Feb 16, 2013 - China, Shenzhen 2013, Travelling    19 Comments

Shenzhen to Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA)

Inflight map: route from Hong Kong to London

I spent Thursday trying to figure out how to get from my hotel in Shenzhen to Hong Kong International Airport. Again, the ferry was a tempting route, but still too much uncertainty, and I didn’t have the time to get to Shekou and scout around and recon, nor was I confident about my knowledge about how it works.

I looked around for a bus that picks up from my hotel, and I did find one, but it was every hour, and exits via Shenzhen Bay, getting to the airport after a 2 hour trip. Other information was very limited on line, like the cost and how to know what bus to get.

I dug back into the Web about the Huanggang Border Checkpoint, since that’s where I entered Shenzhen, it made sense there should also be a reverse route back. Huanggang is the largest border point in Shenzhen, the Hong Kong side is called Lok Ma Chau. It’s the primary route for pedestrians crossing the border.

The main process of exiting Shenzhen back to Hong Kong is:

  • Arrive at Huanggang Checkpoint with your passport, departure card and your luggage
  • Depart Shenzhen through the passport control
  • Make your way to the Lok Ma Chau control point on the Hong Kong side through their passport control.
  • Exit Lok Ma Chau and make way to the airport

There are a number of ways through that process, including a full customer service limousine experience costing 1700 RMB (about £190) right down to doing it on foot (effectively free).

I think how it works is that everyone has to go by foot through the Shenzhen passport control. Then on the departure side of that you can get on a bus, taxi, people carrier to the next stages.

The bus that stops as Lok Ma Chau sounds tempting, but there is a risk you need to be aware of (judging from the comments and stories on the web). You store your luggage on the bus, and at Lok Ma Chau you have to get off the bus to go through the Hong Kong Passport Control, leaving your luggage on the bus. If you get held up, or take longer than expected through the Hong Kong Passport Control, the bus is liable to leave without you, with your luggage still on board. It isn’t obvious then how to get your luggage back, or whether you have to pay for another ticket on a later bus. That wasn’t a risk I was prepared to take.

Another idea I had was to take the Metro from the hotel to Huanggang Checkpoint. So I gave that idea a run on Thursday, went from the Shopping Mall Metro station, to the Exhibition Center Metro station and then changing to the Longhua line for two stops down to Futian. I hoped there would be an easy access to Huanggang from the Futian Checkpoint, but I didn’t see it. And I don’t know enough about Futian Checkpoint to figure out how to get to Hong Kong International Airport from there. So I scrapped the idea of using the Metro.

Using transportation other than the Metro, then Huanggang is the logical choice for people in the Futian district. Louhu has it’s own border crossing, which is ideal for cross-border shopping trips in either direction. People in Shekou, the ferry is a useful alternative if your airline allows a check-in from that ferry port. There’s also what looks to be a scheduled bus route from certain hotels to Hong Kong International Airport via Shenzhen Bay, but details are a little scarce. The price looks about right (RMB 150), and the trip takes 2 hours.

So my plan was to take a Shenzhen taxi to the Huanggang Checkpoint, get through passport control, buy a ticket for a people carrier there. So almost the same method I entered, in reverse. The benefit of taking a people carrier service is that you and your luggage stay in the car through Lok Ma Chau, and the driver takes your passport and gives it to the controller at the drive-through checkpoint. That should cost me whatever the taxi fare is, plus another 170 RMB for the people carrier.

My hotel, Marco Polo Shenzhen, got me a taxi and told the driver where to take me. Perfect. I was in Huanggang Checkpoint inside of 20 minutes from leaving my hotel.

I was dropped off on the drive-through drop-off which is on the level above the ground floor, and the departure passport control in on the ground floor (judging from the signs). Going down the escalator I was greeted by a guy offering transport to Hong Kong International Airport, I though he was guiding me to departures, but he was actually selling me a ride from Shenzhen departures to Hong Kong International.

