Best VPN for Taiwan

Taiwan is a tropical, rainy island off the coast of China, which has become a household name thanks to the chip boom of the ‘80s, as well as its cheap plastic products. Currently, the country is experiencing a bit of a tourism boom, which has inspired us to put together a list of the best VPNs for Taiwan so you can keep safe while online there.

You’ll find plenty of reasons to do so, too. Although the Taiwanese internet has few restrictions, the country is locked in a struggle concerning its identity and international status with its massive neighbor (we’ll talk more about that later). As such, some Chinese surveillance has bled over into the Taiwanese internet, which is also rife with cybercrime.

Using a virtual private network, however, will keep you safe from most — if not all — online threats, and we’ve dug through our best VPN roundup to find the very best ones to use in Taiwan, including picks that will work well on Android. All VPN apps have Taiwan servers.

If you’re not the reading type, we recommend ExpressVPN as the best VPN for Taiwan, most of the time, so go ahead and make use of this excellent service’s 30-day refund period, if you’re in a hurry. Now, without further ado, let’s take a look at what going online is like in Taiwan.

Best VPN for Taiwan 2019

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The Government of Taiwan

Though the entire world knows the island as Taiwan, technically it’s called the Republic of China and encompasses a handful of islands, one of which, Kinmen, is only a few miles off the coast of mainland China. 

This odd collection of territory and its weird name — not to be confused with the People’s Republic of China, i.e., the mainland — is the legacy of a very dark bit of history.

In short, Taiwan is the last refuge of the losing side of the Chinese Civil War, which lasted for several decades after the fall of the last Chinese emperor in 1912 and saw the slaughter of millions. 

Though the politics of these turbulent years is too much to get into here, the fight was between the “Whites,” the Chinese Nationalist Party or the Kuomintang (KMT), and the “Reds,” or the Chinese Communist Party.

If you’ve read the news any time in the last 70 years — or if you’ve checked out our online censorship map — you’ll quickly see that it was the Communists who won that struggle, and decisively at that. 

The KMT leader, Chiang Kai-shek, was forced to flee the mainland and head to Taiwan in 1948 with roughly two million followers, with the aim of licking his wounds and planning an invasion to retake China.

We’re still waiting on that.

In the years since, the two countries have developed along very different paths, with the mainland becoming the totalitarian dictatorship we know today, while Taiwan turned away from the KMT’s tyranny and became a vibrant democracy, with a healthy market-based economy to go with it.

However, the question of Taiwan’s identity and status has continued to plague its relationships with China and the rest of the world, leading to an identity crisis within the country: is it still culturally Chinese, or rather a separate nation?

Although this lively debate rages on the island, the mainland communists would rather do nothing but annex it, a dynamic that hangs like a dark cloud over the island and its internet.

Free Speech in Taiwan

As a free and open democracy, there is virtually no censorship in Taiwan. People are free to protest both online and on the streets, though there are some very specific cases in which online expression has been curtailed.

The first involves Taiwan’s far-reaching defamation laws, which are often used to settle scores. In short, expressing an opinion about somebody else is okay, unless it’s deemed insulting, in which case you can expect a serious fine. One example is a blogger who got 30 days hard and a fine of NT$200,000 (about $13,000) for writing a negative restaurant review.

If such laws were universal, not a single Cloudwards.net editor would go unpunished, but we digress. Read our IPVanish review for one service that may want to sue us, and our PureVPN review for another that has threatened to do so.

Taiwan isn’t the only country in the Far East that has such laws in place. Another good example is Singapore (read our best VPN for Singapore piece for more on this). 

The second area in which the Taiwanese state controls expression is when it comes to Chinese media companies settling on the island. In the past, media companies from China have had their offices shuttered, though often only for short periods of time. This was often due to political changeovers in Taiwan, more than anything else.

However, many media companies have ties to China, so there is a degree of self-censorship practiced by such outlets. Also, because politics are strongly polarized in Taiwan — especially when it comes to the sore point of Taiwanese independence — many outlets take sides in one camp or the other, meaning the news occasionally gets very distorted.

Online Surveillance in Taiwan

As for checking whether people are behaving themselves online, Taiwan is a bit of a mixed bag. Although online censorship was never a thing in Taiwan because the KMT dictatorship came to an end before the web was invented, in the past few years this seems to have changed.

For one, just last year a report by the Taiwan Association for Human Rights revealed that government authorities had requested people’s data from a number of sites, which was a first for Taiwan. 

Although it seems that most of the requests were fairly harmless — there’s nobody disappearing into the back of a truck for criticising the government — there are some serious concerns about the transparency and need for these requests.

Also worrying is the ban of a student activist group from Facebook in 2018. They were protesting — as students do — at the memorial for Chiang Kai-shek, who brought his more violent ways with him when fleeing Taiwan. The Facebook group that they had used to organize peaceful protests was taken down, which isn’t exactly democratic.

