Resources - Canton Fair - Complete Guide

Canton Fair - Complete Guide

(Canton Fair Opening Hours, Canton Fair meeting,, registration for the Canton Fair, getting Chinese visa, transport and accomodation in Guangzhou)

Canton Fair Guide

There are several hundred various trade fairs organized in China yearly, attending the trade fair of your choice is the best way to establish the personal relationship with the Chinese suppliers. Of these trade fairs, Canton Fair is the oldest and the biggest. Getting to know Chinese businesspeople may be crucial to your plans, because Chinese are doing business with the people and not with the companies. Canton Fair is also a great opportunity to see and touch the products of factories which usually are located in various parts of China, and visiting every one of them would be rather a waste of time. Many people are concerned about going to China, they are especially afraid of the distances, language barrier and difficult formalities. In fact, most of those problems can be easily overcome.

Choosing the proper phase of Canton Fair

Canton Fair takes place two times in the year: there is spring edition and autumn edition. Every edition is divided into three phases, so you should check when the products of your interest are being exhibited. A lot of related information can be obtained on Canton Fair webpage.. Of course you may have no time to do a deeper research and your product may be hard to trace down. The best idea then is to find a competent middleman, who can assist you through the whole process.

Scheduling meetings

Apart for travelling to China to attend trade fairs, many people are coming for direct business meetings with Chinese suppliers. Travel to China still requires time and effort, so it would be a good idea to kill two birds with one stone. Add some days to your schedule and devote it for meetings with the companies in the vicinity of Canton Fair (Shenzhen, the base of electronic products, is only two hours by car from Guangzhou). Many of these companies will concentrate on Canton Fair and send their best people there, but going directly to the factory will prove that you are dealing with the manufacturer and not with the trading company.

Invitation and registration

Canton Fair offers online pre-registration. You have to provide the details of your passport, name of your company, company phone number and contact details, type of your company and scope of service. As a result, you will receive official invitation, which should be at this moment free of charge – remember to register on the official webpage only, don’t trust swindlers, who “offer” registration for $50. If there are any fees related with registration, you will be able to pay them on the spot.

Getting a Chinese visa

Depending on whether you received your pre-registration confirmation form or not, you can apply for two types of Chinese visa. The first one is M type visa (commercial visa) which is issued for everyone going on business to China. In case you don’t have your official invitation and your plan is to register on the location, then L visa (tourist visa) is the only remaining solution.

The most important thing about getting visas is the timing. Prepare everything beforehand in the case that some unexpected problems occur. Use visa agency to avoid inconvenient trips to the nearest consular office or embassy. The agency can also assist you through all of the necessary formalities (filling an application form, providing photos etc.)

If you plan to travel through Hong Kong, than you can also obtain the Chinese visa there. Normal procedure takes several working days to complete, but some agencies boast that they can get you Chinese visa in less than 24 hours. It is usually possible, but consider this as a last resort.

Transportation and accomodation

How to reach your destination? For many years, the natural answer was „by plane”, because air transport was the only reasonable and reliable solution for business people. But now the Chinese sky is crowded and 3/4 of the flights are delayed (take it into consideration while planning stops!). On the most vital directions, China has introduced high-speed railway, which can be perceived as an alternative for airplanes. It takes only 8 hours to get to Guangzhou from Beijing, and 5 hours to cover the distance between Shanghai and Beijing. The train is more convenient and more punctual than plane and arrives right in the city center (with notable exception for Shanghai, but the Hongqiao train station is linked to city’s subway system).

As for the hotels: a lot depends on the scope of trade fair that you are attending. In Guangzhou it is really hard to get a decent room during Canton Fair, and the prices are skyrocketing. Booking in advance will not save you much money, but will at last secure a place to live for those few intensive days in Guangzhou. Official hotels tend to be more expensive, but are usually located a little bit closer to Pazhou Exhibition Centre, in which Canton Fair takes place.

Many hotels can arrange pick-up services and even shuttle buses for the trade fair area, but in most cases you will be travelling by taxis. Make sure that the taxi driver turns on the meter and takes the shortest road. On railway stations and airports you have to line up to wait for the taxi: many taxi drivers come up and offer the course without waiting, in this case you agree for the price beforehand, but it will cost 4-6 times more.

Getting around

When you safely arrive on site, you can use several types of transportation to move around Guangzhou. Public transport is usually very crowded, but Guangzhou Metro may be a reasonable choice in some cases. The subway Line 8 stops at Pazhou [琶州] station, where the exhibition venue is located. Other popular way of transportation is taxi: taxi drivers do not speak English in the most cases, so it will be a good idea to have an address written in Chinese characters. A good idea will be to keep a receipt from the taxi – just in case you lose something. Driving habits in China are quite different from those that you are familiar with, so you should consider renting a car with the local driver.


During the Canton Fair, the city attracts not only busy businessmen, but also swarms of swindlers, who are waiting to prey on unsuspecting foreigners. Beware of fake bills and fake merchandise (expensive alcohol, electronic equipment). Sometimes the shop assistant hands you the merchandise which breaks when you are looking at it (it was defective before) and demands you to pay for it (usually the price is ridiculously high – for example $3000 for the bottle of maotai). If something like this happens, simply walk away. Pickpocketing is rampant in some parts of the city: lock the taxi door when you use the cab and be careful in crowded areas. Never take an unlicensed taxis and keep in mind that the locals are always choosing the yellow taxis (although the prices are fixed on the same level, the company operating them has the best reputation). Finally, if you arrive in Guangzhou in May, prepare for the heat – temperature outside can be unbearable.

After the Fair

You may be surprised and astonished with the scale of Canton Fair and possibilities that you see for your business, but remember to remain cold-blooded before making any important decisions. Companies present on Canton Fair may not be necessarily trustworthy, sometimes the trading company is impersonating the real company, sometimes the employee of a legitimate company is a swindler, in some cases certificates and documents provided to you are forged. It is necessary to verify the company before placing an order. The same rule applies to the companies that you have met during business meetings. The more you know, the safer your money.