5 Best Free VPN for China 2024 (Still Working in February 2024)

best free vpns for china

 

In a hurry? Here’s the best free VPN for China in 2024:

ExpressVPN: While it’s not free, it comes with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee that lets you fully use the VPN for 30 days without losing any money. So if your trip to China is less than 30 days, you can try it out at no risk. In addition, it circumvents internet censorship in China without any issues, and it also provides high-end security and privacy tools, excellent streaming and P2P support, and the fastest speeds on the market.

If you're looking for the best free VPN for China, welcome to the right place. I know how difficult it is to find a good free VPN that actually works in China. I've lived in China for over 13 years, and the government is really good at detecting and blocking most VPNs — especially free services. That’s because free VPNs don’t refresh their server IPs too often, so the Great Firewall easily detects and blocks their servers. 

Even worse, when you find a free VPN that works there, it’s often not great. That’s because many free VPNs lack essential security tools, and they might also log VPN users’ data and share it with third parties. Not to mention a lot of free VPNs have very slow speeds, really restrictive data caps, and hard-to-use apps. 

Still, I’ve been using VPNs for 13+ years, and managed to find a few free vendors that provide good value. All the VPNs I mention in this list work pretty well in China (though I can’t guarantee 100% uptime for all of them), and they also come with good security features, fast speeds, and intuitive apps. 

IMPORTANT: VPNs are a legal gray area in China, meaning it might or might not be illegal to use one depending on whether you’re a tourist or a Chinese citizen. But for me, I've used them for over 13+ years and all my expat friends do as well and it should be no issue.

How to Choose the Best Free VPN for China in 2024

  • Make sure the VPN 100% works in China — Check that the VPN refreshes its VPN server IP addresses very often, as that’s the main way the Chinese government detects and blocks VPNs. Also, the VPN should come with obfuscation to hide your VPN traffic and avoid network-level blocks. Every VPN I recommend in this article works really well in China.
  • Go for a VPN with strong security and privacy features — I strongly recommend getting a China VPN that has essential VPN security features, such as a no-logs policy, a kill switch to prevent data leaks, military-grade encryption, or DNS leak protection.
  • Pick a free VPN for China with good data caps — Free VPNs generally limit your data usage, so I recommend going for a free VPN that allows at least 2 GB per month. hide.me, which I consider to be the best free VPN for China on the market, allows unlimited data.
  • Get a VPN for China that provides fast speeds — When you use a VPN, your original web speeds will slow down due to the added encryption. And free VPN services usually tend to be slower, so make sure you pick a provider that maintains smooth browsing speeds on both nearby and distant servers. 
  • Choose a China VPN with server locations near China — The distance between your device and the VPN server also impacts your VPN speeds. So try looking for a free VPN for China that has servers near China, such as Singapore or Japan. All the VPNs I recommend provide access to server locations near China.
  • Opt for a VPN for China with good customer support — You usually won’t be able to use a VPN provider’s live chat support in China, so you’ll need to rely on its email support instead. Try picking a China VPN that has responsive email support.
  • Go for a China VPN that offers great value — I recommend getting a free VPN that has affordable paid plans that come with additional features, such as a large server network, and streaming and torrenting support. Also, bonus points if the provider backs its paid plans with a generous money-back guarantee.

Quick Look at the Best Free VPNs for China in 2024:

  1. ExpressVPNBest overall VPN for China in 2024.
  2. Hotspot Shield — Best free VPN for China.
  3. hide.me — Good, secure VPN service with unlimited data.
  4. Windscribe — Secure free VPN service that’s good for streaming.
  5. TunnelBear — Good free China VPN for beginners. 
  6. Bonus. Astrill VPN — Good and secure paid VPN for China.
  7. Comparison of the Best Free VPNs for China in 2024.

Let's get right into it!

1. ExpressVPN — Best Overall VPN Service for China in 2024 ExpressVPN

Try ExpressVPN risk-free!

