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

Buy train tickets Hong Kong to Beijing

Buy tickets online at www.china-diy-travel.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, it's possible to travel between Hong Kong and Hanoi in Vietnam by rail or 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.

Train times & tickets...

  Hong Kong - Beijing

    - Option 1, by high-speed train

    - Option 2, by classic sleeper train

    - Option 3, by high-speed sleeper train

  Hong Kong - Shanghai

    - Option 1, by high-speed train

    - Option 2, by classic sleeper train

  Hong Kong - Guangzhou

    - Option 1, by high-speed train

    - Option 2, by classic Intercity through train

  Hong Kong - Xian, Guilin, Nanning & other cities in China

  Hong Kong - Macau by ferry

  Hong Kong - Hanoi & Vietnam

  Hong Kong - Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur & Singapore

  Hong Kong - Tokyo & Japan by train & ferry

  Hong Kong - Moscow & Europe by Trans-Siberian Railway

  Transport within Hong Kong

  Hotels in Hong Kong


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: www.china-diy-travel.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.china-diy-travel.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:

8 March 2019


Hong Kong to Beijing

A Chinese meal in the restaurant car of the Hong Kong to Beijing train

A tasty Chinese meal in the restaurant car of the sleeper train...

Classic sleeper train or 300km/h high-speed train?

There are now three excellent options for travel between Beijing & Hong Kong, in either direction. 

Which option to choose...

Each of these options is an experience!  The high-speed train (option 1) is obviously fastest and just takes a single day.  You get to experience China's impressive and expanding high-speed rail network.  However, it's more expensive than the other options.  The classic sleeper train (option 2) takes 24 hours, but as it runs overnight in reality it takes a similar amount of daytime time out of your schedule as the high-speed train and can be a nicer experience.  It's cheaper, a spacious soft sleeper costs less than a narrow 2nd class seat on the high-speed train.  It saves a hotel bill, and in many ways it's nicer to have a soft sleeper with room to spread out and chill during the day, a flat bunk to nap on and access to a proper restaurant car with freshly cooked real Chinese food rather than the microwaved tray meals on the high-speed train.  It's a real trans-China adventure.  If time is important. the high-speed sleeper train (option 3) is the most time-effective option of all, you leave in the evening, arrive in the morning, it saves a hotel bill and is more time-effective than a morning of airports & delayed flights.  It merely means making one simple change of train in Shenzhen or Guangzhou.

Option 1, by high-speed train Hong Kong to Beijing in a single day, click here...

Incredibly, from the opening of the Hong Kong high-speed rail link on 23 September 2018, it's possible to travel between Beijing and Hong Kong in a single day by 300 km/h (186 mph) bullet train.  It's more expensive than the sleeper, but 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 full details & photos.

Option 2, by classic sleeper train...

An air-conditioned sleeper train links Beijing with Hong Kong every two days, an epic 24 hour train ride across China.  This is the comfortable, civilised and interesting way to go.  The train has 2-berth deluxe soft sleepers with private toilet, regular 4-berth soft sleepers, hard sleepers & restaurant car.

 Beijing ► Hong Kong

 

 Hong Kong ► Beijing

 

Every 2 days*

 

Every 2 days**

 Train number:

Z97

 Train number:

Z98

 Beijing West depart

13:00  day 1

 Hong Kong (Hung Hom) depart

15:15  day 1

 Hong Kong (Hung Hom) arrive

13:01  day 2

 Beijing West arrive

15:13  day 2

*  Train Z97 from Beijing to Hong Kong runs on alternate days.  In January, April, May, August, November, December 2019 it will run on odd-numbered dates.  In February, March, June, July, September & October 2019 it will run on even-numbered dates.

**  Train Z98 from Hong Kong to Beijing runs on alternate days.  In January, April, May, August, November, December 2019 it will run on even-numbered dates.  In February, March, June, July, September & October 2019 it will run on odd-numbered dates.

