Shenzhen is right next door to Hong Kong which worked out very handy for me as my visa was about to expire. Hong Kong being a Special Administrative Region of China is just like going to another country, so, it’s a popular place to visit and explore, and to then get a new visa if you wish to return to back China.
There are several ways to get to Hong Kong from Shenzhen, including the ferry, but for this trip, I chose to go on the train. Apparently, this is the most popular way to get across to Hong Kong via the Luo Hu Border.
Staying Nanshan District I made use of Shenzhen’s modern subway (called the Metro) riding from Shenda Station (near Shenzhen University) to Luohu Station which is where the subway meets the Shenzhen Railway Station. This is also where the Luohu border crossing into Hong Kong is. Note in China it is called Luohu but in Hong Kong, it is called Lo Wu.
So, there’s an underground subway, above ground major rail station and border crossing immigration point all in the one place. In addition, it’s a mix of old and new buildings. Sounds like a great place to get lost and really confused!
But it’s actually not to difficult, once in the railway station simply follow the signs to the Hong Kong Train which leads you out of the new section into the border crossing terminal. The signage becomes a bit vague but if you follow your nose and the mass of people that are all going to Hong Kong, you’ll get there! There’s also staff floating around that will help with directions.
The immigration area here is pretty busy and you’ll need to fill in a departure card and hand it over with your passport to exit through the China customs. Then down the corridor further to the Hong Kong customs and as an Australian passport holder all I had to do was fill in an entry card and hand that over with my passport which, after being checked, was then stamped with a 90 day Hong Kong Visa.
Once out of the customs area it’s off to the train, there’s an ATM which issues RMB and HKD, there’s also a currency exchange which I used to change some RMB into HKD so as to buy a train ticket (the exchange rates are average, so I just got enough for the ticket).
There are several vending machines to buy the train ticket which have a touchscreen where you simply choose your destination, which was Mong Kok East Station for me (I was staying at the Dorsett Hotel on Anchor St), and then shove your money in. I think the ticket cost about 40HKD, I later found out about the ‘Tourist Cross-boundary Travel Pass’ which looks like good value (see the MTR website). There’s only one train here, going in the one direction, so it’s pretty hard to go wrong!
The trains are quite regular, but are often packed to the brim, for a little more you can buy a first class ticket with an increased chance of getting a seat in what was labelled a ‘quite class car’ (really? Quite..hmm..I wondered could there actually be such a place in China….I suspect another dubious claim). The train from Luohu to Kowloon (which is the central area of Hong Kong) took about 30-40minutes.
Update: For a more recently updated and detailed guide on transferring between the cities, visit the Shenzhen – Hong Kong transport page at Shenzhen Shopper which includes the border crossings at Futian, Nanshan (Shenzhen Wan Kou An), and Shekou ferry services.
Update 2018: Very soon there will be a High-Speed Rail service between Shenzhen and Hong Kong
Below is a map of the Hong Kong rail network including the above ground rail and subway, which make up the MTR systems in HK