How to Use Gmail in China in 2024 (Full Guide)

How to Use Gmail in China in 2024:

  • Step 1: Get a VPN that works in China. My personal recommendation is to get ExpressVPN because it works without any issues in China (it refreshes its server IPs super fast, and it also has obfuscation). Plus, it has servers in 100+ countries, it’s very secure, and it’s the fastest VPN out there.
  • Step 2: Install the VPN on your device. Download the provider’s app from its site or the app store, and follow the on-screen instructions to install and set up the app.
  • Step 3: Open the VPN app. Log into your VPN account, then head over to the app’s settings to enable the VPN’s obfuscation feature (if available). Then, open the server list and connect to a server (ideally, one near your location).
  • Step 4: Access your Gmail account. You should now be able to connect to Gmail anywhere in China. Plus, your data will be encrypted, so nobody will be able to spy on your Gmail traffic.

I really hate how I lose access to Gmail whenever I travel through China. I use Gmail (and other Google services) on a regular basis — both for personal use, and for running my business. While there are alternatives to Gmail in China, they’re really inconvenient to use.

Fortunately, I found a simple solution — using a virtual private network (VPN). This is an online service that helps you circumvent censorship in restrictive countries by allowing you to communicate with the web through a new IP address (one that doesn’t have any firewall restrictions linked to it). Plus, the service routes all of your data through a VPN tunnel that encrypts your traffic, so that nobody can spy on it. 

The only issue is that not a lot of VPNs work well in China. The government is really aggressive when it comes to blocking VPN websites and VPN connections. What’s more, I found that out of the few providers that do let you access Gmail in China, many provide poor value — they’re really slow, have small server networks, or come with buggy apps. 

But all of the VPNs I mention here work in China without any problems. Plus, they also provide excellent value, as they’re fast, have intuitive apps, and provide access to large server networks. I’ve used all of them over the past 10+ years while traveling through China, and they have always allowed me to access blocked sites.

IMPORTANT: Please keep in mind this article shouldn’t be taken as legal advice. I only talk about my personal experience with using a VPN in China — I’m not actually a lawyer who specializes in Chinese law. As far as I know, the legality of VPN usage varies from province to province in China. That’s why I strongly recommend reading up on the local laws of the province you live in or are traveling through to make sure it’s 100% safe to try to access Gmail with a VPN> 

How to Choose the Best VPN for Using Gmail in China in 2024

  • Get a VPN that actually works in China — Very few VPNs are actually able to circumvent Chinese internet censorship. But I can personally confirm that all of the VPNs mentioned in this article work without any issues in China. 
  • Pick a VPN that’s secure — Online security is extremely important in China, which is why I only recommend buying a VPN that comes with all essential VPN security and privacy features. This includes military-grade encryption, a kill switch (to prevent traffic leaks), a no-logs policy, and DNS leak protection. 
  • Opt for a VPN with fast speeds — Whenever you use a VPN, your original internet speeds will experience slowdowns due to the encryption-decryption process (and the distance between you and the VPN server). Fortunately, most top VPNs optimize their services to minimize the speed loss. All the VPNs I recommend here are fast, but I should note I had the fastest speeds with ExpressVPN.
  • Get a VPN that has a large server network — If the provider offers access to many server locations near China, it will be easy to connect to nearby servers to get the fastest speeds. ExpressVPN, my #1 pick, has servers in 100+ countries, including many locations near China, such as Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong. 
  • Pick a VPN with user-friendly apps — To make sure you get a great user experience, always go for a provider that has apps for desktop, mobile, and smart TV devices. Also, the VPN’s apps should be simple to install and use (it shouldn’t take more than 10 seconds to find and connect to a server). 
  • Go for a provider that offers good value — Ideally, the VPN should also offer other perks, like extra features (such as an ad blocker or split-tunneling) and good streaming support. Also, its plans should be affordable, and the provider should also have a generous money-back guarantee.

Quick Look at the Best VPNs for Using Gmail in China in 2024:

  1. ExpressVPNBest overall VPN for using Gmail in China in 2024.
  2. PureVPNSecurity-focused VPN service for users in China.
  3. PrivateVPNGood, beginner-friendly VPN provider for accessing Gmail in China.
  4. Comparison of the Best VPNs for Using Gmail in China in 2024.

1. ExpressVPN — Best VPN for Using Gmail in 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 way to access Gmail in China. It works without any issues in China, it also provides high-end security and privacy features, and it provides access to a very large server network. 

I’ve been using Express in China without issues for years now. The provider works so well there because it changes its server IPs super fast — I actually ran 15 leak tests while connected to one of its servers, and I got a different IP address every time. Plus, ExpressVPN also provides obfuscation (a feature that hides VPN connections by masking VPN traffic) on all servers and via all protocols, which is super convenient. 

And I also love how the provider has mirrored links. These are exact copies of ExpressVPN’s site, but they are hosted on different web addresses. These types of links help you access the provider’s site in China (as it’s very likely blocked there). And ExpressVPN has really responsive email support, so you can quickly reach out to it to get access to the mirrored links (or solve any other issues related to using the VPN in China). 

