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Planning to attend a trade fair or two in Shanghai, but not sure where to start? Shanghai is perhaps not as big in the trade show space, like Guangzhou and Hong Kong – but the city still has plenty to offer international buyers in many industries.
In this article, we will give you some guides before attending a trade fair in Shanghai, including how to obtain a visa, invitation letters, transportation and where you should stay.
In addition, you will also learn how to city measures up compared to its two biggest competitors in the south; Hong Kong and Guangzhou.
But first, an overview of relevant Shanghai trade shows in 2020.
Trade Fair Overview
Below follows a list of export-oriented trade shows, held in Shanghai, during 2020:
Health & fitness
IWF Shanghai 2020 (Health & Fitness)
China Sport Show 2020
CMEH 2020 – The 28th China (Shanghai) International Medical Devices
Apparel & Textiles
East China Fair 2020
Smart Garments 2020
Shanghai AD & Sign 2020
2020 Shanghai HD Screen and Digital Signage Expo
Light Shanghai Expo 2020
SEMICON China 2020
LASER World of PHOTONICS CHINA 2020
CVS 2020 (China International Self-service, Kiosk, Vending Show)
Prolight + Sound SHANGHAI 2020
Electrical Shanghai 2020
Home, Construction & Furniture
R+T Asia 2020 (Blinds and shutters)
IBCTF 2020 (International Building & Construction Trade Fair)
KBC 2020 (Kitchen & Bath)
CIFF 2020 – The 43rd International Furniture Fair (Shanghai) 2020
TIM Expo Shanghai 2020 (Thermal Insulation Material, Waterproof Material & Energy-saving Technology)
Food & Beverage
NHNE 2020 (Natural Health & Nutrition)
Toys & Children’s Products
CBME China 2020 – The 20th Shanghai Children Baby Maternity Products Expo
Printing & Packaging
China Print East (2020)
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Notice that it normally takes about a week to get a business visa issued, so apply well in advance. At the time of writing, ‘visa on arrival’ is not available for Mainland China.
Registration and Invitation Letters
As mentioned, a trade show invitation letter may be used to obtain a business visa. That said, invitation letters (or pre-registration letters), may also enable buyers to visit the trade show free of charge.
In most cases, pre-registration and invitation letter application can be done directly on the trade show website.
Once you arrive at the trade show in Pudong, you may also need to register. Normally, all you need is your name and company details.
They may also require to see your passport, so bring a copy with you at least.
How to Get to Shanghai and the Shanghai New International Expo Centre
Pudong International Airport (PVG) is the primary entry point for international travelers in Shanghai.
As hinted by its name, it is located in Pudong, which is the same district in which most trade shows are held in Shanghai.
Shanghai has some of the best (if not the best) infrastructure in Mainland China, with links directly from their airport to the city’s main trade show venue, Shanghai New International Expo Centre – on Longyang road.
To get there, all you need to do is to take the Maglev train – the world’s fastest train in commercial operation – for a mere RMB 50 (around $8.5). There is only one stop, Longyang road, so you can’t miss it.
From the Longyang road station (yes, the station is named after the street), you’ll just walk for 10 minutes before you arrive at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre.
If you intend to go elsewhere in Shanghai, I still suggest that you take the Maglev to Longyang Road station, as it links up with Shanghai’s sprawling subway network – giving you rapid access to the entire city.
You may, of course, take a taxi, but that’ll just take a lot more time. Not to mention that it’s not nearly as interesting as riding a flying train! (Yes, technically the Magnetic Levitation train hovers about one centimeter above the rail).
Hotels in Shanghai (near the trade show venues)
If you intend to visit a trade show in Shanghai, you don’t necessarily need to stay right next to the venue.
Both of Shanghai’s exhibition venues are in Pudong, which is generally focused on industry and finance – while Puxi (separated by the river) is where the action is.
Shanghai is a gigantic city. In fact, by the measure of ‘city proper’, it’s the largest city in the world. Luckily, Shanghai also hosts the world’s longest metro system, providing city dwellers and visitors with low cost and fast transportation anywhere in the city.
Thus, you may want to consider a hotel in any of the following, slightly more pleasant, areas:
Xintiandi and Huaihai road
Xujiahui and Xinhua road
Nanjing West Road and Jing’an Temple
Whenever you need to get to and from the trade show, you can take metro line 2 back to Longyang road.
If you attend a trade show at the Shanghai Exhibition Center on Nanjing West Road, the locations above are even more convenient.
Are trade shows in Shanghai better or worse than those in Hong Kong and Guangzhou?
Despite its history and current position as the financial center of Mainland China, Shanghai is not as prominent when it comes to international trade.
Indeed, Shanghai has one of the world’s largest ports, and there are as many trading companies in Shanghai as in Guangdong.
Yet, Shanghai’s trade shows are not as big, or well known, as those in Hong Kong and Guangzhou – which includes the world-famous Canton fair.
Well, perhaps not to international buyers at least.
While I generally find it hard to compare trade shows, my impression is that Shanghai’s trade shows are more often focused on the domestic Chinese market, compared to trade shows in Hong Kong and Guangzhou.
That said, the trade fairs in Hong Kong and Guangzhou are mainly concentrated in April / May and October / November. Shanghai is hosting many interesting trade shows in between the big shows in those two cities.
Thus, you may want to double-check that the trade show is not focused on the domestic market, rather than exports, before you book your tickets to the pearl of the orient, Shanghai.
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Co-founder of Asiaimportal (HK) Limited and based in Hong Kong. He has been quoted in and contributed to Bloomberg, SCMP, Alibaba Insights, Globalsources.com, China Chief Executive, Quartz Magazine and more.
Hey there, I’m Fredrik!
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