Despite being a “Special Administrative Region” of an ever more repressive People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong enjoys internet access that is among the most free and uncensored in the world. This makes Hong Kong a fantastic place to locate VPN servers. In fact, a number of Hong Kong VPN companies have quite sensibly chosen to base their entire operations in the former UK colony.
Hong Kong VPN servers often feature special “obfuscation” technologies in order to defeat the Great Firewall of China (GFW), and are well placed to serve the VPN needs of people throughout South East Asia.
Of course, Hong Kong Chinese expats pining for home-grown Cantonese entertainment (such as TVB) can also benefit hugely from accessing online services via a Hong Kong VPN server!
Best VPN Service for Hong Kong Summary
|1||ExpressVPN review||$6.67 / month||Visit Site|
|2||NordVPN review||$3.29 / month||Visit Site|
|3||VyprVPN review||$6.67 / month||Visit Site|
|4||AirVPN review||$4.82 / month||Visit Site|
|5||BolehVPN review||$6.67 / month||Visit Site|
- 30-day money back guarantee
- No usage logs
- Servers in 94 countries
- “Stealth” servers in Hong Kong
- P2P: yes
- A bit pricey – but worth it!
With a balanced range of services designed to meet the needs of mainstream VPN users, ExpressVPN is an excellent service for users in Hong Kong. ExpressVPN prides itself on superb customer service, and has a very generous 30-day no quibble money back guarantee that is honors. In line with its customer-focused philosophy, ExpressVPN offers highly functional but good looking and easy-to-use desktop clients for Windows and OSX. The same is true of its mobile apps for Android and iOS and its custom app for routers.
If you plan to pop over the border to mainland China, then ExpressVPN’s Hong Kong-based “stealth” servers will likely prove invaluable.
- No logs
- Based in Panama
- Accepts Bitcoin payment
- Tor over VPN
- Two simultaneous connections
- Can be slow
Based in Panama (a non-Fourteen Eyes country), NordVPN is an excellent choice for the more NSA-phobic out there. It keeps no logs at all, uses strong encryption, and accepts anonymous payment via Bitcoin. NordVPN is let down a little by many of its servers being somewhat slow, but with a little trial and effort it is not too hard to find a fast one. P2P is allowed, and many users appreciate NordVPN’s “double-hop” service which routes your VPN connection through two different servers in order to make tracking more difficult.
Additional features: “Double encryption”, P2P: yes.
- Very fast due to own infrastructure
- 36 countries
- Accepts Alipay
- Port Selection
- “Chameleon” stealth servers
- Connection (metadata) logs
- Under US jurisdiction
- P2P: no
VyprVPN is notable for being one of the rare VPN services to own and control its entire network infrastructure. The result is fantastically fast connection speeds around the world. This includes Hong Kong, of course. I recommend avoiding its PPTP-only basic plan, but VyprVPN otherwise offers a great selection of features, such as a SmartDNS service and robust customer support. VyprVPN offers “Chameleon” stealth technology specifically designed to defeat the Great Firewall. And it uses UDP ports in its apps to help defeat port blocking and other throttling issues.
Additional features: no usage logs, uses UDP ports.
- No logs at all
- VPN through Tor
- SSL & SSH tunneling
- Accepts Bitcoin
- P2P: yes
- Very Techy
- Customer support could be better
This Italian VPN provider has a well-deserved reputation for technical excellence and a real dedication to protecting its users’ privacy. Unfortunately, it has an equally well-deserved reputation for being unapproachable by the more casual user. AirVPN’s open source desktop client (“Eddie”) offers a firewall-based kill switch, DNS leak protection, port selection, and more. AirVPN also uses very strong encryption, supports anonymous VPN use via VPN through Tor, and allows port forwarding. It can also defeat the Great Firewall using SSH and SSL tunneling, which a very handy feature for users in Hong Kong.
Additional features: Real-time user and server statistics, VPN through SSL and SSH tunnels, 3-day free trial, three simultaneous connections.