You can check days of running of trains Z97 & Z98 using www.chinahighlights.com/china-trains.  Or see www.it3.mtr.com.hk/b2c, click 'Schedule' (look for the clock logo at lower left) then use the 'Select your schedule' box top right to select the Beijing/Shanghai route.  Remember that Hong Kong is shown as 'Hung Hom', that's the station.

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 160cm on Z-category 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.

Departure formalities...

Departing from Beijing for Hong Kong, you should arrive at Beijing West station 90 minutes before departure for passport control & exit formalities.  The train to Hong Kong has it's own special entrance at Beijing West station, look for the entrance marked Check Hall Immigration Inspection Quarantine.

Departing from Hong Kong, you should arrive at Kowloon's Hung Hom station at least 45 minutes before departure for passport control & exit formalities.  You first have your ticket checked at the entrance to the departures area.  There's then a quick X-ray baggage scan, followed by Hong Kong immigration exit formalities using automated gates which read your passport.  You then find yourself in a departure area with seating and a duty free shop, before the boarding gate is opened and you go down the escalators to the platform.  Chinese immigration formalities take place on arrival at Beijing West.

The station in Hong Kong is in Kowloon and called Hung Hom.  It can help to know that the Chinese refer to Hong Kong/Kowloon as Jiulong and you may see it shown on train destination boards as Jiulong See map of Hong Kong showing station location.

The station in Beijing is Beijing West, also known as Beijing Xi, see map of Beijing showing stations.

 How much does it cost?

 One-way per person

Hard sleeper

Soft sleeper

Deluxe soft sleeper

 Hong Kong to Beijing

HK$ 587 ($76)

HK$ 934 ($120)

HK$ 1191 ($155)

 Beijing - Hong Kong

RMB 507 ($76)

RMB 822 ($120)

RMB 1200 ($175)

Discounts may be available at off-peak times of year, if bought at the reservations office in Hong Kong.

Children under 120cm tall travel free, 120-150cm tall travel for half fare, over 150cm tall pay full fare (140cm changed to 150cm in Dec 2008, 110cm to 120cm in Dec 2010).  Child discounts only apply to the 'base' part of a sleeper fare, so in sleepers it's closer to a 25% reduction on the total fare.

The sleeper fares shown here are for lower berths.  Upper berths (and middle berths in hard sleeper) are a fraction cheaper.

How to buy tickets...

What's the Hong Kong - Beijing sleeper train like?

If you use this train, feedback & further photos would be much appreciated!

Train from Beijing to Hong Kong

The train from Beijing to Hong Kong about to leave Beijing West...  Courtesy of Keith Finger.

Hard sleeper, Hong Kong - Beijing / Shanghai through train.   4-berth soft sleeper, Hong Kong - Beijing / Shanghai through train.   Deluxe soft sleeper, Hong Kong - Beijing / Shanghai through train.

Hard sleeper berths on the Hong Kong - Beijing train.

 

A 4-berth soft sleeper compartment on the Hong Kong - Beijing & Hong Kong - Shanghai trains.  These 3 photos courtesy of www.kcrc.com.

 

A deluxe soft sleeper (2-berth with private toilet) on the Hong Kong - Beijing & Hong Kong - Shanghai trains.

Restaurant car of Beijing-Hong Kong train   Food on the Beijing-Hong Kong train

Restaurant car on Beijing to Hong Kong train. Courtesy Keith Finger

 

Food on the train.  Courtesy Keith Finger.

Traveller's report...

