Hong Kong to Beijiing train
 

A CRH400 high-speed train, capable of 350km/h on journeys between Hong Kong, Beijing & Shanghai.

Buy train tickets from Hong Kong to Beijing

Buy tickets online at www.chinahighlights.comHow to buy Chinese train tickets, full details.

Hong Kong by train

Once a British colony, now a special administrative region of China, Hong Kong has its own border controls & immigration policies, and its own currency.  It's easy to reach by train from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou or any other Chinese city.  Indeed, until the war in Ukraine it was possible to travel between Hong Kong and Europe by Trans-Siberian Railway (I know, I've done it).  This page explains how to travel between Hong Kong and major cities in China and beyond, in either direction.

small bullet point  Hong Kong - Beijing

    - Option 1, by high-speed train

    - Option 2, by high-speed sleeper train

small bullet point  Hong Kong - Shanghai

small bullet point  Hong Kong - Guangzhou

small bullet point  Hong Kong - Xian, Guilin, Nanning & China

small bullet point  Hong Kong - Macau by ferry

small bullet point  Hong Kong - Hanoi & Vietnam

small bullet point  Hong Kong - Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore

small bullet point  Hong Kong - Tokyo & Japan by train & ferry

small bullet point  Hong Kong - Europe by Trans-Siberian Railway

small bullet point  Transport within Hong Kong

small bullet point  Hotels in Hong Kong

small bullet point  Travel insurance, Curve card & VPN


Useful country information

Train operator in China:

Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (local trains in Hong Kong plus through trains HK to Beijing & Shanghai): www.mtr.com.hk.

Train times in English to & from China: Chinahighlights.com Map of Chinese railways.  Official sites (in Chinese): www.12306.cn & www.tielu.org.  Agencies selling Chinese train tickets online: www.chinahighlights.com, www.trip.com

Time zone:

GMT+8 all year.    Flights to Hong Kong

Dialling code:

 

Hong Kong +852, Macau +853

Currency:

1 = = 10.3 HK$.  $1 = 7.6 HK$.  Currency converter

Tourist information:

www.discoverhongkong.com

Hotels & hostels:

Scan multiple hotel websites to find the cheapest hotel rates   Find backpacker hostels

Visas:

UK & many other nationalities do not need a visa to visit the special administrative region of Hong Kong.

However, UK & most other citizens need a visa for the rest of China. In the UK, Chinese visa issuing has been outsourced to www.visaforchina.orgMore advice on Chinese visas.

Page last updated:

11 June 2024


Hong Kong to Beijing

There are two good options for travel between Beijing & Hong Kong, in either direction.

Which option to choose?

With the high-speed day train (option 1) you get to experience China's impressive and expanding high-speed rail network.  However, it's more expensive than the other options and if time is important. the high-speed sleeper train (option 2) is more time-effective as you leave in the evening, arrive in the morning and it saves a hotel bill.  In fact, it's more time-effective (and a lot more fun) than a morning of airports & delayed flights.

Option 1, by high-speed train

Hong Kong to Beijing in a single day!  Since the opening of the Hong Kong high-speed rail link on 23 September 2018, it's been possible to travel between Beijing and Hong Kong in a single day on a direct 300 km/h (186 mph) bullet train.  You get to travel across China on one of it's impressive new high-speed railways while you admire the scenery, catch up on your reading and enjoy a beer or two from the bar car.

See the Hong Kong to Beijing page for timetable, fares, photos & how to buy tickets.

Option 2, by high-speed sleeper train

This is the most time-effective option, a fun experience which also saves a hotel bill although it only runs on Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday nights.  Originally the sleeper train started from Shenzhen, but from 15 June 2024 it's extended to/from Hong Kong.

Hong Kong ► Beijing

Beijing ► Hong Kong

What is the sleeper train like?

