The Nanfang / Blog


How to avoid problems at the Canton Fair

Posted: 01/27/2012 5:53 pm

The Canton Fair is slowly creeping up on us (didn’t the last one just end?) and already purchasers around the world are gearing up to visit our fair city.

For locals, the Canton Fair means it’s a pain to find a taxi or eat at our favorite restaurants.  But for visitors, like visiting any other city in China, coming to Guangzhou can mean many hassles and headaches.

One retail-focused website has already put together a list of the top 10 “don’ts” for the throngs of laowai planning to visit Guangzhou for the fair.  As people familiar with Guangzhou, are these accurate?  Here are the first five:

1. Come without your documents prepared. Complete your registration forms before you arrive, and have a passport-sized photo with you so you can get your guest pass badge organised efficiently. The other option is to pick up your entry badge at one of the 30 Overseas Buyers Registration offices, set up at appointed hotels.

2. Waste money on an interpreter. People will try to sell you interpreter services before you walk in, but in fact, everyone at the Fair can speak a reasonable amount of English. Save your money for making deals!

3. Stay in a hotel without handy transport. When choosing your hotel, ensure that it has regular bus services to and from the Fair, and that it is within walking distance to the nearest subway station. Don’t count on being able to get a taxi, especially after the end of each Fair day.

4. Go dressed in a suit. Savvy Canton Fair-goers know they will do a lot of walking, and dress casually and comfortably as a result. The few people wearing business attire stand out, and not in a good way. You’ll get more respect and better deals from the suppliers if you don’t look like a novice.

5. Use sarcasm. Throwing some sarcasm or irony into your speech is commonplace in the West, but any such witticisms will miss the mark completely in China. Not only will your new Chinese acquaintances not “get” any sarcastic jokes, they will probably be confused and alienated as well.

You can check out the other ones here.  The Canton Fair kicks off this year on April 15 and will run in three phases through mid-May.


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