Moving away from home is always difficult. I’ll happily admit I was a little nervous prior to my arrival in Shenzhen. It’s a tough enough thing to do in your home country. The change of environment, loss of friends and period of adjustment all present their unique challenges. Those challenges are only multiplied when you account for the fact you’re moving to a new country, especially one with the mystique of China.
I never expected to adapt to life in China to be an easy thing to do. You hear so many stories prior to coming out here, about how alien life in China is when compared to the West, and how tough it’s going to be to integrate. My experience so far has, however, been full of pleasant surprises. Shenzhen is a fantastic city, and I continue to be surprised at how easy the period of transition is to navigate.
That’s not to say expat life is completely without issue. I’ve found myself craving an environment with a little more Western influence on more than one occasion. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. That’s where Shenzhen’s location comes into its own: Hong Kong is just over the border, with all of the Western creature comforts, decadence and culture you could ever possibly wish for (and the price tag to match, but that’s a different matter entirely). So, what’s the best way to hop the border, and dip your toe in one of the deepest pools of Western civilisation Asia has to offer?
There four most-convenient land-based border crossings between Shenzhen and Hong Kong are:
- Huanggang port checkpoint
- Futian checkpoint
- Luohu border crossing
- Shenzhen bay port
Huanggang port and border crossing served as my first experience of mainland China. 10 minutes of back and forth with the border official owing to the fact I look nothing like my passport photo set the bar of my expectations low for future trips across the border. Excessively judicious officials aside, Huanggang port has one significant advantage over all of the others: it operates 24/7. It’s the only 24h port in the whole of China. Perfect if you’re catching a red-eye flight, or you find yourself awake in the wee-small hours on the Hong Kong side after a night of Western revelry and need to get home.
Huanggang checkpoint is located in Futian district and served by a metro stop of the same name on line 7 (the dark blue one). To cross through immigration, you’ll have to fill out a departure card for China and an arrival card for Hong Kong. Once through China immigration, you have a couple of transport options available to you: public bus or minivan.
The public bus option is the cheapest. However, you’ll have to leave the bus to go through Hong Kong immigration. The minivan option is slightly more expensive, but with that extra cost comes the convenience of not having to leave the vehicle to cross through HK customs.
Futian and Luohu Checkpoints
The Futian checkpoint is one of two pedestrian checkpoints. The checkpoint is the terminus for line 4 (the red one) and is served by the Lok Ma Chau MTR station on the Hong Kong side, the end of the East Rail line.
Luohu is pedestrian checkpoint number 2 and is the terminus for line 1 (the green one). The checkpoint is served by Lo Wu MTR station on the Hong Kong side, again on the end of the East Rail line.
Both checkpoints operate between 0630 and midnight. As with Huanggang, fill out the immigration forms and pass through Chinese customs. You then walk across a pedestrian bridge and cross through Hong Kong customs. Buy yourself an octopus card on the Hong Kong side, hop on the MTR, and you’ll be in Kowloon in ~45 minutes. Simple.
Shenzhen Wan Port
Shenzhen Wan port is in Shekou, with Dengliang being the closest metro stop on line 2 (the orange one). Hong Kong customs are the Shenzhen side of the bridge, so you pass through both Chinese and HK customs very quickly.
Once through customs, numerous buses are available to take you where you need to go. Private car hire and taxis are also available. As you cross through both sets of customs on the mainland, there’s no need to leave the vehicle. The transit time will of course vary depending on where you’re going, but seems to be around 40 minutes.
The port operates again between the hours of 0630 and midnight.
- Bring a pen or a pencil with you. Most of the checkpoints will not have them available to fill out an entry/exit form.
- When you go through a port and are expecting to cross over again, take additional exit/entry forms and pre-fill them before crossing the border. I often carry on-person filled out forms to avoid any delays.
- For a very detailed guide of all Shenzhen ports to Hong Kong, click here!
- Many locals hanging around borders will look for a quick buck, keep notice.