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

How to Use WhatsApp in China in 2024:

  • Step 1: Get a reliable VPN that works in China. I personally like using ExpressVPN the most, as it refreshes its IPs very fast, it provides obfuscation on all servers and via all protocols, it has super fast speeds, and it comes with industry-leading security features. 
  • Step 2: Download and install the VPN. Installing a VPN app on your device won’t take more than 1–2 minutes. Just follow the installation wizard’s instructions.
  • Step 3: Open the VPN app. Launch the VPN app, and locate and enable its obfuscation feature (if available). After you do that, find and connect to a VPN server outside of China.
  • Step 4: Access WhatsApp. You should now have unrestricted access to WhatsApp in China. Also, you won’t need to worry about your internet traffic being monitored anymore.


Update as of April 2024: On April 19th, 2024, the Chinese government ordered Apple to remove Whatsapp and Threads from the iPhone app store in retaliation for the US potential Tik-Tok ban. This will not impact you if your app store primary country isn't in China. However it's still best to make sure you have Whatsapp installed on your phone before you go to China, and to use a reliable VPN.

I travel often to China, and I hate how I lose access to WhatsApp while I’m there (I use WhatsApp to keep in touch with friends and family, and I also use it for work). This happens because the government uses the Great Firewall to block access to WhatsApp. While I could use WeChat instead, it’s not really convenient, as none of my friends and family use it back home.

Luckily, I found the best way to access WhatsApp in China — a virtual private network (VPN). This is an online service that allows you to access the web via a different IP address, one that doesn’t have firewall restrictions linked to it — this allows you to circumvent internet censorship. Also, VPNs encrypt your traffic, making it unreadable so that your internet service provider (ISP) and the Chinese government can’t monitor how you use WhatsApp in China. 

However, you can’t just use any VPN in China. The government actually manages to detect and block most providers. And out of the ones that do work in China, a lot of VPNs have slow speeds, lack essential VPN security features (like a kill switch), and are difficult to use. 

But I’ve managed to find the best VPNs that work with WhatsApp in China. I’ve been using them consistently over the past years while visiting China, and they always allowed me to circumvent the government’s censorship. ExpressVPN is my favorite, as it has super fast speeds, it’s very secure, and it’s also really easy to use. 

IMPORTANT: I've been living and traveling in China for over 13 years, and I can confidently say that it's really not a big issue using a VPN as a foreigner to access WhatsApp. Just don't use a VPN to do anything illegal and you'll be fine.

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

  • Get a VPN that works well in China — A lot of VPNs actually can’t get around the government’s internet censorship in China. But all of the VPNs on my list can unblock messaging apps like WhatsApp in China, as they refresh their server IPs very fast, and also provide obfuscation. 
  • Pick a VPN that’s very secure — I only recommend getting a VPN service that can secure your data with industry-standard security features. This includes military-grade encryption, a no-logs policy, DNS leak protection, and a kill switch to protect you against accidental traffic leaks. 
  • Choose a VPN with fast speeds — When you use a VPN, it will always slow down your original speeds because it encrypts your traffic. Still, top VPNs (like the ones on my list) optimize their services so well that the slowdown is really minimal.
  • Opt for a VPN with a large server network — Being able to connect to nearby server locations increases your VPN speeds. So, I recommend getting a VPN that provides access to servers in at least 50+ countries (and ideally has server locations near China, like Japan, South Korea, or Malaysia). 
  • Get a VPN that’s user-friendly — You should get a VPN that offers access to intuitive apps for all major desktop and mobile devices. The interface should be simple to navigate, and it shouldn’t take you more than 5–6 seconds to find and connect to a VPN server.
  • Pick a VPN that offers good valueAll of the VPN services I recommend come with affordable plans, and they also offer risk-free purchases since they have generous money-back guarantees.

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

  1. ExpressVPN — Best overall VPN for using WhatsApp in China in 2024.
  2. PureVPN — Highly-secure VPN for accessing WhatsApp in China.
  3. PrivateVPN — Beginner-friendly VPN for using WhatsApp in China.
  4. Comparison of the Best VPNs for Using WhatsApp in China in 2024.

1. ExpressVPN — Best VPN for Using WhatsApp 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 VPN to access WhatsApp in China. It works in China without any issues, it provides super-fast connection speeds, and it comes with industry-leading security and privacy features that stop the Chinese government from spying on your WhatsApp traffic. 

I never experienced any issues when using ExpressVPN in China. That’s because the provider refreshes its server IP addresses very fast, which prevents the Chinese government from detecting and blocking them. I actually ran 15+ leak tests on one of the provider’s servers, and I always had a different IP. Plus, ExpressVPN allows obfuscation on all servers and via all protocols, which hides your VPN traffic (helping you bypass VPN connection blocks). 

