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I recently graduated with a degree in industrial engineering and would like to visit manufacturing facilities in China to get a feel for the differences manufacturing in China and the USA. What options do I have for visiting factories without a specific business purpose?

  • Try searching for "china industrial tours", there are quite a few factory visit options sold through tour companies. – user13044 May 9 '17 at 2:10
  • Basically, get people to bring you in and you are good. Unless you are planning to visit some military factory your nationality wouldn't be a problem. However, be careful with those factory tours; many of them are actually pressure marketing. – xuq01 May 9 '17 at 2:24
  • @xuq01 - How would a foreign tourist visiting a steel plant or automobile assembly line be "pressure marketing"? – user13044 May 9 '17 at 2:50
  • @Tom They'd usually assume you are a business representative and, if they find out you're not, be very disappointed. I am not aware of factories that officially run tours; I'm sure there are a few but finding one requires some effort. – xuq01 May 9 '17 at 3:27
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    @xuq01 - There are several tour companies in China that offer industrial tours as tourism not business and the factories know the guests are tourists. This is a niche market in travel & tourism that is available in countries all over the world. On the other hand if you were to pretend to be a business person in order to visit, then yes there would be sales pressure and disappointment at the outcome. – user13044 May 9 '17 at 3:39
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Industrial tours for students are a growing niche market in China, with universities (e.g., MIT) arranging visits and exchanges, and tour operators offering many packages targeted at students/graduates, and not just entrapreneurs/investors. Without a tour operator or official pre-arrangements, it is less likely some companies or manufacturers would allow informal access to a facility.

There are manufacturers that accept tour requests, and some that have hours in which they are open to tourists, such as these in Shanghai as examples.

SAIC Volkswagen
Address: #5288, Cao' an Road, Jiading District
Open: 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Subway Line 11 to Shanghai Automobile City Station (上海汽车城站)

Shanghai Baosteel Group Corporation
Address: #370 Pudian Road, Baosteel Tower, Pudong New District
Open: 9:00 am-5:00 pm

However, those may not give you the in-depth experience and understanding you're after. For that, you might want to consider an industrial tour specifically designed for students, such as:

Easy Tour China

Easy Tour China works closely with the local operators and some renowned industrial companies in Tianjin, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, the three most famous industrial centers in North, Middle and South China.

China Educational Tours

This MBA & Business Focus Tour specializes in visits to China’s factories and companies. Combined with the cultural activities, the students will have an insightful experience of China’s business.

Top China Travel

Due to its professionalism and representative, the industrial tourist attractions are quite interesting, such as musical instruments manufacture factory, food company, art studios, automobile factory, etc.

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