Though Taiwan is definitely a strong democracy, it’s experiencing some of the same issues that countries in the West do when it comes to citizens’ rights. For one example, check out our best VPN for Germany guide.

Torrenting in Taiwan

Torrenting is, in theory, illegal in Taiwan, with the government vowing in 2009 to battle copyright infringement by implementing a three-strikes rule for people using P2P technology to do so. A few years later, another law was proposed to block sites offering pirated content, though it’s unclear whether that ever came into effect.

In practice, though, these above laws seem to be dead letters. Most people we’ve talked to who have lived in Taiwan torrent to their heart’s content and never seem to get in trouble. That said, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and we recommend you use a VPN while torrenting in Taiwan.

What Makes a VPN Best for Taiwan

With all the above taken into consideration, we’ve set three key criteria that we’ve kept in mind when selecting the best VPN for Taiwan. The first is security, not only to keep yourself safe from possible Taiwanese surveillance, but also from cybercrime. Using any of the VPNs below is guaranteed to keep you safe while online thanks to using a kill switch and 256-bit encryption.

The second criterion is speed. Many VPNs will encrypt your connection, but then be so slow as to be unusable. All the picks below get decent speeds, so you won’t get endless buffering when watching YouTube videos or three-day waits while your Steam game downloads. What’s the point of making use of Taiwan’s fantastic fibre-optic network if your VPN slows you down?

Thirdly, we wanted to make sure that all of our top picks had both a strong regional presence and servers in Taiwan (so you can get a Taiwanese IP address). Though all our picks also have great coverage in Europe and North America, we prioritized Asian networks, some which will even give you the ability to get a Chinese IP address, thanks to servers on the mainland.

The Best Taiwan VPN: ExpressVPN

As we mentioned in the introduction, ExpressVPN is our top pick for Taiwan. This is because it scores top marks in all three of our key criteria, as well as almost all secondary ones. 

For one, it’s the fastest VPN by far in every testing round we’ve ever conducted, beating its competition with ease. The only service that comes close is Private Internet Access, and you can read our ExpressVPN vs. PIA article for more on this.

As for security, ExpressVPN is also our most secure VPN, featuring multiple encryption modes and defaulting to OpenVPN, the most secure option among VPN protocols. Thanks to all this, you’re almost guaranteed complete anonymity while using ExpressVPN, and the upside is that you don’t even have to configure it.

It’s our best VPN for China for a reason, and  if it can handle the People’s Republic of China, as a rule of thumb, it can handle the regular ol’ Republic of China, too.

As for server network, you’re well served, too. When taking spread into account, ExpressVPN has one of the largest in the business, though its numbers are lower than most of its competitors because it uses a few high-capacity servers rather than a bunch of smaller ones.

It also has two servers in Taiwan itself.

Other Reasons We Like ExpressVPN

Besides all this, ExpressVPN is also ridiculously easy to use. Its interface pretty much consists of just one massive button, which you click to activate it, and again to switch it off. That’s pretty much it, really, unless you want to change servers, which you can do through its simple menu. It’s an almost foolproof system, as you can read in our ExpressVPN review.

The downside to ExpressVPN, though, is its price, coming in at $100 per year. This is pretty expensive compared to the rest of the market, especially when the number two and three pick in this list offer multi-year deals for roughly the same amount. 

That said, you get what you pay for, and ExpressVPN is worth every penny. Try it out using the 30-day money-back guarantee to see what we mean.

Pros:

  • Very fast
  • Highly secure
  • Good Asian network

Cons:

  • Pricey
Starts from $ 666 per month
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NordVPN

In the number two slot we find our second overall best VPN, NordVPN. It scores well in all regards, much like ExpressVPN does, but always a small cut under its competitor. This is a pattern that also quickly emerges in our ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN comparison piece. 

Take speed, for instance. NordVPN is no slouch, but because it uses a large number of weaker servers, speed quickly becomes inconsistent. However, the network is bigger than anybody else’s, with more than 5,500 servers scattered all over the world, many of them in Asia, including Taiwan.

However, when it comes to security, NordVPN is excellent, offering not only top-of-the-line encryption, but also greater customizability than ExpressVPN. It’s also our best VPN for torrenting, thanks to its “specialty” P2P servers, so if piracy is your main reason for getting a VPN, NordVPN is the way to go.

Other Reasons We Like NordVPN

NordVPN is also very easy to use, differing from ExpressVPN by going for a more graphical approach with a world map where you can choose locations to connect to. The layer behind the map is more list-based, which works well, though it will involve more scrolling than you might be comfortable with. Check our NordVPN review for more details.

However, the biggest win with NordVPN comes on the pricing page. Three years with this excellent service will set you back only a few bucks north of a Benjamin. This makes it almost a third of the price of ExpressVPN and only a little more expensive than our next entry, CyberGhost. NordVPN also offers a 30-day refund, so check it out at your leisure.