Traveller Thomas Gigon reports:  "At Beijing West, the entrance for the Hong Kong train is a separate entrance about 50 metres to the right of the main entrance, marked Check Hall Immigration Inspection Quarantine.  The door to the waiting room did indeed open 90 minutes before (with X ray baggage check of course) but the waiting room is very small (30 people max) - then the door to the immigrations & customs opened approx 60 minutes before departure (via another x ray baggage check), then you pass immigration and customs and go directly to the train which is at the same level on the platform.  There is a sleeper attendant at every door, she checks your ticket and gives you a card with your cabin/berth number. She'll give you back your ticket prior arriving at Hum Hong.  Once the train is under way, she comes again and notes down your passport and visa number.  In the restaurant car the staff at least 4 waitresses spoke or understood some very, very limited English such as yes/no and the amounts, fish/meat/rice.  The menu is in Chinese, but when they see a Westerner they give you a menu with subtitles in English.  Hot meals were served 0600-0900, 1100-1300, 1730-2130 but they do sell snacks and sweets outside the hours.  The payment seems to be only cash in RMB as the waitress refused my Visa/Amex.  The waitresses also pass in the carriages selling snacks every now and then.  The train stops twice between Beijing and Hong Kong but you can't get off the train for a smoke or small walk as they lock the doors.  There are quite a few security guards on board + one sleeper attendant in each coach."

Option 3, by high-speed sleeper train:  The most time-effective option...

This is arguably the most practical & time-effective option of all, it's a fun experience and it saves a hotel bill too.  Though it only runs Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday nights.  The new direct G-category high-speed train between Hong Kong & Beijing means losing a day.  The direct conventional Z-category sleeper train is a classic and enjoyable choice, but that takes 24 hours.  How about leaving Hong Kong in early evening, sleeping in your own capsule sleeper on a high-speed D-category sleeper train and arriving in the morning?  It just means one simple same-station change of train at Guangzhou South (or you can change at Shenzhen, as some sleepers run Shenzhen-Beijing).  Booking sites won't suggest this excellent option as Chinese journey planners are incapable of offering journeys with a change of train, but it's easy to book in two stages like this...

Hong Kong ► Beijing

Beijing ► Hong Kong

Capsule-type high-speed sleeper...

Introduced in 2017, this type of high-speed sleeper train operates between Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Beijing.  Instead of conventional 4-berth soft sleeper compartments these trains have open-plan upper & lower berths arranged longitudinally along the car walls, with an upper and lower row of windows for upper and lower berths, see this video.  Each berth has its own individual curtains for privacy.  If you use this new type, feedback & further photos would be much appreciated!

   

Capsule-type soft sleepers.  Courtesy Gilbère Mannie.  Click the images for larger photos.

Back to top


Hong Kong to Shanghai

A Chinese meal in the restaurant car of the Hong Kong to Beijing train

A tasty Chinese meal in the restaurant car of the sleeper train...

Hong Kong to Shanghai by classic sleeper or by 300 km/h high-speed train?

There are now two excellent options for travel between Shanghai & Hong Kong, in either direction. 

Which option to choose...

Both options are an experience...  The high-speed train is obviously fastest and just takes a single day.  You get to experience China's impressive and expanding high-speed rail network.  However, it's more expensive than the other options.  The classic Hong Kong - Shanghai sleeper train takes 24 hours, but as it runs overnight in reality it takes no more daytime time out of your schedule than the high-speed train and can be more fun.  It's cheaper, a spacious soft sleeper costs less than a narrow 2nd class seat on the high-speed train.  It saves a hotel bill, and in many ways it's nicer to have a soft sleeper with room to spread out and chill in evening and morning, a flat bunk to nap on and access to a proper restaurant car with freshly cooked real Chinese food rather than the microwaved tray meals on the high-speed train.  It's a real trans-China adventure.

Option 1, by high-speed train Hong Kong to Shanghai in a single day...

Incredibly, from the opening of Hong Kong's new high-speed rail link on 23 September 2018, it's possible to travel between Hong Kong & Shanghai in a single day.  It's more expensive than the sleeper, but 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 in the bar car.