This is a 16-car CRH2E sleeper train designed for up to 250 km/h on high-speed lines.  The ones used on the Hong Kong -Beijing route have 13 soft sleeper cars, each of which has ten lockable 4-berth soft sleeper compartments.  There's a cafe car serving snacks & drinks including beer and two 2nd class seats cars.  If you get any good wide-angle photos I could use, please get in touch!

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Hong Kong to Shanghai

Since the opening of Hong Kong's new high-speed rail link on 23 September 2018, it's been possible to travel between Hong Kong & Shanghai in a single day.  You get to travel across China on one of its impressive new high-speed railways while you admire the scenery, catch up on your reading and enjoy a beer or two in the bar car.  An air-conditioned sleeper train also used to link Shanghai with Hong Kong every second day, however, this was suspended during the pandemic and has never resumed.  And from 15 June 2024 there's a high-speed sleeper train too, on Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday nights.

 Shanghai ► Hong Kong

 

 Hong Kong ► Shanghai

 

Daily

Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon

 

Daily

Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon

 Train number:

G99

D907

 Train number:

G100

D908

 Shanghai Hongqiao depart

14:09  day 1

20:15 day 1

 Hong Kong (West Kowloon) depart

11:36  day 1

19:49 day 1

 Hong Kong (West Kowloon) arrive

21:55  day 1

07:29 day 2

 Shanghai Hongqiao arrive

19:25  day 1

06:45 day 2

Luggage allowance

You take your bags with you onto the train, and put them on the racks near your seat.  Bags may be X-rayed before entering the station.  The luggage limit on Chinese trains is 20 Kg for adults & 10 Kg for children, and the maximum dimension of any item should not exceed 130cm on G-category trains like these.  However, in practice no-one weighs or measures your bags, as long as they comfortably fit through the security X-ray machines and you can carry them onto the train, you'll be fine. If you really want to transport vast quantities of luggage you can pay for a baggage ticket for bags in excess of the official limits.

Which station in Hong Kong?

The station for high-speed trains is Hong Kong West Kowloon, the high-speed train terminal opened in 2018.  See map of Hong Kong showing station location.  You should arrive at least 45 minutes before the train leaves to complete Hong Kong & mainland China border formalities.

Border formalities when leaving Hong Kong for Shanghai

Hong Kong & Chinese border formalities take place at Hong Kong West Kowloon station before you board the train.  I would arrive at the station at least 60 minutes before your train.  I found we were through formalities and waiting in the departure lounge a mere 15 minutes after entering the station, but it will take longer at busy times!  On arrival in Beijing there are no further formalities, you just walk out of the station.  See the Hong Kong to Beijing page for a description of the check-in process at Hong Kong with photos, it's the same process whether you're going to Beijing or Shanghai.

Border formalities when travelling from Shanghai to Hong Kong

There are no formalities to go through before boarding the train in Shanghai, other than the usual ticket check and X-ray baggage scan which you should expect when entering any Chinese station, whether mainline or metro.  Don't cut it fine, but turning up 20-30 minutes before your train is sufficient.  Hong Kong & Chinese border formalities take place at Hong Kong West Kowloon station after the train arrives.  You take the lifts or escalators from the platform on Level B4 up to Level B2 where you go through mainland China passport control, mainland China customs (another X-ray bag check!) and then Hong Kong passport control.  It took me just 25 minutes to pass through Chinese exit & Hong Kong entry formalities from the time my train arrived to the time I walked out of Hong Kong West Kowloon station into Austin MTR metro station, although at very busy times it could take up to an hour.

How much does it cost?

 Daytime train

2nd class

1st class

Business class

 Shanghai - Hong Kong

RMB 1008 ($147)

RMB 1646 ($240)

RMB 3137 ($457)

 Sleeper train

2nd class

Soft sleeper

Deluxe sleeper

 Shanghai - Hong Kong

$86

$125

?

How to buy tickets

Option 1, buy tickets at www.chinahighlights.com, a reliable agency that I can recommend.

This can book all classes including business class.  You are emailed an e-ticket for your mobile phone with which you can board the train.

