Shenzhen is a Tier 1 city in China, very close to the Hong Kong border. In the past, you have been able to go from Shenzhen to Hong Kong by ferry or metro in as little as 1 hour. But, in fall of 2018 a bullet train route from Guangzhou to Hong Kong opened up that makes the trip even shorter. From Guangzhou to Hong Kong the trip is 50 minutes and from Shenzhen to Hong Kong it's only 15 minutes!
Why take the bullet train?
If you are traveling or living in China, flying to Hong Kong is an international flight and therefore, more expensive. If you can find a cheap flight domestically to either Guangzhou or Shenzhen, then you can take the bullet train into Hong Kong and save a lot of money! If you are traveling from outside of China to Hong Kong, look up flights and compare your departure point to Hong Kong vs. Guangzhou or Shenzhen and see if the cost difference is worth it!
From Shenzhen Airport
When you arrive at the airport you will have to make your way to either Shenzhen North Railway Station or Futian Railway station. You can take a taxi (very expensive) or you can easily take the metro to either. The metro runs from 6:28am to midnight everyday, and you can easily buy your metro ticket at the station with cash, WeChat, or Alipay.
Directions to Shenzhen North Railway Station: Line 11 (dark purple) to Qianhaiwan, switch to Line 5 (light purple) to Shenzhen North Station
Time: 47 minutes
Cost: 8 Yuan (About $1.20 USD)
For taxis show them the Chinese characters: 深圳北站
Directions to Futian Railway Station:
Line 11 (dark purple) to Futian
Time: 29 minutes
Cost: 7 Yuan (About $1 USD)
For taxis show them the Chinese characters: 福田站
Which train station: Shenzhen North or Futian?
You will need to compare the bullet train time tables to determine which time, and therefore which station, best fits your schedule. Futian is closer to the airport and a shorter journey to Hong Kong, so if possible try to take this route!
First train is at 6:43am, last train is at 10:11pm
There are trains leaving about every 15 minutes during this time period
Duration: 19 minutes
Cost: $11.18 USD
First train is at 8:15am, last train is at 10:42pm
There are trains leaving about every 15-30 minutes during this time period
Duration: 14 minutes
Cost: $10.14 USD
Buying your ticket
You can easily purchase on Trip beforehand or purchase at the railway station. As a foreigner, you can't use the automated ticket machines, so you must follow the signs that say Tickets (always next to the automated ticket machines) and wait in line to be helped by a railway attendant. If you have purchased online, show them your reservation # (Always starts with E) on your phone and your passport. If you just want to buy on-site, then you can just give them your passport and ask for the next available train to Hong Kong.
Decoding your ticket
Your ticket will be in Chinese, so look at the picture below to help you determine your gate, carriage, and seat number:
After buying your ticket, it's pretty much like an airport. You find your gate and wait for boarding, which is typically 15 minutes before the departure time. Trains in China are EXTREMELY efficient, it will leave exactly on time every time, so don't be late.
Arriving in Hong Kong
Just like you would after an international flight, you will need to go through customs. You will need to fill out a departure card and go through Chinese customs, and then fill out an arrival card and go through Hong Kong customs. The total process should take about 10 minutes, unless there are extremely long lines. There are English signs everywhere guiding you through the process, so it should be fairly simple to figure out.
Hong Kong West Kowloon Station | 香港西九龍
The railway station is right in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui area, so if your hotel is here you can easily just walk to your hotel. If you're staying in another location, such as Central, Wan Chai, or Lantau Island, you will need to take a taxi or metro. There will be English signs inside the station to lead you either to the taxi stand or to the metro station, which is just underneath the railway station!
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