After establishing the price (150 RMB), that it would take me all the way to Hong Kong International airport, and someone would meet me the other side of Shenzhen passport control, I handed over the cash and got back a blue sticker for my t-shirt (so that staff on the other side could spot me), and a printed receipt clearly showing the amount paid and the destination. (Another thing to be careful is not to rent a people carrier for yourself, that will cost about 1700 RMB because you are paying for exclusive use of a people carrier. Prices around 150 RMB and 170 RMB mean you are travelling with other people, and that’s the way to go).

Then entering the departure lobby I got a bit lost looking for a Tourist or Foreigner lane because every other lane said “Chinese National”, until you looked away and looked back, and some of them say “Foreigners”. I had the wrong mental model (entry in Shenzhen they have separate aisles for foreigners and Chinese Nationals, so I assumed it would be the same thing). Leaving the distinction is made for groups (like tour groups), and individuals. The staff at Huanggang noticed me having my lost face on, and politely guided me to the right queue. It took about 30 minutes of queue shuffling to reach a passport control counter. Hand over my passport, and departure slip (the smaller part of the yellow slip I received in Hong Kong International and filled in en-route to Shenzhen 5 days before), and my best effort “Ni Hao”, the slip and passport were stamped, and I received my passport back. Then through the “Nothing to declare” channel of customs, and through a busy exit.

Again, the staff of the people carrier travel service (the same Go Go Bus company I used to get me to Shenzhen) spotted me and guided me to the car that would take me to Hong Kong. There were already five people waiting, which means there wasn’t long to wait before we got started. We were in a 7 seat people carrier, but were quickly moved to a six-seat one, since then we had a full complement of passengers going to Hong Kong airport.

I quickly filled out the Hong Kong arrivals slip that the travel service company provided me with (the same type I filled out on the flight to Hong Kong, a triplicate departure card), and handed that along with my passport to the driver just before we reached the Lok Ma Chau checkpoint. I was in the backseat this time so I could see the process. Driver hands over all the passports, which the clerk visually checks the picture with each passenger, and then takes the main copy of the departure card. While he is doing that the main passenger door is open and a security guard pointing a sensor of some sort at each passenger in turn.

Then doors closed, passports handed back and we are on the highway toward Hong Kong International Airport, via Tai Lam Tunnel under a mountain, and three suspension bridges between the islands and mainland that makes up Hong Kong. We were dropped off outside Terminal 1 of Hong Kong International Airport. So about 2 hours door-to-door. And it went far smoother than I expected.

And so, the introverted cautious me is sitting in Hong Kong Airport 5 hours before my flight is to depart. And the departure boards show all the flights leaving in the next 2 hours. I am very early, which is fine, because I am exactly where I need to be, and there is zero risk of me not making the check-in gate late. I have heard horror stories on taking 5 hours to get from Shenzhen to the airport – using a special hire-car and driving through the Huanggang Checkpoints. The extra time would quickly evaporate if risks happened:

  • Hotel checkout not being open, or there was an issue in checking out.
  • Waiting for a taxi to Huanggang Checkpoint, or having to make other arrangements
  • Huanggang being exceptionally busy, because it’s still Chinese New Year, and weekends are renown for being exceptionally busy as Shenzhen residents spend shopping weekends in Hong Kong, so why not a long weekend this weekend, starting Friday, today
  • Finding a company who could take me to Hong Kong Airport
  • Waiting for a full people carrier before being able to leave Huanggang
  • getting off the bus/people carrier and going through Lok Ma Chau by foot with all my luggage, that could be just as busy as the Huanggang Checkpoint.
  • If I caught a bus, and got delayed at Lok Ma Chau, finding another bus or taxi there to get me to the airport. Hong Kong Taxi from Lok Ma Chau to Hong Kong International Airport quoted cost about HK$250.

So I gave myself about 7 hours for the journey from my hotel room to Terminal 1 in Hong Kong. And it was plain sailing all the way and took only 2 hours almost stress-free. Now I can relax, and try to figure out how I’m going to deal with flying against an 8 hour time-zone difference. I’ve been up since about 7am Shenzhen time, and will get home about 11pm UK time, so I am living a 24 hour day today. Only 20 more to go. It will be at least another hour before I can check in my main luggage.

