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Hong Kong Or Bust! by Greg Lypka

Everyday, thousands of people need or want to go to Hong Kong for either business or personal reasons. For many, it’s not a question of if they will go, but how. Dongguan is a starting point for many of those people, and while the numerous options on how to get to Hong Kong from Dongguan might seem daunting at first, the variety is actually very accommodating to whatever the reason for going happens to be. Whether someone needs to just pop in and out in a day, go to the international airport to reach some other destination or is just looking to relax and enjoy themselves on the way before they begin a Hong Kong getaway, the perfect route can be found.

The four main modes of transport The four main methods of travel are car, train, ferry and bus. Some routes will use only one kind of vehicle; other ways will use combinations. The options allow every passenger a number of choices on price, speed and comfort. As with just about anything in a foreign country, the better a passenger’s knowledge of the local language and customs, the less time and money will be spent, and the ease on the traveler will be overall greater.

The four main border ports What makes a trip to Hong Kong more than just a fun little jaunt is the inevitable obstacle of crossing the border. Currently, the two main land ports of entry and exit from China to Hong Kong are located at Luo Hu and Huang Gang in Shenzen. Luo Hu, being the primary port, is open from 6:30 am to 12:00 am. Huang Gang is open 24 hours a day but is used more for emergency crossings and late night busses from the Hong Kong International airport. Also, recently a third and fourth crossing point were opened in Shenzen Bay and Fu Tian. The new facilities are open during the same hours as Luo Hu but are more state of the art and much nicer and cleaner than any of the beforementioned border crossings. Most importantly, along with Luo Hu, the newer points are also stops on the MTR route. For these reasons, they will surely become the primary points of crossing in the years to come. Unfortunately, no buses or trains on the Mainland side currently service them.

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HERE! DONGGUAN | april 2008

Crossing the border Of the eight main ways of going into Hong Kong from China, three involve crossing the border by foot, regular buses, cars, and the Shilong Train. Three bypass the border, both ferries from Humen and Fuyong as well as the train from Changping. And two are able to drive right through the border, direct “hotel” buses and private transports. Of course, in order to drive across the border a vehicle is required to have licenses and registrations for both China and Hong Kong. Unfortunately, while “hotel” buses will take a person from the Mainland directly to their final destination in Hong Kong, passengers are required to depart the bus and walk through the borders. Private transports are clearly the easiest way to cross the border, allowing passengers to fill out their exit and entry forms and get their visas and passports checked without even leaving their seats. But the question remains: What is the best way to get to Hong Kong?

Getting there Method 1: Dual plated transport Private, dual plated transports are undoubtedly the quickest and easiest way. However, of the minority that own cars here, even less have dual plates. Dual plate transports can be rented - one such business is the West Express Bus Line located at South China Mall. West Express runs luxury transports seating up to seven people with express service to the Hong Kong International Airport. At RMB 250 and a travel time of about an hour and a half to two hours, the Express Bus Line is ideal for anyone needing a fast and direct route to the airport. Similar transports running outside of the service are available, but the passenger must know how to contact the individual drivers. Individual transport drivers are also able to take their passengers anywhere in Hong Kong, not just the airport, but expect prices ranging from RMB 1200 to 1600.

Method 2: Private car or taxi to the border For those not needing to be chauffeured in or around Hong Kong but still want the speed and convenience of being driven to the border, private cars or taxis are a good choice. Besides catching one just driving down the street, many can be found at bus stations and residential garden gates. Many people also already have fulltime drivers for personal or professional reasons. By this method someone’s journey to Hong Kong can start from wherever they want, whenever they want, but it clearly is one of the more expensive methods. A car ride to the border can range from RMB 250 with a well known driver you have perhaps found business for in the past to RMB 350 for a taxi flagged down off the street. Travel time is around an hour and a quarter to an hour and a half to any of the ports. Keep in mind though that despite the high fare, not every driver will want to go so far out of their regular territory. If going by car, it’s recommended to have the driver and price settled on before leaving. One way in which cars (transport, private car or taxi) differentiate from trains, ferries and busses is that it’s the only method where one must tell the driver where one wants to go instead of just getting taken where the vehicle is destined. Communication with the driver is essential. If a private car is being utilized and the passenger is totally unable to express to the driver where he or she needs to go, the best bet would be to use a translator. If a taxi is someone’s only means of transportation, just saying Luo Hu, Huang Gang, Fu Tian, or Shenzen Wan (Shenzen Bay) might be enough to get a person there. After reaching the border, passengers will cross on foot and then (with the exception of Huang Gang) be able to use the MTR.