ExpressVPN is my top VPN for China, even though it's not fully free, you can treat it as such as it backs a 30 day refund guarantee, so if your trip to China is less than 30 days, you try it out and if you're not satisfied, you can get a no-questions-asked refund.

score

4.9
/ 5

ExpressVPN is by far the best VPN for China. While it doesn’t have a free VPN plan, it still comes with a no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee — this means you don’t need to meet any requirements to qualify for the refund. So, you can test the VPN risk-free, as you can simply ask for your money back if you’re not 100% satisfied with the service. 

The provider is an excellent China VPN, as it works in the country without any issues — this is the VPN I use the most when traveling through that region, and it always allows me to circumvent the Great Firewall. This is because the provider refreshes its VPN server IP addresses very fast, so the Chinese government has a hard time detecting and blocking them.

ExpressVPN also works so well in China because it supports obfuscation on all servers and via all VPN protocols. Obfuscation hides your VPN traffic and makes it look like regular internet traffic. So, the Chinese government can’t use deep packet inspection (DPI) to detect and block your VPN connection. 

Plus, the VPN comes with high-end security features to secure your online data in China. It uses advanced tools, such as RAM-only servers (every VPN server reset wipes all data), perfect forward secrecy to change the encryption key for each VPN session, and IPv6, WebRTC, and DNS leak protection. What’s more, it has a strict no-logs policy that has been independently audited, and it also comes with Advanced Protection — this feature blocks ads and shady sites. 

I also like how this China VPN comes with VPN servers in 100+ countries — especially server locations near China, such as Singapore, the Philippines, Japan, and Taiwan. This makes it very simple to connect to nearby VPN servers to get the fastest speeds. Actually, speaking of speeds, I always maintain blazing-fast browsing, streaming, and torrenting speeds when using ExpressVPN in China. 

And ExpressVPN also provides other perks — it works with 100+ streaming platforms (like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video), it allows torrenting on all of its servers, and it has super intuitive apps for all desktop, mobile, and smart TV devices.

ExpressVPN has prices that start at $6.67— I think this is pretty affordable, plus the money is worth it since this China VPN offers the best value on the market. What’s more, the provider often offers special discounts with extra months of service for free.

Bottom Line: ExpressVPN is the best VPN for China in 2024. While it’s not a free VPN, it comes with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee and affordable plans. Plus, it provides much better value than other free China VPN services, as it works in China without any issues, it has a huge server network, and it comes with high-end security tools. 

2. Hotspot Shield — Best Free VPN for China in 2024 Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield
Try HotSpot Shield risk-free!

Hotspot Shield provides the best value on the market — it works with 100+ streaming services, has servers in 100+ countries, allows torrenting on all servers, has high-end security and privacy features, is super user-friendly, and comes with a risk-free 30-day refund. 

score

4.8
/ 5

Hotspot Shield has the best free VPN plan for users in China — it allows unlimited data, and it provides great obfuscation via its Hydra VPN protocol. Plus, you also get strong security, as the VPN comes with perfect forward secrecy and DNS leak protection. 

The free plan allows you to use servers in 3 countries: the US, Singapore, and the UK. I like that you get Singaporean servers, as they are near China, so you can use them to get smooth connection speeds.

The provider’s free VPN plan limits speeds to 2 Mbps, but it’s still really fast — this is mostly thanks to its Hydra protocol, which is designed to be very lightweight. Whenever I use Hotspot Shield in China, most sites load instantly, and HD videos take less than 3 seconds to fully load. 

Still, Hotspot Shield’s free VPN plan has some drawbacks. The main thing I don’t like is that it logs your IP address to serve you ads. In addition, the free plan only lets you use the provider’s support library, which isn’t very helpful if you need to talk with a rep while in China.

The paid version provides pretty good value — it adds 1,800+ servers in 90+ countries (including many locations near China), it provides access to streaming and P2P support, it removes the 2 Mbps speed limit, it adds support for 10 connections, it provides access to decent live chat and email support, and it removes all ads and IP logging. 

Hotspot Shield’s paid plans start at $7.99, which is affordable. The provider also backs each purchase with a really generous 45-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line: Hotspot Shield has the best free VPN plan for China, as it allows unlimited data, and it provides access to the Hydra protocol, which consistently works in restrictive regions. Also, the free plan comes with advanced security features, fast speeds, and a server location near China (Singapore). The paid version adds more server locations, streaming and P2P support, and it’s also backed by a 45-day money-back guarantee.

