Whats REALLY the best VPN to use in China

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Nov 27, 2016 – China Unicom VPN speed test

July 29, 2016 – Ironsocket vs ExpressVPN vs VPN.ac

June 17 2016 – VPN.AC vs ExpressVPN vs StrongVPN – Hong Kong Servers

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Whats REALLY the best VPN to use in China in 2017?

Which VPN services should be avoided if you are in China?

Why do 99% of VPN servers have terrible performance in China? And what can be done about it?

If you are looking for answers to the above questions, or any other questions related to using a VPN in China, then you are in the right place.

At Tips for China you will always find thebest VPN recommendations,and thebest promos, discounts, and coupon codes. No other website comes even close to the amount ofactual VPN tests done in China.

All of the VPNs listed here are available with either afree trialor amoney back guaranteeso you can try all of them risk-free.

Below are my top 3 recommendations as of December 2017 (read this whole page for more options).

50% off first month(monthly)or25% off first year(annual)

OpenVPN Clients:WindowsMacAndroidiOSDD-WRT flashed routersTomato flashed routersOpenWRT flashed routers

OpenVPN Clients:WindowsMacAndroidiOS

OpenVPN not reliable in China with VyprVPN

30 dayno-hassle money back guarantee

* This page is written for a general audience. If you are an advanced VPN user and care more about VPN server performance than fancy apps or customer support, then I highly recommend you check out myVPN blog page. I talk in much greater detail about server performance and give tips for advanced users there.

NordVPN has removed the one server that worked well in China (Hong Kong obfuscated). It is not currently recommended.

I will update this page when they introduce another server that works well.

China Telecom and China Mobile videos coming soon.

Whats REALLY the best VPN to use in China in 2017?

The same one that was the best in 2016 and will probably be the best in 2018 -ExpressVPN.

Which VPN services should be avoided if you are in China?

Astrill, PureVPN, and StrongVPN for sure. Maybe others too, depending on whether you just need to hop the wall, or if you also value your privacy and anonymity online. Keep reading this page for a detailed analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each VPN.

Why do 99% of VPN servers have terrible performance in China? And what can be done about it?

Im going to tell you the truth about the internet in China. Most people think that VPNs dont work well because the government interferes with them. While this is true, its not the main factor. The real explanation is long, boring, and a little bit technical.

Basically, China does not have enough international bandwidth for the amount of internet users here. There are simply not enough under-sea cables connecting China with the outside world. This will most likely not improve for several years, when more cables are in place.

Its not only VPN connections that can be slow. Any website that is hosted outside of China will generally not perform well.

So what can be done to get blazing fast VPN connections all day and all night?

China Telecom, the biggest ISP in China, has something called theNext Generation Carrier Network, commonly referred to as CN2. Basically, if you are a data center outside of China and you are willing to pay more, then your data will get through faster. Data speed, like everything else in China, is for sale to the highest bidder.

The problem with these China Telecom CN2 servers is that they are very expensive. Most VPN companies do not want spend this kind of money. In fact, a good CN2 server will cost around 50 times more than the average global bandwidth cost.

But if you want fast and reliable VPN performance, then you need to find good quality CN2 servers. The best ones available areExpressVPNHong Kong 3 andExpressVPNHong Kong 1.

For more answers to common questions about the VPN situation in China, check theVPN in China FAQ.

Hong Kong 1 and Hong Kong 3. These 2 servers are, by far, the absolute best VPN servers for mainland China that you will find anywhere. No other VPN server offered by any VPN company comes close to the speed, latency and reliability ofExpressVPNHong Kong 1 and Hong Kong 3. These are among the very few servers with premium China Telecom CN2 routing that I can rely on in China to stream high definition video, even during peak bandwidth hours at night.

Not only do these servers have direct CN2 China Telecom peering, they also have direct peering with China Unicom and China Mobile.

The apps.ExpressVPNis the absolute leader in the industry when it comes to VPN app development. Dedicated apps are available for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, and Routers. All the apps I have used personally (Windows, Android, iOS, and Router) are extremely good and updated often.

