Shenzhen

China > > Guangdong > > Shenzhen

Shenzen is a "special economic zone" just north of Hong Kong. Something like most of the world's plastic doodads are made there because the labor is cheap, the environmental restrictions are nonexistant, and Western investors can easily commute from Britified Hong Kong.

Overview

Orientation: Lowu border crossing is in the south of the city, Yinhu bus station is in the north.

Facilities

Available:
Currency Exchange
Not available:

Currency Exchange

I think there's a Western credit card accepting atm at Shenzhen airport, so you should be able to get some RMB there. Everywhere in the airport takes HK$ though and there may even be a bureau de change as well, so it's worth taking along some HK$ with you in case it doesn't work, you can't find it or it was a figment of my imagination.

Transportation

Long Distance

Train
To: Shenzhen
Kowloon-Canton Railway (KCR): The best way to get to Shenzen, you can ride the KCR from Hong Hom, Kowloon Tong (an MTR stop), or Mong Kok. It's usually pretty crowded, so be prepared to stand if you get on at one of the later stops. Customs and immigration at Lowu can be a complete nightmare if you hit it at the wrong time of day. Try to go early if possible. Entering Shenzen from Hong Kong you'll go through Chinese customs and immigration (different from the Hong Kong customs and immigration). From the KCR train you'll be funneled into a huge queue and eventually shunted to the side (in a much shorter queue) with the rest of the non-Hong Kong Identity Card holders. Here you get to trade your departure card (don't forget to bring a pen) for another stamp in your passport. Then it's over the bridge, notice the nice barbed wire fences and guard tower, to China and another arrival card to fill out. This one is particularly funny: "Do you have an illnesses: psychosis, AIDs, etc."
Flight
Shenzhen airport is pretty easy. If there's any agro with baggage allowance just take stuff onto the plane since there appear to be no controls on weight / number of bags for handbaggage. The rules about dangerous objects appear to be even stronger than on international flights though; anything unidentifiable is better off in the hold.
Ferry
From: Hong Kong airport
To: Shenzhen airport
Price: 200HKD
All being well you need to allow about an hour to get from the airport to the ferry terminal, but be warned - Duncan and Matt stood in line for Hong Kong immigration for over an hour when they landed - although this is probably exceptional, meeting Brian from the same flight the next day there was no delay. When you've got to the ferry terminal / shopping mall the ticket hall is upstairs somewhere but well signposted. There's left luggage lockers up there, if you've got the time / inclination to look around the city then they're worth the fiver or so they'll set you back. They do need coins to operate which are a fairly rare commodity in HK. You'll also need exact change for busses and the MTR ticket machines as well so it's worth generating as much as you can early buying drinks etc - everywhere seems very reluctant to give out change. I think there are change machines at some MTR stations or you can buy your ticket from a real person instead. From the ferry terminal you want tickets to Shenzhen Airport, there are about six sailings a day and it should set you back a little under HK$200 (20 quid). I can't think off the top of my head what the name of the company is which operates it but it's very well advertised in the ticket hall. You almost certainly can buy tickets at the airport but there's no advantage in terms of price and it limits your options somewhat, so you may as well just get them at the ferry terminal. If you end up with an open ticket for any reason (or if you buy it at the airport) then you need to go back to the ticket office to get a seat number before they'll let you through. I don't know the exact sequence of events in this direction but sometime between going through the first gate where they check your tickets and leaving the terminal building at the far end, you need to do various bits of border crossing stuff. Don't forget a pen, I did everytime. First off you'll need to exit Hong Kong - you need to sign and return the piece of paper ("exit card") they gave you back with your passport when you first came in. Then you need to do the Chinese immigration stuff which is surprisingly straightforward fill in a card, get in the queue, hand it to them and keep your fingers crossed - basically you're a tourist who's independently travelling around China which is close enough to the truth without going into details ! Both times I put down Hotel California, Yangshuo as an address in China which is a plausible enough destination for backpackers even though I never actually ended up staying there. You need to put down where in China you're visiting - Shenzhen and Chongqing, plus Yangshuo if that's what you put as an address. Chinese customs is usually just a case of walking through and should cause no problems. Don't check your baggage in unless they absolutely insist since you can leave it at the back of the boat with everyone else's and it saves working out how to get it back at the other end... When you leave the terminal building in Shenzhen there's a short free minibus ride to get you across the port to the airport.
Bus
From: Hong Kong airport
To: Shenzhen airport
There's actually a direct bus between the two which is a bit cheaper and probably faster than the ferry and it's the way I'd probably do it if I had to do it again in anything like a hurry - less scenic though. I don't know too much about it - no idea where in the airport you buy the tickets at the Hong Kong end, how regularly they run etc., but it would probably be worth a few minutes trying to find out at the airport even if just for future reference. They're operated by Ananda Wing On Travel who have an English language website.

Local

Underground
Shenzhen's underground is modelled after the MTR in Hong Kong, but they haven't got things sorted yet. In particular there aren't enough ticket vending machines.
Bus
From: Lowu
To: Yinhu bus station
Price: 2Y
The number 7 bus goes from Lowu to Yinhu. Yihu isn't the terminus, so keep your eyes open (it helps to sit on the RHS of the bus).