Reader Question: Which VPN Service To Use During Travel In China After Several Providers Got Shut Down?


Today we have a Reader Question concerning the use of VPN services when using the internet in China which becomes more and more complicated.

Apparently several VPN providers got shut down by Chinese censors and are no longer useful for reliable data connection.

Using the internet in China has become extremely frustrating in the past couple of years as it’s now pretty much impossible to use many websites that are part of daily life, especially anything related to Google services. Social media apps and messenger services such as LINE, WhatsApp, Skype etc are blocked as well.

One way to get around this is by using a foreign SIM card and either tether with your cellphone or use the necessary data services on your phone only. Problem with this is that international roaming services are often very expensive depending on in what country your cellphone service is contracted. I previously wrote about good prepaid Travel SIM options here.

Our VPN related question came in last week from our reader Caroline:

I’m going twice a month from HK to Shenzhen and noticed that my active NORDVPN service either doesn’t connect at all or is constantly being disconnected. Is there a better choice available?

I wanted to wait with the definitive answer until I went to China myself this week and could test that my current Express VPN service still works properly.

I’m using Express VPN for roughly 3 years now and never had any problems. It also allows to be used on 3 devices simultaneously so I installed the VPN App on my Macbook and cellphone.

You can either pay monthly, or in 6/12 months increments (longer service period offer a discount).

China has been known to axe certain VPN services and it always changes month by month but over several years I’ve been able to get around properly with my ExpressVPN subscription. If you only want to buy for 1 month make sure to turn off the auto renewal option!


VPN services are quite useful not only China. There are several countries that censor websites that are on the national index. Thailand for example is blocking several news outlets that report critically about the monarchy or the ruling military junta.

Don’t even consider traveling to China without having a proper VPN set up and you need to do some work in between your travels. Previously some hotels channeled their traffic through Hong Kong but this has gone away now as well for the most part as laws have tightened and some properties got into trouble.