TheExpressVPNiOS app is the only iOS dedicated app that I have ever seen that supports the OpenVPN protocol. Previously, it was believed that OpenVPN connections were only possible on iOS by using theOpenVPN Connect app. However,ExpressVPNhas managed to get approval from Apple to use OpenVPN in their app. This is something that, to this day, no other VPN company has ever been able to do.

Actually, the ExpressVPN iOS app supports 3 different VPN protocols: OpenVPN (both UDP and TCP), IPSec, and IKEv2. Most other iOS VPN apps only support 1 protocol (usually IKEv2).

If you need to use a VPN on your iPhone or iPad in China, thenExpressVPNis significantly better than anything else available.

ExpressVPNis also the only VPN company (that I know of) that has a dedicated app for Linux.

The ease of use.ExpressVPNis what I like to call an idiot-proof VPN. If you are an idiot when it comes to technology, thenExpressVPNis the best choice for you. Its the one and only VPN that I would recommend to people who have never used a VPN and are not good with computers.

Everything, from signing up to downloading and using the apps, is extremely easy. TheExpressVPNlinks on the Tips for China website are smart-links that will automatically direct you to a website domain that is accessible from China (whatever that happens to be at the time). You can sign up, as well as download and use all the apps from China, without any problems.

After making your payment, you will immediately see a setup page as shown below. No need to sit around like an idiot waiting for a confirmation email! Make your payment and then get connected right away!

Here is a video I made recently showing you exactly how the signup process for ExpressVPN works.

Downloading and setting up a VPN doesnt get any easier than this!

The MediaStreamer DNS. You can watch USA Netflix on your PS4, Apple TV, etc in China without using a VPN. Here is a video I made showing how to do this on a PS4.

The Router App.ExpressVPNhas avery nice Router Appavailable the following Linksys routers – WRT1200AC, WRT1900AC V1, WRT1900AC V2, WRT1900ACS, and WRT3200ACM. These routers are expensive, but well worth it if you want the best of the best. I am currently using theExpressVPN router appwith the Hong Kong 3 server on my Linksys WRT1900AC v2. The speed and reliability are amazing. There is simply nothing else like it.

November 2017 Update -A cheaper model Linksys router is now supported!

The Support. Online chat is available 24/7. No need to wait for an email or start a support ticket, their knowledgeable staff can help you immediately. Even if you are not a customer, you can still visit theExpressVPN websiteand use the online chat to ask them any questions you have before signing up. Just click the icon shown below, located at the bottom right hand corner oftheir website.

The logging and torrenting policies. No activity logging, torrents allowed on all servers, and shared IP addresses make ExpressVPN a great choice for downloading torrents or other activities that demand a high level of anonymity.

The money-back guarantee. The 30 day money back guarantee fromExpressVPNishassle-free and unconditional. Unlike some VPN providers, who have complicated terms and conditions, you can always get a 100% refund forExpressVPNwithin the first 30 days no matter how many connections you have made, how much bandwidth you have used, or what payment method you used to pay.

As the money back guarantee is available for all plans, I highly recommendsigning up for 1 year special offer to get the best savings. If you are not 100% satisfied within 30 days, then you will get a 100% full refund.

Hong Kong 1 and Hong Kong 3. Yes, thats right. These 2 servers are both the best and worst thing aboutExpressVPN. While they work great if you are using the ExpressVPN apps, they are not available for manual OpenVPN connections. Actually, Hong Kong 1 seems like its available, but it does not have the same premium China Telecom CN2 routing that you get when connecting from the apps.

In addition to the lack of good servers for manual OpenVPN connections, you will also find many server locations missing when changing the protocol to PPTP, L2TP, or SSTP.

Most of the good servers for China are only available when using OpenVPN within theExpressVPNapps.

This is fine as long as you can use those apps. However, if you plan on running a VPN on a router with dd-wrt, Tomato, or OpenWRT firmware in China, then you will bedisappointed with selection of servers.

