Step-by-step from Hong Kong to Tian Xing
Getting to Tian Xing
Getting from Hong Kong airport to Shenzhen airport
by Matt Ryan, August 2002
Getting around in Hong Kong is no more or less difficult than getting around say London. From the airport the bus is a significantly cheaper way (about a third the price) of getting into town than the express rail link is and is just as comfortable and easy (apparently there's a free shuttle bus from one of the express rail stations to the ferry terminal though). You'll need to make your way to the China / Hong Kong Ferry Terminal on Canton Road in Kowloon. Like most buildings in Hong Kong, the ferry terminal is slightly disguised as a shopping centre so don't just walk past it ! It's easy walking distance with gear from either Tsimshatsui MTR (underground) station on Nathan road (which airport bus A21 stops near) and also from the Star Ferry Terminal (easy to get to by bus from anywhere and signposted on foot). If you overshoot on the airport bus or decide to spend a night in Hong Kong then making your way back to one of these should be dead easy by either MTR or bus. A HK city will help you out no end, you'll probably be handed a perfectly usable free one just after you clear immigration and customs on landing. If not then you can buy a more detailed map from the newsagents in the airport. The map in the Lonely Planet guide isn't detailed enough to be of much help. Duncan and I were sufficiently jet lagged we turned down the free one we were offered and then took about ten minutes trying to open the packaging on the one we bought !
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. Locals all use prepaid "Octopus" smart cards which are amazingly cool but probably not worth it for only a couple of journeys - although the card deposit and value is fully refundable.
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.
There are plenty of other ways to get between the two airports. 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. I've just had a look and there's supposed to be stuff about their bus services on there but I can't seem to get to it at the moment. You may have more luck / patience than I had. I don't think these busses stop anywhere on the way so it's probably no advantage if you're spending a night in Hong Kong. There may be well be other Shenzhen airport coach services from somewhere in Hong Kong but again I've got no details. It's probably a bit brave to go via Shenzhen itself in the first instance - doubtless cheaper but it would take quite a bit longer and be somewhat prone to cockups.
Shenzhen airport is pretty easy. If there's any agro with baggage allowance just take stuff onto the plain 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. It's not immediately obvious but you'll need to buy a Y50 "airport construction tax" ticket before going through to the gates, there'll be a desk selling them somewhere in the departures hall and this will be signposted in English. I think you hand this in around the time you get your passport checked before the usual metal detector and X-ray stuff. Someone will take it off you at the right time if you keep handing them every bit of paperwork you have though. I can't remember anything special about landing in Chongqing, usual airport stuff but now you've finally got to the stage where no-one speaks English so just follow the masses. I presume someone is meeting you at the airport, presumably when you enter the arrivals hall but it's not that large a place. If you've got to get into Chongqing itself then there's a decent shuttle bus to the city - but don't expect it to drop you off anywhere immediately useful and certainly don't expect anyone else to be able to find out where exactly the bus stop is to meet you. Welcome to China !
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. Money in Hong Kong is no problem whatsoever. Almost all the cash machines will take Cirrus cards etc and you can change money all over the place, including into RMB (maybe not at the airport but certainly in town) which is probably worth doing since it's bound to be at a better rate than you'll get with anything involving a credit card in China.
Part II: Getting from Chongqing Airport to Tian Xing