Copyright ©2004 Thomas Markfelder
Hong Kong is a quite attractive place for tourists from all over the world. It's 'westernized' culture makes it a nice mix between Chinese and western tradition and easy to come around. Language is typically not a barrier as most people understand and speak English.
However, only few Gwai Lo tourists take the opportunity for a day trip to 'real' China. Shenzhen, the Special Economic Region northern of Hong Kong is easy to reach and a shoppers paradise. As one of China's boom towns, it will also give some more impressions about China and its interpretation of capitalism. You can e.g. buy all famous brand watches, bags, ..., of course mostly 'made in China'.
Below you'll find some tips if you are planning to go there.
Zhuhai, the Special Economic Region northern of Macao is the more calm alternative.
Take KCR, Kowloon-Canton-Railway,
from HungHom or use MTR
to KowloonTong and interchange to KCR.
The direction of the train is LoWu.
If you do not own an Octopus-Card, you can get the ticket at any KCR station. A single journey ticket in approximately 35HKD. If you plan for a day-trip it's recommended to purchase a return ticket as you might thus get some discount.
Once arrived in LoWu, proceed with the crowd forward. The first queue will be at the exit of the KCR area. Make sure to have your ticket ready.
Next is the ...
A few steps after the KCR gates, a split into 2 lines is indicated by signs and fences.
The left lane is for visitors. The indicators on top of the counters showing 'Visitors' are in orange color.
Note, visitors here means visitors to Hong Kong in opposition to the lane on the right for Hong Kong Residents.
As a Hong Kong visitor make sure you have your passport and the departure card ready. Normally you'll have the departure card already with your passport as it is the copy of your arrival card.
In case you lost it for any reason you can fill it before queuing again. You'll find the forms on the desks at the left hand side.
If you're a Hong Kong resident, you've to use the lanes on the right. There is a further split between 'Permanent ID card holders' and other normal residents. In case you are a Gwai Lo and have never heard about 'Permanent ID' you should take the 'Residents' line with the yellow color announcement above the counter. :)
The Permanent ID counter is indicated in red color letters.
Right after the immigration counters is the Hong Kong customs clearance.
Congratulations, you're half way there.
Actually you're now nowhere as you have left Hong Kong but you're not yet in China. :)
Follow the signs to Shenzhen, go straight across the bridge and leave the Duty-Free-Shops on the right. After having crossed the river, you face the ...
The counters for foreigners are straight in front of you on the same floor.
However, to enter Shenzhen you'll need to have a valid visa. If you already have a visa for China (single or multiple entry) you can proceed on this floor. If you don't have a visa you need to take the escalator or stairs one floor up. There you've to fill the Visa Application form and queue for the counter. Hand the form, the fee (approximately 150HKD) and your passport to the officer and wait for your call.
Note, the passport needs to be valid for at least another 6 month and needs to have an empty page. Further, there might be different handling dependent on your nationality.
The officer will pass you back your passport with the visa sticker inside. Now, with your Shenzhen visa, proceed downstairs again to the Shenzhen immigration hall. Note, the visa you receive at the boarder is only valid for a single entry to Shenzhen. It is not valid for other areas in China.
Before lining up at the Shenzhen immigration counters catch and fill the Entry Card form. You can see an example of an Entry Card form by following this link.
Note, that this is an example only.
Make sure you have a complete form consisting of a white paper and a yellow copy. You can get the form from the desks on the left hand side of the hall, across the counters for 'Foreigners'. Now that's where you have to queue after having filled the form.
You might notice the temperature sensors hanging from the ceiling. Still a reminder on the SARS outbreak in 2003. After Shenzhen immigration you'll be channeled for the customs screening. Put your luggage on the belt for the x-ray scanning and don't forget to pick it up at the end. :)
Now you are in China's boomtown Shenzhen.
You've to leave the building via the automated glass door.
If you didn't bring any RMBs, the Chinese currency,
you can use the HSBC ATM
before leaving the immigration building.
It's located right hand side just before the glass door exit.
Note, HK$ is widely accepted in Shenzhen as well but you usually don't get an exact exchange rate as RMB to HKD is nearly 1.
Straight opposite of the immigration building is a large shopping mall.
You can take the escalator to get up to the entrance floor of the mall....
You might also check the following link for some more detailed shopping tips at "Shop in Shenzhen".
--- update ---
The taxi stand is now next to the Metro entrance, one floor lower. You can find it by going straight after leaving the immigration building and then going down the escalator or stairs. It's a little bit hidden since not all signs are up yet but I'm sure this will change soon.
--- update ---
If you want to visit other places in Shenzhen, you can take a taxi. There is a taxi stand in the same building as the immigration. Nevertheless you'll need to exit the building through the above mentioned glass doors first. Turn right and walk into the area with some smaller stalls on the right. Keep left and you'll see the metal fences for the taxi queue already. It's up to you which queue you take. You'll anyway realize that as usual your queue is moving slowest. :)
Never mind, just enjoy watching the fascinating system.
There are several taxi companies operating in Shenzhen.
You can easily recognize them by the mostly red color and the taxi signs on the top.
Taxi-meters are general in use.
You can also use one of the many private drivers that offer their services. Make sure you negotiate the price for the trip or the whole day before you start. As I never tried, I can not recommend or comment this way of transportation.
As English is not very common understood by the taxi drivers,
I recommend to bring the name of your destination written in Chinese characters.
A business card for example will do the job.
Further, it is always helpful to bring along your mobile phone.
Make sure to have the number of a mandarin speaking friend at hand.
In case you're to far away for walking,
get on a cab and tell the driver to go to LoWu and XianGang,
the Mandarin name for Hong Kong.
You'll then end up at the immigration building / train station. The taxi drop off is inside the building one level higher than the shopping mall entrance.
Follow the tiny walk way with the stalls on both sides. At the end of the aisle take the stairs down 1 floor and turn hard left.
Now you walk against the crowd towards the open entrance from the footbridge. Turn left into the wide aisle instead of leaving the building.
Note, this is the footbridge that connects the building with the shopping mall.
So, in case you just spent your time there, this is the way go back.