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How to Find Suppliers by Visiting China?

Section 5: The Guide to Discovering Chinese Suppliers by Travelling to China

In my previous blog, we’ve explored four online methods to discover Chinese suppliers. However, many prefer a hands-on approach and choose to visit China for sourcing products. This can seem daunting for those who’ve never been to China or haven’t engaged in purchasing from the country before.

This section aims to guide you through three principal ways to find reliable suppliers and original manufacturers during your visit to China. We will also discuss practical tactics used by expert importers to interact with suppliers and manufacturers. We will discuss:

  • Tips for Your Journey to China
  • Discovering Suppliers in China Trade Shows
  • Unearthing Suppliers in Chinese Wholesale Markets
  • Locating Suppliers by Investigating Industrial Clusters

Preparing for Your Visit to China

Understand the Border Entry & Exit Regulations

COVID-19 has led to stringent border controls. So, before visiting China, confirm the necessary border entry and exit permissions. You can inquire about the related policies with the Chinese embassy in your country.

Install a VPN

The Chinese government restricts access to websites like Google, Facebook, and YouTube. A reliable VPN will allow your devices to operate as they would back home. Astrill is a good VPN choice. It’s not free, but it’s worth the cost.

Download an Interpretation App

Concerned about the language barrier or cultural differences? Dismiss those worries by installing an interpretation app. The iFLY Voice Input App is a great choice. It offers real-time Chinese to English interpretation and is free. If you can afford it, hiring an interpreter is a more efficient option, though it might cost $50 to $100 per day.

1. Discovering Suppliers at China Trade Shows

Whether your business is small or large, trade shows are a great way to discover suppliers offline. Trade show suppliers are either manufacturers or trading companies. Therefore, you can expect competitive prices provided you can meet the minimum order quantity, usually around $500 to $1,000 for a single product.

Thousands of trade shows take place annually in China, classified into comprehensive trade shows covering a wide product range, and specialized trade shows focused on a specific industry.

The Biggest Trade Show in China: Canton Fair

The Canton Fair is China’s largest comprehensive trade show, boasting an incredibly broad product range. Held twice yearly in Guangzhou, it has three phases each time.


Canton Fair Schedule

Canton Fair Schedule

Phase 14.15-4.19 (Spring), 10.15- 10.19 (Autumn)Automotive, Electronics, Building & Construction, Industrial Products, Engineering
Phase 24.23-4.27 (Spring), 10.23-10.27 (Autumn)Home & Office, Furniture, Toys & Games, Gifts, Cosmetics, Arts & Crafts
Phase 35.1-5.5 (Spring), 10.31-11.4 (Autumn)Home & Office, Food & Beverage, Fashion & Beauty, Health Industry, Textile & Fabrics

Each phase showcases different product categories, with a three-day gap between phases. If your products of interest span multiple phases, be prepared for additional waiting days.

Recommended Trade Shows in Hong Kong

Aside from the Canton Fair in Guangzhou, Hong Kong is another great city to explore trade shows for Chinese suppliers. It hosts various industry-specific trade shows. Here are a few top picks:

Hong Kong Electronics Fair

  • Dates: 13 April – 16.AI Assistant<|im_sep|># Import from China Guide: How to Find Suppliers in Person

Welcome back to the Import from China Guide! In the previous section, we discussed various online methods to locate Chinese suppliers. However, some entrepreneurs prefer an on-ground approach, visiting China directly to source their goods. For beginners, this could be daunting, but not to worry! This guide will elucidate three key ways to discover trustworthy suppliers and manufacturers on Chinese soil. These include:

  • Preparation for your visit to China
  • Attending China’s Trade Shows
  • Exploring China’s Wholesale Markets
  • Discovering Industrial Clusters in China

Prepping for Your Chinese Adventure

Understanding Border Entry & Exit Restrictions

Post-COVID-19, various countries imposed stringent border controls. Thus, check with the Chinese embassy in your home country to understand entry and exit policies.

