We've entertained dozens of guests from all over the world. China is often considered a difficult country to visit, but we can help you make your trip a breeze.
A typical factory tour lasts 3 days. However, you can stay in China as long as you would like and we can help you organize excursions to touristic locations like the Great Wall, Terracotta Warriors or shopping sprees. China is a land that is impossibly vast and fascinatingly diverse. It remains a travel destination with an unquestionable mystique. It is a very special and interesting culture to discover. There are many interesting things to do and see in China. Whether you love museums or are into the night life, the choices of activities are wide and varied.
This guide is a simple overview of the trips that many have taken before. There are many ways to visit China and more things to do and see then you could fit in a lifetime. It is by no means comprehensive and you are welcome to travel any way and see anything that you'd like. We've just simplified things a little for people who have never travelled to this part of the world before.
Your first step before booking a flight should be to obtain a Chinese visa. This needs to be done in conjunction with the Chinese embassy in your country. You’ll want to ask us for a letter of invitation. Also remember that the ease of getting your visa will depend on your country or residency. Most first world country citizens have little trouble. If you are from a developing nation, it may be quite difficult, but we are happy to assist you through the process.
Try to get a multiple entry visa as it’ll enable you to re-enter China if need be. When you are ready to book your flight, be sure to check with us first. There are many, many holidays in China and our western management is often travelling as well. Your best bet for a trip is to avoid the hectic Chinese holidays and make sure we are here to accommodate you fully. When you book your flight, aim for Hong Kong (HKG) or Guangzhou (CA). Flights between North America and Hong Kong are the cheapest way to fly to China. Try to get flight times such that you land in Hong Kong as early as possible in the day.
When you arrive in Hong Kong, you may wish to exchange some money. The exchange rate is not especially good at the airport, but it is quick and hassle free. You can normally get Chinese RMB out at many different bank machines in China, but you may need to make multiple transactions to get any large amounts out.
Pretty well any time is fine with us, but once again, check with us first. Our western staff at the factory frequently visit customers and suppliers from around the world. You really do not want to get stuck in China during a week long holiday when the entire country shuts down.
Often customers will plan their visit around the Canton Fair. It is the largest exhibition in the world, lasts three weeks and takes place twice a year, October and April. Check out their website for exact dates of the showcases that interest you. www.cantonfair.org.cn
The summers in southern China are extremely hot. If you are sensitive to the heat, we suggest you come around October/November or March/April. You can anticipate your hotel, most cars and our meeting rooms at the factory to be air conditioned, but many restaurants and taxi's are not. It can get a little chilly in December and January, so keep this in mind as well. Ask us what clothing to bring closer to your departure date.
It is a long trip. If you are flying from North America, you are looking at a long 13 to 16 hour flight. From France it is 12 hours. Australia is not so bad at only 5 or 6 hours. It will take an additional 3 hours to make it from Hong Kong to our location in Dongguan. Arm yourself with lots of patience.
- Your Flight Info
- Chinese money (RMB)
- A little Hong Kong money to eat at airport if needed. (Usually, RMB is accepted at airport but not outside the airport)
- Neck Pillow and other sleeping aids (mask, earplugs, sleeping pills)
- Wear comfortable clothes
- Wet Naps and other hygiene products (toothbrush and small toothpaste, deodorant in small travel formats or security will confiscate them)
- Purell or hand cleaner
- Medication (Think of heartburn and other digestive issues that can come with eating while traveling)
- Entertainment, lots of it! You can never have too much entertainment with you.
- Headphones (Comfortable ones)
The plane will likely have DVD released movies on a 7-inch screen and will provide you with a cheap set of headphones. If you watch a lot of movies, you might have seen most of the good ones already. You need to bring your own entertainment just in case. It will make the flight go by much faster. Maybe you like to read comics, novels, watch movies or TV shows. Nowadays, with tablets being so affordable, you can do all that. Download your favorite TV shows and charge your tablet. There may be no USB or electric outlets on the plane. Your tablet should last you 5 hours or so. Make sure you anticipate that. If you have any power packs get them charged before your trip. Don’t forget you will have to wait at the airport too. But there should be electrical outlets available there if you hunt for them. Take advantage of that.
Try to avoid the middle seat at all cost. You will have to fight for both armrests the whole trip if you get caught in the middle. The window seat allows you to lean against the wall with a couple of pillows and you won’t be bothered by people going to the washroom. The isle seat allows you a little more side room but you might be knocked by people walking by and bothered by people getting up to use the washroom. If you don’t need to get up often yourself we suggest the window seat. You might be able to select your seat a few hours prior to your flight. If you can get an empty middle seat beside you, it is the best option as it will allow you additional storage and arm space.
