations
A major aspect for consideration when looking for the best free VPN for China is to investigate whether the VPN service is known for logging user traffic. This would mean that the service keeps a record of when and how you used the service, which could later be passed on to authorities if they required it.
This is even more important considering China’s reputation when it comes to users’ privacy. The Chinese authorities are known for keeping tabs on its citizens. This makes it important for your free provider of choice to have strong enough features to avoid detection. Even more so, you want to make sure the provider does not log your data. This is because if the authorities are able to access your information, you may be neck-deep in trouble.
Unfortunately, most free VPN services are known to log your activity. Basically, that means you do not have the intended privacy when using their services. While you might have privacy in the present, there is no guarantee that your privacy will be breached at some point in the future.
Especially with the current political climate in China, it is not advised to take any chances on a VPN service that has reported logging and sharing or selling of user traffic data. As a rule of thumb, always confirm the privacy status of each VPN provider you want to go for. This includes the resident country of the provider and whether it keeps logs. The first is to ensure that the country does not have data-sharing agreements with China. The latter is to prevent present or future leaks of your data while using the internet in China.
It is also advised to read up on various reviews of the best free VPN for China. You could possibly get an insight into how the different services are perceived by users, and whether the VPN service in question has a bad reputation or not. A bad reputation is often linked to sharing of user data, which again is something to be avoided.
Paid VPN Services Are Often Cheap
With modern software, it is very common to always look for free alternatives first. It is obvious to prefer the free over the paid, especially if the differences are not that big. The difference between the best free VPN for China and the best-paid VPN for China is minimal. Yet, it is big enough to justify the price of a paid VPN.
While most people will prefer the free alternative, paid VPN services are usually very cheap. They even get cheaper when you consider subscribing for long periods. Thus, the entire time of the subscription, you get the full weight of the VPN’s protection, access to servers in neighboring Chinese countries and additional features to beat the Great Firewall of China.
Some providers even give you the option of a money-back window. Within this period, you can subscribe to the service and request a refund before the period expires. The great thing here is that you get all of the perks other users get too. This arrangement is ideal if you are traveling to China for a short period, say less than a month. Using a risk-free VPN such as ExpressVPN makes sure you stay at the top of your game the entire time you are in China.
What VPN Should I Choose For China?
When looking for the best free VPN for China, there are several viable opportunities out there. The abovementioned services such as Tunnelbear, ProtonVPN, Hide.me and Trust.Zone are all good options. While free VPNs come with the obvious perk of being free, there are however some downfalls to them, especially when using them in China.
With the infamous government surveillance policy in China, gaining privacy online through a VPN is essential. Furthermore, a variety of servers, as well as unlimited high-speed connections, should also be a requirement. For an extra few bucks per month, it is probably best in most cases to pick a paid VPN.
Starting out with a free VPN to test the technology, using free VPNs for a one-time need, or simply exploiting trials and money-back guarantees can still be great ways of exploiting free VPN services while in China.