the many ways to go to hk...exept swimming - clip and save! by Greg Lypka

by Greg Lypka

Cars are fast and convenient but definitely the most expensive method outside of renting a helicopter. There are cheaper, though more public and not as expedient meth-

ods, available. However, trains, ferries and buses have their own charm. Train lovers will be happy to know that Dongguan is home to two “high speed” train stations, one in Shilong and another in Changping. Method 3: Shilong train to the border Trains leave Shilong for Luo Hu as frequently as busses do. Costing RMB 50 and taking only 45 minutes, this is definitely a cheap and quick alternative. The downside to this method is that for anyone in Dongguan who lives closer to HK than Shilong, which is most of Dongguan, the time saved on the train might not balance out when having to backtrack to the station. Method 4: Changping train to Hong Hum Another locomotive option is to catch the high speed train from Guangzhou that makes a stopover in Changping. While the fare is going to run RMB 145 and the travel time is about an hour and a half, the highlight of this ride is that it goes directly into Hong Hum; bypassing the customs check and taking its passengers all the way to Kowloon. Visas and passports are checked when leaving Changping and entering Hong Hum. Method 5: Humen ferry While there will always be train enthusiasts out there, there are just as many, if not more, water lovers. Another way to bypass the land border checks and directly enter the island is via ferry. There are two ferries going to Hong Kong; one departs from Humen and one in Fuyong/Shenzhen near the new Shenzhen airport. The price for a ferry from Humen to the HK airport is RMB 280 for a coach seat and RMB 330 for first class. The trip takes around 70 minutes and there are eight ferries leaving per day, the first at 8:15 am and the last at 5:35 pm. The Humen ferry runs to Hong Kong proper only at special days/times. Check their website for their full schedule.

Method 6: Fuyong ferry The price and time for a ferry from Fuyong depends on whether it is going to the airport or Hong Kong proper. A ferry ride to Hong Kong proper will take about an hour and is RMB 208 for a coach seat and RMB 308 for first class. There is one ferry that leaves for the Gang’ao port (Kowloon) at 11:50 am and one that leaves for Kowloon at 4:30 pm. If headed to the airport, the trip will take about 45 minutes and a coach ticket will cost RMB 280 and first class RMB 380. There are ten ferries a day on the weekdays and nine a day on the weekends; the first leaves at 8:15 am and the last at 8:30 pm.

Why to try the ferry It’s clear why people prefer this method when leaving China through Hong Kong: the ferry is hands down the most scenic way to enter the city; gently floating passengers past some of the most beloved and well known sights in the world. It’s also preferred as a means of leaving China, as besides taking passengers directly to the airport, the ferry is the best option when toting a large amount of luggage. Be warned though that since the ferry allows flight check-in for select airlines (make sure that the airline you’re flying with is in cooperation) before boarding, all required passes and visas for boarding the plane are required before setting foot on the boat.

Getting to the trains and ferries Whether using the train from Shilong or Changping or the ferry from Humen and Fuyong, it’s important to remember that unless you already live in these areas, you’re going to also first have to get to them. For all four, none have bus stations large enough to be considered “foreign friendly.” It’s advised to take a taxi or private car to all. As is the case if you were taking a private car or taxi to

the border or HK, it’s important to have a general knowledge of distances and prices. On average, a taxi or private car from Dongguan City to Shilong is about 45 minutes and about RMB 70, from DGC to Changping RMB 80-100 at about an hour. To Humen it is going to cost about a hundred and will take about an hour. Fuyong is RMB 250 (including tolls), but still takes about an hour. Method 7: Hotel bus The ferries aren’t the only way to travel directly to the airport. Dongguan also has many direct busses that drop its passengers off practically right at the airport check-in hall. Buses that leave the Hotel Silverland and make stops at the Cinese hotel leave regularly and often, everyday. Passengers can get direct buses to the airport, downtown Hong Kong, Disneyland and some other places. At RMB 100 to 220 for a one way ticket, the price is about the same as if the regular bus were able to continue on through the border.

