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Guide to Visiting Guangzhou For Business Or Leisure Travel Guangzhou Trading Center of ChinaGuangzhou, the 3rd largest city in China is located in the southeastern part, has a population of 12 million people. This ancient city having its roots going back to 200 BC has been an important trading port. Old Buddhist temples to colonial charms of the rustic Shamian island to ultra modern Zhu Jiang New town, Guangzhou offers an eclectic mix of old and new. Its proximity to Hongkong, well developed wholesale trading centers and excellent infrastructure makes it an ideal entry point for business traveler to China. It is a leading economic and manufacturing regions and key city of the Pearl River Delta region. It is also host of largest biannual Chinese trade fairs commonly known as Canton fair held at Pazhou, outskirts of Guangzhou city. Guangzhou has a subtropical climate so summers (June August) are hot and humid with temperatures soaring up to 35 degree centigrade while winters are mild never going below freezing point. The rainy season is in the month of July and August but May and June also get a fair share of rain. Do plan on packing light cotton or linen suits except for winters. Best time to visit Guangzhou is between November to March. Tips for first time traveler to GuangzhouThose visiting Canton fair should try to book a hotel in advance. Canton fair is held twice a year in April and October. Avoid coming during traditional Chinese holiday seasons that is Chinese New Year, Labor week (First week of May) and Golden week (First week of October) as most of the offices are closed. Most of businesspersons prefer to ditch necktie unless attending for conferences, seminars, trade fairs or similar formal business meetings. Many websites including Twitter, Facebook and up to an extent google (advanced mail features, google docs) will not work in China without using VPN services. Chinese Visa. Do I Need One?With exception of Hongkong and Macau, one needs a valid visa to enter any part of China. Visa can be obtained by applying to the Chinese Embassy in your country. If there is no Embassy in your country you can also apply to Chinese Embassy located in a country near you. Valid passport having expiry date more than six months A letter of invitation from the company inviting you (for business visa only) 2 photographs (size 50 x 50 mm) with white background Visa fee (US$ 130 for US citizen, others US$ 30) Travel visa is easier to get than business visa. It generally takes less than a week to obtain visa. Business visa is generally granted for 3 months to one year period with a maximum stay of 30 days per entry period. If you need to stay for over 30 days you can extend your Chinese visa in China by visiting local Public Security Bureau office. Documents needed and extension periods depends where you apply. In general, smaller cities may involve less paperwork and give extension next day whereas cities like Beijing and Shanghai may be more strict. Visa extension is generally granted for one month and there is no additional fee. How to get to GuangzhouMost of the visitors choose to come directly to Guangzhou via flight or come via Hong Kong. Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport () offers regular commercial flight service to major international and domestic destination. However many people prefer to come via Hong Kong because of the availability of cheap international flight tickets. Guangzhou is well connected with other cities in China so one can find a suitable Train/Air/Bus connection to suit individual needs. Visitors coming from Hong Kong have one of the following Choices: There is direct bus service from Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) to Gunagzhou. Typical fare is HK 250 one way offered by many companies located at ground level of the terminal 2 building. They all offer similar service so choose one with earlier departure time. There is also a once a day ferry service from HKIA to Nan Sha port near Guangzhou but I never used it. In addition, there are regular ferry service from China Hong Kong City Terminal or Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal located at the Shun Tak Center, Central in Hong Kong. Here you can get a ferry to Lian Hua Shan, Panyu and Nan Sha port all a bit far from Guangzhou so be prepared for additional taxi/bus ride upon arrival. Another practical way is to take cross boarder train from Hung Hom station to Guangzhou East station. The train service is regular at hourly interval and the ticket price is HK$ 190 per adult. You can also take west line KCR local train (every 5 minutes from the Hong Ham station) to Lo Wu cross border via a footbridge and take a bus or train from the other side in Shenzhen to Guangzhou. I do not recommend first time traveler try it. Public Transport in GuangzhouTaxies in Guangzhou are plenty and available any time of the day except during evening peak hours. All taxis in Guangzhou are equipped with electronic fare meters. The flag down is RMB 10 for the first 2.6 kilometers and thereafter 1 RMB for every 200 meters. The passenger is required to pay all toll charges. Guangzhou, especially after Asian games, has developed a decent subway network covering the entire city with 8 lines. Operation hours from 6 am to 11:30 pm. The fare varies with distance starting from 2 RMB to 14 RMB. The metro map is color coded and easy to decipher. There are signs and announcement in English inside the metro. You can buy tickets from ticket vending machine located inside the station or use an integrated transport smart card know as Yang Cheng Tong. It is similar to MetroCard in New York or Oyster Card in London and can be used in any public transport as well in stores like 7 11 Tips for surviving Guangzhou taxi rideMost of driver cannot speak any English so print out address written in Chinese beforehand. Fake notes are common in China so check before taking them. One easy way to check Mao's collar printed on every currency note. If it has a dotted texture and color can be rubbed on paper chances are it is a genuine bill. Take fare receipt as they are helpful in tracing the taxi if in case you left behind your belongings. Common taxi help line number is 96900