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5 Best VPNs for Singapore

Despite having a high level of internet use (74 percent of the population in 2012), freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Article 14 of its constitution, and minimal levels of internet filtering, Singapore is rated ‘not free’ by Freedom House , and listed by Reporters Without Borders as a ‘Difficult situation’.

This is because the government, who’s ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) has been in power since 1959, is ‘quick to use harsh civil and criminal defamation laws to silence and bankrupt political opponents and critical media outlets’ (Freedom House).

VPN is of course a great way to bypass such censorship issues (which we will discuss in more detail after listing our choice of  best VPNs for Singapore), as well as for accessing geo-restricted media content such as NetFlix, and for protecting your data when connecting to the internet via WiFi hotspots.

Although Singapore is a fairly popular location to base VPN servers, and ISPs (and presumably VPN providers) are not legally required to log users’ internet activity, we would suggest that due to its repressive political atmosphere, residents and visitors should choose VPN servers in Hong Kong instead.

Hong Kong has by far the freest, most uncensored and immune to international legal pressure internet access in SE Asia, and although connecting to servers there will result in a performance speed hit, we think this is outweighed by the benefits to privacy and anonymity it brings. If you instead just want to watch US media content, then West Coast servers are of course your best choice.


Summary

Rank Provider Starting Price Review Link

1

vyprvpn_logo $6.67/mo Read Review > Visit Site

2

$10.50/mo Read Review > Visit Site

3

ExpressVPN_Logo $8.32/mo Read Review > Visit Site

4

logo $11.52/month Read Review > Visit Site

5

logo $10/mo Read Review > Visit Site
Winner

VyprVPN

  • PROS
  • Fast
  • 160-bit and 256-bit OpenVPN encryption (Pro only)
  • Android app, iOS app
  • 7 day money back guarantee
  • Up to 3 simultaneous connections
  • CONS
  • Based in the US
  • Keeps logs for 90 days

VyprVPN is run by international consortium Golden Frog, and has servers in Singapore itself, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Los Angeles. VyprVPN  uses great 160-bit to 265-bit OpenVPN encryption, allows 2 devices to connect simultaneously (or 3 for the premier package), offers a 7 days money back guarantee, and  has apps for both Android and iOS. What more could you want! Well, the service is a bit pricey, and these comments only apply to the Pro service rather than the naff PPTP-only basic plan, but yeah, VyprVPN is pretty good!

Try Out the Best VPN for Singapore Today!

» Visit VyprVPN

3 day free trial

2nd place

BolehVPN

BolehVPN

  • PROS
  • No logs
  • Fast
  • Great OSX and Windows software
  • P2P: yes
  • 2 simultaneous connections
  • HK server uses shared IPs
  • CONS
  • 128-bit Blowfish OpenVPN encryption could be stronger

An Asian company based off the coast of Malaysia, BolehVPN’s Hong Kong server supports shared IP addresses, making very difficult to identify an individual with any internet behaviour. Our connection speed tests showed it to be above average to fast, it allows up to two devices to be connected at once, and it has specially configured ‘surf and stream’ servers in Los Angeles and San Jose for those wanting to access US media sites.

» Visit BolehVPN


3rd place

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN_Logo

  • PROS
  • Fast speed
  • Servers in 78 countries
  • IOS and Android apps
  • 30 day money back guarantee
  • CONS
  • Pricing is a bit high (though worth the extra cost)
  • US based

Negatives: ,
A big international company with servers just about everywhere (including Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, and West Coast US), ExpressVPN is fast, has apps for iOS and Android, and sports a 30 day money back guarantee. A US based company, ExpressVPN promises to keep no connection logs,  and although a bit on the pricey side, it offers a good balance of features with lots of bells and whistles.

» Visit ExpressVPN


4th place

Hide My Ass

  • PROS
  • Reat VPN client makes changing servers very easy
  • Lots of other freebies on-site to help maintain anonymity on the internet
  • No usage logs (in theory)
  • 160-bit to 256-bit OpenVPN encryption
  • P2P: yes
  • Up to 2 simultaneous connections
  • CONS
  • Has a history of collaboration with the authorities
  • UK based

Even bigger than ExpressVPN, HMA is one of the premier VPN companies in the world, and has servers in a staggering 63 countries, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia. It uses secure 160-bit to 256-bit OpenVPN encryption, is happy for you to P2P download, and has excellent Windows and OSX software which feature an VPN kill switch. The only problem is that HMA, although it denies keeping logs for more than week, is bound to do so by UK (where it is based) law, and it has a history of handing customers over to the authorities. However, this is unlikely to be an issue if you are in Singapore, so HMA remains a good choice.