Plus, the provider also offers mirrored links. These are exact copies of its live site, but they’re hosted on different web addresses — this makes it much harder for Chinese authorities to block access to the provider’s site, so that you can sign up for ExpressVPN while in China. To get access to a mirrored link, simply contact the provider’s email support (usually replies in less than 24 hours). 

And ExpressVPN is the fastest VPN out there. Whenever I use it with WhatsApp in China, my messages are always delivered instantly, and my video calls never freeze. Plus, ExpressVPN has servers in 100+ countries, including locations near China like South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong (so it’s easy to use nearby servers to get fast speeds). 

And the VPN is great for securing your WhatsApp traffic in China. It uses advanced security features, like full leak protection, perfect forward secrecy (changes the encryption key for each VPN session), and RAM-only serves, meaning every server reset wipes all data. Plus, its no-logs policy has passed several independent security audits. 

And this VPN is incredibly easy to use — all of its apps feature a really intuitive design that makes it super simple to find and connect to different VPN servers. Plus, all settings and features come with quick, helpful explanations. And you also get access to Shortcuts, a cool feature that lets you set up 1-click shortcuts for apps and sites that show up on your connection screen after you connect to ExpressVPN (I always use this feature to instantly unblock WhatsApp when I’m traveling through China). 

ExpressVPN’s prices start at $6.67/month. This is one of the more pricier VPNs on the market, but it’s 100% worth it since it provides excellent value. Plus, its longest plan often comes with extra months of service for free, and the VPN also has a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line: ExpressVPN is the best VPN to unblock WhatsApp in China.It refreshes its server IPs very fast, and it also provides access to obfuscation. Plus, it has a very large server network, it maintains blazing-fast speeds, and it comes with high-end security features. Plus, it also backs each purchase with a no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee.

2. PureVPN — Very Secure VPN for Unblocking WhatsApp 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 provides access to high-end security and privacy features. It protects your WhatsApp traffic with advanced features, including full leak protection (it never leaked my data in my tests), perfect forward secrecy, and RAM-only servers. Also, it has a no-logs policy that has been independently audited, and it releases regular transparency reports that show how the provider doesn’t comply with requests for user data. 

Plus, the provider comes with Quantum-Resistant servers as well. Basically, these are VPN servers that are configured to protect against potential quantum threats in the future (once quantum computing becomes the norm). 

PureVPN also works very well in China since it refreshes its server IP addresses very often. What’s more, it supports obfuscation on all of its servers via the OpenVPN protocol. 

And I like how big the provider’s server network is. It has 6,000+ servers in 65+ countries, including many server locations near China (like the Philippines, Vietnam, and South Korea). Still, if the number of countries isn’t enough for you, I recommend trying ExpressVPN instead since it has servers in 100+ countries. 

Also, the provider’s connection speeds are really good — when I use it while traveling in China, WhatsApp messages load instantly, files transfer in only a few seconds, and my video calls don’t freeze up or randomly drop. 

Plus, you also get access to split-tunneling, which lets you choose which apps use the VPN and which apps use your local internet connection. I used this tool to only route WhatsApp traffic through my VPN connection, and this increased my speeds by about 10%.

PureVPN has tier-based subscriptions, and its plans begin at only $2.11/month. What’s more, it also backs each purchase with a risk-free 31-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line: PureVPN provides a very secure way to use WhatsApp in China. It works in China without issues, and it also comes with tons of great security features (full-leak protection, RAM-only servers, and even Quantum-Resistant servers). The provider also has a big server network and really good connection speeds. And it backs all plans with a 31-day money-back guarantee.

3. PrivateVPN — Beginner-Friendly VPN for Accessing WhatsApp 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 extremely easy to use, as its apps are really minimalistic. They don’t come packed with tons of features and settings, so you never feel lost while using the VPN. What’s more, there are helpful explanations for all settings you come across, and the interface is very simple to navigate (it only takes less than 4 seconds to find and connect to a server). 

And PrivateVPN is good for accessing messaging apps like WhatsApp in China, as it works in that country without any problems. In addition to changing its server IPs really fast, the provider also offers obfuscation via the Stealth VPN feature, which is supported on all of the provider’s servers. 

And the provider also comes with strong security features. It uses perfect forward secrecy to secure your VPN connections. And it also has Application Guard, which is an app-based kill switch — I tested it with the browser I use to access WhatsApp on my Windows device, and it always successfully closed the app whenever I disconnected from the VPN.

The VPN also has 200+ servers in 60+ countries, including places near China (like Japan, South Korea, and Malaysia). I’m personally happy with the size of the server network, but if it’s not enough for you, try ExpressVPN instead since it has servers in 100+ countries.

PrivateVPN also provides really good speeds — whenever I use WhatsApp in China with PrivateVPN, my messages load instantly, it only takes me a few seconds to transfer files, and I enjoy really smooth audio and video calls. 