3. Hide.me — Secure Free China VPN With Unlimited Bandwidth hide.me

Try Hide me risk-free!

Hide me provides the best value on the market — it works with 100+ streaming services, has servers in 100+ countries, allows torrenting on all servers, has high-end security and privacy features, is super user-friendly, and comes with a risk-free 30-day refund. 

score

4.7
/ 5

hide.me’s free VPN plan also comes with unlimited data, and it provides access to strong security features as well. You can secure your internet connection traffic with RAM-only servers, perfect forward secrecy, full leak protection, and even an audited no-logs policy. Plus, you get access to obfuscation to hide your VPN traffic as well. 

I never encountered issues when using hide.me’s free plan in China, but keep in mind the provider doesn’t guarantee 100% uptime. If this is a deal-breaker for you, I recommend picking Hotspot Shield instead, as its free plan consistently works in China, and it also comes with unlimited bandwidth.

The free plan also provides access to servers in 5+ countries, and this includes servers in Singapore, which is near China. I should also note that I always maintained smooth connection speeds when using this provider’s free VPN plan while traveling through China. 

Upgrading to the paid version provides access to more perks — you get streaming and P2P support, you can connect up to 10 devices (the free plan only allows 1 connection), you get access to servers in 50+ countries, you can use the unique Bolt feature that’s supposed to boost VPN speeds, and you get access to SmartGuard, which blocks ads, ad trackers, and shady sites.

hide.me has budget-friendly prices, with plans starting at $2.69/month. And it also backs each purchase with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line: hide.me has a free VPN plan that allows unlimited bandwidth and provides strong security, including full leak protection, RAM-only servers, and an audited no-logs policy. The free plan also has servers in 5+ countries and good speeds. Upgrading to the paid version gets you servers in more countries and access to an ad blocker. And all paid plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

4. Windscribe — Secure Free China VPN for Streaming Windscibe

Windscribe
Try Windscribe risk-free!

Windscribe provides the best value on the market — it works with 100+ streaming services, has servers in 100+ countries, allows torrenting on all servers, has high-end security and privacy features, is super user-friendly, and comes with a risk-free 30-day refund. 

score

4.6
/ 5

Windscribe has one of the few free plans that allows streaming, as it consistently works with top sites like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and YouTube TV. In addition, you get servers in 10+ countries, including one location near China (Hong Kong). 

The free plan also comes with strong security features, including RAM-only servers, full leak protection, and perfect forward secrecy. You also get access to R.O.B.E.R.T, which is a pretty good ad blocker — though keep in mind the free plan only provides limited access to that feature. 

And the free plan provides up to 15 GB of data per month — you get 2 GB when you sign up, you can upgrade up to 10 GB by confirming your email, and you can finally get up to 15 GB by tweeting about Windscribe.

The provider doesn’t guarantee consistent uptime in China, though I never encountered any issues when using it there. Still, if this is a deal-breaker, considering getting Hotspot Shield instead, as its free plan works without issues in China, and it also allows unlimited data.

Windscribe’s paid plans start at $5.75/month, which is pretty affordable, but still pricier than most of the VPNs on my list. The provider also has a 3-day money-back guarantee, but you must use less than 10 GB of bandwidth to qualify for it. 

Bottom Line: hide.me has a free VPN plan that allows unlimited bandwidth and provides strong security, including full leak protection, RAM-only servers, and an audited no-logs policy. The free plan also has servers in 5+ countries and good speeds. Upgrading to the paid version gets you servers in more countries and access to an ad blocker. And all paid plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

5. TunnelBear — Good Free China VPN for Beginners TunnelBear

TunnelBear
Try TunnelBear risk-free!

