Until recently, the only way to make the 364-mile (586 km) journey from Guilin to Hong Kong quickly was to fly. The bullet train has changed all that, connecting the mainland to the semi-autonomous city-state in a matter of hours.
While the distance also sounds manageable by car, it's next to impossible to rent a car to drive yourself in China. In theory, it would be possible to organize a private transfer to take you all the way from Guilin to Hong Kong, but this would incur all kinds of unnecessary hassles. As a foreign visitor, you may have to wait up to 30 minutes to pass through immigration when arriving by land, whereas a Chinese-national driver would pass through a different queue.
Altogether, arriving by plane or train will be a far more seamless and relaxed experience. What's more, since English is widely spoken in Hong Kong, signage is dual-language and the city's transport links are excellent, navigating from either the airport or the train station to your end destination is a breeze.
Flight Time: 1.5 hours
There are two non-stop flights each day from Guilin Airport (KWL) and Hong Kong International Airport (HKG), operated by Cathay Dragon and Cathay Pacific. It's a short flight, but once you factor in time for airport transfers, security and check-in, the bullet train is likely to work out quicker overall.
Journey Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
High-speed, long-distance "G" trains operate between Guilin West Station and Hong Kong West Kowloon Station. There are two direct bullet trains each day, but both of these leave in the early afternoon.
With such limited seats available, it is highly advisable to buy your tickets in advance. For non-Chinese residents that means purchasing these in person at a train station or going through an agent. Note that Guilin West Station is situated in Zhuangshang Village, 7 miles away from the downtown area. Also, be sure to allow plenty of time to pass through security and passport checks at the station before you board the train.
Alternatively, you can change trains in either Guangzhou South or Shenzhen North, which gives you more flexibility in your departure time. This will add about an hour to your trip.