Most airlines limit checked-in luggage to 22 kg and carry on to 10 kg. Try to make sure you have everything you need in one carry on like a backpack, as you will very likely be able to check in your second carry on at the boarding gate for free and avoid carrying it with you. The overhead compartments are overfilled during those long flights and you might have to put your second bag far away from your seat if there is any room at all.
If you cannot sleep on an airplane like many, you might benefit from over the counter sleeping aids. If you can sleep 8 hours, the flight will only seem to be 8 hours long. Be sure to check with your doctor before taking any medication.
Make sure to bring anything that will help you sleep or make you comfortable. A good neck pillow is a must. Don’t cheap out on that. Take a sleeping mask if you need it, earplugs if you need them and any kind of medication you might need in a twenty-four hour period. Headache pills, heartburn pills (airplane food sucks), gastrointestinal pills, anything you think might come in handy. It is difficult to find medication you need in China.
Bring snacks with you. Your internal clock might not be synched with the flight schedule and you might miss meals while you sleep and wake up hungry. Nut mixes, chips, anything you like. There should always be water available at the back of the plane.
Depending on everyone’s schedules, we may be able to meet you in Hong Kong. If that is not the case, do not panic, you will be very tired from your trip but if you hang in there a little longer you will get there.
If you’re hungry, there will be a McDonald’s and other food places at the airport. Eat before you leave, it will take 2 to 3 hours to get to Dongguan.
Once ready, head down to the busses and taxis. You will see kiosks for Sky Limo. Those are clean and comfortable minivans. You can get a ticket to the Dongcheng International Hotel in Nancheng for around 200 RMB (about $40USD). This will take you across the Hong Kong border and into mainland China. You will fill in a customs form in the van on the way. The driver will ask for your form and passport when you get to the border.
It takes about one hour from the airport to the border and another hour and twenty minutes from the border to Dongguan. It is possible that you have to change minivan along the way, so do not be surprised. You may also need to walk across the border with your luggage.
Alternatively, for about 1400 RMB (about $200USD), we can arrange a private car to greet you at the airport and take you all the way to our factory. This is the quickest and easiest way to travel.
We will pick you up at the Dongcheng International Hotel upon your arrival and take you to a hotel near our factory.
The more adventurous amongst our visitors will take the train from Hong Kong to the bus station in Luo Hu (Shenzhen), then travel by bus to Dongguan and then take a taxi or local bus to our factory.
For some customers, flying directly into into Guangzhou is more convenient and cheaper. Anticipate a little more of a hassle at customs and longer lines. We can send our own company driver to meet you at the airport and bring you to our factory and your hotel.
When you head back to the airport, you can simply reverse the way you came. Most customer opt to take a private car directly to the airport from their hotel in Dongguan for about 1400 RMB (about $225USD). This is simply because most of the time the shared cars and busses leave at inconvenient times from Dongguan making the trip home even longer then it needs to be.
You may also decide to stay in Shenzhen for several nights before your return home to do some shopping, golf and other activities which are abundant in that border town.
Our location, we believe, is one of the best possible in southern China. We are located in a small foreign industrial park only 15 minutes from the Nancheng and Dongcheng downtown areas. As far as Chinese industrial areas go, it is very clean. There is a small area only 6 km from us called Xiping that has most of everything you might need. McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, foreign grocery stores, foot massages etc... There is a Walmart a little further away and lots of small bars, cafes and beer places. There is a large Botanical park 2 kilometers away if you like walking and cycling. There is a water park with newly installed slides and a large swimming pool maybe 3 km from the factory. There is a skating rink at the One Mall not far from us as well.
We have been at our current location for a little more than two years now and have found most of the good spots around. If you are looking for something in particular send us an e-mail.
Although many or even most of the products that you use in daily life originate in China, it can be quite challenging to find the exact products that you want at a reasonable price. If there are specific items that you’d like to buy that are not listed in this section, it may be a good idea to try and source it over the internet first. Alibaba.com and Madeinchina.com are two excellent resources to start with. We also may be able to help as we have several purchasers on staff.
– The money in China is called the Renmin Yinhang or Yuan, but it is denoted as the RMB. US and foreign currencies are not accepted anywhere and you’ll have to exchange your money at a bank, local money changer or ideally at the airport where this give the best rates, fast service and no hassle. The exchange rate at the time of this writing is about 6.5RMB to the USD and 6.2RMB to the CAD. Only large hotels and extremely upscale stores (genuine Rolex, Gucci etc…) will accept credit cards (only Visa and MasterCard). You may take money out on your debit card and or credit cards at ATMs throughout the country, but you’ll need to match the banking logos on the back of the card to those on the machines. Different bank machines accept different cards issues by different foreign banks. Also, the amounts allowed to be withdrawn per transaction vary from bank to bank. The best you can hope for is about 3,000RMB per transaction up to a maximum of 12,000RMB per day – so plan ahead of you’re a big spender.
