Trust me when I say that you need to find the best VPN for China expats, one that serves the China expat market by constantly out-maneuvering Chinese censorship. I’d like to offer some recommendations based on my experience of the best VPN for expats in China as of November 2023.
After more than a decade living and traveling around China, I’ve had to learn a few things the hard way, particularly as it relates to the internet in China. This is even more true with all the news China continues to try to supress around the country.
The most important lessons has had to do with Virtual Private Networks, or “VPN” for short. You can ask pretty much any person who has lived in China for at least a year and they’ll agree with the following:
- As an Expat in China, You Need a VPN: If you want to maintain your sanity or remain connected to friends and family back home, subscribing to a VPN is not optional. It’s a must. And yes, it’s worth the small annual fee.
- VPNs Don’t Always Work in China: While the Chinese government honestly doesn’t care if you, a foreigner, use a VPN, the fact that they don’t want their own citizens using one makes our lives as expats harder. Sometimes a VPN just doesn’t work in China, whether because the server has been blocked or because Congress is in session (or, right now, if they’re celebrating an important 70th anniversary of the country).
- Because of This, Using a China-Specific VPN is Important: Every VPN company says they work well in China. Very few actually do. If you want a shot at a consistent VPN connection, you need to go with a company that has a history of serving the China market, which means making the necessary adjustments to avoid blocking / censorship.
When you consider all the different websites that are blocked in China, you’ll understand why this is so important. I’d like to share a quick list detailing the best VPN for China expats.
Note: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means that at no extra cost to you, I may be compensated if you choose to use some of the services below. I only recommend what I’ve personally used, however, and I appreciate your support of this free website!
Best VPN for Expats in China (long term)
Having lived as an expat in China for over a decade, I’ve had both positive and negative experiences with different VPN companies.
Not surprisingly, a few of the bad ones are no longer in business (though not all!).
For this list of the best VPN for China expats, I’m only including services that I have personally used for at least the past 8 years.
For these specific China recommendations, the VPNs must meet the following criteria:
- They must have a long history (5+ years) of being reliable and consistent, even during those times when China cracks down on VPN usage;
- They must have a China status page, that shows updates when connection gets hard and tells you which servers are working;
- They must have a 30-day money back guarantee, so you can try them, see which one works best for you, and then return the other two if you like.
This isn’t just any old list thrown together at random.
I’ve used more than 25 different VPN services from within China and these are the only 3 that made the cut.