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Hong Kong to China - everything you need to know

Visas, transport and more

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Get the right Chineses visa

For legal, immigration and visa purposes Hong Kong and China are two separate countries. While Hong Kong offers visa free access to citizens from the US, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and more countries, China doesn’t and almost everyone will need a visa.

There are several types of visa available. If you are travelling to Shenzhen or that region, citizens of some countries are able to get a Shenzhen visa on the spot at the Hong Kong/China border. Similarly, there is also a Guangdong group visa that allows access to a slightly wider region for groups of three or more. There are numerous restrictions and rules applied to both these visas which are explained in detail in the links below.

  • How to get a Chinese visa in Hong Kong
  • Shenzhen visa explained
  • Guangdong visa explained

    For visits further afield you’ll need a full Chinese tourist visa. Yes, these can be obtained in Hong Kong, although on rare occasions, the Chinese government agency in Hong Kong that deals with visas chooses to enforce its rule that foreigners can only obtain a Chinese tourist visa from the Chinese embassy in their home country. This can almost always be circumnavigated by using a local travel agency.

    Remember, if you are plan to travel in to China, back out to Hong Kong and back into China again you’ll need a multiple entry visa. Macau is separate to Hong Kong and China visa rules and allows most nationals visa free access.

    Travel between Hong Kong and China

    Hong Kong and China are well connected and how to travel to China from Hong Kong depends on where you are going.

    For Shenzhen and Guangzhou the train is the quickest form of transport. Hong Kong and Shenzhen have metro systems that meet at the border while Guangzhou is a short two hour train ride with services running frequently.

  • Travel between Guangzhou and Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong to Shenzhen metro

    Overnight trains also connect Hong Kong to Beijing and Shanghai but, unless you’re keen for the experience, regular flights are a much quicker and, often, not much more expensive way to reach China’s flagship cities.

    From Hong Kong you can also reach most of China’s other major and mid size cities with Guangzhou airport offering connections to smaller towns in the country.

    If you’re looking to visit Macau the only way is ferry. Ferries between the two sister SARs run almost constantly and take just an hour. The ferries run a reduced service overnight.

    Change your currencies

    Hong Kong and China don’t share the same currency and you’ll need Renminbi or RMB if you’re crossing the border. There was a time when stores in nearby Shenzhen would accept the Hong Kong dollar but currency fluctuations means that’s no longer true. In Macau you’ll need the Macau Pataca although some places, and almost all casinos, will accept Hong Kong dollars.

    Use the internet

    It might seem like you’re just hopping across the border but you’re essentially visiting another country and things are different. The most striking difference is that you are leaving the land of the free press in Hong Kong and entering the land of the Great Chinese firewall. While it’s not impossible to give the wall the slip and access Facebook, Twitter and the like, you may want to catch up and let everyone know you’re going off the grid before you leave Hong Kong. Booking a hotel in China We recommend Zuji.com for booking hotels in China although the market is still developing and at the cheaper and budget end of the market very few hotels, especially outside larger cities, take online bookings. It can often be easier to turn up and find a hotel when you arrive.
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