What’s more, ExpressVPN has industry-leading security features, which are great for protecting your privacy (like your Gmail account traffic, for example). The provider has an audited no-logs policy that has also been proven true in a server seizure. What’s more, it comes with advanced security features, including full leak protection, perfect forward secrecy (offers a different encryption key for each VPN connection), and RAM-only servers, which ensure that all server data is wiped with each reboot. 

I also like how the provider has VPN servers in 100+ countries. It even has servers in many countries near China, like South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, and Malaysia. This makes it super simple to find and connect to a nearby server, so that you can get the fastest speeds. And speaking of speeds, ExpressVPN is the fastest VPN on the market — whenever I use it to access Gmail in China, my emails always load instantly, and it never takes more than a few seconds to attach large files to my emails.

I think ExpressVPN is also affordable, as its prices begin at $6.67/month. I can see why some people would consider it pricey, but keep in mind this VPN provides the best value on the market. Plus, it also backs all of its plans with a no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line: ExpressVPN is the best VPN to access Gmail in China. The provider works without any problems in China since it refreshes its server IPs super fast, and it also provides obfuscation. Plus, it comes with very strong security and privacy features, it has a really large server network (with many server locations near China), and it’s super fast. Also, it backs all of its plans with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

2. PureVPN — Highly Secure VPN for Using Gmail in China PureVPN

Try PureVPN risk-free!

PureVPN provides access to high-end security and privacy features, including an always-on audit structure, Quantum-Resistant servers, PFS, and RAM-only servers. It also has a larger server network, good streaming support, fast speeds, and user-friendly apps. It backs all plans with a 31-day money-back guarantee.

score

4.4
/ 5

PureVPN offers a very secure way to access Gmail when you’re in China. The provider protects your internet traffic with high-end security features, including RAM-only servers and perfect forward secrecy. It also has full leak protection — and I ran several leak tests on 10 of its servers, and I never experienced any leaks. 

Plus, I really like how the VPN has Quantum-Resistant servers. These servers are configured to secure your web data against quantum threats that could compromise connections that use present-day encryption standards. Quantum threats might become a concern in the future (once quantum computing becomes more popular), and I can definitely see Chinese authorities using it to spy on users’ web data. 

And PureVPN refreshes its server IPs really fast, and it also provides obfuscation. Plus, I really like how it supports obfuscation on all of its VPN servers (obfuscation is provided via the OpenVPN protocol). 

And the provider comes with a big server network — 6000+ servers in 65+ countries. Its server network also provides access to locations near China, like South Korea, the Philippines, and Hong Kong. Due to this, the provider maintains really smooth connection speeds (I at least never experienced noticeable slowdowns while using it in China). Still, if the number of countries is not enough for you, try ExpressVPN instead since it has servers in 100+ countries. 

Finally, I really like how user-friendly PureVPN is. It comes with apps for all major desktop and mobile platforms, and its apps make it super simple to find and connect to different servers. Also, I think it’s great that most settings and features come with helpful explanations. 

PureVPN has several tier-based subscriptions, and its plans begin at $1.96/month. The provider also backs each one of its plans with a 31-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line: PureVPN is a very secure method to access Gmail in China. The provider comes with tons of high-end security and privacy features, and it even has servers that future-proof your VPN traffic against potential quantum threats. Also, PureVPN has a large server network, good speeds, and really intuitive apps. In addition, it backs all of its plans with a 31-day money-back guarantee.

3. PrivateVPN — Beginner-Friendly VPN for Users in China PrivateVPN

Try PrivateVPN risk-free!

PrivateVPN is a super-affordable VPN that’s great for beginners and people who download torrents very often. It also comes with great streaming support, it’s really good for security and privacy, and it works in restrictive countries. Plus, it backs all purchases with a risk-free 30-day refund.

score

4.4
/ 5

PrivateVPN is one of the most minimalist VPN providers on the market. Its apps barely have any features or settings to change. While that might be considered a drawback by some, I can see how people who are new to VPNs would find that convenient — using the provider’s apps would just not feel overwhelming to them. 

Plus, I love how simple it is to navigate the provider’s apps. The interface is so intuitive, that it really doesn’t take more than 5 seconds to find and connect to a VPN server. Also, I think it’s great that there are quick, helpful explanations for the few settings and features that are available. 

And PrivateVPN also works very well in China. In addition to refreshing its server IPs really fast (I confirmed this in 10+ leak tests), it also provides obfuscation via its Stealth VPN feature. And I also like how you can choose which port the obfuscated connection uses. If you select TCP port 443, Chinese authorities can’t use port-blocking to stop you from using the VPN — if they were to block TCP port 443, that’d mean they’d block HTTPS traffic country-wide. 

And the VPN also has 200+ servers in 60+ countries, including several locations near China (like Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, and Taiwan) — due to this, the VPN is always able to maintain fast connection speeds. However, if you’d like to have access to servers in more countries, I recommend trying ExpressVPN instead since it offers servers in 100+ countries.