TunnelBear is a good VPN for beginners, as it has very intuitive apps that are also fun to use. Plus, the provider has a pretty good free plan, provides access to strong security and privacy features, has a pretty big server network, and has good speeds on all servers. Also, it works in restrictive regions (like China and Egypt) without any issues, and it also supports split-tunneling on iOS.

score

3.5
/ 5

TunnelBear is one of the most user-friendly VPN services on the market. The provider’s apps are very intuitive, and they make it super simple to find and connect to servers. Plus, all settings and features come with helpful explanations. And I also like how the apps are very fun to use — they have digital maps and feature cute digital bears that dig tunnels to the server locations you connect to. Plus, I like how the VPN allows unlimited connections.

The provider has a pretty good free VPN plan — it lets you use all servers, which are located in 45+ countries, including places near China like South Korea and Japan. The free plan also provides access to all features, including GhostBear, which provides obfuscation. 

Also, TunnelBear’s free plan provides very strong security. I really like that it comes with full leak protection — I even ran leak tests on servers in 10+ countries, and I never experienced any leaks.

However, the free plan limits you to 2 GB per month, which is only enough for a few hours of secure web browsing. If that’s an issue, consider getting Hotspot Shield or hide.me instead, as they both allow unlimited bandwidth on their free VPN plans.

TunnelBear’s paid plans start at $3.33/month, making it one of the cheapest VPN services on the market. Sadly, the provider doesn’t come with a money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line: TunnelBear is one of the most intuitive free VPN services on the market. Its apps are very simple to navigate, they’re fun to use, and the provider also allows unlimited connections. Plus, the provider’s free plan comes with servers in 45+ countries and strong security features. However, the free plan limits you to 2 GB per month, and the paid plans don’t come with a refund policy.

Bonus. Astrill VPN — Decent & Secure Paid VPN for China Astrill VPN

Try Astrill VPN risk-free!

Astrill VPN is a great VPN for accessing the free web in restrictive countries, and also for securing your online data with advanced features. It also has good speeds on all servers, accesses most streaming sites, is good for gaming, and provides helpful customer support. 

score

4.5
/ 5

Astrill VPN works very well in China, but it sadly doesn’t have a free plan. And it also lacks a money-back guarantee (like ExpressVPN), so you can’t test it risk-free. That said, I was always able to circumvent the web censorship imposed by the Chinese government with Astrill VPN whenever I traveled through China. 

This VPN works well in China mainly thanks to its 2 proprietary protocols, which are called OpenWeb and StealthVPN. These protocols are specifically designed to circumvent online censorship, and they are also designed to be somewhat lightweight to deliver smooth speeds. 

And Astrill VPN provides strong security features as well — it comes with RAM-only servers and perfect forward secrecy, and it has full leak protection (I ran 10+ leak tests, and I never experienced any issues). And for an additional cost, you get access to multihop VPN connections that add extra layers of encryption to your connections.

You also get access to VPN servers in 50+ countries, including many locations near China like Vietnam, Japan, and Malaysia. So it’s relatively easy to use nearby servers to get good VPN connection speeds in China — whenever I use this provider there, I usually maintain fast speeds for browsing and streaming. 

Astrill VPN has paid plans that start at $12.50/month. This is honestly one of the most expensive VPN services on the market, so I only recommend subscribing to this provider if you’re 100% satisfied with what it offers. 

Bottom Line: Astrill VPN works really well in China via its proprietary protocols, but it lacks a free VPN plan. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a money-back guarantee either. On the plus side, the provider has strong security features, servers in locations near China, and really fast connection speeds. 

Comparison of the Best Free VPNs for China in 2024

Starting PriceData LimitServer
Network
ObfuscationNumber of DevicesMoney-Back Guarantee
1. ExpressVPN$6.67/monthUnlimitedServers in 100+ countriesUp to 830 days
2. Hotspot Shield$7.99/monthUnlimitedServers in
3 countries
(free plan)
1,800+
servers in
90+
countries
(paid version)
1 (10 via paid version)45 days
3. hide.me$2.69/monthUnlimitedServers in
5+
countries
(free plan) 
Servers in
50+
countries
(paid
version)
1 (10 via paid version)30 days
4. Windscribe$5.75/monthUp to 15 GB per month Servers in
10+ countries
(free plan)
Servers in
60+ countries
(paid version)
Unlimited3 days
5. TunnelBear$3.33/month2 GB per
month
Servers in
45+
countries
Unlimited
Bonus. Astrill VPN12.50/monthUnlimitedServers in
50+
countries
5

Is It Safe to Use Free VPNs in China?

