How to use Instagram in China with a VPN

Last updated: January 12, 2023
William Sams

William Sams

If you are tired of content restrictions and want to unblock all “foreign” services, including Instagram in China, read this detailed guide!

Though China defines its government as a “socialist legal system”, it actually follows the model of Civil Law, which allows for the controlling of every public outlet and freedom of speech.

This has created quite a difficult and suffocating atmosphere for those residing in the region. Even the internet is not secure from the wrath of the Chinese Government.

The Government blocks worldwide sensations like Facebook, Google Services, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest+, and even the image-sharing platform, Instagram.

If you want to unblock “foreign” services, including Instagram in China, then click on the link below (for an instant solution) or read the complete guide:

How to Access Instagram in China

IvacyPrime App Screenshot

In-Depth Analysis of the 3 Best Instagram VPNs

Here are 3 Instagram VPNs that deliver the best value, described in detail after comparing their costs, payment plans, and performance in China:

Rank VPN Price Website
1. Ivacy $1.19/mo Visit Ivacy
2. ExpressVPN $6.67/mo Visit ExpressVPN
3. Surfshark $2.49/mo Visit Surfshark

1. Ivacy

Best Option for Instagram in China

Ivacy Ranks 1st for Instagram in China

Based in Singapore, Ivacy is reputed as the best VPN for China. This is because they are the only provider in the marketplace, offering a dedicated app for Chinese residents, which is available on their mirror website.

You can download this app and click on the “streaming” option to unblock VoDs like Netflix US, BBC iPlayer UK, and Amazon Prime. Or, the “unblock” option for direct access to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.

Users in China can download IvacyPrime from their dedicated Chinese page here:

For more information, check out this full 2019 review of Ivacy

2. Surfshark

Cheapest VPN for Instagram in China

Surfshark Ranks 2nd for Instagram in China

Based in the British Virgin Islands, Surfshark is a reliable and privacy-focused provider. Surfshark is incredibly affordable, starting at a measly $2.49/mo  on a 2-year plan.

The provider offers the unique  “NoBordersTM Mode”, which allows for the bypassing of the “Great Firewall”, delivering extra security for enjoying the open internet without blocks/restrictions.

Users in China can download Surfshark from their dedicated Chinese page here:

How to Bypass the GFW via Surfshark

For more information, check out this full 2019 review of Surfshark

3. ExpressVPN

Fastest VPN for Instagram in China

ExpressVPN Ranks 3rd for Instagram in China

Based in the British Virgin Islands, ExpressVPN delivers super-fast speeds for users in China. It uses obfuscation to bypass the algorithms and technology employed by the “Great Firewall.”

It is pricy at $6.67/mo , but you get the best security, powerful China unblocking capabilities, dedicated China site, multiple apps, and the best live chat support in the industry.

Users in China can download ExpressVPN from their dedicated Chinese page here:

How to Bypass the GFW via ExpressVPN

For more information, check out this full 2019 review of ExpressVPN

Is Instagram Blocked in China

From 26th September to 15th December 2014, a series of sit-in stress protests began, after the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC), introduced new reforms for the Hong Kong electoral system.

These policies were highly restrictive and urged the same level of control in other cities of China in Hong Kong too, which was criticized deeply by the residents, and members from all over the world.

As a result, the strike against NPCSC’s decision quickly gained momentum as a “danger”. It gained the title “Umbrella Revolution”, where students were publicly demonstrating their defiance outside the government headquarters.

They protested in several major city intersections, disrupting traffic low resulting in great distress. Situations kept getting tense, as the protestors were found posting videos/images online on INSTAGRAM, regarding police brutality.

Thanks to the help of such social platforms, the protests now included pro-democracy slogans and an end to the regressive nature of the government.

Of course, China would never back down from its laws and decided to act with force. Immediately after Instagram was blocked China-wide by the end of December 2014.

How to Check if China Blocked Instagram

It is not necessary for you to use a tool or software to check whether Instagram is blocked in China. All you have to do is enter the into the URL of your desktop browser.

You will instantly receive an error immediately of the site being inaccessible in China. The other way is to check whether the local app stores have the Instagram app or not.

And even if you have the app installed on your mobile, it won’t work when you are in China. You will receive an error message that the service is not available due to government restrictions.

How to Unblock Instagram in China with VPN

Since Google and all of its related services don’t work in China, you won’t have access to a Gmail account which is necessary to get Google Play on your phone.

If you don’t have Google Play you cannot download Instagram’s app in China. To bypass this problem, you need to do the following:

  • Get a VPN that works in China
  • Go to Gmail and create your account
  • Install the Google Play app
  • Enter your Gmail credentials
  • Now search for “Instagram” app on Google Play Store
  • Install the Instagram app
  • Create an account for Instagram if you don’t already have one
  • Sign in to Instagram and use it in China freely

Now, you need to vary that you need to keep the VPN turned on before you open the Instagram app on your phone, otherwise you will get an error message.

Apart from this, if you want to access Instagram on desktop, simply turn your VPN on and go to to use the service in China.

Instagram in China Alternatives

Since social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest+, Quora, Snapchat, and Google+ are all blocked in China, it has become necessary to use VPNs to unblock these sites.

However, if you are looking for alternatives to these sites, you should know that China offers quite the diversity in its own social media presence. Some of the best include:

  1. WeChat: An all-in-one SM app that allows users to share pictures/songs/files/videos, chat with friends/family members, track their fitness, check out nearby places to eat, and more!
  2. Meipai: Famed as the “Chinese Instagram”, Meipai is a great alternative to the original platform, particularly for sharing video content.
  3. Sina Weibo: This social media app enjoys the reputation of being known as the Twitter of China, boasting quite a similar appearance and user-interface.
  4. Tencent QQ: Just like WhatsApp has now become crucial for anyone for chatting up with their friends, Tencent QQ is a popular instant messaging app alternative for Chinese users.
  5. Toudou Youku: For expats who miss accessing YouTube in China, you have the Toudou Youku that is a viable alternative. Though the content is majorly Chinese.
  6. Zhihu: If you are fond of taking part in discussions, answering general questions, or simply gain knowledge on different topics, Zhihu is the perfect alternative to Quora in China.

Wrapping Things Up

Regimes like China’s want to maintain their authority over all aspects of information. This demands the involvement of citizens personal life and blocking of anything that contributes towards rebellions against the Government laws.

With all factors taken into consideration, Ivacy wins this category for unblocking Instagram in China. However, if you are looking for an affordable alternative, you can also consider signing up for the infamous, Surfshark.

Bear in mind that using a VPN is your only option to stay away from prying eyes like the Chinese government while accessing your favorite social media apps/platforms like Instagram.

4 Responses to How to use Instagram in China with a VPN

  1. Victor Anyali says:

    I will be in Shanghai next week and solution to this will also be of help to me.
    We really need the help.

  2. Charles says:

    Is it legal?

  3. Xav says:

    Hi, I will be flying to Shanghai tomorrow. Do I hv to get the VPN before I fly off in order to use my IG n FB in SHA?
    Need help.

Leave a Reply

Rate the Review*

Your email address will not be published.