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Transfers China / Hong Kong (November 2010)
What is the best way to get from Hong Kong to China Mainland?

Hong Kong does not have a fully integrated transportation system and unless you know all your options in advance, this can make a simple transfer a frustrating misery.

As a rough guide, Hong Kong (Like China) operates major public mass transit between the hours of 6am and 6pm. Outside of these times your options are either far fewer and more involved, or there simply aren't any!

1. Your Final Destination?
Your choice of transport varies with the time of day, and where in China you are headed for. Below we will look at some of the common regional options from the point of view of a family with much baggage, or international businessmen who require stress-free and time-managed links into Guangdong Province.

2. Macao.

There are many ways to get to Macao, but the best will be directly from Hong Kong international airport via Sea Cat ferry. The journey costs around $HK150 and takes less than 1-hour. There is a dedicated metro to the ferry terminal. See image right for details.

Outside of these hours there are several 24-hour services that operate out of the main ferry terminals of 'Central/Admiralty' and Kowloon China Ferry. The latter will require a transfer to the relevant terminal, and the Airport Express metro is about the easiest option. Coaches and private hire vehicles also offer good services, whilst those on a budget may prefer the local bus (Takes ages but very cheap).

Details for China Ferry, Canton Road, Kowloon are:
Image: Hong Kong Macao Ferry Schedule - Click to Enlarge

A. To get to Macao you can either go by coach or ferry, and ferry is the far better way to travel. These are run by First Ferry, and are large modern 'sea-cats' that are painted white with a bright orange strip down the side. I travelled from the old ferry terminal on Hong Kong Island, which has now been knocked down. The new ferry terminal for Macao is a short distance away on the front near Central and Admiralty. To get there either use the MTR on Nathan Road, or use the ferry at the end of Canton Road.

I am given to understand First Ferry now operate their Macao service out of the China Ferry terminal on Canton Road, and that Turbojet operate from Central. Here are some useful links:
http://www.gov.hk/en/residents/transport/crossboundary/ferryservices.htm
and
http://www.turbojetseaexpress.com.hk/eng/schedule/prd.html
and
http://www.olamacauguide.com/macau-ferry.html

B. When I travelled in 2006 the cost was around $HK 120 - and I don't think this has changed much since. These are designed for commuters, and some companies charge extra for suitcases. Advice also recommends you buy a return ticket during busy periods, although I doubt this should be necessary?

C. A regular service runs every day at about 15 minute intervals, with a reduced service after midnight. There is a timetable on the second link above.

D. When you arrive in Macao and pass through Customs checks, the first thing you will need to do is get some local currency. Some people will accept RMB or $HK, but you will get a very bad deal. There are ATM machines in the arrivals hall, or perhaps get some money in Hong Kong first?


2. Shenzhen.

There are a plethora of ways to get to Shenzhen, but you may be more concerned about where exactly in the city you want to arrive?

From the airport the easiest way to get to Baoan district (Shenzhen Airport) is by ferry - see timetable right. This is however a long way out from Shenzhen City proper, and is badly connected to other places within China. The timetable is also limited, and the cost expensive (Y270 RMB). The crossing takes 50 minutes and Customs is easy, but no refreshments are available on board.

There is a better schedule from Kowloon China Ferry with two destinations within Shenzhen City available. However it will take you just as long to get to China ferry in Kowloon as it will to get to Shenzhen on the airport ferry - plus the extra hassle is seriously not worth it!

Coaches operate at very regular intervals at all times of the day and night - although you may need assistance to find all of them. The same is true of Private Driver Services. You can also use the MTR/KTR network of light railways (Metro), or take a common bus.
Image: Hong Kong Shenzhen Ferry Schedule - Click to Enlarge

Most regular transportation will go to either Shenzhen Huanggang Border crossing (Probably the most ridiculous border in the world), or Lo Wu (Arguably the best border crossing in the world). Expect everything available at HK airport to go to Huanggang!

So what do you do?

Highly Recommended:

I go to Airport foyer level 3 and look around the dozen or so private companies offering private driver services. They will speak Cantonese by default, have excellent English and some Mandarin + other world languages. They do not offer services to Lo Wu, and favour Huanggang and a couple of other destinations - one of which happens to be The Shangri-La Hotel, which is directly opposite Lo Wu transport hub. Here is China!