- No logs at all
- “xCloak” HK stealth servers
- Client with VPN kills switch and DNS leak protection
- VPN over Tor
- SmartDNS included
- Somewhat techy and bare-bones
This Far East provider is based somewhere off the Malaysian coast. It has a great regard for privacy, and is excellent on a technical level. Unfortunately, it loses points when it comes to customer service, presentation, and general user-friendliness. In this regard, it is much like AirVPN. It has a great Windows and Mac OSX client, which features a VPN kill switch and DNS leak protection. It also offers “xCloak” servers designed bypass the GFW and located in Hong Kong, and allows true anonymity while using its service through support for VPN through Tor.
Additional features: P2P: yes, 2 simultaneous connections, free Smart DNS service, accepts Bitcoins.
Considerations for a Hong Kong VPN services
Censorship and data retention
When Hong Kong was returned from British to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, it was designated a Special Administrative Region (SAR), which effectively granted the region autonomy in most internal matters (but not external ones, such as defense and foreign affairs).
Before handing over power, the British-appointed Hong Kong government developed a Hong Kong Bill of Rights, which protects its citizen’s freedom of speech. China, unwilling to antagonize the international community, has by-and-large respected this.
There are therefore no websites which are blocked in Hong Kong (even those with political views antagonistic to the Chinese government). Bloggers and outspoken critics of the Chinese government, however, may attract the attention of the authorities.
Following recent pro-democracy disturbances in the region, the government has taken an increasingly hard line on political dissenters, so caution is advisable when expressing such views online
There are no mandatory data retention laws in Hong Kong. Most Hong Kong-based providers offer a “no logs” service, and international companies are not required to keep logs relating to their Hong Kong servers (although some companies, notably US based ones, choose to do so).
Online Copyright Issues
At present, there is little to compel VPN providers (or ISPs) to comply with DMCA (and similar) takedown requests that originate outside Hong Kong. They are, of course, subject to court orders issued by Hong Kong courts. But if they keep no logs (as they are not required to), then they will have no information to hand over. Individual VPN providers have differing policies, however, so it is always best to check their Terms and Conditions.
Accessing TV using a Hong Kong VPN
Chinese expats living abroad, and anyone wanting to learn Cantonese, can access online Cantonese TV streaming content broadcast by the TVB network. Channels that can be accessed include:
TVB Jade, J2, TVB iNews, J5, myTV SUPER, TV Weekly, TVB International, myTV Live, TVB Sports, TVB Mainland News, TVB Korean Drama, TVB Chinese Drama, TVB Pearl, and TVBS News.
These are all available through the MyTV website. The only potential snag is that signup is necessary, which requires a valid Hong Kong mobile phone number. TVB is also available on both iOS and Android platforms, but I do not know if these can be accessed using a Hong Kong VPN app.
Hong Kong VPN for Residents
The main reasons for using a VPN if you live in (or are visiting) Hong Kong are if you plan to visit mainland China, or if you wish to access overseas streaming services such as US Netflix or BBC iPlayer.
If you plan to cross the border to the mainland, check out my article on 5 Best VPNs for China. The most important takeaway is to signup for a VPN service and download its software before entering mainland China (for example while still in Hong Kong). Once you have crossed over the border, things get a much more difficult if you wish to access the internet uncensored.
Most overseas streaming service can be accessed simply by connecting to a VPN server in their country of origin. Two of the most popular, however – US Netflix and BBC iPlayer, now try to ban VPN users. This is unfortunate, and there are no reliable workarounds.
Some VPN services still work, some work sometimes, and sometimes it even depends on which server you choose! The best advice I can give at the moment, therefore, is to take advantage of any free trials and money back guarantees that might be available. You can then test for yourself whether you can access the content you want.
It is also probably a good idea to signup for a month at a time, so you change services easily should the need arise.
Thanks to its special administrative status, Hong Kong is more of a great place for VPN providers to locate their servers, rather than somewhere residents have a great need for VPNs. That said, a Hong Kong VPN server is ideal for accessing Cantonese content, and is invaluable for anyone venturing onwards into mainland China.