6 Best VPNs for Hong Kong

Hong Kong, officially known as Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, is an autonomous territory off the southern coast of mainland China. The metropolis has a population of 7.2 million and is well-known for its deep natural harbour, its impressive skyline and its position as one of the largest financial centres on the planet.

In this guide we’ll take a look at Hong Kong’s approach to data retention, online censorship and surveillance. And, we will recommend six of the best VPN services for those living, studying and travelling in the region.

Summary

Provider Features Price Links
1 PureVPN
  • Torrent-friendly
  • Custom apps
  • 256-bit keys
  • Smart DNS
  • Live chat
$9.95
/month
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2 Hide My Ass!
  • Large network
  • 256-bit keys
  • Custom apps
  • Live chat
  • Free proxy
$11.52
/month
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3 IPVanish
  • Torrent-friendly
  • Custom apps
  • 256-bit keys
$10
/month
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4 ExpressVPN
  • Torrent-friendly
  • Custom apps
  • 256-bit keys
  • Zero logs
  • Live chat
$8.32
/month
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5 VPN.AC
  • Torrent-friendly
  • Custom Apps
  • 256-bit keys
  • Zero logs
$9
/month
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6 VyprVPN
  • Torrent-friendly
  • Custom apps
  • 256-bit keys
  • Anti-DPI tech
  • Live chat
$9.99
/month
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Quick links


Internet use in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is well known for its sophisticated telecoms infrastructure and boasts some of the fastest internet connection speeds in Asia. According to a study by IT experts Akamai, connection speeds were the fifth fastest in the first quarter of 2015 with an average of 15.8Mbps (the global average is 5.1Mbps).

During 2015, just over 80% of Hong Kong’s inhabitants had access to the internet, with 64% having active social media accounts and 50% accessing Facebook on a daily basis.

Hong Kong is also known for its many public Wi-Fi hotspots, which are available throughout the country in public and private spaces such as coffee shops, libraries, airports and hotels. The government also runs its own Wi-Fi programme with free access in designated government buildings.

Data retention and NSA

As a separate territory to mainland China, Hong Kong has developed its own approach to data retention that prioritises privacy. In 2012, the law was changed to increase user privacy and currently there is no mandatory retention in place. Due to this, Hong Kong is home to several well-known VPN providers including PureVPN and Le VPN.

Hong Kong’s pro-privacy stance also garnered attention when Edward Snowden was welcomed into the country during his revelations about the NSA‘s surveillance programme in 2013, despite calls from the US for his extradition. Snowden travelled to the country directly from the NSA facility in Hawaii, where he booked into the Mira hotel and later conducted an interview with The Guardian in which he made his claims against NSA public. During his time there he told the South China Morning Post that Hong Kong residents were among the victims of NSA spying, which, according to Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, reflected Snowden’s efforts to ‘ingratiate himself to the people of Hong Kong and China’.

Hong Kong Edward Snowden
Hong Kong residents show support for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Source: Wikimedia

Snowden stayed in Hong Kong until late June, 2013, before flying to Moscow. During this time his  was revoked by the US government, leading him to seek asylum in Russia.

In contrast to Hong Kong’s lax data retention laws and pro-privacy stance, China operates a strict retention policy under its so called ‘Great Firewall‘, which filters and monitors all internet traffic passing in and out of the country.

Online censorship

There is very little by way of internet censorship in Hong Kong besides the filtering of websites containing abusive content such as child pornography. Hong Kong ranks #69 in the 2016 World Press Freedom Index, with China at #176 out of a total of 180 countries.

There have only been a handful of notable cases of online censorship, including in 1995, when police raided all but one of the then brand new dialup ISPs, shutting their servers down for one week. It was suspected that Supernet, the only ISP not to be shut down, were behind the raids.

In 2015, leaked emails from the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), the institution set up to fight hacking and malicious online activity, showed correspondence between the ICAC and the notorious Italy-based surveillance company Hacking Team. Hacking Team’s services have been used by governments and law enforcement agencies across the world to pilfer private customer data.

