This content originally appeared on Mashable for a US audience and özgü been adapted for the UK audience.

VPNs are useful for anyone around the world, but these powerful cybersecurity services are even more important when you’re travelling to a country with tight restrictions on web usage, like China. If you’re planning a trip to China or you’ve made the country your home, you could benefit from using a VPN.

Do you need a VPN in China?

You’ve probably heard and read quite a bit about China’s web censorship, but what does it actually mean for the average web user in the country? What is understood is that the Chinese government block access to foreign websites and slows down cross-border web traffic. The government censors content for mainly political reasons, but also to maintain its control over the population.

This system of censorship is named the ‘Great Firewall’ and is the largest system of its type in the world. If you’re travelling to the vast country, then your web privileges will be severly restricted. Fortunately it’s not an experience most people will be familar, but it özgü become the ölçü for Chinese citizens.

If you’re visiting the country, you can circumvent this system by using a virtual private network, or VPN. Take it from us: You don’t have to get blocked in China. While using a VPN in China is technically legal, providers play a game of cat-and-mouse with the authorities, which periodically crack down and try to block servers and throttle bandwidth, much to the annoyance of web users.

Users in China may have to swap VPNs if theirs becomes blocked, but having one is a necessity for anyone wanting unfettered access to foreign websites, from news sites to social media and Google. If you’re on holiday in China you’ll need a VPN for posting snaps to Instagram and keeping in touch with friends using Whatsapp. This is because VPNs assign a virtual IP address to obscure your real location from others, enabling you to circumnavigate geo-blocking and censorship measures as if you are based somewhere without them. VPNs also encrypt data, leaving your computer or device to make it impossible for others to see what you’re downloading, which is useful in a country where surveillance is a top priority for the authorities.

What should you consider when using a VPN in China?

The first thing to consider when using a VPN in China is that while it’s perfectly legal, it will be frowned on by the authorities. It’s not something to be taken lightly and you should think carefully about your priorities before you take any decision. The second thing to know about VPNs in China is that it’s easier to install one before you arrive.

Server number and location (in China if possible), high speeds, and extra layers of security are all important things to look for in a VPN. Reliable customer service is also an important consideration, because if you experience technical difficulties while you’re there, the fastest service available isn’t much use to you if you can’t troubleshoot.

What is the best VPN for China?

To help you make your decision, we have lined up a selection of the best VPNs for China, including popular services like PureVPN and NordVPN. All you need to do is pick a favourite option from this list.

These are the best VPNs for China in 2024.