Setting Up a VPN

Google, Facebook, YouTube, and many other websites are restricted in mainland China. For seamless connectivity, use a reliable VPN like Astrill (though it’s not free, it’s worth the investment).

Downloading an Interpreter App

Don’t let language barriers deter you. The iFLY Voice Input App provides real-time English-Chinese translations. For a more hands-on approach, consider hiring an interpreter, usually costing between $50-$100 per day.

1. Discovering Suppliers at China Trade Shows

Trade shows offer an excellent platform to find suppliers offline. Here, manufacturers and trading companies offer competitive prices for minimum order quantities usually between $500-$1,000 per product.

Comprehensive Trade Shows

Canton Fair is the largest trade show in China, presenting a broad array of product categories. This biannual event occurs in Guangzhou with three phases each time.

Phase 14.15-4.19 (Spring), 10.15-10.19 (Autumn)Automotive, Electronics, Building & Construction, Industrial Products, Engineering
Phase 24.23-4.27 (Spring), 10.23-10.27 (Autumn)Home & Office, Furniture, Toys & Games, Gifts, Cosmetics, Arts & Crafts
Phase 35.1-5.5 (Spring), 10.31-11.4 (Autumn)Home & Office, Food & Beverage, Fashion & Beauty, Health Industry, Textile & Fabrics

Specialized Trade Shows

Hong Kong Electronics Fair, Hong Kong Gifts & Premiere Fairs, and MEGA SHOW are three notable specialized trade shows. Held in Hong Kong, they provide a wide range of specific industry products. We recommend obtaining a Chinese visa that allows visits to both Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

For more information on other trade shows, check out or (translated into English via Google).

2. Finding Suppliers in Chinese Wholesale Markets

Wholesale markets, such as Yiwu Market and the ones in Guangzhou, are ideal for those who want to buy diverse products in smaller quantities. Both comprehensive and specialized wholesale markets exist, with some offering even lower prices than trade shows or online platforms.

3. Locating Suppliers in Industrial Clusters

Searching for the original manufacturer cuts out middlemen, reducing purchasing costs. Many manufacturers avoid trade shows and Alibaba, relying on trading companies to sell their products. These manufacturers can be found more easily in industrial clusters.

For instance, Shaoxing Keqiao has the world’s largest fabric trading business and is only 90 kilometers away from Yiwu. Similarly, Huaqiangbei Market in

Shenzhen is known as the “Silicon Valley of Hardware”. In such clusters, you can not only find manufacturers but also a vast network of businesses related to the industry, which might prove valuable in the long run.

Be aware, though, that such trips to industrial clusters can be more challenging than going to trade shows or wholesale markets, as these manufacturers may not be accustomed to dealing with foreign customers directly. Hence, it’s advisable to hire an interpreter or guide.

Post-Visit Follow-Up

Once you’ve made contacts and found potential suppliers, don’t forget the important step of follow-up. Keep in touch with your new contacts, ask further questions, negotiate terms, and build a relationship. Your on-ground trip to China can be a fantastic opportunity to jump-start your importing business, but it’s just the first step of many.

Additional Tips

  1. Business Etiquette: Chinese business culture places great emphasis on relationships and face-to-face communication. A personal visit shows commitment and can create a good impression.
  2. Sampling: Always ask for samples during your visit. This allows you to verify product quality and can help prevent misunderstandings later.
  3. Due Diligence: Even when dealing in person, remember to perform your due diligence. Verify company legitimacy, production capabilities, and quality control procedures.


While this guide should equip you with the necessary tools to locate suppliers on your visit to China, it’s essential to remember that patience and perseverance are key to success. Expect some hurdles along the way, but with careful planning and attention to detail, you can make the most of your trip and establish valuable connections for your business.

I hope this guide is helpful for you. Best of luck with your import adventure!

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