 Shanghai ► Hong Kong

 

 Hong Kong ► Shanghai

 

Daily

 

Daily

 Train number:

G99

 Train number:

G100

 Shanghai Hongqiao depart

14:10  day 1

 Hong Kong (West Kowloon) depart

11:10  day 1

 Hong Kong (West Kowloon) arrive

22:28  day 1

 Shanghai Hongqiao arrive

19:27  day 1

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.

The station in Hong Kong is Hong Kong West Kowloon, the new high-speed train terminal which 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.  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 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?

 How much does it cost?

 One-way per person

2nd class

1st class

Business class

 Shanghai - Hong Kong

RMB 1008 ($147)

RMB 1646 ($240)

RMB 3137 ($457)

How to buy tickets...

  • Buy tickets in either direction at www.china-diy-travel.com, a reliable agency that I can highly recommend.

    You collect tickets at the station either in Hong Kong or Beijing, see here for how to collect tickets at Hong Kong West Kowloon or see here for advice on collecting tickets in China including in Shanghai at either Hongqiao or Shanghai main station.

    A similar agency is www.chinahighlights.com.  Both these agencies give good service, I have sourced tickets through www.china-diy-travel.com myself, if you have particular seating requests they can try to get you those if they can.

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

  • Tip:  These high-speed trains have an allocation of seats/tickets on the Chinese Railways ticketing system and a separate allocation of seats/tickets on the Hong Kong (MTR) ticketing system.  If you buy through the Chinese system (for example, using www.china-diy-travel.com or www.chinahighlights.com) you can collect, change or cancel tickets at any Chinese station including Beijing, as well as at Hong Kong West Kowloon Terminus at the counters equipped with the Chinese ticketing system.  However, if you book via the MTR system (for example using the MTR website) tickets can only be collected, changed or cancelled at Hong Kong West Kowloon Terminus at the counters equipped with the MTR system.  You cannot change or cancel tickets at a Chinese station if you bought them via the MTR ticketing system.  It can therefore be better to buy via the Chinese system, for example using www.china-diy-travel.com or www.chinahighlights.com.

What are the high-speed trains 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...

Option 2, by classic sleeper train...

An air-conditioned sleeper train links Shanghai with Hong Kong every second day.  This is a comfortable, civilised and interesting way to make this journey.  The train has 2-berth deluxe soft sleepers with private toilet, regular 4-berth soft sleepers, hard sleepers & restaurant car.

 Hong Kong ► Shanghai

   

 Shanghai ► Hong Kong

 Train number:

Every 2 days *

Train number:

Every 2 days **

Z100

Z99

 Hong Kong (Hung Hom) depart

15:15  day 1

 Shanghai main station  depart

17:09  day 1

 Shanghai main station arrive

11:15  day 2

 Hong Kong (Hung Hom) arrive

13:05  day 2

* Train Z100 from Hong Kong to Shanghai runs on alternate days.  In January, April, May, August, November, December it will run on odd-numbered dates in 2019.  In February, March, June, July, September & October it will run on even-numbered dates in 2019.

** Train Z99 from Shanghai to Hong Kong runs on alternate days.  In January, April, May, August, November, December it will run on even-numbered dates in 2019.  In February, March, June, July, September & October it will run on odd-numbered dates in 2019.

You can check days of running of trains Z99 & Z100 using www.chinahighlights.com/china-trains.  Or see www.it3.mtr.com.hk/b2c:  Click Schedule (look for the clock logo) then use the Select your schedule box top right to select the Beijing/Shanghai route.  Remember that Hong Kong is shown as Hung Hom, that's the station.

On board accommodation...

Z99 & Z100 have 2-berth deluxe soft sleepers with private toilet, normal 4-berth soft sleepers, hard sleepers & restaurant car.

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 160cm on Z-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.

Departure formalities...

Departing from Shanghai for Hong Kong, you should arrive at Shanghai main station 90 minutes before departure for passport control & exit formalities.

