How to Use Google Maps in China in 2024 (Full Guide)

How to Use Google Maps in China in 2024:

  • Step 1: Get a VPN that works well in China. My top pick for this is ExpressVPN since it works without issues in China (it refreshes its IPs super fast, and it has obfuscation), and it’s also the fastest VPN on the market. Plus, it has industry-leading security features too. 
  • Step 2: Install the VPN’s app on your device. Download the provider’s installer, and just follow the on-screen instructions to install and set up the VPN on your device.
  • Step 3: Launch the VPN app. Open the VPN app, the enable its obfuscation feature (if available). After that, find and connect to a VPN server outside of China — try to use a nearby location to get the fastest speeds.
  • Step 4: Access Google Maps. You can now freely use Google Maps in China without any issues — plus, nobody will be able to spy on your traffic anymore.

I travel very often to China, and I really hate how I can’t use Google Maps there. That’s because the government uses firewalls to block access to all of Google’s services (and tons of other web platforms) across the country. There are local alternatives to Google Maps, but they’re really inconvenient to use. 

The good news is I found a great solution — using a virtual private network (VPN). This is an online service that hides your real IP address, allowing you to circumvent the government’s censorship. Plus, the VPN also encrypts your traffic, which means it makes it 100% unreadable. 

But keep in mind not all VPNs work in China. Many of them actually can’t circumvent the Great Firewall at all. And out of the ones that can do that, a lot of them provide bad value — they are slow, have buggy apps, have small server networks, or don’t provide good security features. 

However, I can confirm that all the VPNs mentioned in this article work very well in China. I’ve used all of them while traveling through there, and they always allowed me to access Google Maps without any issues. Keep reading to see which VPN provides the best value for you (for me, it’s ExpressVPN since it’s very secure and super fast). 

IMPORTANT: I fully recommend getting a backup VPN before your visit to China, as there are often sporadic crackdowns on VPN providers. For a full list, check out my best VPNs for China post.

How to Choose the Best VPN for Using Google Maps in China in 2024

  • Pick a VPN that works in China — The Chinese government is really aggressive when it comes to blocking VPNs, which is why very few providers work well in the country. But all the VPNs recommended on my list work without issues in China. 
  • Get a VPN that’s secure — You should only use a VPN that comes with essential VPN security features, including military-grade encryption, a kill switch, a no-logs policy, or DNS leak protection. Bonus points if it also includes access to advanced security tools, like full leak protection or RAM-only servers. 
  • Choose a fast VPN — When you use a VPN, your original internet speeds slow down due to the added layer of encryption. But if you use a premium VPN like the ones on my list, the slowdowns will barely be noticeable.
  • Pick a VPN with a large server network — If you can connect to a nearby server, you’ll have faster VPN speeds. That’s why I recommend getting a provider that has servers in at least 100+ countries, so that you can connect to servers near China (ExpressVPN has servers in 100+ countries).
  • Get a VPN that’s user-friendly — I suggest only buying a VPN whose apps are really simple to install and use. Ideally, it shouldn’t take you longer than 5 seconds to find and connect to a VPN server. And you should also have no problems understanding what all settings and features do.
  • Pick a VPN that provides good value — It’s best to pick a provider whose paid plans are affordable, and provide access to tons of perks (like extra features like an ad blocker or split tunneling, or great streaming support). If the VPN also has a money-back guarantee, even better.

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

  1. ExpressVPNBest overall VPN for using Google Maps in China in 2024.
  2. PrivateVPN — Good option for people new to VPNs.
  3. Astrill VPN — Security-focused VPN for accessing Google Maps in China.
  4. Comparison of the Best VPNs for Using Google Maps in China in 2024.

1. ExpressVPN — Best VPN for Using Google Maps 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.

ExpressVPN is the best pick for using Google Maps in China. In fact, it’s the best VPN for China in general — it works in China without any issues, it comes with industry-leading security and privacy features, and it has the fastest VPN speeds on the market. 

I can confirm that ExpressVPN works very well in China — whenever I travel there, I always use it to access Google Maps when I need to quickly find my way around the city I’m staying in. The VPN works so well in China because it refreshes its server IP addresses very fast (so the Chinese government can’t detect and block them fast enough). 

Also, ExpressVPN supports obfuscation on all of its servers and via all protocols — this security feature hides your VPN traffic, and makes it look like regular internet traffic. Due to this, Chinese authorities can’t use traffic analysis methods (like deep packet inspection) to detect and block your VPN connection. 