19 Comments

  • Hi,

    I ‘ll be travelling from Hongkong International Airport to Shenzen with my 18month old daughter, can you suggest if it is safe to travel alone and which is the best route to take, as per your experience and approx how much time it would take.

    Regards
    Rakhi

  • Hi Rakhi,

    I covered how I got from Hong Kong International Airport to Shenzhen here: http://geektrails.com/2013/02/hong-kong-airport-to-marco-polo-shenzhen/

    I chose to take a shuttle-bus / Sky Limo, that seems to be the recommendation for people who can’t read Chinese. I followed the signs in Hong Kong Airport for “Mainland China” taking the escalator downwards. On the left hand side there are a series of counters for each Bus service provider. Look out for ladies from WTS (logo of a W in a circle). It costs about HK$150 for the trip to Shenzhen.

    They normally wait until they have a full bus-load (so about 7 passengers, I think). The main destination is Huanggang Port which is the main road entryway to Shenzhen. The driver will ask for your passports at the start. The drive from Hong Kong to Huanggang Port takes about 45 minutes.

    There are two border checkpoints to negotiate. The Hong Kong side is a drive through one, where the driver hands over everyone’s passport for inspection. Then you are driven to the main Huanggang Port building, where you leave the driver and walk with your luggage into the main building. There’s a walk through border control checkpoint, followed by an X-ray scan of all your bags. In both cases, these went very smoothly for me.

    Now you are in Shenzhen. Walk out the building, and either catch a taxi to your destination, or meet a friend.

    WTS company do also offer hotel drop-offs, so if your hotel is one of those on their list, make that very clear when you purchase a seat on the Sky Limo. This is super-useful. For me, after I made it through Huanggang Port checkpoints I was met by another WTS representative, and they organised a car to drop me off at the hotel I was staying at.

    Basically, my recommendation is take a shuttle bus / Sky Limo, and make sure you do it through WTS. Their service is excellent, and they make the trip quite smooth, and make sure you get to the destination you’ve asked for. They are so professional, so it is a little unsettling if you are not used to exceptional customer service.

    And: buy your sky-limo / shuttle bus tickets before you enter the main departure area of Huanggang Port. Near the entrance to the passport control area there is a kiosk to the left, right next to the staircase going up to the level above. Look for a lady in a light-blue/turquoise coat/jacket, and buy a ticket from her. At least when you exit the other side of passport control there will be someone to meet you and whisk you off to the shuttle bus.

  • Hi, I am going from Hk to Shenzhen tomorrow. Is there a weight restriction on the gogo bus shuttle? Mtr is now restricted to 23kgs and I have 37! Thank you x Lisa

    • Hi Lisa,

      I used the CTS bus on my trip to Shenzhen (Hong Kong IA to Lok Ma Chau / Huanggang Port, Shenzhen) in the last week of August this year. Cost me HK$80. There was no baggage weight check. I had with me one big suitcase, plus a very heavy backpack. No restrictions as far as I could see. If there’s room on the bus, then there doesn’t seem to be a problem.

      Coming back I used the SkyLimo shuttle bus from Huanggang Port back to the airport, no weight restriction there either, and I had the same luggage. The trip back cost me RMB150. As long as the luggage fits into the shuttle bus itself, I don’t think they mind.

      Hope that’s useful, and have a wonderful trip.
      MikeD

      • Mike, how did you get from your hotel in Shenzhen to Huang gang port to go to HK airport? Is Shuttle/ Skylimo one and the same or two different vendors ?

        Thanks in advance.

        • I get my hotel to hail a taxi (Shenzhen’s purple taxi) to take me to Huanggang. The hotel staff instruct the driver, so he knows where I’m going. Costs RMB 18 from Marco Polo hotel in Futian to Huanggang the last time I did that back in November 2015. The taxi normally drops me off on the upper level. So after exiting the taxi, I look for an escalator downwards, and at the left-hand side of the escalator bottom there’s a kiosk there for buying a ticker for a Shuttle/Skylimo. Look for ladies wearing light blue jackets, that’s the ones I go with every time.