Departing from Hong Kong, you should arrive at Kowloon's Hung Hom station at least 45 minutes before departure for passport control & exit formalities.  You first have your ticket checked at the entrance to the departures area.  There's then a quick X-ray baggage scan, followed by Hong Kong immigration exit formalities using automated gates which read your passport.  You then find yourself in a departure area with seating and a duty free shop, before the boarding gate is opened and you go down the escalators to the platform.  Chinese immigration formalities take place on arrival at Shanghai main station.

The station in Hong Kong is in Kowloon and called Hung Hom.  It can help to know that the Chinese refer to Hong Kong/Kowloon as Jiulong and you may see it shown on train destination boards as Jiulong See map of Hong Kong showing station location.

 How much does it cost?

 One-way per person:

Hard sleeper

Soft sleeper

Deluxe soft sleeper

 Hong Kong - Shanghai

HK$ 519 ($65)

HK$ 825 ($110)

HK$ 1,039 ($135)

 Shanghai - Hong Kong

RMB 408 ($62)

RMB 627 ($94)

RMB 1,040 ($155)

Children under 120cm tall travel free, 120-150cm tall travel for half fare, over 150cm tall pay full fare (140cm was changed to 150cm in Dec 2008, and 110cm to 120cm in Dec 2010).  Child discounts only apply to the 'base' part of a sleeper fare, so in sleepers it's closer to a 25% reduction on the total fare.

The sleeper fares shown here are for lower berths.  Upper berths (and middle berths in hard sleeper) are a fraction cheaper.

How to buy tickets...

What's the Hong Kong-Shanghai sleeper train like?

This train uses the same carriages as the Hong Kong-Beijing train, and runs on the days when the Beijing train doesn't.  If you use this train, feedback & further photos would be much appreciated!

Train from Beijing to Hong Kong

Sleeper train to Hong Kong...  Courtesy of Keith Finger.

Hard sleeper, Hong Kong - Beijing / Shanghai through train.   4-berth soft sleeper, Hong Kong - Beijing / Shanghai through train.   Deluxe soft sleeper, Hong Kong - Beijing / Shanghai through train.

Hard sleeper berths on the Hong Kong - Shanghai train.

 

A 4-berth soft sleeper compartment on the Hong Kong - Beijing & Hong Kong - Shanghai trains.  These 3 photos courtesy of www.kcrc.com.

 

A deluxe soft sleeper (2-berth with toilet) on the Hong Kong - Beijing & Hong Kong - Shanghai trains.

Restaurant car of Beijing-Hong Kong train   Food on the Beijing-Hong Kong train

Restaurant car as used on the Hong Kong to Shanghai train. Courtesy Keith Finger

 

Food on the train.  Courtesy Keith Finger.

Back to top


Hong Kong to Guangzhou

New high-speed rail link or classic InterCity Through train?

There are two options for travel between Hong Kong and Guangzhou, the major Chinese city inland from Hong Kongformerly known as Canton:

  Option 1, the new high-speed rail link from West Kowloon Terminus to Guangzhou South which opened in 2018.

  Option 2, the Intercity Through Train from Hung Hom station to Guangzhou East via the classic Kowloon-Canton Railway (KCR).

The high-speed trains take less than an hour, run 1, 2 or even 3 times an hour, and the stations at either end are vast and impressive.  However, the high-speed route runs in tunnel all the way from Kowloon to the Chinese border.  The classic route takes 2 hours, but it's cheaper and shows you the extent of Hong Kong's New Territories above ground on the historic KCR opened in 1910, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kowloon%E2%80%93Canton_Railway.

The Man in Seat 61 says, "Personally, I enjoyed the leisurely journey in Premium class on the double-deck 'Ktt' Intercity Through Train more than the return journey in a Vibrant Express on the new high-speed rail link, half of which was in tunnel.  But I'm glad I've experienced both, the scale of China's expanding high-speed rail network has to be seen to be believed..."

Option 1, Hong Kong to Guangzhou by high-speed train...

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.

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

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

Option 2, Hong Kong to Guangzhou by Intercity through train...