We used the services (Pictured right), in November 2010 and found them to be totally professional and excellent. The fee was $HK 150 each, which included transfer through Huanggang Hong Kong Customs within the vehicle as a group of passengers; and we were dropped off directly outside the Foreigners entrance to the Chinese Customs some two miles distant (I did warn you it was a stupid system here).
Image: Private Driver Receipt HK to SZ - Click to Enlarge

Once processed and outside on the immediate pavement (Sidewalk) on China Shenzhen side, turn immediately to your right and find the Company office located near the end of the block. You check-in and wait - and soon another vehicle will arrive to transfer you to your destination. Vehicles used were large and spacious Toyota SUV's = excellent for the purpose. You can read all about our transfer here - somewhere near the bottom of the page.

3. Guangzhou.

The Capital City of Guangdong Province, and China's Third City responsible for over one-third of total Chinese exports; Guangzhou is a major destination for all foreign visitors. Both city and province are sometimes referred to as 'Canton'.

Transfers to Guangzhou are very easy, with options for Private Driver, luxury Coach, and Ferry being easily available from within the airport during normal and extended hours. Ferry timings can be limited, and will still leave you with a (Free) local charabanc connection to Guangzhou central. Our advice is to use the coach or private driver company. The coach has air-con and toilet + movie and costs HK$/RMB 277 one way, each. You can do this for a lot less money if you are on a budget, but you will have a lot of hassle and it is not easy at all = better take the coach.

The best route is actually via mainline railway, but this departs from Hong Kong Hung Hom station, and is a lot of hassle to find and get to the right bit.

If money is not a problem, then simply fly direct into Guangzhou and save an awful lot of time and hassle.

4. Major Cities in Guangdong.

Hong Kong Airport services most of the important neighbouring cities including:
* Foshan
* Jiang Men
* Zhong Shan
* Tai Shan
* Kai Ping
* Dongguan
* Zhaoqing
* Canton Fair (Pazhou)
* and somewhere in neighbouring Guangxi Provence

Nb. Special services are also available for events such as the Asia Games 2010, and during National Holidays

Transfer times may be restricted to within a normal working day, and come in all forms (Ferry, Coach, Private Driver, Railway, Light Rail, etc.

5. Transportation in General

The transportation network is not fully integrated, although planned extensions to the Underground railway system (Metro, Subway, Tube, MTR, KCR, Bus, Tram, Ferry) will ease this greatly. Excepting the main Star Ferry, Ferry terminals are scattered haphazardly around Victoria Bay. Some have been moved, closed, whilst others have appeared. Each has specific schedules and destinations served, of which many are restricted services to outlying islands. Some are even duplicated. Check for latest information via Hong Kong Tourist Board

Direct links between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon to the Airport are not overly complicated, but can become a nightmare if you are in the wrong place with a lot of heavy luggage - making this a very long and arduous trip. Your options are:

a. Airport Express train from Hong Kong Station (Central on Hong Kong Island) or from West Kowloon = miles from China ferry and all other public transportation, so needs a taxi to get there
b. Taxi's themselves are horrendously expensive! They will often take you the longest way to your destination (Various reasons given), but are extremely friendly and chatty. That said, others report that although expensive, they offer excellent service and do not take detours. Try for yourselves and see...
c. Ferry - if you can find the right one to catch and where to get it from?
d. Coach services are frequent , which usually offer a free transfer - if you are staying at one of their supported hotels (5*). If not pay for the ride. These are also usually called 'Airport Express' - don't get confused here...
e. MTR. May require changing trains at connecting stations.
f. Whichever way you choose is not particularly user friendly.
Related Pages:   HK Quick Guide    Ten Tips for HK    HK - China Transfers    Independent Travellers
This information is as supplied by China Expats, as dated 21st November 2010, and/or other reliable sources. Please check this information yourself as it may alter without notice, and whilst we try our best to ensure it is correct, please do not hold us responsible for any errors - this is intended as a simple guide only
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