The Complete Guide for Planning your Trip to the Canton Fair

The Canton Fair

The Canton Fair is held every six months on the island of Pazhou, at the China Import and Export Fair Complex (380, Yuejiang Zhong Road, Guangzhou).

This is the biggest Commercial Exhibition Fair on the planet. Just to cite a few numbers, in the Autumn edition of 2019, around 60,000 manufacturers (or wholesalers) and 180,000 potential buyers participated.

In this article, you’ll find all you’ll need to plan your trip to the fair.

If you’ve already decided that you want to attend the Canton Fair but you don’t want to worry about organizing your trip, we can suggest a trustworthy travel agency that will do it for you. Click here to contact us.

When is the Canton Fair held?

Below, you will find the dates of the Canton Fair 2020:

April – May

Phase 1: April 15-19

Phase 1 is dedicated to the following categories and products: Electronics & Household Electrical Appliances, Lighting Equipment, Vehicles & Spare Parts, Machinery, Hardware & Tools, Energy Resources, Chemical Products, Building Materials.

Phase 2: April 23-27

Phase 2 is dedicated to the following categories and products: Consumer Goods, Home Decorations, Gifts.

Phase 3: May 1-5

Phase 3 is dedicated to the following categories and products: Office Supplies, Cases & Bags, Recreation Products, Food, Medicines, Medical Devices, and Health Products, Textiles & Garments, Shoes.

October – November

Phase 1: October 15-19

Phase 2: October 23-27

Phase 3: October 31- November 4

How to sign up for the Canton Fair

To get into the fair, you’ll first need to register. Your application will be approved within 3 business days.

Once you receive an approval email, you can then log in by clicking here and request your IC Card (or the identification badge to get into the fair). To learn more about requesting your IC Card, click here.

You will also receive an invitation letter, which you can use to apply for a visa (required to enter China legally).

Note that registering is free (so long as you don’t have a Chinese passport, in which case you’ll have to pay 300 Yuan each day!).

One last bit of advice: remember to bring your passport with you since it is necessary for entering the fair.

Visa for the Canton Fair

The most appropriate visa for the Canton Fair is without a doubt a business visa (also called “M visa”). Once you get the invitation letter, you can request the visa at the CVASC, Chinese Embassy or Consulate in your own country (here you’ll find a complete list). Click here to read our complete guide on Chinese business visas.

International flights to China

Despite the fact that Guangzhou has an international airport, the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, there are no direct flights from Europe or the United States. It’s usually much easier to land at Hong Kong International Airport (and then take the train to Guangzhou, see the next section) or the Shanghai Pudong International Airport (and then take a domestic flight to Guangzhou).

Click here to read our complete guide on how to book an international flight to China (or a domestic flight in China).

How to get to Guangzhou from Hong Kong

If you land in Hong Kong all you have to do is take the MTR (the subway) to the Hung Hom Railway Station and, from there, stay on the train until Guangzhou East station. The price of the ticket is between 200-250 Yuan and the trip by train lasts about 2 hours.

Note that, during the fair, trains on the Hong Kong – Guangzhou line will be packed. I, therefore, recommend that you book your ticket in advance. Click here to read our guides on trains in China, where we also explain how to book tickets on the internet.

Organized trip to attend the Canton Fair

Traveling to China can be a bit complicated due to culture and language barriers. Because of this, many agencies have specialized in helping people with their business trips so that they don’t need to invest time in preparing their trip and so that it is as efficient as possible, avoiding the potential inconveniences of moving around an unfamiliar city.

In the case of the Canton Fair, a complete service tends to include the following:

  • Hotel bookings
  • Private transportation to the hotel and the fair
  • Tourist visits to Guangzhou and the surrounding area
  • Translation service and guide in Spanish or English

The price for this type of service for 2-4 people for 5 days tends to be between 10,000 and 12,000 Yuan (€1200 – €1500)

If you’ve already decided that you want to attend the Canton Fair but you don’t want to worry about organizing your trip, we can suggest a trustworthy travel agency that will do it for you. Click here to contact us.

Hotels for the Canton Fair

Just as with the trains, the hotels will also be packed. It is therefore essential to book your room in advance.

Click here to read our recommendations on hotels that you’ll find near the fair.

Health insurance

Traveling to Asia without trip insurance is, in our opinion, too big a risk: if an accident should happen, no hospital will accept you unless you can pay in cash (and the costs are often too high even if your credit card has a high limit) or you don’t have health insurance to cover the expense.

Click here to read our guide on trip insurance for China.

Internet and communications

You probably already know this, but I still want to warn you: many western sites (such as Gmail, Facebook or Youtube) are blocked in China. If you would like to access those sites without trouble, you should get a VPN service (it costs about 8-10 Euro). Click here to learn how to do so.

Getting around Guangzhou by taxi or metro

Here’s a map of the Guangzhou subway system. Note that, to get to the Canton Fair, you should get off at Pazhou station, which is along Line 8.

To get there from the airport, take Line 3 to the Airport South station (Panyu Square direction) and change for Line 8 at Kecun station (Wanshengwei direction).

