If you follow the podcast, you know that my family recently decided to move to China for a few months, both for business, travel, and in the hopes of our daughter (and me!) picking up better Mandarin. Our timing though also coincides with many people making their way over to China for the Canton Fair, Global Sources shows/conference, and other events in October. This post is a summary of events happening in China in October and also some brief itinerary guidance.

What’s Going On in October?

One of the main reasons to make a trip to China in October is because of the sheer number of events going on during the month in the Pearl River Region of China (Hong Kong/Shenzhen/Guangzhou/etc). October attracts a huge number of store owners and professional buyers planning for the next year and trying to get orders in before Chinese New Year in February.

With the growth of ecommerce, October and May are now attracting a large number of events geared towards ecommerce store owners. The largest of these events is the Global Sources Summit which Mike will be speaking at twice. Meghla Bhardwaj from Global Sources, the organizer of the show, has been working hard to improve the second edition of the show and if you have the time I definitely recommend checking it out as it’s one of the few events I know that is targeted explicitly to private labelers. On October 21, Mike and I will both be attending an informal networking event, specifically for Ecommerce Fuel members and then making the trek over to the Canton Fair. If you’re a reader of this blog and will be in Hong Kong around this time, leave a comment below and we’d love to find a time to connect.

Planning Your Itinerary

Most people when they head over to China seem to either do it in a 1 week trip or a 2 week trip.

The 1 Week Trip

If you’re doing a Saturday to Saturday trip, time will be tight. You lose a day on the flight over (literally) and most of the day of your arrival plus a large chunk of the day when you fly out. You can reasonably fly into and out of Hong Kong, which is much a softer landing than China, and still make the commute into the Canton Fair, which is about a 3 hour train from Hong Kong. Give yourself 2 nights in Hong Kong, 3 nights in Guangzhou, and then a buffer day for anything else. If you’re planning on visiting any suppliers outside of the Pearl River region it’ll be very difficult.

The 2 Week Trip

A two week trip is a much less rushed trip, especially if you want to visit one of the main shows (Canton Fair/Global Sources/Hong Kong Mega Show), attend an event, and visit a factory or two. My favorite strategy for a 2 week trip is to fly into and out of different cities, i.e. into Hong Kong and out of Shanghai. The price is normally not much more and I save myself an extra flight (and the time that goes with it). For me it makes sense as all the trade shows and events are in southern China but many of my factories are in central China.

Do China Solo or Join a Group?

Over the next month, I’ll be welcoming two friends, who also run 7-figure ecommerce companies, over to China for the first time. Neither has ever ventured over to China, despite both having done millions of dollars in trade with China, because of the intimidation factor. Likely because of this perceived difficulty in traveling to China, I’ve seen numerous people and groups offering guided Canton Fair/Yiwu/etc. trips to China, often in the $5,000-$10,000 range.

China is one of the safest countries to travel in and, owing to the fact it is still relatively new to foreign tourists, it doesn’t have the same massive problem of touts and scammers that other developing countries have (although it’s not immune to them either). But it is a developing country with nasty language difficulties. Making the trek to Canton Fair on your own can be more challenging than going to a trade show in America or Europe but it’s totally doable for anyone on their own. Hong Kong, on the other hand, is arguably easier to travel to than most countries in Europe.

If you’re considering paying for an organized group to China, I strongly suggest first becoming involved in one of the many online communities out there geared towards ecommerce store owners and private labelers. There’s countless groups on Facebook (search for Amazon FBA and you’ll find countless groups such as this one for Canadians that I’m part of), numerous intimate online forums such as EcommerceFuel, and even WeChat groups like the one above. Most of these communities have numerous members pilgrimaging to Asia for the Canton Fair and it’s a great way to meet like-minded people and travel with the comfort of others.

Further Reading

The Canton Fair is the Mecca of China Trade Shows

If you’re making your way over to China then below are a collection of some excellent articles Mike and I have put together over the years on visiting and traveling within China.


If you’re sourcing from China, or looking to source from China, there’s no better time to do it than October and April. During each of these times of year, the Canton Fair attracts a slough of events and shows geared towards product brands and private labelers much like the Oscars attracts similar events for Hollywood. Are you going to be in China in October? If so, what events and/or shows will you be attending?