Hong Kong's Hung Hom station

Hong Kong's Hung Hom station.  Kowloon station was relocated here in 1975 and the original station of 1914 next to the Star Ferry terminal was demolished, leaving only the clock tower, now one of Hong Kong's landmarks.

Customer Service desk at Hung Hom station   Queue for departures at Hung Hom station

Customer service desk at Hung Hom.  You can buy tickets here or collect tickets bought online.

 

Entrance to departures.  The customer service desk is just visible in the background.

Hung Hom station departure lounge

Departure area at Hung Hom, after the X-ray & passport check.  When your train is ready to board the gates are opened and you go down escalators or lifts to the platforms below.  Trains to or from China use platforms 5 & 6 at Hung Hom.

A Hong Kong to Guangzhou Ktt IntecCity Through Train

This is an MTR-owned double-deck Ktt train about to leave Hong Kong Hung Hom station for Guangzhou East.

1st class seats on a Hong Kong to Guangzhou Ktt train   Premium class seats on a Hong Kong to Guangzhou Ktt train

1st class seats on on the lower deck of a Ktt InterCity Through Train, arranged 1+2 across the car width.  There are 1st class seats on both decks.  Larger photo.

 

Premium class seats on the upper deck of a Ktt InterCity Through Train, arranged 1+2 across the car width.  Some seats are on the lower deck.  Larger photo.

Swiss-designed locomotive on a Ktt train   Stairs & luggage rack on a double-deck Ktt train

The Swiss-designed locomotive on a Ktt train about to leave Hong Kong Hung Hom station.

 

Luggage rack on a Ktt train just inside the entrance door, with stairs up to upper deck & down to lower deck.

A Hong Kong to Guangzhou IntecCity Through Train, Chinese type

This is one of the Chinese Railways single-deck Intercity Through Trains, first class only with seating similar to the 1st class on the Ktt trains pictured above.  These Chinese trains also have a buffet car with serving counter and sit-down tables.

Option 3, Hong Kong to Guangzhou by river ferry...

Video guide:  Hong Kong to Guangzhou by Intercity through train...

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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

Hong Kong to Tokyo without flying...

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...

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

Find a hotel in Beijing, Shanghai or any other Chinese city...

    

Favourite hotel search & price comparison: hotelscombined.com

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It's been named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site in the World Travel Awards and I recommend it to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling the same hotel for less.

Favourite hotel booking site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site, and unless HotelsCombined throws up major price differences I prefer doing my bookings in one place here. 

You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.

Hong Kong's famous Peninsula Hotel:  Check prices & book...

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 from where the conventional trains to China leave.  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...

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Flights

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...

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

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

skyscanner generic 728x90

3)  Lounge passes...

Make the airport experience a little more bearable with a VIP lounge pass, it's not as expensive as you think, see www.loungepass.com

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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.

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

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Take out decent travel insurance, it's essential...

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 myself.  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

In the UK, try Columbus Direct or use Confused.com to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com - 10% discount with code seat61.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get a spare credit card, designed for travel with no currency exchange loading & low or no ATM fees...

It costs nothing to take out an extra credit card.  If you keep it in a different part of your luggage so you're not left stranded if your wallet gets stolen, this is a form of extra travel insurance in itself.  In addition, some credit cards are significantly better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.  Taking this advice can save you quite a lot on each trip compared to using your normal high-street bank credit card!

Get a VPN for safe browsing when you travel.  VPNs & why you need one explained...

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN means your connection to the internet is encrypted & always secure, even using unsecured WiFi.  In countries such as China where access to Twitter & Facebook is restricted, a VPN gets around these restrictions.  And lastly, you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geographic restrictions which some websites apply - for example one booking site charges a booking fee to non-European visitors but none to European visitors, so if you're not located in Europe you can avoid this fee by browsing with a UK IP address using a VPN.  VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy and I use them myself.

 


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