To get there from the Guangzhou East train station, where the trains from Hong Kong arrive, take Line 3 to the Guangzhou East Railway Station (Panyu Square direction) and change for Line 8 at Kecun station (Wanshengwei direction).

If instead, you decide to get around by taxi (which in China is relatively cheap), it shouldn’t be difficult to find one, both at the airport or the train station or at the fair. I’d like to give you two recommendations:

First, only take “official” taxis and make sure that the driver uses the meter. Don’t get into a random car (black cab) because they will probably try to extort from you an astronomical sum.

Second, make sure you always have a ticket with the address in Chinese characters since Chinese taxi drivers don’t speak a word of English. If you intend to go to the fair, here is the name in Chinese: 中国进出口商品交易会.


The organizers of the fair offer translation services in English, Spanish, French, Italian and many other languages. It is possible to “hire” a translator directly inside the fair; if you’re fine with a Chinese-English translator all you have to do is book 24 hours in advance while for other languages, you have to book at least 72 hours ahead of time.

Prices vary between 400 Yuan a day for a Chinese-English translator up to 700 Yuan a day for other languages. The service lasts 8 hours and as a custom, you should also offer lunch to the translator. Here are the telephone numbers and email for booking a translator:

English: +862089268110, [email protected]

Other languages: +862089268105, [email protected]

Frequently asked questions

Where is the Canton Fair located?
Canton Fair is located on Pazhou Island in Guangzhou, China. Guangzhou is the third biggest city in China and one of its major manufacturing hubs. As such, it’s not strange why the fair is held here. The address to the venue is 380, Yuejiang Zhong Road, Guangzhou, China. In Chinese, that is: 中国广州市海珠区阅江中路380号.
What city is Canton Fair?
As mentioned above, the Canton Fair is held in Guangzhou (Guangdong province), yet not in the city center, but on Pazhou Island.
How many people attend the Canton Fair?
The fair is the biggest, oldest, and most representative fair in China. 195,454 buyers visited the fair in 2019.
How do I get the Canton Fair badge?
You can only enter the fair by having the so called Buyer Card (badge). You can only collect the badge – in person – at the Fair Registration Offices shown here.

The Canton Fair encourages people to use their online pre-registration service, which will help you to get the badge faster. Simply go to the Express Channel at the registration office and you’ll also save 150 RMB by doing a pre-registration online!

What time does Canton Fair open?
The fair opens at 9:30 and closes at 6pm (local time).
Where can I find a list with the exhibitors attending the Canton Fair?
As mentioned above, there are three different phases with different product categories/industries. You can visit this page to see the phases and the product categories/industries.

After you’ve clicked on a product category/industry, there’s a text at each category saying “Click to view the exhibitor list of this section”. Simply click there and you’ll find the list with exhibitors.

What kind of products can be found at the Canton Fair?
You can find pretty much anything at the fair such as electronics, textiles, food, and household goods. You can review the section “When is the Canton Fair held?” above, which explains more about the different categories and industries.
Should I visit the Canton Fair or the Global Sources Expo?
It can be worth visiting both. If you visit Global Sources Expo, you won’t need a visa, as it’s located in Hong Kong. As such, you can visit the Global Sources Expo after you’ve visited the Canton Fair, which is convenient, of course.

The major difference between the two is that the Canton Fair is bigger in terms of visitors and exhibitors. Global Sources focus mostly on electronics and has started to specialize in Amazon sales. Product prices tend to be higher at Global Sources and Canton Fair is where you go if you look to cut costs.

Do you need help organizing your trip to the Canton Fair?

If you need help attending the Canton Fair without having to worry about the logistics of it, you can fill out the form below and get a budget for the services that you need.

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    Photo Credits: Creative Commons License Canton Fair by Shinsuke Ikegame

    15 thoughts on “The Complete Guide for Planning your Trip to the Canton Fair”

    1. Advice on Article:

      Hi Furio,

      Many thanks for this really informative article!

      Actually, the Canton Fair Fall Dates 2020 is scheduled online from October 15th to 24th. (Pls check on the Canton Fair official website:

      After getting useful info from you blog, I just put my finishing touches on the updated online Canton Fair, such as how the online canton fair works, how to find the incredible products and locate the best supplier via the online platform.

      Let me know if you want to check the article my content team created.

      Hopefully, this helps since your article helped me.


    2. Hello, I don’t see fashion Jewellery mentioned in any of the phases. What phase do you think I would find manufacturers of earrings, necklaces and all types of fashion Jewellery?

    3. Hi There
      I am planning to take my 3 sons to the Canton Fair this year. How many days do I need to spend there? We looking at motor vehicle parts and accessories.

    4. Fernando Ferrari

      Thanks very much for the information, i am brazilian and planning my trip to the fair, this article was very helpful! I wonder wheter i need a visa just to land in hong kong and then travel by train to guangzhou, or only the business visa will be enough for everything i need.

      Thanks so much.

      1. For China, you will need the business visa, that’s all.

        For Hong Kong, the citizens of many countries can get there without a visa for a maximum of 180 days. However, double check if brazil is on the list or if, conversely, you also need a visa for hong kong

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