Option 2, buy tickets at 12go.asia, another reliable booking agency.

They can book 1st or 2nd class, but not always business class.  Confirmation is instant.  You're emailed an e-ticket for your phone with which you can board the train.

Option 3, buy tickets at www.klook.com, another well-known online agency.

They can book 1st, 2nd class or business class with instant confirmation.  You're emailed an e-ticket for your phone with which you can board the train.

Deluxe soft sleepers are in short supply, may not be available on every departure (possibly only Sat & Mon from Hong Kong, Fri & Sun from Shanghai) and some vendors don't show them.

What is the daytime train like?

The G99 and G100 between Hong Kong & Shanghai are operated by 16-car CR400AF Fuxing (revival) high-speed trains.  These are the world's fastest passenger trains, designed for up to 400 km/h and operating in service at up to 350 km/h (217 mph), although you're unlikely to exceed 300 km/h (186 mph) on the Hong Kong to Shanghai route.  The train has 2nd class, 1st class & business class plus a small cafe counter selling Chinese tea, coffee, beer, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  Unlike some other Chinese high-speed trains there are no sit-down cafe tables, just the serving counter.

CRH40AF0 high-speed train as used Hong Kong to Shanghai

A G-category high-speed train of the CRH400AF Fuxing type, as usually used on the G79 & G100 trains between Hong Kong & Shanghai.  Photo courtesy of Brett Cubit...

2nd class seats, Hong-Kong to Shanghai train   First class seats on the Hong-Kong to Shanghai train

2nd class seats are arranged 3+2 across the car width.  Perfectly comfortable if you're on a budget, but not much space per person, especially if you get a middle seat.  Larger photo.

 

1st class seats are in cars 2, 15 & 16, arranged 2+2 across the car width.  There's a power socket for each pair of seats in the seat base.  The extra space is well worth the extra money.  Larger photo.

Business class seats, Hong-Kong to Shanghai train   Business class seat reclined

Business class seats are arranged 2+1 across the car width, except for the pair of seats immediately behind the driving cab at each end of the train where the train body tapers, where seats are 1+1 across the car width.  On this 16-car CR400AF-A train, the whole of car 1 is business class, and there's also a small 5-seat business class area at other end of the train in car 16, seen here.  The seats recline electrically and become a flat bed at the touch of a button, a blanket & cushion are supplied.  Each seat has a power socket.  The fare includes one hot tray meal (pictured below right) and a steady stream of Chinese tea, coffee, apple juice, orange juice or soft drinks.  You'll also get a complimentary box of strange Chinese biscuits & sweets.  There's a VIP lounge for business class passengers at Shanghai Hongqiao & Hong Kong West Kowloon.  Business class is expensive even by western standards, but if you can stretch that far it's well worth it.  Click the images for larger photos.

What is the sleeper train like?

This route is operated by 16-car CRH1E or CRH2E sleeper trains designed for up to 250 km/h.  The CRH1E train has 12 soft sleeper cars, each of which has ten lockable 4-berth soft sleeper compartments.  It has one deluxe sleeper with 2-berth compartments (but no toilet or shower in this case), a cafe car serving snacks and drinks including beer and two 2nd class seats cars.  The CRH2E train is similar, but with an extra regular soft sleeper car instead of the deluxe soft sleeper car.  2-berth deluxe soft sleepers are therefore not available on every departure, initially only Sat & Mon from Hong Kong, Fri & Sun from Shanghai.  If you get any good wide-angle photos of these trains I could use, please get in touch!

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Hong Kong to Guangzhou

For a brief period between 2018 and 2019, there were two train services between Hong Kong and the nearest big Chinese city, Guangzhou, formerly known as Canton.  The classic Kowloon-Canton Railway with its Intercity through trains had been running for a century before it ceased running in 2019 due to the pandemic, and it has not resumed.  The new high-speed link opened in 2018, half of it in tunnel, and this is now the only train link between these cities.