Pros:

  • Great multi-year plan
  • Huge network
  • Very secure

Cons:

  • Inconsistent speeds
Starts from $ 349 per month
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CyberGhost

We round out our top three picks of the best VPN for Taiwan with CyberGhost. It’s an excellent service and can be found in a lot of our lists, including the best VPN for multiple devices, but it misses the oomph that ExpressVPN and NordVPN have in some key areas. 

For one, CyberGhost’s speeds are a bit on the slow side, coming out pretty badly during our speed tests. In fact, it’s one of the worst for speed among our top-rated VPNs, and is saved only by the fact that it does so well in every other area (read more about this in our CyberGhost review).

For example, it has a great server network, with servers both in Taiwan and the wider region (it’s one of our best VPN for South Korea picks, too). However, it also offers excellent security, which you can configure as you like. It also has a responsive kill switch, which will be ideal for torrenters and others who share sensitive information.

Other Reasons We Like CyberGhost

CyberGhost has gone a different route than both ExpressVPN and NordVPN in its interface, opting for a tile-based design that gets the point across but can feel a bit clunky at times (check out our CyberGhost vs. ExpressVPN and CyberGhost vs. NordVPN articles for more on the differences). That said, it still does a great job and will fit especially well with Windows 10 aficionados. 

CyberGhost also stands apart from other top-ranked VPNs because of its price. It’s currently the cheapest of its kind out there, costing only $100 for three years of service. On top of that, it also offers a weeklong trial for its mobile application (the desktop version only gets one day) and has a massive 45-day money-back guarantee. We figure that alone makes it worth trying out.

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Secure
  • Good Asian network

Cons:

  • Bit slow
Starts from $ 275 per month
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VPNArea

In fourth place is VPNArea, which has been finding its way into more and more of our lists these past few months thanks to its ever-improving service. For one, its speed is consistently good, which is an accomplishment not every service pulls off. Read our VPNArea review for more on this. 

We also like its security options — though it has fewer bells and whistles than our other entries — as it does everything right without too many weird shenanigans. VPNArea just works and will keep you safe while online. For an example of a service that seems to simply not care, read our X-VPN review.

As for servers, VPNArea has some in Taiwan, as well as in surrounding countries, including mainland China. If you want to, say, unblock Youku, it’s a great pick, though we would always warn people not to share too much sensitive information over the Chinese internet. However, it’s a handy thing to have, especially if your business has you crossing the Taiwan Strait often.

Other Reasons We Like VPNArea

Besides being reliably fast and secure, VPNArea is also pretty easy to use. It follows a standard, boring interface that reacts quickly to whatever you need and lets you pick from all its servers using either an alphabetical list or one based on location. It won’t win any prizes, but it gets the job done.

However, as little as VPNArea stands out in many areas, it does have great pricing. Though it doesn’t offer multi-year deals, it has one of the best annual plans at $60, so it’s great for people on a budget. We recommend you give it a spin using its 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros:

  • Reliable speed
  • Secure
  • Chinese servers

Cons:

  • A bit bland
  • No multi-year plans
Starts from $ 299 per month

TorGuard

We’re finishing up this roundup with TorGuard, a great service that scores well in all our main criteria but is just a pain to use. However, its fiddly nature makes it a perfect fit for tech geeks, and it features prominently on our best VPN for Linux list.

It’s also the best VPN with dedicated IPs because TorGuard makes it easy to buy some server space just for you, making it ideal to use in Taiwan and China. Not only will you have access to the public servers in the region, you can also buy dedicated space, which is a very safe option. 

On top of that, you also get some of the most configurable security in the industry, so your anonymity is almost guaranteed. It’s also very fast, being beaten only by ExpressVPN and a few other VPN providers.

Other Reasons We Like TorGuard

However — and you knew there’d be one for the number-five pick on this list — TorGuard is tough to use. You really need to know what you’re doing to operate the settings, as deep as they are. That’s fine in and of itself, but for some reason TorGuard’s interface is simply unintuitive, with oddly placed buttons and weird design choices.

If you can deal with that, though, we recommend TorGuard for anybody that likes to get into the guts of their tech. It’s very satisfying to get this service to work exactly how you’d like, and using it is a geek’s delight. It comes with a weeklong refund, so we recommend checking it out.

Pros:

  • Massive network
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Hard to use
Starts from $ 500 per month

Final Thoughts

Though Taiwan isn’t the first country to spring to mind when you think of internet censorship, we recommend that you use a VPN while you’re there, even if it’s just to give yourself some peace of mind. ExpressVPN is our top pick, but any of the other four in this list will stand you in good stead.

What are your experiences with the Taiwanese internet? Did you use a VPN while there? Let us know in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading.

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One thought on “Best VPN for Taiwan 2019: Chinese Whispers”

  1. I’ve used Nordvpn when I was an intern and it reaaaly helped me a lot during that time, accessing some pages that were blocked 🙂 AND binging US Netflix, so many good memories. Still a user and probably going to use it for a long time hahaha

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