  • Hey Mike

    Well written blog there. Thanks.

    What time was ur flight in the morning from HKG? I hv a flight at 10:30am in HKG and hv to lv Shenzhen in the early morning. Would the above route work for me?

    Thanks.

    Matthew

    • Hi Matthew,

      My flight left Hong Kong airport at 14:30 in the early afternoon.

      The trip from my hotel back to Hong Kong Airport takes about 2 hours, but there can be considerable variability.

      Getting to Huanggang Port takes about 20 minutes by taxi (I asked the hotel to organise a taxi, so I got there quite quickly).

      It can take a while to get through the passport check. It does get busy in the morning. Allocate at least an hour standing in a queue to get through.

      Then waiting for the shuttle bus to be full, that could take a while. I’ve been lucky that I’ve been the person they have been waiting for, so didn’t have to wait for anyone else.

      Then the last variable time window is getting the shuttle bus through the Lok Ma Chau checkpoint. That depends on how many other shuttle busses are in front of you.

      After that it’s a straight 45 minute ride to the airport, and you are dropped off outside of Terminal A of the airport.

      So the variable time aspects are:

      * Finding a taxi to get you to Huanggang
      * The queue for getting through passport control on the Shenzhen side
      * The shuttlebus traffic through to the Lok Ma Chau checkpoint on the Hong Kong side.

      Personally, trying to catch a flight at 10:30 in the morning leaving Shenzhen the same day is risky. Even leaving the hotel at 7pm means you need a good slice of luck you don’t fall into one of the above time sinks.

      I’d recommend looking at options of leaving Shenzhen the evening before, and staying in Hong Kong that night. That should give you a comfortable enough space to catch your morning flight in time.

      Hope that’s useful to you,
      Mike

  • Hi Mike

    Thanks for your comments and it was helpful.

    I ended up lving my hotel at 445am to Huanggang border via taxi. When after getting off the taxi at Huanggang border at 5am, a person approached me immediately and asked if I was going to HK airport. I said yes and he said $150 yuan for a ride there. To be safe, I asked to see the van first which was just behind me. It was a toyota van with 7 passengers capacity. They already had 5 passengers and I was the 6th one. Paid the $150 yuan and got a receipt. The driver said that whether or not they found a 7th passenger, they would depart at 520am.

    It was efficient overall and reach HKG airport at 620am. Once again, thanks for your help.

    Matthew

    • Glad you had a great time. Thanks for the update on your trip back, I appreciate it. Especially knowing Huanggang Port is open at 5am in the morning.

      Mike

  • I travel today to Hong Kong and need to go to Shenzhen for two days. I forgot the visa. Can Go Go Travel organise me a 5-day entry at the boarder? — Thanks, Simon

    • Hi Simon, I have no idea. I have not needed to go down this route, sorry.

  • Warning……..Dont take a illegal private taxi on the Huanggang Port, this shit boy take 300 CNY and had no map experience for Shenzhen. He couldnt found the JW Marriott Hotel and didnt understood english language – it was realy big bull shit.
    Tomorrow Im going back to HK Intl and Im very exiting how it will be go forward to the Airport.

    Gerd

    • Gerd, good advice, thank you. In Shenzhen CBD area always take the purple taxis. They know their way around, and they are decently priced despite their monopoly inside the Shenzhen CBD.

      When exiting Huanggang Port into Shenzhen, take the bridge over the road, the second last staircase either side goes down to the roadside where there normally is a line of purple taxis to catch.

      On my first visit, I didn’t know this, but because I took the SkyLimo from Hong Kong airport, pointing out they offer a straight to the hotel service to my hotel, they arranged a private car to take me from Huanggang to my hotel.

      Also, it is a little unreasonable to expect people to be able to understand English in China. That’s why, I always carry around slips of paper with my hotel address written in both English and Chinese. It is better to be prepared for these kinds of eventualities. Yes, Shenzhen is branding itself as a multi-language global city, the intention is there — the Metro system for example, is a wonderful example of a multi-lingual system, everything is in Mandarin, Cantonese and English.