By high-speed train

Hong Kong's new high-speed rail link opened on 23 September 2018, and high-speed trains now link Hong Kong West Kowloon station with Guangzhou South (Guangzhounan) in as little as 47 minutes with 1, 2 or even 3 departures every hour.  See map of Hong Kong showing station.

Most departures are operated by Chinese Railways Fuxing (revival) high-speed trains with 2nd class, 1st class & business class, see photos of each class on a Fuxing high-speed train here & watch the video here.

However, several departures per day between Hong Kong & Guangzhou South are operated by Vibrant Express trains owned by MTR (the Hong Kong mass transit corporation), see the photos below and see this video showing a new Vibrant train inside & out.  Vibrant Express trains have 1st & 2nd class, but no business class.

See the route map here - the new high-speed line is shown in red.  From Hong Kong West Kowloon to the Chinese border the line runs entirely in tunnel with trains limited to 200 km/h (125 mph).  The line emerges into daylight near the border and calls at Shenzhen North (Shenzhenbei) before running above ground to Guangzhou South at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).

Luggage allowance

You take your bags with you onto the train, and put them on the racks in your sleeper compartment.  Bags may be X-rayed before entering the station.  The luggage limit on Chinese trains is 20 Kg for adults & 10 Kg for children, and the maximum dimension of any item should not exceed 130cm on G-category high-speed trains.  However, in practice no-one weighs or measures your bags, as long as they comfortably fit through the security X-ray machines and you can carry them onto the train, you'll be fine. If you really want to transport vast quantities of luggage you can pay for a baggage ticket for bags in excess of the official limits.

Border formalities when leaving Hong Kong for Guangzhou

All border formalities take place at Hong Kong West Kowloon station before you board the train.  You should arrive at the station at least 45 minutes before your train, although I found we were through formalities and waiting in the departure lounge a mere 15 minutes after entering the station.  It might take longer at busy times!  On arrival in Guangzhou there are no further formalities, you just walk out of the station.  See the Hong Kong to Beijing page for a description of the check-in process at Hong Kong West Kowloon, it's the same process whether you're going to Beijing or Shanghai.

Border formalities when travelling from Guangzhou to Hong Kong

There are no formalities to go through before boarding the train in Guangzhou South, other than the usual ticket check and X-ray baggage scan which you should expect when entering any Chinese station.  Don't cut it fine, but turning up 20-30 minutes before your train is sufficient.  Hong Kong & Chinese border formalities take place at Hong Kong West Kowloon station on arrival.  You take the lifts or escalators from the platform on Level B4 up to Level B2 where you go through mainland China passport control, mainland China customs (another X-ray bag check!) and then Hong Kong passport control.  It took me just 25 minutes to pass through Chinese exit & Hong Kong entry formalities from the time my train arrived to the time I walked out of Hong Kong West Kowloon station into Austin MTR metro station, although at very busy times it could take up to an hour.

How to buy tickets

You can check train times & buy tickets in either direction at Chinahighlights.com, a reliable agency, recommended.

You collect tickets at the station, see how to collect tickets at Hong Kong West Kowloon here or see advice on collecting tickets in China including Guangzhou here.

You can also buy tickets at the MTR high-speed rail website www.highspeed.mtr.com.hk, but if you use this you can only collect tickets in Hong Kong, not in Guangzhou or anywhere in China.  You cannot use the official Chinese Railways website 12306.cn as it's only in Chinese, only accepts Chinese bank cards and requires Chinese ID cards - this is why you need to use the agency recommended above.

Hong Kong West Kowloon station, at ground level

Hong Kong West Kowloon Terminus.  For interior photos of the station and an explanation of the departure process, see the Hong Kong to Beijing page.  The process is identical for all departures.

A Guangzhou to Hong Kong Vibrant Express at Guangzhou South

This is an MTR-owned Vibrant Express about to leave Guangzhou South for Hong Kong West Kowloon. 