Yes, but only as long as you use secure free VPNs, like the ones on this list. The VPN should secure your data with industry-standard security features, including military-grade encryption, a no-logs policy, DNS leak protection, or a kill switch (to prevent data leaks). 

If you use a subpar free VPN, you’ll put your privacy at risk. That’s because most free VPNs either lack essential security features (most of them don’t have a kill switch), or they log your data and share it with third parties. 

Also, make sure to avoid government-approved free VPNs in China. If you use such a VPN provider, it will log your data and share it with Chinese authorities. VPNs that operate in China need to do that in order to do business in the country. 

What Are the Risks & Drawbacks of Using Free VPNs in China?

Here are the main reasons I recommend avoiding most free VPNs: 

  • They don’t work well in China — Many free VPNs actually can’t bypass Chinese internet censorship because they don’t refresh their server IP addresses very often. So, the government detects and blocks them via the Great Firewall quite easily.
  • They have poor security — A lot of free VPNs lack important security tools, usually a kill switch. Due to that, they put your data at risk every time you use them. 
  • They don’t protect your privacy — Many free VPNs log your data and share it with third parties, or even sell it to advertisers. They do this to turn a profit, otherwise they couldn’t sustain their business model.
  • They don’t have streaming support — Free VPN providers usually don’t work with top streaming sites, as they don’t refresh their server IPs very frequently. The only exception I found so far is Windscribe, whose free version actually works well with most top streaming services.
  • They limit your data usage — Many free VPN services place a limit on how much data you can use each day or month, with many limiting you to 2–10 GB per month. There are some exceptions, though, like Hotspot Shield, which allows unlimited data and also gets around internet censorship in China.
  • They have buggy VPN apps — A lot of free VPN providers have poorly-designed apps, which are hard to navigate and also don’t work well. Plus, free VPN apps are also often missing quality-of-life improvements, such as a quick-connect tool.
  • They don’t provide good customer support — Free VPNs often lack good customer support. For example, they don’t have a support library or their email support is very slow to respond (or doesn’t respond at all).

It’s ultimately best to just use a paid premium VPN, like ExpressVPN — this provider works without issues in China, has servers in 100+ countries (including many locations near China), provides high-end security and privacy tools, works with 100+ streaming services and allows torrenting on all servers, has super fast speeds, and has really intuitive VPN apps.

How Does China Block Free VPNs?

  • IP Blocks — The government detects and blocks the IP addresses of VPN servers belonging to different providers. This is the most common way of blocking VPNs in China. To circumvent this issue, free VPNs need to refresh their servers IPs very often.
  • Port Blocks — The government shuts down ports that are used by well-known VPN protocols, such as IKEv2/IPSec, L2TP/IPSec, and OpenVPN. The only way around this type of block is to use TCP port 443, as it’s the same port used by HTTPS web traffic (so the government couldn’t shut it down).
  • DPI Blocks — DPI stands for Deep Packet Inspection, and it’s a network traffic analysis method. Chinese authorities use DPI to detect VPN traffic signatures, and then drop VPN connections. VPN services can circumvent this type of block by using obfuscation, which makes VPN connections look like regular internet connections. 

The free VPNs I recommend in this article can get around these types of blocks most of the time, but I still recommend using a paid VPN like ExpressVPN instead. That’s because this vendor can get around any type of VPN block in China, and it also comes with high-end security and privacy tools, ultra-fast connection speeds, and excellent streaming and torrenting support.

What to Do If Your Free VPN Is Not Working in China

  • Update the VPN app — If the VPN app is not up-to-date, you might experience bugs or errors that prevent the app from working as it should. This could result in your connection getting blocked in China.
  • Try a different VPN server — Simply disconnect from the server you’re using and reconnect to a different one. There’s a chance that the other server's IP hasn’t been blocked yet.
  • Enable the VPN’s obfuscation — DPI blocks might stop you from using the VPN, so it’s important to enable its obfuscation feature to hide your VPN connection.
  • Use TCP port 443 — Port blocking might be the reason why you can’t use the VPN. In this case, you should use the OpenVPN protocol, as it’s usually configured to use TCP port 443.
  • Contact customer support — Contact the provider’s support reps over email, as they should be able to help you out. Though, keep in mind that a lot of free VPNs’ email support is not very responsive.