PrivateVPN is super affordable, with prices starting as low as $2.00/month. Plus, it also comes with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line: PrivateVPN is a good, easy-to-use VPN for circumventing internet censorship in China. It lets you unblock WhatsApp without any issues, and it comes with obfuscation. Plus, it has strong security, a large server network, and really fast speeds. Also, it backs its (super-cheap) plans with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Comparison of the Best VPNs for Using WhatsApp 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$2.11/month6,000+
servers in
65+ countries
1031 days
3. PrivateVPN$2.00/month200+
servers in
60+ countries
1030 days

Why Is WhatsApp Banned in China?

You can’t access WhatsApp in mainland China because the Chinese government uses a system of country-wide firewalls (called the Great Firewall of China) to block the messaging app. The government also uses the Great Firewall to block other online services, like Facebook, Google, YouTube, and Instagram

The Chinese government does this to stop its citizens from accessing the free web. It also does this to promote Chinese alternatives to WhatsApp, like WeChat. 

If you need to install WhatsApp in China and use it without any restrictions, you have to use a VPN. Just keep in mind that not all VPNs are able to unblock WhatsApp in China, as they can’t get around China’s internet censorship. I strongly recommend using ExpressVPN, as it lets you access blocked websites and apps (like WhatsApp) in China without any problems. 

How to Use WhatsApp on All Devices

How to Use WhatsApp on Desktop (Windows & macOS)

  1. Get a VPN that works in China. I personally recommend ExpressVPN — it changes its IPs very fast (to avoid IP blocks), it supports obfuscation on all of its servers and via all protocols, it has super-fast speeds, and it has industry-leading security and privacy features. 
  2. Download the VPN’s desktop apps. Simply download the installer, then follow the installation wizard’s instructions to set up the app on your device. 
  3. Open the VPN app. Launch the VPN app, make sure to enable its obfuscation feature, then find and connect to a VPN server (make sure it’s located outside of China). 
  4. Run WhatsApp. You should now be able to use WhatsApp in China without any problems. Plus, nobody will be able to spy on your internet traffic.

How to Use WhatsApp on Mobile (Android & iOS)

  1. Sign up for a good mobile VPN. ExpressVPN is my #1 pick since it works without issues in China, and it also has the most intuitive and secure Android and iOS apps on the market.
  2. Download the provider’s apps. Find the VPN provider’s mobile apps on your device’s app store, and wait for them to download and install. The whole process shouldn’t take more than 2 minutes. 
  3. Launch the VPN app. Next, make sure to enable the provider’s obfuscation feature. When you’re done, find and connect to your desired server location (I recommend locations near China to get the fastest speeds). 
  4. Open WhatsApp. Launch the messaging app, and enjoy being able to message your friends whenever you want while in China.

Frequently Asked Questions

In my personal experience, using a VPN is the best way to get access to WhatsApp in China. VPNs hide your IP address, allowing you to circumvent firewalls. Plus, they also secure your traffic with end-to-end encryption, so that nobody can spy on it. 

I like using ExpressVPN the most when visiting China — it works without issues in China since it refreshes its IPs super fast, and it also supports obfuscation on all servers and via all protocols. Also, it comes with industry-leading security features, it has the fastest speeds on the market, and it provides access to very intuitive desktop and mobile apps. 

I don’t really recommend doing this, as free VPNs don’t work well in China. They can’t afford to refresh their IPs very often or implement features like obfuscation, so it’s easy for the Great Firewall to detect and block them. 

That said, if you insist on using a free VPN, there are some good options out there. The best one is Hotspot Shield, as it allows unlimited data on its free plan, and it provides access to the Hydra Protocol, which comes with obfuscation. 

The main alternative to WhatsApp in China is WeChat, which is free to use and supports online messaging, calling, and file sharing. It’s really popular in China, but your family and friends back home probably don’t use it — and asking them to use it to talk with you might be inconvenient for them. 

Instead of using WeChat, I recommend using a VPN to get access to WhatsApp in China. My favorite one is ExpressVPN, as it works without issues in China, and it also provides super-fast online messaging, calling, and file-sharing speeds, and it has high-end security features. 

WhatsApp is also restricted in other oppressive countries, such as Iran, Turkey, and Syria. To access the platform in such countries, you need to use a VPN, which can change your IP to allow you to bypass firewalls. 

My top recommendation for this is ExpressVPN — it works without any problems in restrictive regions, it maintains blazing-fast connection speeds, and it comes with very strong security and privacy features. 

Not really. Tor is a privacy network that hides your IP and encrypts your traffic, while proxies only hide your IP. However, Tor is already blocked in China, and I don’t recommend using proxies since they don’t secure your WhatsApp traffic. 

Instead, I strongly recommend just using a VPN, preferably a top one like ExpressVPN — it hides your IP and secures your data, and it also works without issues in China. What’s more, it has the fastest speeds on the market, and it comes with very intuitive apps.

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

ExpressVPN

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