Travel Between Hong Kong and Mainland China

Hong Kong Double-Decker Tram in the Wan Chai District of Hong Kong
••• Hong Kong Double-Decker Tram in the Wan Chai District of Hong Kong. Hong Kong (c) Linda Garrison

If you're visiting Hong Kong for business or pleasure, chances are you'll want to travel to mainland China from the independent special administrative district. Fortunately, there are numerous ways for tourists and visitors to get from Hong Kong to mainland China depending on your exact destination, available time, allocated budget, and appetite for adventure.

An important first step for any visitor to Hong Kong and mainland China is to make sure that your passport and travel visas are in order before you start your journey—as you won't be able to travel between Hong Kong and China without going through separate immigration centers and passport agencies.

That's because Hong Kong acts as its own sovereign administrative district with its own immigration process, customs offices, currency, and even passport administration services, meaning each time you travel between the mainland and this large city, you'll need to present your travel documents.

Getting to Hong Kong By Car

It is possible to drive yourself from Hong Kong to mainland China, although driving is not recommended as it comes with a few challenges including switching between sides of the road to drive on (China and Hong Kong drivers use opposite sides of the road) and trying to read the nearly-useless road signs.

As a result, the most comfortable and convenient way to travel is to let someone else do the driving for you. Generally speaking, you can get door-to-door service without having to navigate by hiring a car or limo service; both options are widely available if not a bit pricey—rates range from $400 to over $800 (HKD) per hour depending on the type of car and service you require.

Try to negotiate a flat rate from pick-up to destination point, as traffic can be congested in and around the border crossing; a good rate can quickly become exorbitant when paying hourly.

Take a Train to Hong Kong

The train is a reliable (and affordable) transportation link between Hong Kong and the mainland, and the KCR ( Kowloon-Canton Railway) connects Hong Kong with Shenzhen (Lo Wu), Dongguan, and Guangzhou.

The furthest of these points, Guangzhou, can be reached in under two hours, but journey times can vary depending on how long the lines are at the immigration offices, so plan accordingly for your trip to avoid running late on account of dealing with the passport administration.

If your hotel is on the Kowloon side, you need the Hunghom station. If you are on Hong Kong Island, catch the MTR, get off at Kowloon Tong, and follow signs for the KCR. Fares range from $145 to $250 (HKD), depending on the class of service and route.

Travel by Ferry or Plane to Hong Kong

Taking the ferry is a speedy and comfortable option for getting to mainland China, and ferries depart from both Kowloon and Hong Kong International Airport and are operated by separate ferry companies. From either point, you can get to many destinations in China, including Shekou (Shenzhen) and Fuyong (Shenzhen Airport). Rates are reasonable and range from $120 to $300 (HKD) each way, depending on class and destination. 

For travel to northern and central China (Beijing, Shanghai), you'll want a faster mode of transport, and Hong Kong International Airport connects to 40 inland destinations in China. However, these flights are considered international flights and a $90 (HKD) fee will be assessed at the airport, so you will need to have cash handy (U.S. currency or credit cards not accepted).