This provider also offers high-end security and privacy features. It protects your Google Map traffic with advanced security tools, including full leak protection, perfect forward secrecy (provides a different encryption key for each VPN connection), and RAM-only servers, which erase all data on every server reset. Also, ExpressVPN has an audited no-logs policy, and it has a feature that blocks connections to malicious websites (in addition to ads and ad trackers). 

What’s more, ExpressVPN has servers in 100+ countries and super-fast speeds. It provides access to server locations near China, such as Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea — this lets you connect to nearby servers to get the fastest speeds. And whenever I use ExpressVPN while traveling through China, I always maintain blazing-fast connection speeds (Google’s online maps always load instantly). 

Plus, it’s super simple to use ExpressVPN to get around online censorship. The provider’s apps are very intuitive, and it doesn’t take more than a few seconds to find and connect to a VPN server location. You also get access to Shortcuts, a feature that lets you set up 1-click shortcuts for specific apps and sites (like Google Maps) that show up on your connection screen after you connect to a server location. 

ExpressVPN’s plans begin at $6.67/month. It’s a bit pricey, but 100% worth it since the VPN provides excellent value. Plus, its longest plan often includes extra months of service for free, and each purchase is also backed by a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line: ExpressVPN is the best pick for accessing Google Maps in China. It works in that country without any issues, and it also secures your web traffic with advanced security features. The provider also has a huge server network, super-fast connection speeds, and very intuitive VPN apps. It’s also affordable, and it provides a riskf-ree 30-day refund policy on all of its plans.

2. PrivateVPN — Good VPN for Beginners 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 works well in China and has really intuitive apps. Its app design is actually pretty minimalist, meaning it doesn’t come with a ton of settings and features to enable/disable. This could make it a good pick for people new to VPNs, as using the provider’s apps doesn’t feel overwhelming. Plus, I like how each app comes with helpful explanations for what each setting or feature does — this way, you never feel lost while using the VPN.

I never experienced any issues while using PrivateVPN with Google Maps in China. That’s because the VPN refreshes its server IPs really fast — I actually tested this by running 10+ leak tests on one of its servers, and the results always showed a different IP address. Plus, the VPN also provides obfuscation on all of its servers. 

PrivateVPN also has very good security, as it secures your web data with perfect forward secrecy. Plus, it provides strong leak protection as well, and it has an app-based kill switch — I tested it with the Google Maps app, and it always successfully closed it whenever I disconnected from the VPN. 

The provider also maintains really good connection speeds — whenever I used it to access Google Maps in China, the app always loaded instantly and I didn’t experience any lag while zooming in on different cities. PrivateVPN also has 200+ servers in 60+ countries, including places near China like Japan and Malaysia. The number of countries is great, but if it’s not enough for you, I recommend getting ExpressVPN instead since it has servers in 100+ countries.

PrivateVPN’s plans start at $2.00/month, which is super affordable. The provider also backs each purchase with a 30-day money-back guarantee. 

Bottom Line: PrivateVPN is a good pick for Chinese users who are new to VPNs. The provider has minimalist and really intuitive apps that make it simple to connect to servers to start using Google Maps in China. And the VPN also provides strong security features, good speeds, and a pretty big server network. Also, its plans are super cheap, and they all come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

3. Astrill VPN — Good, Secure VPN for Accessing Google Maps in 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

4.7
/ 5

Astrill VPN provides very strong security, as it comes with advanced features like perfect forward secrecy and RAM-only servers. Plus, it also has full leak protection — I actually ran several leak tests while connected to servers in 5+ countries, and I never experienced any leaks. 

The VPN offers obfuscation via 2 proprietary protocols, which ensures it works in China without any problems. Both its OpenWeb and StealthVPN protocols come with obfuscation, though Astrill VPN’s reps told me they recommend using StealthVPN for better stability. 

Astrill VPN also has good speeds and servers in 55+ countries. You get access to locations near China, such as Vietnam and Malaysia, so it’s easy to maintain fast speeds. And whenever I used this VPN while in China, I never experienced any noticeable slowdowns while using Google Maps (or the web in general). That said, if you’re not happy with the number of countries, try ExpressVPN instead since it has servers in 100+ countries.

Astrill VPN has plans that start at $12.50/month, which makes it one of the most expensive VPNs on the market. Still, if your main focus is betting around censorship in China and enjoying strong security, the VPN still provides good value. Just keep in mind there’s sadly no money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line: Astrill VPN is good for securely using Google Maps in China. It protects your web traffic with advanced security tools (like full leak protection and RAM-only servers). In addition, it has servers in many locations near China, and it also maintains fast connection speeds. However, it unfortunately doesn’t back its paid plans with a money-back guarantee.