If none of those tips work, consider getting a paid VPN instead, as they tend to work better in China. My recommendation is ExpressVPN, as it works in China without any issues, it comes with industry-leading security and privacy features, it has the fastest speeds out there, and it’s excellent for streaming and torrenting. 

VPNs That I Recommend Avoiding

  • Proton VPN — Proton VPN has the best free plan on the market, as it comes with unlimited data, fast speeds, and very strong security and privacy features. However, it sadly doesn’t work in China. 
  • PrivateVPN — This provider works without issues in China, and it also provides very good security features, it has fast speeds, and it’s really simple to use. But it sadly doesn’t come with a free plan.
  • PureVPN — The VPN works really well in China, and it also has a large server network, very fast speeds, and great streaming and P2P support. However, it unfortunately doesn’t have a free plan. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Hotspot Shield is the best free China VPN, as it comes with unlimited data, servers near China (in Singapore), good speeds, strong security features, and very simple-to-use apps. However, please keep in mind the free plan logs your IP to serve you ads, and you don’t get streaming or P2P support. 

Still, ExpressVPN is the best VPN for China overall. It doesn’t have a free plan, but it comes with a no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee, which lets you test the VPN risk-free. And the provider works without issues in China, has servers in 100+ countries, has the fastest speeds on the market, is excellent for streaming and torrenting, and has industry-leading security and privacy features.

Using free VPNs (and paid VPNs as well) is a legally gray area in China. As far as I know, tourists usually use VPNs in China without getting in any legal trouble. That said, if you’re a Chinese citizen, you might face legal repercussions if you’re caught using a VPN. And I know for a fact that operating a VPN that’s not authorized by the Chinese government is likely to result in huge fines or even prison time. 

Ultimately, I strongly recommend you do your own research before visiting China. Check the local laws and regulations of the province you plan on visiting to make sure you don’t risk getting into serious legal trouble if you’re caught using a VPN.

Usually no, as most free VPNs don’t come with streaming support. Basically, they don’t refresh their server IP addresses fast enough, so streaming sites detect and block their VPN connections. What’s more, even the few free VPNs that work with streaming sites have their fair share of issues — they have slow speeds, buggy apps, or limit how much data you can use each day or month. 

Still, if you insist on using free China VPNs, try Windscribe. It works with all popular streaming sites, and it usually works without issues in China (at least for me). But keep in mind it limits you to up to 15 GB per month, which is only enough for about 5 hours of HD streaming. If that’s an issue, get ExpressVPN instead — it doesn’t have a free plan, but it has a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee. And it also works with 100+ streaming sites, allows unlimited data, and has super fast streaming speeds. 

It’s unlikely, as the government blocks most VPN websites via the Great Firewall. That’s why it’s best to sign up for free China VPNs and download and install their apps on your devices before you go to China. 

However, if you’re in China, you could access a provider’s site by using mirrored links, which are copies of VPN websites that use different URLs, which are harder to detect and block. You’ll need to contact the provider’s support reps over email to get access to the latest mirrored links, though, as they change very often. 

Usually no, as free VPNs don’t have free servers in China. Most of the top free vendors I recommend only have free servers near China, such as Singapore. Even if you come across a free VPN with servers in China, I don’t recommend using them — they might be physically located there, and using them could compromise your privacy. 

If you really need a Chinese IP address, try a paid provider like PureVPN. This VPN has virtual server locations in China, which means the servers provide you with a Chinese IP, but they are physically located in different countries (usually privacy-friendly countries). Plus, the VPN is also very secure, and it also provides really good speeds.

Best Free VPNs for China in 2024 — Final Thoughts:

Below are my top 3 best Free VPNs for China recommendations. If by chance you're back home and looking for an overall amazing VPN, I suggest choosing one of these best VPN picks.

Hotspot Shield

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