If you want access to the bestExpressVPNservers on your router, then you need to use one of those few expensive models of Linksys routers that work with theExpressVPN router app. If you can afford one, then these routers are well worth their price and I highly recommend you buy one.

If you want to run a VPN on a router flashed with dd-wrt, Tomato, or OpenWRT, then I recommendVPN.ac(25% lifetime recurring discounthere). They allow all protocols, including manual OpenVPN connections, on all of their servers. Their best servers cannot match the performance of ExpressVPN Hong Kong 1 and Hong Kong 3, but they are much better than the ExpressVPN servers available for manual OpenVPN connections.

The price. Compared to the competition,ExpressVPNis priced significantly higher. For me personally, having access to the Hong Kong 1 and Hong Kong 3 servers is enough to justify the price, and I would even be willing to pay more if the price was higher.

If you demand high speed, low latency, and the best apps, then you will not considerExpressVPNto be expensive.

However, if you only need a VPN for simple web browsing, or dont care too much about high speed connections, thenExpressVPNmay be overpriced for your needs. Or, if you need to use a manual OpenVPN connection for whatever reason, then its also very overpriced because you will not have access to Hong Kong 1 and Hong Kong 3.

The price.VPN.acoffers great value for money. While priced at only at only$58 per year($43.50 using myexclusive 25% lifetime recurring discountcode), the VPN works quite well in China.

The simultaneous connections.VPN.acallows up to 6 simultaneous connections without any restrictions on what devices may be connected at the same time. For example, you can connect 2 phones, 2 computers, an iPad, and a router all at the same time if you want.

The Secure.Proxy browser add-on.VPN.acalso offers a proxy service in addition to the VPN for no extra charge. You can think of this as a VPN within your browser. The browser add-on is available forChromeFirefox, andOpera. The Tokyo 1 to Tokyo 5 servers work very well. These are hosted on a different hosting provider (better one) than the Tokyo 1 and Tokyo 2 VPN servers. I hope thatVPN.acsets up a VPN server on this same hosting provider soon.

The video streaming. Another great feature ofVPN.acis an unofficial and unadvertised feature that I stumbled upon. I dont know how it works exactly, but I can watch any geo-restricted content (except for Netflix) no matter which server location I connected to. I can connect to Hong Kong 1, for example, and still watch BBC iPlayer (UK), Channel 4 (UK), Hulu (US), etc. There is no need to change servers to match the country of the service you want to watch. Everything (except Netflix) just works all the time.

For Netflix in China, the best options areExpressVPNandVyprVPN.

Privacy, security, and torrenting. If you are concerned about security and privacy, thenVPN.acis a very good choice. Their DNS servers are private and secure, all DNS queries are sent to their private revolvers and encrypted with AES 128-bit encryption. They dont keep any traffic logs and they allow torrents on all servers. They even have some special servers optimized for P2P.

VPN.acis offered by a company calledNetsec Interactive Solutionsbased in Romania. This company has been in the business of online security and privacy since 2009. You may wonder how a company based in the EU can get away with not keeping logs of their VPN users. The answer is that the EU Data Retention Directive was declared unconstitutional by the Romanian Constitutional Court in July, 2014.

The support. Although the support is not available 24/7, the quality of support is very good. WithVPN.ac, you talk directly the the people who built the VPN network when you submit a support ticket. No copy and paste answers. You may not get a fast answer, but you will get a good answer.

The money back guarantee. Although not as generous as the 30 day money back guarantee fromExpressVPNVPN.acdoes offer a 7-day money back guarantee so you can try it risk-free.

The 25% lifetime recurring discount. Unlike most of the special offers on this website, the25% discount for VPN.acis available for the life of your account. You will keep getting the discount on each renewal.

Altcoin payment methods. Any good VPN provider will accept payment by Bitcoin, that is nothing special really.VPN.achas went one step further and starting accepting many other cryptocurrencies in addition to Bitcoin. Its nice to see some privacy coins like Dash and Monero on the list, as its well known thatBitcoin transactions are not private.