– Many places have western sizing for clothes and shoes, but many also do not. Never buy based on the tagged size, you really need to try each piece of clothing on as sizing can vary between items of the same type. Most people who wear a medium or large in North America will find themselves in a 2XL or 3XL in China. Pant sizing seems to be spot on with North American sizing, but larger sizes (44+ are few and far between). Often they charge a little more for larger sizes.
– Most stores which cater to foreign customers have jacked up prices. You can get massive discounts if you’re willing to negotiate. Don’t worry about the language barrier as every stall will have a bunch of staff and calculators. Be friendly, playful and charming and you can easily get 50% off. If you’re talented and pick up a few words in Chinese, you can get as much as 75% off. Be willing to walk away as they’ll often chase you down the corridor if they think you’ve given up. Don’t worry if they don’t try to bring you back, take the last price they gave you and try to get a better deal somewhere else. Getting frustrated, angry or shouting will not help you get a better deal in any way. Once a deal has been struck, you must go forth with it as the vendors can get exceeding angry having had their time wasted. You really should try everything on and check the quality carefully as it can vary drastically from stall to stall.
– The quality of products can vary greatly, but in the same general area they all buy from the same wholesaler and the products almost identical from stall to stall. Don’t believe them when they say that their product is superior to that of their competitors, it’s usually the same stuff and frequently the same people own many different booths. A better quality product will be noticeably different in finish and fit. Don’t hesitate to examine the products at several stalls before making a purchase; you’ll quickly get to know what’s available and what the right price should be.
– Be careful buying a cell phone in China. Most will not work in North America, but many should be fine for Europe and the Middle East. (There are four different GSM cell phone bands plus CDMA in use today. North American has 900mhz and 1850mhz where as China is 850mhz and 1800mhz. The vendors probably don’t know this and will tell you that it will work when you get home – it won’t) Best know your stuff before buying a cell phone here as many are knock offs and you may end up with a sub-par phone. Even if the phone is legitimate, you can almost certainly find it cheaper in your home country.
– There is a vast array of designer knockoff jeans available in all major markets. Quality is about the same throughout though pricing can vary slightly. At Luo Hu station (Shenzhen), the best you can hope for is 120RMB where as on Beijing road you can easily get 100RMB (but no less). Be sure to try on each pair of jeans. Most guests buy at least a dozen. Be sure to get the length hemmed for 10RMB, or work it into the deal.
– Don’t bother bringing luggage to China. We suggest you bring only a few personal items in a small bag. Once here, you can buy decent quality luggage for about 430-500RMB. Take note that all the bags are almost identical, only the label (Samsonite, Victorinox etc…), wheels and pin striping change. The four wheel models are convenient for gliding through airports, but are likely less durable especially over rough terrain. The two wheel models seem to last longer.
Handbags and Purses – China has a flourishing market for knockoff handbags and purses. Some are of a unique design with a big brand name logo (Gucci, Prada, Chanel etc…). Some are a decent quality replica of the real thing and are indestingushable from the real thing from a few feet away. (about 80-150RMB). The best of course are the exact copies, almost impossible to distinguish from the authentic article; these are rarer to find and you may have to ask, they usually come with a real metal stamped serial number, an authenticity card and other small features that make them a lot more expensive (around 400RMB). Be wary of buying from a catalog, they usually charge more for catalog items and it’s simply easier to look at products on the shelf.
- All shoes here go by European sizing, so you may want to figure out what size you are before coming. Again you must try on both shoes to make sure they are the same size and fit well. Shoes can be had for as little as 50RMB, or as much as 400-500RMB. A decent quality dress should should be in the 200RMB range.
– There are tons of fashion shoes and boots for women, though you need relatively small feet. Excellent deals can be had starting from 40RMB at the way up into the thousands. The average female guest will need a suitcase dedicated to shoes.
– Clothing: Purses, Dress shirts, t-shirts, long sleeve shirts, sweaters (seasonal), light jackets, socks, underwear, knockoff watches, jeans, lingerie, purses, shoes, runners, ladies boots, ladies high heels, silk ties, belts, wallets, purses (yes we know we listed them three times, and deservingly so), knockoff sunglasses, prescription sunglasses and regular eye glasses, wigs. Electronics: cell phones, small gadgets, children’s toys, RC helicopters. Other: Golf clubs (great quality), all kinds of keepsakes, figurines, paintings, carvings, tea pots.
- Don’t bother with lighters, they aren’t permitted on the airplane. Cell phones may not work in your home country. Anything made with an animal skin (other than leather) may get confiscated as they can’t tell the different between endangered and non-endangered species at customs. Food stuffs may or may not make it through customs. Anything overly bulky will be hard to carry and there won’t always be trolleys available except in airports.
