So You’re Going to Shenzhen!
Whether you’re in Hong Kong on business, for vacation, for an exhibition, or even on transit and with a few days to explore, you might find yourself wanting to hop over to mainland China. If you do, you’ll be in one of China’s most booming cities, Shenzhen!
In itself, Shenzhen is a wonderful city to visit. Imagine that just 40 years ago the city had a total population of about 30,000 residents, today that number is closer to 14 million! Foreign investment and its proximity to Hong Kong have turned it into a world-famous city and a hub for businesses.
If you do plan on visiting, you’ll have to pass through one of the Hong Kong – Shenzhen borders, below we’ve made a quick summary of what you can expect and which are the better borders to cross through.
What You Can Expect in All Border Crossings
As with any border crossing, you should expect the usual security checkpoints. You’ll be asked to place your luggage through a screening machine, signs will guide you through the building, officers are there to help if you get lost, and you’ll finally queue in line for one of the counters where you’ll present your passport to a border officer.
Nevertheless, there are a few exceptions. Firstly, if you’re traveling in a vehicle you may be able to stay in the car for the Hong Kong border crossing. However, you’ll always be required to pass through the Shenzhen side on foot. Secondly, if you’re a frequent-enough traveler you may meet the requirements for an E-Channel pass, which allows you to scan-and-go, avoiding those long and tedious queues.
E-Channel and Security Counters
Acquiring an E-Channel (or eChannel) pass can actually be quite simple and save you plenty of time when crossing the border. The only downside, however, is that you’ll need to apply for two, the Hong Kong pass and the Shenzhen pass.
We won’t get into too much detail about this in this article, however, if you’re interested in applying for either of these two passes, you can check out the requirements for Hong Kong here. As for the Shenzhen side, you’ll need a residence permit, then you’ll just have to apply before 5:30pm at either the Luohu, Futian, or Shenzhen Bay port.
A Note on Visas and Visas on Arrival (VOA)
On a last note, you should definitely make sure to either get a visa for mainland China prior to your desired entry or ensure you hold a passport eligible for a Visa on Arrival (VOA). To apply for a visa beforehand, you can visit your local Chinese embassy or consulate. If you’d like to check whether you’re eligible for a VOA, you can check out this helpful article.
Now that we’ve got those details settled, below are a few details about each border. You’ll probably want to choose the border that is most convenient for you, possibly the one closest to your destination.
Luohu / Lo Wu
The Luohu (罗湖) or Lo Wu border is one of the oldest and most frequented checkpoints between the two cities. It’s also one of the most convenient, as it connects both the Shenzhen Metro and the Hong Kong MTR. This border is ideal if you’re visiting the Luohu district (罗湖), continuing North to Longgang (龙岗), or taking a high-speed train to Guangzhou (广州). In this station passengers will also find the Shenzhen Railway Station, for long-distance trains.
- Operating Hours: 6:30 to 00:00
- Peak Hours: 9:00-12:30, 17:00-19:30
Futian Kou An / Lok Ma Chau
The Futian Port (福田口岸) checkpoint, or Lok Ma Chau, is also one of the oldest and most frequented. Like the Luohu checkpoint, it also connects Shenzhen’s metro line and Hong Kong’s MTR line, making it just as convenient. However, this border is better suited for travelers going to the Futian district or headed North to Longhua (龙华).
- Operating Hours: 6:30 to 22:30
- Peak Hours: 9:00-12:00, 17:00-19:00
Adjacent to the Futian Port border crossing, the Huanggang Port (皇岗口岸) is the only border that provides 24-hour service. You’ll find this border especially helpful if you’re traveling back to Shenzhen late, perhaps after arriving on a redeye flight to Hong Kong Airport (HKG). As this border has vehicle access, it’s also perfect for visitors choosing to travel in the comfort of a 24-hour private car service with a professional local driver.
- Operating Hours: 00:00 to 23:59
- Peak Hours: 8:00-12:00, 17:00-20:00
Shenzhen Bay Port (深圳湾口岸) is an option for travelers looking to arrive near the Nanshan district (南山), Shekou (蛇口), or looking to continue Northwest to Bao’an (宝安). This is another very popular, and admittedly quite crowded, option for travelers. It has vehicle access for car services to and from downtown Hong Kong and the Hong Kong International Airport. Though there are also bus services available, there are no nearby metro stations, making it slightly less convenient.
- Operating Hours: 6:30 to 23:30
- Peak Hours: 8:30-12:30, 17:30-20:30
Last on our list of border-crossings is probably the most comfortable, yet also the most expensive, the Shekou Port Ferry (蛇口湾). This is one of the most convenient options to get to and from the airport, as some Asian airlines will allow you to check your luggage directly at the ferry, and your ferry will also dock directly into the airport (eliminating the need for customs in Hong Kong). The only downside is that this option is not 24-hours.
Additionally, arriving at the Shekou port also has the perk of arriving in one of Shenzhen’s top tourist destinations, SeaWorld. Iconic for its landlocked ship, the Minghua, this is the perfect area for travelers to enjoy live music bars, delicious restaurants, popular shopping centers, and even a light and water show each evening.
- Operating Hours: 6:30 to 21:30
- Peak Hours: 11:00-14:00, 17:00-20:00
Easiest Way to Travel from Hong Kong to Shenzhen?
As with most ferry crossings, you should prepare plenty of time and patience, these things take time. We’ve made sure to inform you of the rush hours so, hopefully, you won’t get stuck in a two-hour long queue, just waiting to get to the other side. Nevertheless, if you’d like to spend this time more productively, perhaps working in the back of a roomy vehicle with Wi-Fi and a comfortable setting on the temperature control, consider hiring a professional car service with 24-hour customer support.
This way, you’ll travel door-to-door in the highest comfort (second only to a helicopter ride) and you’ll save yourself the stress and hassle of those long queues, except of course for a brief moment at the Shenzhen border, where by law you’ll have to cross on foot.
We hope your border-crossings run smoothly and you have a chance to visit more than a few places around Shenzhen. If there are any other tricks or tips for fellow travelers, don’t hesitate to leave us a comment. As we say in the mainland, Shenzhen welcomes you! 深圳欢迎你!