The apps (or lack thereof). The Windows and Android apps have a few bugs and are not updated as often as the apps ofExpressVPN.

For example, in the Windows app, there is a bug when connecting to PPTP or L2TP. You will need to exit the app and restart it after the first failed connection to PPTP or L2TP. Otherwise, each subsequent attempt to connect with PPTP or L2TP will fail with a weird error as shown below.

Many people think thatVPN.acPPTP and L2TP servers dont work in China because of this problem. Not every server works with PPTP and L2TP, but most of them do and these protocols can actually work quite well in China (although PPTP is considered by security experts to be an insecure protocol). If you want to useVPN.acPPTP or L2TP on Windows, I suggest setting it up manually through the Windows settings instead of using theVPN.acWindows app. Otherwise, just exit the app and restart it to try again after a failed connection attempt.

On the Android app, it sometimes shows the connection as successful before the connection is made. You need to pull down the status bar to see the actual status. As you can see in the below screenshot it looks like VPN is connected but in fact it is still in the authentication phase. Sometimes the connection might fail but the app still shows that the VPN is connected.

Another complaint about theVPN.acapps is that they dont show the server latency (ping time) in the server list. If you dont know which servers are good, it can take a long time to figure it out.

ExpressVPN, on the other hand, has an in-app speed test that not only tests the latency of each server, but also the download speed!

Despite these bugs in the Windows and Android apps, there is some things I like about the VPN.ac apps too. I especially like being able to change the protocol and port from the main screen. Most other VPN apps require you to open another settings window to change this.

The speed of support. As mentioned above,VPN.acsupport is not available 24/7. The support staff is based in Romania so you will likely not get an answer until the early afternoon if you submit a support ticket in the morning in China. All of my support tickets have always been answered within 24 hours and I have always been completely satisfied with the answers.

No China Telecom CN2 servers in Asia. AlthoughVPN.acdoes offer some servers with China Telecom CN2 peering, they are located in Germany and USA. For the best VPN performance in China, you need to be using a CN2 server hosted in Hong Kong or other region near China. For Asian VPN servers with premium China Telecom CN2 routing, the best options are theExpressVPNHong Kong 1 and Hong Kong 3 servers.

November 2017 Update- NordVPN has removed the Hong Kong obfuscated server. None of the other servers perform well in China.

Temporarily not recommending NordVPN for China until they add server with good performance in China.

NordVPN has just recently added support for users in China with obfuscated servers. So far, it looks promising but still a distant third place behind VPN.ac.

So far, I have only tested NordVPN with China Telecom on my Windows computer and Android phone. China Unicom and China Mobile testing are coming soon.

The CyberSec option. Enabling the CyberSec option in the NordVPN apps will not only block unwanted advertisements, but also protect you from malware and DDos attacks while connected to the VPN. I found this feature very useful on my new Samsung Galaxy S8+ phone because I have not yet rooted this phone. All of the no-root firewall and ad-blocking apps for Android use the VPN interface. However, I cant use any of these apps because I need the Android VPN interface for my actual VPN connection.

NordVPNis currently the only solution I have to connect to a VPN and block ads at the same time on my non-rooted Android phone. For this reason, I am currently usingNordVPNon my phone more often than other VPNs, even though the speeds are not as good. Almost every Android app shows advertisements, and I find this highly annoying. This CyberSec option is the best feature ofNordVPNin my opinion.

For my Windows computers, I use theuBlock Origin extension for Google Chromefor ad-blocking, which will work with any VPN (or without a VPN).

The Jurisdiction and logging policies.NordVPNis based in Panama, which is completely outside of the fourteen eyes countries. They also dont keep any kind of logs, not even session logs.

While most VPN providers dont keep activity logs, most of them (including ExpressVPN and VPN.ac) do keep some non-identifying session logs. Session logs usually include what server location you connected to, when you connected to it, and how much data was transferred. For example, you can find thedetailed logging policies of ExpressVPN on this page.

