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More and more people are traveling to China for business purposes as China continue to open up to the world's economy at a most aggressive pace. We show you tips on how to plan for your first business trip to China.


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Chinese business tip: The best way to plan a business trip to China 

In all the major international airports in China, airlines after airlines are discharging business people from all over the world as China continues to engage the world's economy. If you happen to be planning your first business trip to China, why not check through some of the helpful tips we have for you.

Prepare well before travel

1. Ensure you have applied for a visa to travel to China (Read Visa application)
2. Change plenty of Reminbi notes as credit cards and US dollars are not widely accepted
3. Reserve hotel rooms and domestic air tickets ahead especially if travelling during golden travel peak periods in China.
4. Prepare a small medical kit as you may fall sick from the local food or from too much hectic travel
5. Have a handy English to Chinese phrase book as most Chinese do not speak nor understand English (Check our basic Chinese guide)
6. Get a useful business guide on insider guide to Chinese business culture
7. Prepare mentally that some parts of China will be crowded, nosiy and dirty

Plan your time-table

Always plan well ahead.

Where possible, avoid planning any kind of travel on the three golden weeks in China;

1. Two weeks during Chinese New Year (Likely to be late January or early February each year)
2. The first week of May (May day holidays)
3. First week of October (National Day holidays)

These are weeks where every Chinese would also be on holidays. This create an incredible crush on air, land and sea transport systems as well as hotels, restaurants and tourist sights. Always plan for trips before or after the golden weeks and never during, unless you don't mind being crushed by millions of Chinese on holiday as well.

If you are travelling to a particular city, do check that there is no major trade convention or exhibition going on in that city. If you happen to travel during a major event, chances are, you will not be able to get a hotel room or a plane ticket. Of course, if you are travelling specially for that major event, than you will still need to go but do book early and be prepared for jacked up hotel prices.

Some of these major Chinese conventions and exhibitions include the annual Import-Export Fair in Canton, Fashion Fair in Dalian, International Investment Fair in Xiamen, World Business Convention in Shanghai, Enterprise IT Fair in Beijing etc.

These exhibition and trade fairs would be a good place to pick up new business contacts, suppliers and customers.

Travel China and Asia

At the airport

Chinese businessmen are very hospitable and most of the time, they will insist on meeting and picking you up from the airport if you have prior arrangements with your Chinese business counterparts. Most major Chinese airports are at least one hour or more from the city and hence, it is wise to advize your flight details and arrival time way before you travel so that your Chinese counterpart can make early arrangements.

If there are no one picking you up from the airport, then make sure you have your hotel or the business address of your business contacts readily available and preferably written in Chinese characters before arriving in China.

If you have not booked a hotel, then approach the travel desk of the airport and book directly at the travel desk. Prices are usually better than walk-in rate and there is usually a complimentary ride to the hotel.

Otherwise, just join the taxi line and show the taxi driver your hotel name and address, preferably again in Chinese characters. Taxis are meter regulated and taxi drivers are generally not out to cheat by taking longer routes.

Private touts may approach you at the airport or your hotel. Avoid these touts at all cost.

Plan your time with your Chinese business counterpart

Plan your time wisely if you are meeting your Chinese business contacts or visiting business premises. Business discussions in China tend to be at a slower pace than what we are used to and often long lunches and dinners are part and parcel of a business discussion.

Hence, plan for twice as long as what you may normally expect that event to last. If the business premise is not in town, be prepared for a few hours of driving as it would not be surprising if the nearest industrial park or city is a few hours drive away.

If your Chinese counterpart do not have an in-house translater but depends on a part-time translator, be prepared for atrocious translation and lost messages. Try to bring your own translator or hire a qualified translator through one of the better business agencies in China.

After work entertainment is considered part of the Chinese business culture and it would be rude to turn it down. Be prepared to return to your hotel late every night with long dinner, heavy drinking and a dose of karaoke singing thrown in.

If you would like to learn more about Chinese business culture or way of life, please check out this China ebook.


For more information about Chinese way of life and to prevent cultural shock, check out this interesting China Book. Or email us for further information.