Hong Kong and Shenzhen are two bustling metropolises, each with millions of residents and separated by a small river and international border. Travel between the two cities is both simple and complicated, since direct high-speed trains can make the journey in as little as 15 minutes—if you have the correct visa. The most important factor to determine what method you take depends on if you get your Chinese visa before arriving in Hong Kong or if you need a Visa on Arrival to China.
The high-speed train is the fastest method of travel between cities, but you'll need a valid Chinese visa before boarding the train (in other words, you need to obtain a visa in your country of origin). If you haven't planned ahead, you can also receive a Visa on Arrival (VOA) at special entry points that allows visitors to stay in Shenzhen for five days.
|High Speed Rail||15 minutes||from $10||Travelers who already have a visa|
|Metro||60–90 minutes||from $5||Travelers who need a Visa on Arrival|
|Ferry||50–90 minutes||from $20||Travelers who need a Visa on Arrival|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Hong Kong to Shenzhen?
You can take the Hong Kong metro (MTR) from any part of the city to the border with Shenzhen, and this method can be used by visitors who already have a valid Chinese visa or who need a VOA. You need to get to the East Rail Line of the metro (or light blue line) and ride it all the way to one of the last two stops—Lo Wu or Lok Ma Chau. If you're coming from the center of Hong Kong, the trip takes about an hour to get to the border and costs 100$HKD (about $13). It's less expensive if you have an Octopus Card, or Hong Kong subway pass. Once you enter Shenzhen, you'll need to pay for the VOA if you don't already have one in addition to the fare for the Shenzhen metro. Both of these additional costs must be paid for in Chinese yuan and Hong Kong dollars will not be accepted.
If you need the VOA, Lo Wu is the more convenient location to choose because you can arrive on the metro, get your visa, and hop on the Shenzhen metro all within the same vicinity. If you take the metro to Lok Ma Chau and you need a VOA, you'll have to walk about 10 minutes to another office—Huanggang—to get the visa and there is no Shenzhen metro at that building.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Hong Kong to Shenzhen?
A high-speed train connects the futuristic West Kowloon Station in Hong Kong with Shenzhen in as little as 15 minutes. The two stations in Shenzhen are Futian and Shenzhenbei, and Futian is the main stop in the center of the city and most likely to be your destination. The exact price varies based on the exchange rate between the Hong Kong dollar and the Chinese yuan, but it's roughly $10 for a one-way ticket in second class. There are over 80 trains each day that make the route with trains leaving every five to 10 minutes. Not all trains stop in Futian, so make sure you confirm the route before boarding.
Before you get on the train, you'll pass through security and immigration in the Hong Kong station just like at an airport. There's no way to get a VOA if you are taking the high-speed train, so you'll already need a valid visa to enter Mainland China. These visas must be obtained in your country of residence so if you don't already have one, you don't be able to use the high-speed train to get to Shenzhen.
Is There a Ferry That Goes From Hong Kong to Shenzhen?
The ferry is the most expensive method for getting to Shenzhen and takes nearly as long as the metro, but taking a ride on the water is undeniably the most fun way to travel between the cities. Several companies offer ferry service leaving from the Hong Kong Macau Terminal located near the popular Victoria Harbour, and it takes about an hour to reach Shekou Port on the Shenzhen side. Ticket prices vary based on the company you choose and the type of ticket, but the cheapest fares start at about $20.
Shekou Port does offer VOA to visit Shenzhen, so visitors who haven't obtained a Chinese visa prior to the trip are able to take the ferry to Shenzhen without worry.
When Is the Best Time to Travel to Shenzhen?
The most comfortable time to visit Shenzhen is from autumn through early spring. Just as with Hong Kong, the city experiences a sub-tropical climate and winter temperatures are pleasantly warm. In the summer months—roughly May to September—high temperatures are made even more unbearable by the oppressive humidity.
All of China also celebrates two week-long vacations known as Golden Week, first for Chinese New Year in late January or early February and then again in early October for National Day. During these popular travel periods, people are on the move all across the country, meaning that hotels and transit are usually booked up. If you're traveling during either Golden Week or National Day, make sure to confirm your reservations as early as possible.
Do I Need a Visa to Travel to Shenzhen?
Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of China and is treated as a separate country for all intents and purposes, so even though U.S. citizens can travel to Hong Kong without a visa, you will need one to enter Shenzhen in Mainland China. Getting a Chinese visa in the U.S. can be a headache and requires quite a few steps, but if you know your trip to Hong Kong is going to include an excursion to Shenzhen, it's usually worth the effort to do it in advance. For one, if you get a Chinese visa from your local consulate in the U.S., it will last you for multiple trips over a 10-year period while the Visa on Arrival is only good for visiting Shenzhen—and nowhere else—for five days. Also, you'll pay the same price regardless of which you get, so you're getting much more for your money's worth with the 10-year visa.
But for travelers who weren't able to get a visa beforehand or who prefer the simplicity of the VOA, make sure you enter Shenzhen at one of the VOA border crossings, such as the Lo Wu metro station or the Shekou Port ferry stop. You'll need your passport and the entry slip you received when entering Hong Kong, as well as the application fee in cash in Chinese yuan—not Hong Kong dollars. The process is usually quick and shouldn't take more than 10–20 minutes, but if you're traveling on a weekend or holiday, delays are possible. It's important to remember that the VOA is only valid for visiting Shenzhen; if you want to visit other parts of Mainland China, you'll need to obtain a Chinese visa in your country of residence.
Visa requirements, rules, and fees frequently change. Confirm the most up-to-date policies and prices before you head to the border.
What Is There to Do in Shenzhen?
Many people love to cross the border and visit Shenzhen for shopping, since prices are much lower than in neighboring Hong Kong. Whether you're looking for clothing, electronics, jewelry, or anything else, you can find it in this megacity. The Luohu Commercial City is one of the largest shopping centers in the city, and it's conveniently located next to Hong Kong at the Lo Wu border crossing. Since Shenzhen is a relatively new city—growing from a small seaside town to a city of 12 million in just the last few decades—there isn't a lot of history, but the city more than makes up for it with cultural offerings such as the Splendid Chinese Folk Village. And even though Hong Kong is a food mecca, Shenzhen offers its own culinary treats with plenty of delicious Cantonese restaurants to try.