Comparison of the Best VPNs for Using Google Maps 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
3. PrivateVPN$2.00/month200+
servers in
60+ countries
1030 days
3. Astrill VPN$12.50/monthServers in 55+
countries
5

Why Is Google Maps Banned in China?

Google Maps doesn’t work in China because the government uses firewalls to block it. Basically, local authorities rely on what’s called the Great Firewall of China to block connections to Google’s servers. Since the Chinese government blocks all of Google’s services (including its search engine and email service), it also prevents Chinese users from accessing Google Maps. China might also block Google Maps to promote its own local alternatives, such as Baidu Maps.

To unblock Google Maps in China, you need to use a VPN. Not all VPNs work well in China, though, so I strongly recommend only using the ones mentioned in this article — I tested all of them in China, and can confirm they work without issues there. My top pick is ExpressVPN since it has industry-leading security and privacy tools, it provides super-fast speeds, and it has servers in 100+ countries (including many locations near China).

How to Use Google Maps on All Devices

How to Use Google Maps on Desktop (Windows & macOS)

  1. Get a good VPN for China. I personally recommend ExpressVPN since it consistently works in China, and it also provides high-end security and privacy features, super-fast speeds, and very intuitive desktop apps.
  2. Install the VPN’s app on your device. Download the installer from the provider’s site, and then follow the on-screen instructions to finish the installation process (it shouldn’t take more than 2 minutes).
  3. Open the VPN app. Launch the newly-installed VPN app, enable the obfuscation feature (if available), and connect to a VPN server, ideally one near China.
  4. Start using Google Maps. You should now be able to use Google Maps in China without having to deal with any annoying firewall restrictions. 

How to Use Google Maps on Mobile (Android & iOS)

  1. Sign up for a secure mobile VPN. My top pick is ExpressVPN since it has the best mobile apps on the market, it comes with industry-leading security features, it’s super fast, and it works without any problems in China. 
  2. Download the provider’s app from the app store. Find the VPN app on your device’s app store, download it, and wait for it to finish installing (the process is automatic). 
  3. Launch the VPN app. Log into your account, enable the VPN’s obfuscation feature, and then connect to a VPN server (I recommend picking one near China to get the fastest speeds). 
  4. Access Google Maps. The Great Firewall shouldn’t be able to stop you from using the app anymore. Plus, the government also won’t be able to monitor your web traffic.

Frequently Asked Questions

The best solution is to use a VPN, which helps you bypass firewalls. The best VPN for the job is ExpressVPN — it works in China without any issues since it refreshes its IPs very fast, and it also provides obfuscation (helps you avoid VPN connection blocks) on all servers and via all protocols. In addition, it has servers in 100+ countries (including many locations near China), it has high-end security and privacy features, and it provides blazing-fast connection speeds.

But keep in mind you can only view a satellite image via Google Maps in China. That should still be enough to get around easily, but you won’t be able to use the platform’s Street View to virtually walk down streets in Chinese cities (like Beijing, for example).

The most popular alternative is Baidu Maps. While it works well and it even includes a street view function, it’s mostly geared towards Chinese users — if you don’t speak Chinese, you won’t really be able to use the app. 

But it’s more convenient to use a VPN to access Google Maps. My top recommendation is ExpressVPN since it always works very well in China, it has servers in 100+ countries (including a lot of locations near China), it has the fastest speeds on the market, and it comes with industry-leading security features.

No, as it’s blocked in China, just like Google Maps is (all of Google’s services are not available in the country, in fact). The best solution in this case is to just use a VPN, as it will help you circumvent the country’s firewalls to access Google Earth — the best VPN to use in this case is ExpressVPN since it always works without issues in China, it has the fastest speeds out there, and it’s super secure.

You can try, but I don’t really recommend it. Most free VPNs don’t work in China, as the government easily detects and blocks their server IPs. There are some free providers that work well there, but they still come with inconvenient limitations (like data caps or a small number of free server locations). 

Instead, it’s better to just get a paid premium VPN. ExpressVPN, for example, works without problems in China since it refreshes its server IPs very fast, and it also provides obfuscation on all servers and via all protocols. Plus, it also comes with high-end security features and blazing-fast connection speeds. 

Best VPNs for Using Google Maps in China in 2024 — Final Thoughts: 

ExpressVPN

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