Most of the high-speed trains on this route are provided by Chinese Railways, with 2nd class, 1st class & business class, see the photos of the Hong Kong to Beijing train here.  However, several departures per day are operated by MTR-owned trains branded Vibrant Express.  When booking online, if a train has 2nd, 1st & business class, it's Chinese.  If it only has 1st & 2nd class, it's a Vibrant Express.  As you can see, the MTR's train interiors are a bit more 'designer' than the Chinese trains, one might even say more vibrant...

2nd class seats on a Guangzhou-Hong Kong Vibrant Express   1st class seats on a Guangzhou to Hong Kong Vibrant Express

2nd class seats on a Vibrant Express, arranged 3+2 across the car width.  Perfectly comfortable if you're on a budget.  Larger photo.

 

1st class seats on a Vibrant Express, arranged 2+2 across the car width.  The extra space is well worth the extra money.  Larger photo.

Inside Giangzhou South station

Departures hall at Guangzhou South station.  The scale of this station is impressive!

Giangzhou South station

Down the escalators to board a Vibrant Express train to Hong Kong on Guangzhou South station platform 9...

Hong Kong to Guangzhou by river ferry

Fast ferry riverboats run between Hong Kong (China HK City Terminal in Kowloon) and Nansha Ferry Terminal 4 or 5 times a day in each direction.  Nansha is south of Guangzhou city centre, you can reach it using the Guangzhou metro line 4.

For ferry times, fares & info see www.nskyg.com.

Traveller David Jansen reports (2018)

"I travelled from Nansha to Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal. Guangzhou subway line 4 now has been extended to Nansha Passenger Port (exit G of the subway station is closest to the Passenger Port Terminal, but I suggest to take an earlier exit and walk along the almost-empty street). The ticket counter opens about 1h before the ferry departure; the seller spoke English and told me that it's generally not necessary to buy tickets in advance; they only sell out around festivals and sometimes for the first ferry on Saturdays (but I took that Saturday morning ferry, and there was enough room left). The border exit check in Nansha started less than 20 minutes before the ferry departure and was very easy. For best views I suggest to buy a first class ticket, which will allow to sit upstairs and look both ways. It's also possible to upgrade on-board for the same price. The VIP Room only has one small window; I do not recommend that. Food, drink and a 4-day Hong Kong SIM card can be bought on-board."

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Hong Kong to other Chinese cities

Hong Kong to Guilin & Kunming

Hong Kong to Xian

To Nanning & all other Chinese cities

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Hong Kong to Macau

Like Hong Kong, Macau is a Special Administrative Area of the People's Republic of China, formerly a Portuguese colony.  It lies just across the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong.  It can easily be reached by ferry from Hong Kong or by train from Guangzhou and cities all over China.

Hong Kong to Macau by ferry

Ferry from Hong Kong to Macau

Turbojet from Hong Kong to Macau.  Photo courtesy of Michael Evans...

Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou to/from Macau by train

A train at Zhuhai (Gongbei) station   Zhuhai (Gongbei) Station

A C-category train from Guangzhou South arrives at Zhuhai station...  Photos courtesy of Ian Moffat.

 

Zhuhai station, adjacent to the Gonbei Gate into Macau. Macau is just a stroll away...

Gongbei gate, the entrance to Macau   The famous ruined Church of St Paul in Macau

Gongbei border gate, adjacent to Zhuhai station.  Photos courtesy of Ian Moffat.

 

The ruins of the Church of St Paul, which has become the symbol of Macau.

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Hong Kong to Bangkok & Singapore

Hong Kong to Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore

It's perfectly possible to travel overland in either direction between Hong Kong and Phnom Penh, Bangkok, Penang, Kuala Lumpur & Singapore.  But yes, you will need a Chinese visa as obviously you'll be crossing China to reach Vietnam, then Cambodia then Thailand.  I'll describe the steps southbound, just reverse the process to travel northbound.

