Update 11/28/16: It’s been a few years since I put this post together, and lots of people still come in to take a look. The information should still be pretty accurate but if you’re looking for up to date information check out my friend Mike’s Post on crossing the Shenzhen/HK boarder: https://www.globalfromasia.com/hong-kong-border/
So living and working in Shenzhen I end up going to Hong Kong every once in a while. I also get asked how to get to Shenzhen when clients land in Hong Kong or how to get back when they leave our facility or finish a factory visit. Over the few years I’ve been here I’ve used almost all was to get across and have heard different stories at the different crossing. This is just is my experience and advice.
Before going on to the different options for those of you that don’t know, Hong Kong (HK) and Shenzhen (SZ) or mainland China have different customers and border regulations, so going from one to the next is like going from one country to another. Also, all of these are bases on not having a HKID and not being able to use the fast lane which might allow for some places to be a little faster.
There are several different borders that can be used. For the most part the way that’s fastest for you depends where you are in HK and where in SZ you want to go or the other way around. In some cases it also depends on what time you’re going. Here are the different ways to get across.
Shenzhen Bay / Shenzhen Wan Kouan
SZ Location: Nanshan District
HK Location: Tin Shui Wan and also good for the Hong Kong Airport, buses go everywhere in HK
Hours: 630 to 2400 (Though Bridge from Hong Kong to Shenzhen Bay closes at 11:30; from SZ to HK its open later)
Update: Please see updated post about this border as its not longer as fast.
Crossing: This is one of the newer borders and is the large bridge that goes over Shenzhen Bay. I personally use this crossing the most since its close to where I live. Since its one of the newer crossings its also easy to get though customs since the Chinese and Hong Kong customs are about 200 meters from each other so if you walk across with lost of items its pretty easy. This border is also usually pretty calm and you can get across quickly most of the time. It seems to me that most tour buses do use this way now so you can get stuck waiting in customs for a while, but even then its only 20 or 25 min to get across. Most of the time if you walk across it takes about 5 or 10 min. You can also take a Van or private car across which takes about 20 min, again depending on how many people are there.
Transportation Options: In Shenzhen you can get here with a taxi or there are several public buses that get you there. When there you have several options depending on where you are going. If you want to take a van to the airport then go up to the little blue booth right before you walk in, which does say HK Airport, and purchase your ticket and you’ll wait some for a van to come. Unfortunately it does sometimes take some time to get a van to the airport so its best if you call ahead of time and get one scheduled. If you get a van scheduled this is the fastest way to the airport from Nanshan. You also have taxis that will get you to the airport or anywhere in Hong Kong. If you are not going to the airport and don’t want a taxi you can also purchase a bus ticket to take you to many places in HK. Its important to remember you need to purchase these bus tickets before you go across the border, the same places as the Van to the airport. If you go across there is no place to buy the tickets, and I’ve never tried to just talk to the bus. You purchase the ticket to where you want to go and walk across the border and get on the bus. These buses to downtown run frequently, but if you’re going to another area the bus usually runs once an hour so you’ll want to learn the schedule so you don’t have to wait for a while. Other then the “cross border” buses and taxis you can take public transportation. Once you cross the border you can walk a little to the left and get on bus B2P which will then take you to Tin Shui Wan metro station. The bus cost 8.50 HKD and you can use your octopus card, you can also take this to get back to Shenzhen. With the new metro line in HK you can take this all the way to TST and make it in less then an hour.
Shekou Port Ferry
SZ Location: Nanshan District - Shekou
HK Location: HK Island or Kowloon or Airport, depends on the ferry you take
Hours: About 7 AM to 10 PM, depends where you’re going.
Crossing: This is probably the easiest way to get across but can also take some time. In Shenzhen just go to the shekou port and buy a ticket to get on the boat. You do have to be there 30 min before the boat leaves if you don’t have any luggage, and an hour if you do have luggage and are going to the airport. Because of the time you need to be there before and the schedule of the boats it can be pretty time consuming. Also, if you’re going to the airport only certain airlines allow this so you need to check before hand. It is however the easiest because you just get on the ferry and it takes you to HK (or Macao). With Shenzhen Bay open there are less and less ferries going to downtown Hong Kong as it takes less time to use that crossing so you need to go by there and check the times. If from Hong Kong you can just go to the two international ferry terminals and buy a ticket and it drops you off at the Shekou Port.
