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 Spring edition of 2015, some 24,713 manufacturing companies (or wholesalers) participated and 184,801 foreign importers.
In this article you’ll find all you’ll need to plan your trip to the fair. Specifically, we will cover the following topics:
- When does the Canton Fair begin?
- How to sign up for the Canton Fair
- Visa for the Canton Fair
- International flights to China
- How to get to Guangzhou from Hong Kong, Beijing or Shanghai
- Hotels for the Canton Fair
- Health Insurance
- Internet and communications
- Getting around Guangzhou by taxi or metro
When is the Canton Fair held?
The next one will begin October 15th:
Phase 1: October 15-19, 2017
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: October 23-27, 2017
Phase 2 is dedicated to the following categories and products: Consumer Goods, Home Decorations, Gifts.
Phase 3: October 31 – November 4, 2017
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.
How to sign up for the Canton Fair
To get into the fair, you’ll first need to register, by filling out this form. 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.
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.
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.
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 are 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, firstname.lastname@example.org
Other languages: +862089268105, email@example.com
Traveling in China is not difficult; and participating in the Canton Fair is even easier since the inhabitants of Guangzhou are used to welcoming an enormous amount of foreign importers every year.
If you’d like to know more about traveling in China (tours, vaccines, fraud, weather, etc), click here to read our complete guide on the topic. If instead you have a question, leave a comment here below and we will respond to you as soon as possible!
[Photo Credits (Creative Commons License): www.flickr.com/photos/tequilapartners/]