  1. Step 1, travel from Hong Kong to Hanoi by train as shown here (2 nights).

  2. Step 2, travel from Hanoi to Saigon by train as shown here (2 nights).

  3. Step 3, travel from Saigon to Bangkok by bus train via Cambodia as shown here (2 nights)

  4. Step 2, travel from Bangkok to KL & Singapore by train as shown here (2 nights).

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Hong Kong to/from Japan

It's perfectly possible to travel from Hong Kong to Tokyo by train & ferry.  It's pretty inexpensive too.  But you will need a Chinese visa as you'll be crossing China to reach Shanghai before taking the ferry.

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Hong Kong to/from Europe

Europe to Hong Kong (or vice versa) by Trans-Siberian Railway

Update 2024:  With the war in Ukraine, travel to Russia is inadvisable.  This route is not currently viable.

It's perfectly possible to travel from London, Paris or anywhere in Europe to Hong Kong via the celebrated Trans-Siberian Railway.  I know, I've done it.  I'll describe the steps for an eastbound journey, obviously just reverse them for a westbound one.

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Transport within Hong Kong

Octopus smartcard

Transportation within Hong Kong is cheap and easy, and two forms of transport are an attraction in itself, the Star Ferry and the historic trams.  If you're going to do multiple journeys, it's a good idea to invest in an Octopus smartcard, you can get one from 7-11 stores or from desks at the airport.  You pay a deposit and load it with stored value, and it works on the Star Ferry, trams, MTR metro and airport rail link.  For more information see www.octopus.com.hk.

The Star ferry

Although buses and metro trains now link Kowloon with Victoria island by tunnel, the best way to cross is undoubtedly the famous Star Ferry, in fact I think it's my favourite thing in Hong Kong.  For details see www.starferry.com.hk.  There are two regular ferry routes both starting at Kowloon's Tsim Tcha Tsui terminal, one going to Central the other (slightly longer) crossing going to Wan Chai.  A slightly higher fare is charged for travel on the upper deck which is more enclosed.  The Star Ferry accepts the Hong Kong Octopus smartcard, or you can buy individual tickets from the machines.  Star Ferry also operate regular cruises around the harbour, see www.starferry.com.hk.

Hong Kong's Star Ferry

The Star Ferry from Kowloon to Victoria island.

Trams, metro, airport rail link

For trams, metro & Hong Kong's airport rail link, see www.mtr.com.hk.  The MTR metro goes almost everywhere, the historic trams run along one line on Victoria island parallel with the harbourfront.  You can buy individual journey tickets or use the Octopus smartcard.

Hong Kong metro   Hong Kong tram

MTR Hong Kong metro.

 

Hong Kong tram.

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Hotels in Hong Kong

The famous Peninsula Hotel:  Check prices

The oldest and most famous hotel in Hong Kong is undoubtedly the venerable 5-star Peninsula Hotel, opened in 1928.  Used as HQ by the Japanese in WW2, it was in this hotel that the governor of Hong Kong surrendered to Japanese forces on 25 December 1941.  For more about the history of the hotel see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Peninsula_Hong_Kong.  The hotel is located in Kowloon, 5 minutes walk from the Star Ferry terminal, one stop on the MTR metro from Austin (for Hong Kong West Kowloon High Speed Rail Terminal) and 17 minutes walk from Hung Hom station.  Even if it's outside your budget, afternoon tea in the grand lobby has become something of an institution.  You also get superb views across Hong Kong Harbour from the huge glass viewing windows at the Felix bar & restaurant on the 28th floor of the tower at the rear, although at almost 10 for a beer it's not cheap.  Check prices & book the Peninsula Hotel.  Tip:  Ask for a room in the original 1928 building at the front if history matters to you, as half the rooms are now in a modern tower at the rear opened in 1994, just visible in the background in the photo below right, rising above the old building.

Room at the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong   The Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong

My immaculate room at the Peninsula.