VPN services

For those living in Hong Kong, including many expats and students, VPN is one of the most all-rounded solutions for enhancing online privacy when using the Internet both at home or on the go. We’ve compiled a list of six VPN providers, whose features have helped rank them as some of the most recommended services to use whilst in Hong Kong.

Provider Features Price Links
1 PureVPN
  • Torrent-friendly
  • Custom apps
  • 256-bit keys
  • Smart DNS
  • Live chat
$9.95
/month
Visit Provider
Read Review
2 Hide My Ass!
  • Large network
  • 256-bit keys
  • Custom apps
  • Live chat
  • Free proxy
$11.52
/month
Visit Provider
Read Review
3 IPVanish
  • Torrent-friendly
  • Custom apps
  • 256-bit keys
$10
/month
Visit Provider
Read Review
4 ExpressVPN
  • Torrent-friendly
  • Custom apps
  • 256-bit keys
  • Zero logs
  • Live chat
$8.32
/month
Visit Provider
Read Review
5 VPN.AC
  • Torrent-friendly
  • Custom Apps
  • 256-bit keys
  • Zero logs
$9
/month
Visit Provider
Read Review
6 VyprVPN
  • Torrent-friendly
  • Custom apps
  • 256-bit keys
  • Anti-DPI tech
  • Live chat
$9.99
/month
Visit Provider
Read Review

PureVPN

PureVPN

Hong Kong-based PureVPN implements AES 256-CBC encryption with OpenVPN as the default protocol. Other available protocols include SSTP, PPTP, IKEv2 and L2TP/IPSec.

Currently, PureVPN has eight servers in Hong Kong. Browsing activity is not recorded though basic connection data are logged for one month, including bandwidth usage and a connection time stamp.

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HideMyAss!

hidemyass

UK-based HideMyAss! (HMA) uses OpenVPN TCP encryption as standard, as well as the following protocols: OpenVPN UDP, PPTP and L2TP/IPSec.

Currently, there are six HMA servers in Hong Kong (860+ IPs) with one server in Kowloon, one in Wan Chai and four in Shatin. User activity is not logged, but basic connections data are kept for 2-3 months.

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IPVanish

IPVanish

IPVanish is based in the U.S, where there is no mandatory data retention. Available protocols include L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, IKEv2 and OpenVPN (supporting AES 128-bit and 256-bit ciphers).

Currently, IPVanish has ten servers in Hong Kong. User activity and connection data are not recorded, according to the provider.

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ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN has its headquarters in the British Virgin Islands where companies are not obliged to retain user data. It implements encryption from 128-bit to 256-bit SSL and offers the following protocols: OpenVPN (TCP, UDP), PPTP, L2TP-IPsec and SSTP. Currently, there are several servers available for connections to Hong Kong.

ExpressVPN operates a strict no log policy and does not collect traffic/connection data from its users.

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VPN.AC

VPN.AC homepage

VPN.AC is owned by Romania-based IT experts Netsec Interactive Solutions. The VPN service supports OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec and PPTP protocols. User activity is not kept though basic connection logs are stored for just 1 day.

All VPN.AC subscribers can access its SecureProxy, a TLS-encrypted browser-based proxy service (Chrome and Firefox compatible). SecureProxy enables users to toggle easily between regions. At present, there are two servers in Hong Kong.

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VyprVPN

VyprVPN

US-based VyprVPN is well-known for fast server speeds and strong encryption and is run by parent company Golden Frog, IT specialists based in Texas.

The VPN service runs 128-bit and 256-bit AES encryption and OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, PPTP as well as VyprVPN’s custom-built Chameleon protocol to choose from.

Currently, there is one VyprVPN server in Hong Kong. Traffic logs are not kept but connection data are stored for a maximum period of 30 days.

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Glancing back at the curve.

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