A mere 17 miles (27 km) apart, the former British colony of Hong Kong and the special economic zone of Shenzhen in mainland China are so close many folks commute between the two business centers on a daily basis. There are several options for traveling between the two.
The best transport options depend on if you are traveling straight from Hong Kong International Airport, or spending more time on a trip like this Beijing to Hong Kong Grand Tour before heading to Shenzhen.
No matter your travel itinerary, a transit or tourist visa may be required to travel from the former British colony of Hong Kong to China, which has separate immigration and customs procedures from Hong Kong. Depending on your country of citizenship and your itinerary, you may be eligible to transit from Hong Kong to Shenzhen for up to 24 hours via the visa-free transit rule or enter Shenzhen via the Shenzhen 5-Day Visa on Arrival program.
There are multiple borders between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, including Luohu (also spelled Lo Wu), the oldest and busiest border crossing; Huanggang, the only 24 hour option; and Lok Ma Chau, popular because both sides of border control are located in the same building. Travelers going from Hong Kong to Shenzhen should give plenty of time to clear customs and immigration, which are completed on both the Hong Kong side and China side.
Depending on the time of day and the number of people crossing the border at the same time as you, it can take up to an hour to get through customs and immigration. No matter how you choose to cross the border, you must do the Shenzhen immigration process on foot with your luggage, which requires briefly leaving your private car or switching buses and vans (the exception is via train and ferry as the immigration process for both countries is done before boarding the train or ferry).
Once on the Shenzhen side, licensed taxis are lined up to take you to your final destination. Ignore illegal black cab drivers who will eagerly offer you a ride and be sure to have your destination address written down in Chinese as it's unlikely your taxi driver will speak English.
By Private Car Transfer
Duration: 1 hour to 1.5 hours or more
Pre-booking a private transfer is the most convenient and comfortable way to travel from Hong Kong to Shenzhen. Passengers are typically picked up in late model cars from any starting point like a hotel or Hong Kong International Airport. There is no queuing in line at customs as there is a special car lane for private car transfers and you don't have to leave the car on the Hong Kong side of the border or carry your luggage.
Duration: 2 hours to 3 hours or more
No matter what time travelers arrive, a taxi can swiftly transport passengers from any starting point like a hotel or Hong Kong International Airport and drop them and their luggage off at the border. Once through Hong Kong immigration and Shenzhen immigration, passengers then pick up a new taxi on the Shenzhen side.
Duration: 30 minutes to 50 minutes or more
If you are directly transferring from Hong Kong International Airport to mainland China on the same day, then the SkyPier ferry is the quickest option.
The SkyPier offers transport to nine ports in the Pearl River Delta, including two Shenzhen ports: Shenzhen Fuyong for those flying from Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport (this 50-minute ferry ride allows for connecting to your flight without clearing mainland China customs and immigration) and Shenzhen Shekou, a 30-minute ferry for passengers headed to Shenzhen.
If you're connecting flights from Hong Kong International Airport to Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport, leave plenty of time to make your way through customs and immigration and airport security screening. You cannot take the ferry if you are coming from Hong Kong; it is for airline transfer passengers only.
Duration: 15 minutes to 1 hour or more
Dozens of bullet trains whisk travelers the 16 miles (26 km) between Hong Kong West Kowloon Station to Shenzhen Futian Station in 15 minutes and the 24 miles (39 km) between Hong Kong West Kowloon Station to Shenzhen North Railway Station in 20 minutes via the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.
Seating options include second class, first class, premium class, and business class. Passengers traveling by train from Hong Kong to China should arrive early to check in and clear customs and immigration, which are completed on the Hong Kong side in an area under Chinese jurisdiction.
The East Rail Line is another option if you're in downtown Hong Kong and need to go to Shenzhen (if you're headed from Hong Kong International Airport to Shenzhen, the best bets are private transfer if you are short on time or the SkyPier if you have extra time). Trains depart from Hong Kong's Hung Hom Station to Lo Wu, which is connected to the Luohu immigration and customs checkpoint, and to Lok Ma Chau, which is connected to the Futian border checkpoint.
By Coach Bus
Duration: 2.5 hours or more
Private coaches leave from Hong Kong International Airport's Terminal 2 on a fixed schedule and offer a comfortable seat and transit from Hong Kong to Shenzhen, but passengers must disembark at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border, go through the Shenzhen border crossing with their luggage in tow and then board a new bus on the Shenzhen side.
By Shared Shuttle Van
Duration: 2.5 to 3 hours or more
Six passenger minivans start the journey from Hong Kong International Airport on a fixed schedule and offer a decent one-hour shared ride to the border. Passengers can remain in the van while going through Hong Kong immigration, but everyone must disembark with their luggage to go through Shenzhen border crossing and then hail a taxi on the Shenzhen side.