 

The Peninsula Hotel, decorated for Chinese New Year.

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search: www.booking.com

Booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally use it to book all my hotels in one place.  I've come to trust booking.com's review scores, you won't be disappointed with any hotel that scores 8.0 or more.  Crucially, booking.com usually lets you book with free cancellation, which means you can confirm accommodation risk-free before train booking opens and/or you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when planning a trip.  I never book hotels non-refundably!

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Flights to Hong Kong

Overland travel around China & Hong Kong by train is an essential part of the experience, so once there, don't cheat and fly, stay on the ground!  But if a long-haul flight is unavoidable to reach Hong Kong in the first place, try Virgin Atlantic who fly direct from London to Hong Kong, a sound choice for both price and service...

Check flight prices at Opodo, www.opodo.com.

Use Skyscanner to compare flight prices & routes worldwide across 600 airlines...

skyscanner generic 728x90

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Guidebooks

I strongly recommend investing in a decent guidebook.  It may seem an unnecessary expense, but it's a tiny fraction of what you're spending on your whole trip.  You will see so much more, and know so much more about what you're looking at, if you have a decent guidebook.   For independent travel I'd recommend either the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide, both provide an excellent level of practical information and historical and political background.  You definitely won't regret buying one!  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.Amazon logo

Buy at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rough Guide China - click to buy online at Amazon   Lonely Planet China - click to buy online

Alternatively, you can download just the chapters you need in .PDF format from the Lonely Planet Website, from around 2.99 or US$4.95 a chapter.

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Travel insurance & other tips

 

Staysure travel insurance

 

Columbus Direct logo

Always take out travel insurance

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least 1m or preferably 5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash and belongings, up to a sensible limit.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy with Staysure.co.uk myself.  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

UK flag  www.staysure.co.uk offers enhanced Covid-19 protection & gets 4.7 out of 5 on Trustpilot.

UK flag  www.columbusdirect.com is also a well-know brand.

US flag  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

 

Maya.net logo

Get an eSIM with mobile data package

Don't rely on WiFi, download an eSIM with a mobile data package for the country you're visiting and stay connected.  Most newer mobile phones can download a virtual SIM card so you don't need to buy a physical SIM, including iPhone 11 & later, see device compatibility listMaya.net is a reliable eSIM data retailer with a 4.5 out of 5 Trustpilot rating and a range of packages including unlimited data.

 

Curve card

Curve card

Get a Curve card for foreign travel

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate, then add a foreign transaction fee on top.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, 500 per month at time of writing.  The money you spend on your Curve card goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.

How it works:  1. Download the Curve app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to the UK and most European addresses.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app, you can link up to two cards with the free version of Curve, I link my normal debit card and my normal credit card.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, exactly like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance in your own currency onto whichever debit or credit card is currently selected in the Curve app.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I have a Curve Blue card myself, it means I can buy a coffee on a foreign station on a card without being stung by fees and lousy exchange rates, just by tapping the Curve card on their card reader.  The money goes through Curve to my normal debit card and is taken directly from my account (in fact I have the Curve card set up as payment card on Apple Pay on my iPhone, so can double-click my phone, let it do Face ID then tap the reader with the phone - even easier than digging a card out).  I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I recommend it here because I think it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card, they'll give you 5 cashback through that link.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  Why you need a VPN

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN encrypts your connection so it's always secure, even on unsecured WiFi.  It also means you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geoblocking which a surprising number of websites apply.  See VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy with a 4.7 out of 5 Trustpilot ranking which I use myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using the links on this page, you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription.  I get a small commission to help support this site.

 

Anker Powerrbank

Carry an Anker powerbank

Tickets, reservations, vaccination records and Interrail or Eurail passes are often held digitally on your mobile phone, so it's vital to keep it charged.  I always carry an Anker powerbank which can recharge my phone several times over if I can't get to a power outlet.  Buy from Amazon.co.uk or from Buy from Amazon.com.

 


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