Chinese culture is amongst the oldest in the world. By the Chinese calendar it is the year 4000 and over this period of time they’ve developed many customs and habits that the western world can find odd. By no means is this guide designed to disparage the Chinese, but it is simply pointing out the differences between Chinese and Western culture.
This is often the largest problem for travelers to China. There are a few chain restaurants in China such as KFC, McDonalds and Pizza Hut, but these are few and far between except in the most travelled tourist areas. Many local restaurants do not have English menus so you’re only choice is to order by pointing to someone else’s plate or learning a few words in Chinese. Some restaurants have picture menus and a few even have English words, though the phrasing may be a little odd.
Chinese food in North America is completely different than that of mainland China. You will not find garlic spare ribs, General Tao chicken or egg rolls anywhere. Expect a lot of fried noodles, fish, duck and stir-fried vegetables. Food is also prepared differently; chicken is usually boiled then served cold, with the head and chopped into pieces, fish is cooked whole and it is very boney and if you can find any form of steak it will be of an odd texture and marbled with fat.
Of note is the fact this it is a lot of work to eat food in China. Many restaurants do not offer knives and forks so you can expect your food to come pre-cut into bite size pieces. You will have to master the use of chopsticks or carry a fork around with you all the time. You will also have to get used to the fact that the Chinese expect that their food comes with the bones. You will not find chicken breast or drum sticks anywhere; you’ll need to gnaw the meat off of cut-up bones almost all the time.
The Chinese like their food fresh and most households go to the market every day, so in-season food is available and out of season food is not. You’ll frequently see ducks, geese, chickens and pigeons in cages outside of restaurants. Anywhere that serves seafood will have an array of aquariums containing live fish, shrimp, prawns and other aquatic delicacies. Some restaurants will have an even broader selection including turtles, snakes, crocodiles and wild birds. You may even see a cook dog. Don’t let any of this alarm you though. You can expect to receive the meats that you ordered and nothing else as the more rare delicacies listed above are quite a bit more expensive and you’ll never receive a substitution without paying a lot more for it.
If you are weary of ordering foods by guessing there are plenty of fruit markets and stalls. Apples, grapes, pears and other fruits and vegetables are available all day. In addition, several Metro Tow Trucks employees speak English quite well, so you can always give them a call and then hand your phone to the waitress for translation.
A Note for those on Halal, Kosher and Vegitarian diets: It will be extremely difficult to satisfy specific dietary regiments in China. The practices of Halal and Kosher foods/food preperation are exceptionally rare (remember that religion is banned in China). Although there are wide varieties of vegetables available, there is little to guarentee that the food has not been in contact with meat products. Also, many restaurants do not have vegetable only dishes.
Mainland China is not what most foreigners expect. It is not cramped and overcrowded with people. It is large and fairly easy to get around as the public transportation system is very good and cheap. Taxis are available everywhere and can usually be flagged from the side of the road as long as you are in a commercial area. Don’t be afraid to try busses as they are very cheap (2 RMB, about $0.35USD) and you can always come back in the opposite direction. Wherever you stay or go, if you intend to return, take a business card with you to show a taxi driver where you want to go. There are no yellow pages here and the best way to find anything is either to ask an expat (someone who lives in China) or go out and explore. Taxis are generally good in Dongguan and use the meter. Some will try to negotiate a fair, but you should always insist on using the meter
If you plan to travel outside of our home town, you have many choices. High speed train, private car, bus, air plane and boat can all safely and expensively take you to most popluar business and tourist destinations. We can help you get where you are going.
Only GSM world phones can be expected to work in China. Using your SIM card from home in China is likely extremely expensive ($5 per minute or more). If your phone has been unlocked (most phones are not unlocked when you received them from your service provider), you can buy a Chinese SIM card and use it in your phone giving you a Chinese cell phone number. If your world phone is not unlocked, you should consider trying to have it unlocked before you fly out as it may be difficult to find someone with the knowledge to unlock it in China. iPhones are easy to unlock and work very well for cellular, email and surfing services in China.
We can easily set up a service for you whereby you can have a local North American phone number automatically forward to your Chinese cell phone at no charge. The reverse is true as well; we can provide you with a special number in China that permits free calls to Canada and the USA.
China is a very safe country. For such a dense and often impoverish country there is comparatively little crime. Penalties for crime are swift and punishment is harsh. There are many police around and they can be spotted by the blue and red lights that are continually flashing. Likely the only time that you will be robbed is if you over pay for a hand bag at Luo Wu Station. People are more likely to say “Hello” and try out their best English phrases on you, or ask you to pose in a picture with them. Westerners are held in high regard and well treated throughout. Be wary of the police, it is unlikely they will ever judge in your favor and it will always end up costing you money.