      Hope you had a wonderful trip.

  • Hi,

    I am trying to exit from Shenzhen to Hongkong and i don”t know what to do. I am currently in Shanghai and needs to purchase a ticket to Shenzhen as it’s cheaper going that route. I only need to exit & enter back so maybe a little window shopping in Hongkong would do.

    What should I do?

  • Kudos to MikeD for making this blog. It was really helpful.

    I had to visit some colleagues in Shenzhen and Guangzhou, but as flights from Philippines to HK was a lot cheaper than a direct flight to Shenzhen, I had to cross the border through Louhu. As fate would have it, there was no way of getting across the Louhu border early in the morning. My flight back to the Philippines was scheduled at 9am, and I was of course horrified of being late and missing my flight so a local friend of mine suggested that I cross through Huanggang which is open 24 hours.

    Left my hotel at around 3am. Took a taxi (cost about 25 Yuans) to Huanggang. Crossed the border promptly as there was no queue. It was only me and one other person there. The other doors were closed as there weren’t many people yet so I just went in through the E-Channel door (I don’t know what e-channel is), but it lead to the same immigration desks. Went through the “foreigner” desk in less than a minute. Had to wait for the first SkyLimo as it was the earliest one to HK airport at 4:30am. There were no buses yet at the time except the ones going to some other places in Hong Kong.

    In any case, I got through OK. Paid the SkyLimo service whose office is right outside the Huanggang immigration, and paid 100 Yuans to go directly to the airport. As you’ve discussed here, it was a 7 person capacity, but we left at exactly 5am although there were only 6 passengers. The driver collected our passports and gave them all to an immigrations officer for entering HK (and yes, there was some sort of scanner that they point at each passenger).

    We arrived at HK aiport around 6am. You could only imagine my relief.

    As for Simon’s question, unfortunately, I’ve gone through that route before. There’s no way of getting a VISA to Shenzhen via HK if you’re a foreigner. It will have to be shipped to you by the travel agency from your country.

    There used to be a VISA processing office for foreigners in WanChai, and even at the Louhu border, but for some reason, they decided to discontinue it after the 2008 Olympics.

    Thanks to MikeD and everyone who’ve contributed to this post.

    Regards,

    Angelo

    • Angelo, thank you for the wonderful comment and detail. There is a lot of incoming traffic around getting from Shenzhen to Hong Kong, so your reply will be very very useful to answering that question. Thank you for taking the time and sharing your experience.

  • Hi.
    I live in Futian near Fumin, one station from the Futian Checkpoint.
    Passing the checkpoint can take between 40 minutes to 1h30 depending on the influence. It needs to be avoided in weekends, early morning and late afternoon. Then the way in subway is long and carrying luggage is not easy
    I tried that way:
    I took a cab from my street, in Futian to Sheku Port: 64 Yuan , 30 minutes . The traffic was quite busy.
    From Futian port, I took the Ferry to HK airport. 260 Yuan, 10 minutes line to pass the Chinese Control, 30 minutes in the sea, empty line at the Airport checkin, almost empty line at the security. After passing the security I got back 120 HK$ Tax refund for the ferry fees.
    Fast and easy. I recommend. Pay attention to Ferry schedule.
    From some hours in advance, you can checkin your luggage ahead, directly at Sheku Port.
    Regards
    Patrice

  • I know this is an old post and I don’t actually follow your blog so I wouldn’t know if you had an update experience, but just wanted to point out:

    I’ve taken the 24-hour Huanggang bus plenty of times. You’re not supposed to leave your luggage on the bus when you reach the border checkpoint. Take your luggage with you through the checkpoint.

    The border checkpoints don’t seem to separate foreigners into a unique line anymore. Mostly you’re going to be sitting in a line with everybody else, Chinese Nationals included. This means you’re almost never going to make the same bus nowadays.

    When you get through the checkpoint, proceed to the sign for the company you booked with. The bus for whatever station you left from will have another bus show up within 10-15 minutes, I’ve never waited more than 10.

Leave a comment to MikeD