Optimising your Trip to the Canton Fair

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Will Tjernlund and Danny advise you on optimizing your trip to the Canton Fair to maximize your visit.

Getting a Chinese Visa from the UK

  • Go to the Visa Office
  • Short term or longer term
  • Danny gets a 2 yr business visa costs £265

Getting a Chinese Visa from the US

  • Go to post your passport off to the Consular and they turn it around in 3 months
  • Will flew to Hong Kong and could get a 6 month visa for $150
  • He wanted a 5 year visa for $500
  • Would take 2 days and then turn it around
  • He found a guy who turned it around in 3 hours

Planning the Canton Fair Phases

  • No direct flight to Guangzhou from UK
  • Between the Phases they shut down so plan your trip around the close-downs
  • You might land in Hong Kong first and not go to Phase 1 but be interested in Phase 2
  • Go to HKTDC or Megashow on Hong Kong Island
  • Then the Global Sources show and events
  • Own little Meetups are on – so stay in the right place
  • Stay at the Regal in the Airport for the Trade Shows and Global Sources
  • You would need to travel 30-45 mins to get down to Hong Kong Island

Everyone is in the same Boat

  • Go for 2.5 to 3 weeks
  • Between the shows you might go and visit different factories
  • People go and work from 9am to 3pm and then look for something else to do
  • THere’s a ton of different meetups to go to after hours and learn about Amazon and meet others
  • Networking is huge

Danny’s Nightmare – don’t go Ghetto

  • Make the most of the visit
  • You go to Canton Phase 1 and come in through HK and then 3 hrs to go to Guangzhou to your Hotel
  • Danny went cheap and stayed at Airbnb in the suburbs and it there was NO-ONE there
  • He had no local knowledge and it took him 3 hrs to get to the Fair after a friend texted him the Chinese writing to his phone to show people

Do it the Right Way

  • Get an English speaking hotel sorted with a shuttle to get you back and fore
  • Near the Canton Fair is good
  • Get the shuttle arranged and you can get a ride back too
  • Cabs can be a nightmare with long queues and rip-off prices
  • If you have the money stay at the Western – it’s connected and has a walkway into the show
  • The Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton is all English.
  • Ritz-Carlton has a VPN in there too so Facebook works etc

Long Days – be prepared

  • You start early in the day
  • Hot in the tube stations
  • People are packed in on the trains
  • You are going to be walking 6-8hrs a day – REALLY you are!
  • Wear good comfortable shoes / trainers as you’re walking on concrete floors
  • No dress-code in the Canton fair – anything goes from all over the world
  • So wear comfy stuff – 70-80 degrees F and HUMID
  • Show you want to do business and they suppliers don’t care what you’re dressed like


  • Never take a price offered at the Fair – it’s 20-30% higher at the Fair
  • Will will ask what the things costs but just to get a feel

Documenting your Trip

  • Cataloguing who you spoke to and met with which products
  • Danny has an app that records the business card of the stand and he voice records to text the info on it
  • He also takes a selfie with the stall people to aid his memory when he gets back
  • Will says using the selfie and sending them the photo back when you get in touch so they remember and recognise who you are and what you spoke about
  • Evernote is a similar app for this
  • Gift bag is a nightmare to carry around and collect stuff


  • Use wechat for text comms
  • Whatsapp is good too
  • Gmail or Yahoo could be blocked so have another email account you can use
  • Use the Microsoft app called ‘Translate’ and download so you can see what the menu is saying if in Chinese

Hotel Bookings

  • Tripadvisor
  • Laterooms
  • Hotels.com
  • AirBnB
  • Jetlag
  • From UK it’s 8hrs ahead and 12 from US

VPN / wi-fi

  • Danny uses Express VPN
  • Set it up before you go
  • Go to the Kiosk for a wi-fi device you can get from just outside or around the airport for $30 for the week – much better than running around and buying SIMS for your phone through the week


  • Make sure you’ve figured the cash and your credit cards are ok and don’t get blocked when you start transactions in China

Canton Fair App

  • It is huge (26 soccer fields) so you need the app to find your way around and get to the Zones you want to see
  • Go to Canton website and download the plan before you leave
  • Phase 2 is the best Amazon product phase

Crossing the Border

  • Start in Hong Kong and get a car service to get you across and back out about $200
  • It’s nothing like a vacation – a lot of work involved
  • It will be a crazy but enjoyable week
  • Attending meetups in the evening and find out about them via wechat
  • Go do it and have fun

Cross Border Summit

  •  Go to crossbordersummit.com
  • Learn about M to C rather than B to C – the new model that shows products going manufacturer to consumer and Amazon is all about it