PrivateVPN is also super affordable, with plans starting as low as $2.00/month. Also, the provider backs each purchase with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line: PrivateVPN is a great pick for people who are new to VPNs. Its apps are really minimalist, so you never feel overwhelmed when using them. Plus, the provider also works extremely well in China (it has obfuscation and refreshes its IPs very fast), has a large server network, and provides good speeds. And it backs its (super affordable) plans with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Comparison of the Best VPNs for Using Gmail in China in 2024

Starting PriceObfuscationServer
Network
Number of DevicesFree PlanMoney-Back Guarantee
1. ExpressVPN$6.67/monthServers in
100+
countries
Up top 830 days
2. PureVPN$1.96/month6000+
servers in
65+
countries
1031 days
3. PrivateVPN$2.00/month200+
servers in
60+
countries
1030 days

Why Is Gmail Blocked in China?

This is because the Chinese government uses nation-wide firewalls to block access to Gmail. Its system of firewalls is called the Great Firewall, and it restricts access to not just Gmail, but all Google services (including Google docs, Google Maps, Google Translate, and more). The Chinese government blocks these services to limit their users’ internet freedom. Also, the government may do this to also promote its own national alternatives to Gmail (like Sohu Mail, QQ Mail, or NetEase, for example). 

To unblock Gmail in China, you need to use a VPN. But it has to be a good VPN that actually works without issues in China (since the Great Firewall is able to block most VPNs). I always had the best experience with ExpressVPN when traveling through China — it works very well there since it changes its server IPs super fast, and it also provides obfuscation (plus, it’s also the fastest VPN out there, and it’s ultra-secure too). 

How to Use Gmail on All Devices

How to Use Gmail on Desktop (Windows and macOS)

  1. Sign up for a VPN that works in China. I like using ExpressVPN the most since it works without issues in China, and it also has very intuitive desktop apps. Plus, it has servers in 100+ countries (including many locations near China), and it’s super-fast.
  2. Install the VPN on your device. Download the app installer from the provider’s site, and follow the installation wizard’s instructions to install the VPN app. It shouldn’t take more than 2 minutes to do it.
  3. Launch the provider’s app. Log into your VPN account, enable the VPN’s obfuscation feature (if available), then scroll through the list of server locations and connect to the nearest server (to get the fastest speeds).
  4. Connect to Gmail. You should now be able to access your Gmail inbox and send emails to your friends and family without any problems.

How to Use Gmail on Mobile (Android and iOS)

  1. Get a secure mobile VPN. I personally recommend ExpressVPN because it works extremely well in China, and it also has the best iOS and Android apps on the market. Plus, it provides lightning-fast connection speeds, and it comes with industry-leading security and privacy features. 
  2. Install the VPN’s mobile app. Find the provider’s app on your device’s app store, and download it. After that, wait for the installation process to finish. 
  3. Open the VPN app. Launch the VPN app, log into your account, then enable the apps’ obfuscation feature (if it’s available). After that, find and connect to a server that’s outside China.
  4. Launch the Gmail app. You should now be able to use Gmail without any issues in mainland China. Plus, your traffic will be encrypted, so the government won’t be able to spy on it.

Frequently Asked Questions

The best way to do this is to use a VPN, which is an online service that hides your IP address and encrypts your traffic (making it 100% unreadable). Basically, when you connect to a VPN, you communicate with the web via the VPN’s IP address — and as long as that IP doesn’t have any firewalls linked to it, you can use it to freely surf the web.

Just keep in mind that not all VPNs work in China. The government is really good at detecting and blocking VPNs, and only a few actually work there. My personal recommendation is to use ExpressVPN — it works with zero issues in China, it has servers in 100+ countries (including many locations near China), it has high-end security features, and it’s the fastest VPN on the market. 

I can’t offer a simple yes or no answer here. The laws regarding VPN usage in China vary from province to province. As far as I know, it’s generally not against the law to use a VPN in most parts of China, but you might get in trouble with the law if you try to promote or sell a non-government-approved VPN in China. But, ultimately, I just recommend researching the local laws of the region you’re in to make sure it’s 100% safe to use a VPN to access Gmail. 

There are several alternatives, including QQ Mail, NetEase, and SohuMail. But setting up an account with a different email provider just because you’re in China is pretty inconvenient. It’s much easier to just use a reliable VPN to unblock Gmail in China — ExpressVPN should get the job done since it works without any issues in restrictive countries like China (plus, it’s also the fastest and most secure VPN on the market). 

You can try, but I don’t recommend it. Tor is a privacy network that encrypts your traffic and hides your IP, and a proxy is a server that just hides your IP address. I’ve tested both methods in China, and they’re not great — Tor just doesn’t work, while proxies might work but are not safe to use (since they don’t encrypt your traffic). 

It’s much, much better to just use a VPN, which changes your IP address (to allow you to bypass firewalls) and secures your traffic. ExpressVPN is my #1 recommendation, as it works very well in China since it refreshes its server IPs very fast, and it also provides obfuscation — plus, it has servers in 100+ countries (including lots of places near China), it provides the fastest speeds on the market, and it protects your data with industry-leading security and privacy features.

Best VPNs for Using Gmail in China in 2024 — Final Thoughts: 

ExpressVPN

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