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

 

How to Use Instagram in China in 2024:

  • Step 1: Sign up for a VPN that works in China. My top pick is ExpressVPN since it consistently works well in China, and it also has the fastest connection speeds on the market, and it provides access to high-end security features. 
  • Step 2: Download and install the VPN on your device. The whole process is easy and it won’t take more than 1–2 minutes. Just make sure to follow the installation wizard’s instructions.
  • Step 3: Launch the VPN provider’s app. Open the app, enable its obfuscation feature (if it’s available), and connect to a VPN server location where Instagram is available.
  • Step 4: Log into your Instagram account. You should now be able to use the social media app without having to deal with any annoying restrictions. 

Whenever I go to China, I always hate how I lose access to Instagram. Unfortunately, the Chinese government uses firewalls to block access to the service (and many other international social media sites too). I could technically use Weibo as an alternative, but it’s a very inconvenient solution.

But I managed to find a workaround — using a virtual private network (VPN). This is an online service that changes your IP address, which helps you circumvent firewalls and internet censorship. Plus, VPNs also encrypt your traffic, which makes it unreadable. So, the Chinese government can’t monitor your Instagram usage. 

Still, you can’t use just any VPN in China. The reality is that the Chinese government is really good at detecting and blocking most VPN services. What’s more, out of the few VPNs that do work well in China, many don’t provide good value — they lack essential VPN security features (like military-grade encryption), they have slow speeds, or their apps are difficult to use. 

But I can confirm that all of the VPN in this article work very well in China. I’ve been using them consistently while traveling to China over the past 10+ years, and they’ve always allowed me to use Instagram in China without any issues. ExpressVPN is definitely my favorite, as it’s super secure, it has the fastest speeds on the market, and it’s extremely easy to use.

IMPORTANT: I recommend getting a backup VPN before going to China, as you never know whether there are any events happening when clampdowns occur. You can check out my full guide on the best VPNs for China for more information.

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

  • Get a VPN that works well in China — Very few VPNs are actually able to get around online censorship in China. But all of the VPNs I recommend in this article can bypass the Great Firewall without any issues. 
  • Opt for a secure VPN — I strongly recommend getting a VPN that comes with all industry-standard security features. This includes 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch (to prevent traffic leaks), DNS leak protection, and a no-logs policy.
  • Pick a fast VPN — Using a VPN will always slow down your original internet speeds, as the VPN adds a layer of encryption to your connection. But top providers optimize their services to minimize the speed loss (ExpressVPN is the fastest VPN according to my tests).
  • Choose a VPN with a large server network — Being able to connect to nearby servers will improve your VPN speeds. So I recommend getting a VPN that has servers in at least 50+ countries (some of which should be located near China). ExpressVPN, for example, has servers in 100+ countries.
  • Get a user-friendly VPN — You should only pick a VPN provider that has apps for all popular desktop and mobile platforms. In addition, its apps need to be easy to navigate, and should also provide helpful explanations for all settings and features.
  • Pick a VPN that offers good value — I recommend opting for a VPN that offers affordable prices, provides value through extra perks (like great streaming and P2P support), and has a generous money-back guarantee. 

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

  1. ExpressVPNBest overall VPN for using Instagram in China in 2024.
  2. PureVPN — Very secure VPN to access Instagram in China.
  3. PrivateVPNBeginner-friendly VPN for accessing Instagram in China.
  4. Comparison of the Best VPNs for Using Instagram in China in 2024.

1. ExpressVPN — Best VPN for Using Instagram 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 the best VPN for accessing Instagram in China. It consistently works in mainland China without any issues, it provides high-end security and privacy features, it has the fastest speeds on the market, and it’s also very user-friendly. 

I always have zero issues using ExpressVPN when I’m in China. That’s because the provider refreshes its server IPs very fast — I tested this by running 10+ leak tests on one of the provider’s servers, and I always got a different IP address. Plus, ExpressVPN has obfuscation, which hides your VPN traffic to help you bypass VPN connection blocks. And the provider supports obfuscation on all of its servers and via all protocols, which is really convenient. 

And I also like how the VPN has mirrored links, which are exact copies of its live website — the only difference is that they’re hosted on a different web address. You can use mirrored links to sign up for or download and install ExpressVPN in China, as its website is likely blocked there. You can get access to its mirrored links by contacting email support, which usually replies in less than 24 hours. 