For most average users, these non-identifying session logs are nothing to worry about. However, if you are under a high level of threat (privacy activist, high level target of a government entity, or journalist in certain countries, etc) or suffer from a high degree of paranoia, then you might want to consider a truly log-free VPN such asNordVPN.

The 2 year special offer. Although I am reluctant to recommend signing up for any VPN for 2 years, NordVPN is offering a very good deal.Get 2 years for only $79(thats only $10 more than 1 year). You can try it risk-free for 30 days, but according to some reports, the money back guarantee is not hassle-free likeExpressVPNs hassle-free money back guarantee. You will likely be asked to provide a reason for cancelling, and they may try to encourage you to try some troubleshooting steps first before cancelling.

Limited configurations for China. NordVPN currently only works on Windows, Android, and Mac in China. No support for iOS, Linux, or routers yet.

No support for standard OpenVPN. The solution employed byNordVPNfor users in China is using a modified/patched version of the OpenVPN client within their apps. The setting for obfuscated servers must be enabled in the advanced settings of the NordVPN apps.

ExpressVPNandVPN.achave a much better solution for users in China. They do the scrambling/obfuscation on the server-side only. That means their VPN works with the standard OpenVPN client protocol in China. I dont know how they do it, but all I can say that they are the only 2 providers that I know of who have figured this out.

Server performance. The only obfuscated server location with decent peering to China Telecom is the Hong Kong location. Although the performance is better than any server offered byVyprVPN, its not nearly as fast as the top recommended servers ofExpressVPNorVPN.ac. You will especially notice the difference on China Telecom during peak bandwidth hours in the evening.

Check out my2017 VPN in China blog pageto see actual speed test results from China for all of my top recommended VPNs.

The above 3 are my personal favorites and the ones I use from day to day. What I consider to be the best may not be the same for you. Here are some more options to consider.

The apps. Not quite as nice as the apps fromExpressVPN, but still quite good. I like how it shows the latency (ping time) of each server in the list. All the apps I have used (Windows, Android, iOS, and the router app for Tomato flashed routers) have a very nice interface and connect easily. The connection using China Telecom, although not very fast, is always reliable.

The Hong Kong server with China Mobile. AlthoughVyprVPNdoesnt have any good servers for China Telecom, the Hong Kong server has direct peering with China Mobile, and it works very well.

The lack of good servers for China Telecom. Not a single China Telecom CN2 server, or even a single server in Asia with direct peering to China Telecom. All of their Asian servers are routed through the USA to China Telecom, resulting in high latency and low speed.

If your ISP is China Telecom and you like fast internet, then dont bother withVyprVPN.

The logging policy. Unlike the session logs ofExpressVPNandVPN.ac, which cannot be used to identify you or your online activities, the session logs kept by VyprVPN are done in such a way that you can be identified.

The policy is confusing, but I will explain the problem with it. From their privacy policy:

What Data Golden Frog Retains From VyprVPN Sessions:

Each time a user connects to VyprVPN, we retain the following data for 30 days:the users source IP address, the VyprVPN IP address used by the user, connection start and stop time and total number of bytes used.

Why Golden Frog Retains VyprVPN Session Data:

We retain VyprVPN session data for 30 days to use with billing issues, troubleshooting, service offering evaluation, TOS issues, AUP issues, and forhandling crimes performed over the service.

From reading this, its difficult to understand where the problem lies.

Normally, it wouldnt matter if your source IP address and the VPN IP address you used are logged because most VPN providers are using shared IP addresses that are common to all users connected to that server. Therefore, your online activities are still anonymous (assuming that the VPN doesnt keep activity logs, whichVyprVPNdoesnt).

If there was a complaint (lets say a DCMA violation, for example) related to that IP address, the VPN providers normally cannot do anything about it. Because there are hundreds of users using that same IP address simultaneously, there is no way of knowing which user the complaint is related to. VPN companies do this on purpose, to protect the anonymity of their users.

When you connect toVyprVPN, the IP address assigned to you is not shared with anyone else during the time you are connected. That means if there are any complaints (from law enforcement agencies or whatever), they will know who was using that IP address at the time of the complaint.

