How to travel by train from Hong Kong to Shenzhen

How to travel by train from Hong Kong to Shenzhen

Many business travellers headed to Hong Kong also choose to visit nearby Shenzhen, which is perched on the edge of the Chinese mainland but barely one hour away.

Considered the heart of the Pearl River Delta manufacturing zone, Shenzhen is one of China's eight business- and trade-friendly "special economic zones".

There's no shortage of companies in Hong Kong which will shuttle you there by car, coach or minivan – your hotel's concierge can make the arrangements – but it's quite easily done using by train, using Hong Kong's MTR network and East Rail line and your Octopus card.

1. Head to Hung Hom MTR station

Hung Hom is at the city end of the purple West Rail MTR line, and just one station past East TST – which also puts it within easy reach of most hotels in downtown Kowloon.

2. Change to the East Rail Line

Hung Hom also shares a connection to the light blue northbound East Rail Line, and you probably won't even need to change platforms – just walk across to the other side of the same platform.

3. Catch the train to Lo Wu

East Rail Line trains are not as modern as those on Hong Kong's MTR metro services, and the train runs overground through much of its journey as it cuts north through the New Territories region, so there's a little bit of scenery.

After around 40 minutes you'll alight at Lo Wu (also written as Luohu), which is on the edge of the Hong Kong / China border and the most popular point for entering Shenzhen.

4. You are now leaving Hong Kong...

Follow the crowd through the exit at Lo Wu station and towards Hong Kong immigration.

This is where it can get a little tricky (and time-consuming): you'll want to veer right towards the 'foreign' lane, even if you have Hong Kong's e-Channel pass, as the sign-posted e-Channel lanes at this checkpoint appear to work only with the passports of Hong Kongers and Chinese nationals.

Keep your passport in your hand and be ready to flash the rear cover with its e-Channel sticker to any customs staff standing around to direct travellers. They'll direct you to the e-Channel lanes for foreigners, which is in the 'foreigners' zone at the far right side of the checkpoint.

When i visited Shenzhen it was a busy Saturday morning with was extensive queue for the manual 'foreigners' checkpoint but only one person staffing it, compared to a dozen e-Channel gates in operation and a waiting time of barely one minute.

5. Cross the border into Shenzhen (have your visa ready)

After passing through Hong Kong immigration you'll cross a footbridge over the Sham Chun River which marks the Hong Kong / Shenzhen border, and then line up for Chinese immigration.

Your Chinese visa or APEC Business Travel Card will see you through to Shenzhen. if you don't have either, you can apply for a single-entry Shenzhen visa just before the immigration checkpoint.

That process can take up to 30 minutes and costs ¥168 (A$34), and we've detailed it here.

Read more: How to get a Shenzhen visa when visiting from Hong Kong

David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.
 

16 comments

  • CityRail

    CityRail

    7 Mar, 2018 07:49 am

    Other than going to Shenzhen via Lo Wu, the East Rail Line also extends to Lok Ma Chau, another boarder crossing point to Shenzhen, where you can change for Line 4 on Shenzhen Metro direct to Fu Tian, the city centre and access to hotels such as Ritz-Carlton etc.
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  • Blake

    Blake

    7 Mar, 2018 02:17 pm

    Be aware, check the timetables. I caught last train from HK to SZ on a saturday night, and the SZ subway system is already closed earlier. I then was in the huge Taxi queue for 2 hours.

    Not funny, and logistically no sense by SZ subway dept, that train from HK was packed.
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  • J.Bloggsworthy

    J.Bloggsworthy

    7 Mar, 2018 06:46 pm

    An important thing to note, the train is a good option if you're already in downtown HK, but a really bad option of you're arriving at HK airport and heading direct to SZ. Getting from the Airport Express to East Rail requires at least 2 other trains no matter which way you interchange.

    If you're flying into HK and heading straight to SZ, the ferry is a much better option. No need to pass HK immigration either. although beware you need a (free but often very crowded) shuttle bus from the new ferry terminal to the metro station at the Shenzhen end.
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  • Graeme Bray

    Livewireshock

    8 Mar, 2018 12:13 am

    The ferry is great if you need to go to the western side of Shenzhen (Nanshan), the rail option is good for central (Futian) or eastern Shenzhen (Luohu). However, rather than multiple transfers from the Airport (via Tsing Yi, Lai King, Prince Edward and Kowloon Tong) to Lo Wu or Lok Ma Chau as per the journey planner. Take the Airport Express to Kowloon, use the free shuttle bus at that station to Hung Hom (second or third stop) and then travel to Lo Wu or Lok Ma Chau. This is not so good in reverse though as the shuttle bus visits many hotels before getting to the Airport Express train.

    Even more stress free is to walk under the rail line at the Airport station to Terminal 2, where there are direct buses to Shenzhen border crossings. Best yet, there are 'nanny van' luxury mini buses that can be hired direct to Shenzhen hotels and addresses via Shenzhen Bay and the driver handles the border crossing formalities, without yourself needing to get out.
    Member who gave thanks

    Bryank

  • Graeme Bray

    Livewireshock

    7 Mar, 2018 11:55 pm

    You are wrong about the e-Channel situation. Foreigner passports are handled, but only at the machines used by Chinese nationals, which means that the line can be longer than manual processing. There are no dedicated Foreigner e-Channel lanes, which HK Immigration says is because of lack of demand from my correspondence with them. Regardless I have used the e-Channel several times at both Futian/Lok Ma Chau and Luohu/Lo Wu border crossings when travelling by rail, let alone the other crossing points.