Plus, ExpressVPN provides blazing-fast speeds. Whenever I use it to access Instagram in China, all the videos I watch load instantly and never freeze or lag. This is made possible thanks to ExpressVPN’s proprietary protocol (called Lightway) that is designed to provide super fast speeds and high-end security. Plus, the VPN has servers in 100+ countries, including locations near China like Japan, Hong Kong, and South Korea — so it’s easy to use nearby servers to get the fastest speeds. 

And this provider also comes with very good security and privacy tools. It has a strict no-logs policy that has passed several independent audits. And it also comes with advanced security features, including full leak protection, perfect forward secrecy (changes the encryption key for each VPN connection), and RAM-only servers, which means that every server reset wipes all server data.

Finally, ExpressVPN is also extremely easy to use. Its desktop and mobile apps are very intuitive, and they make it super simple to find and connect to different VPN servers. Plus, all settings and features come with helpful explanations. 

ExpressVPN has plans starting at $6.67/month, which is affordable. Plus, it offers free extra months of service for free via its longest plan, and it also comes with a no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line: ExpressVPN is the best VPN to access Instagram in mainland China. It works in China without any issues since it refreshes its IPs super fast, it supports obfuscation, and it also has mirrored links. Plus, it has the fastest speeds on the market, it has a really large server network, and its apps are very intuitive. Also, the provider backs each purchase with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

2. PureVPN — Highly-Secure VPN for Accessing Instagram 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 is very good at securing your Instagram traffic in China. It does that by using advanced security features, such as RAM-only servers, perfect forward secrecy, and full leak protection. Plus, it also has Quantum-Resistant servers that protect you against future quantum threats (once quantum computing becomes the norm). What’s more, it comes with a strict no-logs policy that has been independently audited. 

The VPN always worked well in China whenever I used it. That’s not a surprise, seeing as how PureVPN changes its server IP addresses very often. Plus, it supports obfuscation on all servers via the OpenVPN protocol. 

PureVPN also has really good connection speeds. When I use it to access Instagram in China, I never have to wait more than 2 seconds for videos to load. Also, the videos I watch never buffer or freeze. 

Plus, the provider comes with split-tunneling, which is a tool you can use to boost your VPN speeds. Basically, split-tunneling lets you choose which apps use the VPN, and which apps use your local internet connection. Whenever I used split-tunneling to only route Instagram traffic through the VPN, it increased my connection speeds by about 15%.

I also like that the VPN has a huge server network. It provides access to 6000+ servers in 65+ countries, and it also has servers in countries near China (like the Philippines and South Korea). Still, if you think the size of the server network is too small, I recommend getting ExpressVPN instead since it has servers in 100+ countries. 

PureVPN has a few tier-based subscriptions, and its plans begin at $1.96/month. What’s more, it also backs each purchase with a 31-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line: PureVPN provides a very secure way to access Instagram in China. It works in China without any issues since it refreshes its IPs fast, and it also supports obfuscation. Plus, it has a large server network, it provides good connection speeds, and it also has split-tunneling. Also, the provider backs all of its plans with a 31-day money-back guarantee.

3. PrivateVPN — User-Friendly VPN for Getting Instagram Unblocked 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 comes with really minimalistic apps, which makes it very easy to use this VPN to unblock Instagram in China. The apps don’t have a lot of settings and features, so it doesn’t feel overwhelming for new users. Also, the interface is intuitive, and it doesn’t take more than 5 seconds to find and connect to a VPN server. Plus, the few settings that are available come with quick, easy-to-understand explanations. 

The VPN supports obfuscation via its Stealth VPN feature, which helps it avoid connection blocks in China. Also, the provider refreshes its server IPs fast too, so it can easily avoid IP blocks as well. 

Plus, I like how secure PrivateVPN is. It protects your Instagram traffic with advanced features, such as perfect forward secrecy. And it also has Application Guard, which is an app-based kill switch on Windows that shuts down selected apps if the VPN disconnects — I tested Application Guard with the browser I use to access Instagram on Windows, and it always successfully closed the browser when I disconnected from PrivateVPN. 

The provider also has 200+ servers in 60+ countries, including locations near China like Malaysia and Japan. And PrivateVPN also maintains really fast connection speeds. That said, if you’d like access to a larger server network, consider using ExpressVPN since it comes with server locations in 100+ countries. 

PrivateVPN’s pricing begins at $2.00/month, so it’s super affordable. In addition, it also backs each one of its plans with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line: PrivateVPN is a great pick for beginners. That’s because its apps are really minimalistic, and they’re also very simple to navigate. Plus, the VPN is great at getting around internet censorship in China, it provides very good security features, and it has fast speeds. Plus, it also backs all of its plans with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

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

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

Why Is Instagram Blocked in China?