» Visit HideMyAss


5th place

5. IP Vanish

  • PROS
  • Good VPN client
  • Great network speeds
  • No connection logs (in theory)
  • Up to 2 simultaneous connections
  • CONS
  • Claims to keep no logs undermined by its actions
  • US based company
  • P2P: no

With 256-bit OpenVPN encryption, great connection speeds, up to 2 simultaneous connections (one using OpenVPN, and another using L2TP or PPTP), and a claim to keep no logs, it looks as if IPVanish has a lot to offer, especially as it has servers in Singapore, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, LA and San Jose. Unfortunately it doesn’t allow P2P downloading, and a DMCA takedown complaint forwarded to us makes us doubt its no logs claim.

» Visit IPVanish


VPN related issues in Singapore

Censorship

On a technical level, Singapore’s Media Development Authority (MDA) operates a ‘light touch’ policy, and when the OpenNet Initiative tested 100 websites popularly believed to be blocked it found that only seven, all relating to pornography, were in fact filtered. That the websites, which included sex.com, playboy.com, and penthouse.com, were all very high profile strongly suggests that the blocks were put into place to make a point, rather than as a serious attempt at censorship.

However, using a string of laws, including the Newspapers and Printing Presses Act, the Defamation Act, the Internal Security Act (ISA), The Sedition Act, and articles in the penal code, the government (with the help of a judiciary which ‘systematically returns verdicts in the government’s favor’) is quick to target political dissenters and critics of PAP members. It justifies such aggressive censorship by citing Singapore’s potent ethnic and religious mix, which has in the past led to disturbances and riots.

In addition to these measures, all ISPs and Internet content providers (ICPs) that the regulatory Media Development Authority (MDA) determines to be political parties or ‘engaged in the propagation, promotion or discussion of political or religious issues relating to Singapore’ must register (handing over a $50,000 ‘performance bond’) with the MDA, and remove any material deemed to be offensive or politically sensitive by the MDA within 24 hours. Worryingly, this also includes ‘material [that] advocates homosexuality or lesbianism’ and may lead to further victimisation and censorship of the LBGT community.

The result of using non-technological measures to curb political, religious, or ethnic dissent or content has led to a widespread form of self-censorship, where most people, guided by somewhat vaguely defined but officially recognised ‘out of bounds markers’ (OB markers) that donate which topics are permissible for public discussion, chose to limit the scope of their input on sensitive issues.

Nevertheless the internet, with its wealth of social networks and forums that allow free speech and dissenting viewpoints  (and which can be safely accessed and contributed to using VPN and pseudonyms) is clearly having an impact on the political status quo of Singapore, and in the 2011 the parliamentary elections returned the lowest vote for the ruling PAP since Singapore’s independence.

Copyright Infringement

Singapore has some very strict copyright laws, and has in addition signed up to the international ACTA and TPP treaties.

Nationally, the Copyright Law was amended in 2005 to allow people found guilty of using pirated software or downloading copyrighted material to be jailed for up to six months and fined for up to S$20,000 (approx. US$16,000) for a first offence, and jailed for up to three years and fined S$50,000 (approx. US$40,000) for repeated offences.

Singapore also signed up to the much maligned US led Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in 2012, and while the European Union’s rejection of the global intellectual property enforcement treaty seems to have left it somewhat adrift, the upcoming secretly negotiated  Transatlantic Trade Partnership (TPP) treaty, for which Singapore has also signed up,  promises to be even worse.

Furthermore, in a move that echoes the recent trend among European Union countries,  Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah announced last month that the Law Ministry and other agencies ‘are currently deliberating the role of site blocking’ to make pirated material less accessible online, in addition to reviewing the Copyright Law to ensure rights holders are fully protected.


Summary

Rank Provider Starting Price Review Link

1

vyprvpn_logo $6.67/mo Read Review > Visit Site

2

$10.50/mo Read Review > Visit Site

3

ExpressVPN_Logo $8.32/mo Read Review > Visit Site

4

logo $11.52/month Read Review > Visit Site

5

logo $10/mo Read Review > Visit Site

Douglas Crawford I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. Find me on Google+

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6 responses to “5 Best VPNs for Singapore

  1. You guys should try Gom! It’s developed in Singapore, specifically with Singapore’s censorship issue in mind. It’s good to know Singaporeans are doing something about it!

  2. What I find works best though is to lease your own server in the location you desire and set up OpenVPN on it. If you really wanted anonymity for speaking out against the government than you wont really need speed and should just use TOR like chinese do

  3. I use HMA vpn! For censorship bypass. The whole logging thing isnt an issue long as ur in asia haha. Its not surprising it hands over lots of logs since its in the UK. Its a crap country along with the USA.

  4. Hi Pete.

    Thanks for the review and the summary. It is really helpful.

    Any tips how to setup the VPN starhub cisco router so all of my devices (laptops, phones, smart TV, network drive with a built-in torrent client) can connect privately? What I am mostly interested in is getting the Netflix app on the TV working.

    Your guidance will be most appreciated!

    Many thanks. Marco

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