    Please add the Chinese name for the border crossings too, as I have come across many Westerners struggling with finding the correct border crossing on the return because of the different names.
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  • Michael Reade

    MikeAir

    21 Mar, 2018 07:42 pm

    There are dedicated Foreigner E-Channels when leaving HKG at LoWu. You must turn right at exit of MTR charge point. 30 metres along the hall. They are tarted up in light blue tape along with guard to stop chinese using them. Coming back in is a pain as half of China trys to go through the E-channel to enter HKG and many are refused, as not registered. The problem at this point is total lack of room. The new terminal will solve this problem.
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  • Msandler2009

    Msandler2009

    8 Mar, 2018 08:14 am

    If you are coming from Hong Kong Island or Central Kowloon, then you're better off taking a bus direct to the Huanggang border (which is very close to the Lok Ma Chau/Futian train station border). The train from Central would require at least 3 transfers to get you to the border. The buses run every 5-15 minutes 24/7 from various points in Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, the tickets cost about $48 HKD, they can be paid for by Octopus, HKD, or RMB. The bus takes around 45 minutes to get you to border. You will have to go through HK immigration, then catch the same bus to the Chinese side (3 minute ride). Then you can cross the Chinese side which has a Dedicated foreigner lane. From there you can take a taxi, or a train from the adjacent Shenzhen metro station (Huanggang Checkpoint/Huanggang KouAn). This trip is much quicker than the train trip, and it runs 24/7.
    Member who gave thanks

    Bryank

  • BK BK

    Bryank

    4 Jan, 2019 03:01 pm

    Do you need to have a Visa first going this way?
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  • Frank

    Frank

    21 Mar, 2018 06:27 pm

    I take it the visa you need is a short one, hours rather than days perhaps, to get to Shenzhen? It seems many wish to go there, what's the attraction?
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  • Msandler2009

    Msandler2009

    21 Mar, 2018 06:42 pm

    You can get a 6-day visa for the Shenzhen area, but only through the Lo Wu train station border crossing, for about $30.
    There is lots of cheap shopping in Shenzhen. In addition, accommodation is much cheaper, it is not unheard of to stay in Shenzhen and commute to Hong Kong (the transport links are excellent).
    Member who gave thanks

    Frank

  • Stephen Howell

    ratrace

    15 Jul, 2018 12:53 am

    Having done this today, there is no way I would consider staying in SZ for essentially an HK break or stopover. The visa process is straightforward but navigating all the bureaucracy and crowds is quite tiring, and the MTR on the HK side to HK island takes 45 minutes each way.
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  • Elinor Zhu

    travelpro-hk

    12 Sep, 2018 12:47 pm

    Hello, David, you provided good stuffs to first time travelers to Hong Kong. It can be a basic and most used way to travel for Shenzhen. However, all will be changed from September 23 when the high speed bullet train will bound for Mainland China cities including Shenzhen from the West Kowloon Station. With the high speed train, travel between the two mega cities will be easy than ever before. With traveling time short to 15 to 20 minutes, you will be able to get to Shenzhen Futian or Shenzhen North Railway Station.

    Border clearance has also been simplified and all this can be done at the well-designed West Kowloon Station.
    Hope my update here can do some help!
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  • Yohy

    Yohy

    4 Jan, 2019 01:30 pm

    Immigration at kowloon west requires check in around along time before departure and is subject to lengthy delays.

    For now the HSR is best for long haul trips into China.
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  • John

    VZ1_60

    4 Jan, 2019 02:50 pm

    Also remember to take your Hong Kong entry card that is issued at Immigration when you arrive (the little / small ticket), otherwise you will either be refused entry, or will need to get another one at Shenzhen. From experience, this can be difficult !!
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  • BK BK

    Bryank

    4 Jan, 2019 02:59 pm

    The ferry to Shekou Port from Hong Kong ferry terminal is my favourite way to head up. You can get a Visa before hand at CTS in Queens Rd with a couple of days notice or there is a Visa Office at the Port, but it can close at lunch times for long periods. Taxi's in SZ are cheap and plentiful and just as quick as the subway usually. Shekou has the benefit of having all the nice bars and restaurants at Sea World as well and nice hotels.
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  • Tristan

    tris06

    4 Jan, 2019 05:28 pm

    "Considered the heart of the Pearl River Delta manufacturing zone" Yeah that is not quite accurate these days. Most manufacturing has moved well out into other cities (Dongguan for example). Shenzhen is the IT capital of China (China silicon valley).

    Concerning the E-channel you can use it at any immigration in China and I use it with my Australian passport, but you need a valid visa with over 6 months validity remaining. First time you enter you use the regular manual line. Then when you are through you can register just before the immigration desks on the E channel departure floor (level 3). Then you need to wait 24hrs and you will have E-channel access until your current visa expires. I am currently on my 2nd visa which I registered with the E channel. It is handy during peak hours and not needing to fill out the immigration form.
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Guest

26 Mar, 2019 01:46 am

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