This is because the Chinese government uses nation-wide firewalls to block online services. Basically, Chinese authorities block tons of online content, from social media platforms like Instagram and search engines like Google to messaging apps like WhatsApp and video streaming sites like YouTube. The government does this to limit Chinese users’ access to the free web, and also to promote Chinese alternatives to Instagram (like Weibo, for example). 

To use Instagram without issues in China, you need a VPN. However, not all VPNs work well in China — to get the best results, I recommend using ExpressVPN since it works without problems in China, it provides industry-leading security and privacy, and it has the fastest speeds on the market. 

How to Use Instagram on All Devices

How to Use Instagram on Desktop (Windows & macOS)

  1. Sign up for a good VPN. My top choice is ExpressVPN since it easily gets around the Great Firewall and lets you use Instagram while in China, and it’s also very secure and comes with super-fast speeds. 
  2. Download the provider’s app on your device. Then, run the installer, and follow the on-screen instructions to finish the setup. The whole process shouldn’t take more than 2 minutes. 
  3. Launch the VPN app. Run the VPN app, enable the provider’s obfuscation feature (if it’s available), and connect to a VPN server outside of China.
  4. Run the Instagram app. You should now be able to use Instagram without having to deal with any firewall restrictions. Plus, the VPN will stop anyone from monitoring your web traffic. 

How to Use Instagram on Mobile (Android & iOS)

  1. Get a good mobile VPN. I personally like using ExpressVPN the most since it has very intuitive and feature-rich apps for iOS and Android. Plus, it works without issues in China, and it’s also the fastest VPN on the market. 
  2. Download the VPN from the app store. Find the provider’s mobile apps on iTunes or the Google Play store, and download and install them.
  3. Open the VPN provider’s app. Run the VPN client, head to its settings and enable the obfuscation feature, and connect to a VPN server (ideally one near China, so that you’ll have fast speeds). 
  4. Launch the Instagram app. You should now be able to enjoy Instagram without the Great Firewall getting in the way. Plus, nobody will be able to spy on your Instagram traffic.

Frequently Asked Questions

Using a VPN is by far the best solution. A VPN lets you communicate with the web via a new IP address, one that doesn’t have any firewall restrictions linked to it. So, it lets you access Instagram without having to deal with any restrictions. 

I think ExpressVPN is the best option, as it consistently works in China without any problems since it refreshes its server IPs very fast, and it also supports obfuscation on all servers and via all protocols. Plus, it has very intuitive desktop and mobile apps, it provides the fastest speeds on the market, and it comes with industry-leading security and privacy features.

You can try, but I advise against it. Free VPNs rarely work in China, as it’s very easy for the Chinese government to detect and block them — since they’re free, they can’t afford to regularly refresh their server IPs or offer tools like obfuscation. Plus, many free VPNs are inconvenient and risky to use, as they log user data and share it with third parties, have very slow speeds, and enforce data caps. 

But if you insist on using free services, there are some decent options out there. My top pick is Hotspot Shield since it has unlimited data and it provides obfuscation via its proprietary Hydra protocol — just keep in mind the free version limits you to servers in just 3 countries (the US, Singapore, and the UK). 

Instagram is also blocked in Russia, Turkmenistan, Iran, and other restrictive countries. To access the streaming platform in such countries, you need to use a VPN — I recommend using ExpressVPN since it works without issues in all restrictive regions, and it also has lightning-fast speeds, high-end security, and beginner-friendly apps. 

I found that Weibo is considered an alternative to Instagram in China. It’s a social media app like Instagram that lets you post stories, react to posts with emojis and comments, and follow Chinese celebrities. But I think it’s inconvenient to switch to Weibo, as your friends back home probably don’t use it, and it also won’t display the same content you were used to seeing on Instagram in your feed. 

It’s honestly better to just use a VPN to get Instagram unblocked in China. I recommend using ExpressVPN, as it consistently works with Instagram (and other blocked websites and apps) in China, and it provides industry-leading security features, super-fast speeds, and really intuitive desktop and mobile apps. 

Most likely not. Tor is a privacy network that hides your IP and encrypts your data several times, and a proxy server is an online service that changes your IP address. But Tor is already blocked in China, and I don’t recommend using proxies since they don’t provide any encryption. 

It’s much better to just use a VPN, which hides your IP address and encrypts your data. ExpressVPN is the best option in my opinion since it works without issues in China, and it also has high-end security and privacy features, ultra-fast connection speeds, and very intuitive apps.

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

ExpressVPN

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