Update 2017: Last year, Netflix began cracking down on the use of VPNs and proxies to access its content – BOO! While many VPNs no longer work with Netflix, we have continued to test various VPNs here in China and are confident that ExpressVPN has been able to overcome this latest obstacle. Continue to read on with confidence…I’m watching Netflix as I type this!
When moving or traveling to China, it’s hard knowing that popular sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are inaccessible. For some people though, the hardest part is giving up access to Netflix and the ability to stream movies and TV shows instantly. Thankfully there are ways to get around this, so below I’ll give you a quick tutorial on how to watch Netflix in China.
“Unblock Netflix” in China?
Interestingly, the problem with watching Netflix in China isn’t that China has blocked access to the website like they have to Facebook or Twitter (see How to access Facebook in China). Frankly, China could care less what movies you watch. The reality is that you don’t need to unblock Netflix in China.
The problem is that Netflix is only licensed to stream its content in certain countries – and China is not one of them. If you try to access Netflix in China you’re going to end up with a screen that looks like this:
That sucks, especially if you’ve been a faithful subscriber like me who pays his monthly fees. But it doesn’t matter if you’re a paying customer – if you live in China there’s only one way to get around this restriction – a VPN.
Accessing Netflix in China Using a VPN
Without getting too technical, a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a simple way to fool Netflix or any other online service (think Pandora, Hulu or others) into thinking that you’re in a different location. In other words, I can be sitting here in my home in China but when I’m connected to my ExpressVPN, anybody who tracks my computer address will think I’m in Los Angeles or New York.
This ability to mask my location is one of the top reasons I spend money on a VPN.
At first this may sound fishy or illegal (and some people wonder if using a VPN is illegal), but as long as you’re a paying customer who is doing nothing more than consuming content (i.e. you’re not trying to download it), you are perfectly within your rights.
Since I use ExpressVPN, all I had to do after paying for the service was download and install the software (less than 10 minutes) and put in the license key they sent to my email. It was that simple.
After that I just log in and tell the program where in the world I want to connect my computer. For the fastest speeds I usually always choose a west coast city like Los Angeles or San Francisco. You can see some of my many options below:
Once I click “Connect” I am instantly able to stream Netflix to my computer here in China, enjoying some of my favorite TV shows without any problems, advertisements or interruptions.
Is it worth the extra money just to watch Netflix? Yes, it is for me and here’s why:
- A VPN like ExpressVPN can give you access not only to Netflix, but also Hulu, Pandora, Youtube, Facebook & Twitter – all of which are inaccessible here in China.
- A VPN offers added security from hackers if you’re on Wi-fi here in China
- Allows me to access all of this content on my phone as well
Like I said before, there are plenty of great VPN services out there to try, but I’m a big fan of ExpressVPN because they are easy to use, competitively priced, and they have a 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied.
In Case You Need Another Reason
If you’re still not convinced that spending a little extra money for a VPN is worth it, consider these interesting facts:
Don’t Risk Viruses with Downloads
China is notorious for pirated versions of movies that can be downloaded for free on the internet. I used to do this a lot via some torrent websites until the unthinkable happened: I got hit with a computer virus. I lost everything.
Sure “free” sounds great, but when you consider that it often takes hours to download a movie and usually it’s not even good quality – it’s just not worth the risk of a virus like what I got. And viruses hidden in free downloads is one of the most often-used tricks in the book.
Access More Netflix Content
Did you know that Netflix licenses different movies for different countries? It’s true. Maybe that new movie you want to see isn’t streaming in the US, but it is in Canada.
By using a VPN like ExpressVPN, it’s possible to move locations all over the world, including Canada, the UK, and other countries where Netflix offerings are different. Browse through the various selections and you’ll likely find a movie you’ve never seen available on Netflix before.
Concluding Thoughts on Netflix in China
I used to spend an unbelievable amount of money on pirated DVD’s in China every month and was always so disappointed when the quality was terrible. And it was always terrible. In the end, I threw all the DVD’s away during one move back to the U.S.
Now, I’ve just reinvested that money into a very useful VPN service and Netflix. I’ve watched hundreds of TV shows, I can budget better how much I spend on entertainment each month and the quality is always HD. Even better, I’ve figured out a way to connect my Apple TV to a VPN so that I can watch on the big screen!
If you’re even remotely interested in streaming quality content while living or traveling in China, a VPN is a must-have. One of the best options out there is ExpressVPN – read my full ExpressVPN review or check out the video review below to see for yourself why I like it:
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