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Going to the Canton Fair? Here is your ultimate business travel guide to China in 2024

When traveling to China, ensure you have the proper visa, utilize essential local apps for communication and navigation, and embrace the rich cultural experiences. Prepare for your adventure by understanding local transportation systems, setting up necessary apps, and respecting cultural norms.

Embarking on a journey to China, whether for tourism or business can be an amazing experience. From visiting the Canton Fair, to exploring the different business opportunities in China, Hong Kong and the rest of asia, this comprehensive guide is designed to equip travelers with essential insights into navigating China's vast landscapes, engaging in business, and maximizing their experience.

Preparing for Your Trip to China

1. Visa Application:

To enter China, most travelers will need to secure a visa unless they qualify for visa-free transit, which allows stays of 24, 72, or 144 hours in major cities like Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou. China has also announced a year-long trial of visa-free travel for citizens from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia.

For longer stays, follow these steps:

  • Download and fill out the visa application form from the nearest Chinese embassy's website.

  • Prepare the necessary documents: Ensure your passport has at least six months of validity and two blank pages.

  • Make an appointment at your local Chinese embassy or consulate, submit your documents, and wait approximately four to five business days for processing.

2. Packing Essentials:
  • Travel Documents: Passport, visas, and necessary travel insurance.

  • Currency: While cashless payment is used in the majority, cash is still accepted in many places. Keep some Chinese Yuan handy.

  • Adapters: China uses type A, C, and I plugs, so a universal adapter is recommended.

3. Download Essential Apps:
  • Communication: WeChat is ubiquitous in China for messaging and payments.

  • Navigation: AMaps and Baidu Maps are reliable for getting around.

  • Transportation: Apps like Didi for taxis and for booking trains, flights, and hotels.

  • Translation: Google Translate or Microsoft Translator with offline packages.

Navigating China’s Transportation

Bullet Trains:

China’s high-speed trains are a convenient and efficient way to travel between cities. Use your passport directly at electronic gates at the stations to enter. Tickets can be purchased online via or at the train stations.

Local Metro and Buses:

Cities like Shanghai and Beijing have extensive metro systems. Apps like Alipay can be used to navigate these systems, providing QR codes for entry and exit.


For a smooth experience with taxis, have the address written in Chinese. Apps like Didi (the equivalent of Uber) simplify the process by allowing you to set your destination digitally.

Accessing Apps in China

Due to the Great Firewall, many Western apps are inaccessible in China.

Prepare by:
  • Downloading a VPN before arrival to access services like Google, Facebook, and Instagram. ( Let's VPN and Astrill VPN are the common choices )

  • Setting up a Chinese App Store account if staying longer, to download local apps directly.

Cultural Immersion and Tips

1. Embrace Local Customs:

Try traditional foods, participate in local festivals, and visit community parks. This engagement offers a deeper understanding of Chinese culture and etiquette.

2. Language Barrier:

Learning basic Mandarin phrases or using translation apps can significantly ease interactions. Phrases like "Nǐ hǎo" (Hello) and "Xièxiè" (Thank you) are helpful.

3. Respect Local Norms:

Understand and respect local customs and practices. This includes dress codes at religious sites and general public behavior.

Doing Business in China

Business Environment:

China's market offers unprecedented opportunities intertwined with challenges. Intellectual property rights, negotiation styles, and regulatory frameworks differ significantly from Western practices. Building relationships, known as 'guanxi,' is crucial. Engaging local legal and business consultants can provide significant advantages.

Networking and Meetings:

Business meetings in China typically follow a formal protocol, with an emphasis on hierarchy. Gifts, small and symbolic, may be exchanged as a sign of goodwill. It's crucial to bring bilingual business cards and prepare materials in both English and Mandarin.

Attending the Canton Fair


Held biannually in Guangzhou, the Canton Fair is one of the world's largest trade shows, attracting buyers from around the globe. Registration can be completed online, but ensure to apply well in advance to facilitate smoother entry procedures and accommodation arrangements.

Navigating the Fair:

The fair is massive, showcasing a vast range of products from industrial goods to consumer items. Plan your visit according to the phase that aligns with your business interests. Utilizing the fair’s official app can help in planning your schedule, navigating the complex, and arranging meetings with exhibitors.

Cultural Insights:

Understanding business etiquettes such as the exchange of business cards, negotiation tactics, and the importance of after-hours socializing can profoundly impact your success at the fair. Be prepared for extensive walking and equip yourself with a translation app to overcome language barriers effectively.

If you plan to do business in Asia, consider opening a company in Hong Kong

If you plan to do business in China or Asia, a common strategy would be to open a company in Hong Kong especially as Hong Kong allows 100% foreign ownership for private limited companies .

Known for its robust economy and as a gateway to mainland China, Hong Kong offers a unique blend of advantages.

Firstly, it boasts a highly favorable tax regime, with low personal and corporate taxes, and no VAT or capital gains tax, which can significantly reduce overall operational costs. Secondly, its world-class infrastructure supports efficient logistics and communication, essential for businesses operating internationally.

Additionally, Hong Kong's legal system, grounded in British Common Law, provides a transparent and well-regulated business environment that protects corporate interests and intellectual property rights. Furthermore, the city's cosmopolitan culture and bilingual workforce ease the integration process for international companies.

These factors, combined with Hong Kong's free-market economy and the presence of a highly skilled workforce, make it an ideal location for businesses aiming to expand into the Asian markets.


Traveling through China can be a profoundly rewarding experience that offers insights into both ancient traditions and modern innovations.

Preparation is key—from securing the right visas to downloading essential apps and understanding local transit. By embracing the cultural experiences and navigating the practical aspects of travel in China, you can enrich your journey and create lasting memories.

Opening a company in Hong Kong, schedule a free consultation


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