Drawbacks to hotel buses The biggest downside to this method is the massively increased time in transit, as the total travel time from the hotel to Hong Kong proper or the airport can be in excess of three and a half hours. Which is normal, and warnings have even been posted to not take the bus on weekends as the increased number of passengers riding purely for enjoyment can increase waiting times at the customs checks by an additional two hours. While direct buses,

which could be referred to as “luxury coaches” given that they are rather comfortable, certainly have what appears to be the best way in terms of price and convenience, the total travel time is just too much for most people.

HERE! DONGGUAN | april 2008

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Speed

Comfort

Cost

Total Score

9

10

1

20

Method 1

Dual plated transport

roup

Method 2

8

8

5

21

Method 3

7

7

7

21

Method 4

8

8

4

20

Method 5

7

8

4

19

Method 6

6

8

3

17

Method 7

3

6

9

18

7

5

10

22

Private car or taxi to the border

Shilong train to the border

Changping train to Hung Hom

Humen ferry

Fuyong ferry

Hotel bus

Method 8

Regular bus

Best for

Family/G

Best for HK Airpo

rt

Best for Beginners

These figures are based on total travel time and cost from Dongguan City into Hong Kong or to Hong Kong airport. Times, costs and preferences may vary between individual trips.

Method 8: Regular bus A cheaper bus alternative to Hotel buses is to take a regular line one from any of the stations in Nancheng, Dongcheng or Wanjiang. As with private cars or taxis, these buses will only take its passengers to the border of China. However with the considerable waiting time of Hotel buses at the customs checks, many often find it’s quicker and easier to just abandon it at the border. After crossing, the MTR or other modes of transportation will be needed.

A t under RMB 50 a ticket and taking only 80 minutes, the direct bus to Luo Hu, which leaves 42 times a day from the main bus station in Wanjiang, is a cheap and easy* mode of transport to Hong Kong. Buses from the main station start running at 6 am and end at 8 pm. Buses from any of the bus stations to any of the border crossings all take about 80 minutes and cost RMB 45-47, the only variation being in departure times and availability. There are no buses to Huang Gang from the main bus station. The same bus from the Nancheng station that goes to Luo Hu passes first at Huang Gang, with the first departure being at 7:00 am. The Huang Gang bus service from Dongcheng sta-

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tion starts at 7:25 am, ends at 7:10 pm and only leaves every three hours. A separate bus to Luo Hu leaving every 15 minutes runs from 6:00 am to 7:45 pm. *Easy, though really only for someone able to navigate through a local bus station - someone’s first time at this kind of experience can range from fluently chatting with other passengers as to when the next bus leaves to simply turning around and running from the station. However for an experienced traveler who can make their way through the station, it is considered efficient and economical. Once the border is crossed on foot, which can be done rather quickly for foreigners, all enterers to Hong Kong coming through the Luo Hu, Fu Tian or Shenzhen Bay port find themselves at a stop of one of the best mass transit systems in the world:

The MTR The MTR was established in 1975, and at around 2.3 million passengers per weekday is one of the most utilized per-track systems in the world. While again, a mass transit system in a foreign country is never the easiest place to get around, once it is understood the system is probably the fastest, cheapest and easiest way to get around Hong Kong. It also helps that just about every sign is written in Chinese and English and that most staff are able to speak English and help if necessary. Frequent users of

the MTR can purchase the rechargeable Octopus Card that simply needs to be waved over a sensor at station entrances and exits. Octopus cards can also be used in other manners in the city such as to make purchases at convenience stores and gas stations.

Best way? The best way to get to Hong Kong depends on the person’s reason for going - after all, some ways are faster, some are cheaper, some are more relaxing, and others are better when dealing with lots of luggage. The best thing is just to know every possible route there is so that when the opportunity or necessity of a Hong Kong getaway does arise, you’ll know how to get there.

Getting back To return to Dongguan from Hong Kong, most methods are reversible. Best is to note the last train, bus, or ferry leaving for the day and be sure to be there on time. Very important is also to keep in mind the border closing time and the time necessary to pass through all the customs checks. While most times it’s a short wait, a quick check and a chop, weekends and holidays can often cause long queues. Actually, for instructions on how to get back to Dongguan from Hong Kong, simply read this article backwards.


HK Or Bust!