In fact, one of the biggest complaints about VyprVPN is that they will ban your account for torrenting if they receive too many DCMA notices. They will still protect your privacy by not giving up your information, but they may ban your account.This has happened to several people who I know personally.

If the purpose of using a VPN is for bypassing the internet restrictions in China, and you dont download illegal files, or value your anonymity online, then this wont concern you.

However, if you do download such files, or you want to use a VPN that protects your anonymity, thenVyprVPNis not for you.

If you want to try VyprVPN for yourself, I have 2 promos available. Both of these promos come with a 3 day free trial.

You will not be billed anything if you cancel within the first 3 days.

If you are VPNless in China, use thealternative links here.

Although not my personal favorite, 12VPN does have some nice features that some people might find useful.

The premium add-on servers. In addition to the standard servers, you can assign an additional 5 premium servers to your account. These servers have limited capacity and the choices may depend on availability. The best server for China Telecom is the one called China Optimized 2 (HK). This is a China Telecom CN2 server hosted on Alicloud Hong Kong – one of the top server locations for premium China Telecom routing. Unfortunately, how you connect to these premium servers, and what you can do on them, is highly restricted (more details below).

Shadowsocks. This is a SOCKS5 proxy protocol that works extremely well in China. In fact, its much faster and more stable than most VPN connections.

Personally, I have set up my own shadowsocks servers and made atutorial on how to do it. However, if youre not very technical,12VPNis an easy way to use shadowsocks without setting up your own server. The shadowsocks protocol is available in their VPNGUI software, available for Mac and Windows. I would prefer to use the open source client from GitHub, but there are no instructions provided to do so. I was able to get the shadowsocks server info from their Android set up page, but I could not find the info for the premium add-on servers. It seems that those servers are only available in the VPNGUI app.

Good support. Based in Hong Kong,12VPNknows the China market very well. They seem to have support staff located in mainland China, so they know very well what works and what doesnt. Their customer service is excellent too, I usually get my emails answered within 1 hour by competent person who know what they are talking about.

The lack of VPN connection options. The service offered by12VPNis more geared towards proxy instead of VPN connections. Every connection option available in their dedicated software is a type of proxy, not a single VPN connection option. This is ironic, because the name of their software is called VPNGUI. I think the should change the name to ProxyGUI or something similar to more accurately reflect the type of service offered.

They do offer VPN connections through some third party apps such as Cisco Anyconnect (Mac and iOS) and SoftEther (Windows). However, support is very limited and it appears that the premium add-on servers are not available when connecting by VPN.

The logging policy (or lack thereof). I have searched all over the12VPN websitebut I cannot find anything about their logging policy. Nothing in the FAQ or TOS pages. In this case, I have to assume the worst case.

The restrictive money back guarantee. The money back guarantee comes with quite a few strings attached. I will quote directly from their website:

You are entitled to a full refund if all of the following apply:

* You claim your refund within 14 days of your order date.

* It is the first order made on your account (e.g. renewals do not qualify).

* You have fully complied with our Acceptable Use Policy and our Terms of Service.

* You send an e-mail to or use the Support section on our website to request your cancelation.

* You have used less than 5GB of bandwidth.

* You have not previously claimed a refund from us under this policy (e.g. for another account).

* Apply for the refund by contacting .

The condition that I highlighted above is the one that concerns me. 5GB is a very small amount of data. I assume they mean 5GB of data, as 5GB of bandwidth doesnt make any sense. Bandwidth is a measurement of speed (data transfer over time, usually quoted in Mbps or MB/s).

Anyway, you will need to be very careful not to use12VPNtoo much when testing it. Otherwise, you will not be eligible for the money back guarantee.

If you want a proper money back guarantee, then you can tryExpressVPN for 30 days, orVPN.ac for 7 days, without any limit on how much data or bandwidth you can use.

The BitTorrent policy. I will quote fromtheir website(FAQ section):

Unfortunately we do not allow Bittorrent. Allowing bittorrent would dramatically reduce the number of data centres willing to host our servers.