Prepare for the Canton FairGrant McGahey
If you are planning on attending the Canton Fair, it is a good idea to strategize well in advance. Traveling to mainland China requires patience and a lot of planning. One thing you can’t do is wing it. The best way to take on the Canton Fair is to know what is needed and book everything as far beforehand as possible.
If you don’t know what the Canton Fair is or are unsure of whether you should go, check out our Canton Fair blog to learn more.
Registering for the Fair
All that is required to get into the Canton Fair is a Buyer’s Badge also known as an IC (Entry Badge).
Before applying for a Buyer’s Badge though, you should request an invitation. An invitation can help you get a free buyers badge and a visa.
- Go on the Canton Fair invitation website and click on the top left corner to register. Fill in the information then go back to the page you were on.
- Click on “Apply for invitation letters”. Log in (if you aren’t already) and fill out the information so you can receive an invitation. You can choose either email, or paper. I recommend the E-invitation, as you can print it out yourself.
- Once you receive the invitation, which should take a couple of days, you can use it to apply for a free entry badge. On the invitation website click on “Pre- application for Buyers Badge” and fill in the information. It is good to have your passport and a digital passport portrait of yourself on hand, as to create your buyers badge they will need a photo of you. If for some reason, you are getting your visa a different way, a buyer’s badge will cost 100RMB (or ~$15)
Getting Your Visa
Use the invitation to get your visa. Go to the Chinese embassy near you- bring a visa application form, your passport, and a copy of your Canton Fair invitation. If there is not an embassy close to you, you can always hire a third party to take care of all the work. In my case, I hired a third party because the nearest Chinese embassy was two hours away.
If you are American, you can apply for a 90-day tourist visa immediately upon landing if you are flying into Hong Kong. If you are like us and like to have things planned out well in advance, we recommend getting your visa in your home country. Since you are doing business in China, you technically should get a business visa, but a tourist visa will work as well. As with travel to any country, make sure to check China and Hong Kong’s specific visa requirements for your country before traveling.
*One important thing to remember- In order to apply for your visa your passport needs at least 6 months of validity left prior to the date of your application and 2 blank pages.
Get Everything for Travel Settled
Book plane tickets and hotel rooms as soon as possible.
When booking your flights, you can either choose to fly directly into the Guangzhou airport book a flight from Hong Kong and then take a train to Guangzhou. Many people choose the latter since the Hong Kong airport is busier than Guangzhou’s and has more flight option, aka cheaper! Some will get there, apply for a visa to mainland China (this can take anywhere from 1-4 business days, with no guarantee that you will receive a visa), and then take a train.
If you are planning on attending this Fall’s October/ November Canton Fair, I would recommend looking into hotels now, if you haven’t started already. The Canton Fair has partnered with several hotels to offer discounts. Several of the hotels also provide free transportation to the complex or are along the metro line, which stops at the fair.
Prices will become increasingly more inflated the closer you get to phase one (October 15th). Currently, to book a hotel room at the Shangri-La Hotel on October 7th, prices are around $150. For October 15th, at the same hotel, prices are going for close to $400. The inflated prices are only going to go up as time passes.
Above, each red dot is a hotel, within a 10-minute drive from the Canton fair. Keep in mind there are plenty other hotels in the area, these are just the ones Google is promoting. Northwest of this photo there is also a district full of hotels, about a 20-minute drive from the complex. Needless to say there are a ton to choose.
Some people like to wait within 10 days of an event to book rooms since travelers may be canceling and hotels will have to book the rooms somehow. It isn’t recommended for the Canton Fair due to the extremely high demand.
At the Fair
Once you have everything registered you should be good to go to head to China. You can then pick up the badge that you pre-applied for at any of these registration office locations.
Note: Bring your passport everywhere you go in China, especially to the fair!
With all this done, you can take a deep breath and get ready to enjoy your time at the Canton Fair. If worst comes to worst, you can register at the fair (you will have to bring a passport photo, wait in a long line, and pay 200 RMB). Being prepared beforehand and getting that free buyers badge is always a plus.
The official Canton Fair Guide provides more information on fair logistics, instructions, maps, and traveling. Have a great trip and enjoy Guangzhou!
Featured image source: wikimedia.org, tarotastic