Transportation Options: Its a ferry, so only the boat. Again, you need to be there early, so if its at 9 AM ferry you need to be there at 8:30 (but they do let you on at 8:45) or if you have luggage for the airport over an hour early so 8 AM. Because of this its usually easier to go to Shenzhen Bay as you can go right though.
SZ Location: Futian
HK Location: Lok Ma Chau but buses go from/to everywhere in HK.
Hours: 24 Hours
Crossing: This is one of the older crossing and the only 24 hour crossing. Its also the busiest and can be really hectic and somewhat dirty on the Shenzhen side. If you’re heading to or from HK after midnight this is the way you’ll go. From HK there are buses that will take you there. Since its and older crossing the China and HK side are separated, so you first cross either SZ or HK border and then take a bus for a few min and then cross the other. You do have to get off with all your items at both border crossings. You would purchase the bus ticket at the crossing in SZ or wherever you get on in HK, and it will take you between the two checkpoints. You can also get Vans here that take you to the airport. I would try and avoid this unless you are after midnight as the other borders are nicer and Futain crossing is 2 blocks away so that that if in this area.
Transportation Options: Like I mentioned above its only with a bus or a van. The buses run everywhere around HK and run pretty often. After midnight from HK there are buses every hour and I would think the same from the SZ side.
SZ Location: Futian
HK Location: Lok Ma Chau but there is a metro that takes you downtown
Hours: 630 to 2400
Crossing: I have yet to try this crossing as I’ve had no need to get to Futian from HK or usually go from home to get to HK. I have heard good things about this crossing, as its a new crossing and less busy. This crossing is very close to Huanggang but it has access to the Shenzhen Metro and to the HK MTR. If you’re heading to HK from SZ and your in Futian you can get on the metro, cross over, and take the MTR in HK.
Transportation Options: SZ Metro and HK MTR are your best bets. It is possible to get a taxi to the crossing in SZ but I’m not sure about the HK side. As I haven’t taken it I’m not sure so please leave some comments and I’ll fill this up later on or add to it when I get a chance to take it.
SZ Location: Luohu
HK Location: Lo Wu but there is a metro that takes you downtown
Hours: 630 to 2400
Crossing: This again is another older crossing. On the HK side you go right into and MTR station and every time I’ve been you have to take the MTR to get to HK or from HK to this border. As its an older border you end up walking a good amount between the SZ checkpoint and the HK checkpoint. If you have a lot of stuff make sure it’s easy to carry as there is a set of stairs you go up but for the most part you can roll everything. This border is great if you’re in Luohu but it is pretty busy so it can take you some time to get across.
Transportation Options: From SZ you can take the metro and then cross and take the MTR. You can also take a taxi or bus and then take the MTR on the HK side. From HK you need to take the MTR to get here as I haven’t seen any bus that goes here. Also, if you’re heading to the airport you’ll probably want to take a border that goes directly there (you can hire a car that takes you though, but you need to arrange this before and have them pick you up, there is no place to do it once at the border).
[Update for Luohu] If you’re in Luohu district take the Luhou border. Its fairly simple, just take a taxi and have them take you to that border. Then follow the signs that say to Hong Kong. Make sure you follow where it says foreigners as it splits up into Chinese and foreigners but they are close together so if you get to one a guard will tell you where to go. Then follow the crowed once you get out of Shenzhen (thought the first border) and walk up to the Hong Kong boarder, you can’t go anywhere else. Its easy to use but it can be full sometimes and its also a good walk between the two borders. Also, once in HK you must get on the MTR which will take you to where you want to go.
SZ Location: Yantian
HK Location: Sha Tau Kok
Hours: 700 to 2100
Crossing: This is a very small border crossing that most people don’t even know about. If you’re going to yantian or that area its ideal as its not too busy. Just watch the times as it closes earlier then most and the transportation to/from here is fairly limited. Its similar to Huanggang in that you get on the bus and must go take it to get to the next checkpoint. If you’re near this crossing its better and faster to take it then the Luohu crossing, but can take some time if you need to wait for a bus to take you to where you want.
Transportation Options: From SZ you can get there with a taxi and there are buses that run there. At this border you buy your tickets for the bus or van after you cross, although they do offer them upfront but just wait until your in HK. There are buses that go to the aiport and also take you down town, but again, as this is a smaller crossing there can be some waiting. From HK you can ask at the bus terminals if they go there or at the airport you can also catch a van or bus to the border. Again you may wait a while to get a bus there.
So those are your options and some of my experiance, as I said at the beginning its mostly where you start or want to go to in SZ or where you are going in HK. Leave some comments if I missed anything or if you have had a different experience at these borders.