Monday, January 12, 2009

Get around Hong Kong

Get around

Hong Kong's public transport system is highly developed, to the point where often the hardest part is choosing your means of transport. Centamap, produced by a local estate agency, is one of the best tools for looking up a location.

Octopus card
The Octopus card is the heart of the public transport system. A contactless smart card, even when placed inside a wallet or bag, you can tap on card readers and the correct amount will be deducted from money stored. Those who are familiar with London Underground's Oyster card or Japan Railway's IC cards will quickly understand the Octopus card. In addition to being used for all forms of public transport (except most of the red-top minibuses and taxis) Octopus is also accepted for payment in almost all convenience stores, restaurant chains like McDonald's and Cafe de Coral, many vending machines, all roadside parking and some car parks. Some housing estates and schools use the card for identification at entry.

When travelling by MTR and some bus routes, payment by Octopus card can sometimes be cheaper than cash, and it's always more convenient. As the Octopus has a fully refundable deposit on the card and on unused credit, there's really no reason not to get one.

Basic adult Octopus cards cost $150, with $100 face value plus $50 refundable deposit. A $7 service charge applies if the card is returned in less than 3 months. The maximum value that an Octopus card can carry is $1,000. The Octopus card also allows the remaining value to go negative once. For example, you may pay for a ride of $5 with a remaining value of $2, but you cannot use the card again until the value is topped up. The negative value of an Octopus card can go as far as $35.

Your Octopus cards' balance is displayed as you exit the gates after each ride, or after each transaction. The balance can also be checked using a small machine near regular ticket machines in MTR stations.

For travellers, there are three convenient ways to refill a card:

Add Value machines, usually located next to regular ticket machines in MTR stations. These machines accept cash only.
Customer service at any MTR or KCR station.
Merchants that accept Octopus (eg. Mcdonalds, Cafe de Coral, 7-Eleven).
In addition to the Airport Express Octopus (see above), you can also buy a 24-hour pass for $50 at any MTR station; however, this is valid only on MTR lines.

By train

Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway (MTR) underground and overground network is the fastest way to get around the territory, but what you gain in speed you lose in views and (at least for short distances) price. There are ten lines, including the Airport Express, plus a network of modern tram lines operated by the MTR in the North West New Territories. The Kowloon Canton Railway (KCR), including its link to the mainland border at Shenzhen (Lo Wu), was merged into the MTR in 2007 and now operates as a part of it.

The most important line for many visitors is the busy Tsuen Wan Line (red), which tunnels from Central to Kowloon and down Nathan Road towards Tsuen Wan in the New Territories and the Island Line (blue) which runs along the north coast of the Island. The new Tung Chung Line (orange) is the fastest route to Lantau and one of the cheapest ways to the airport when coupled with the S1 shuttle bus stationed at Tung Chung MTR station. The line also provides a link to Hong Kong Disneyland via a change at Sunny Bay station. All signs are bilingual in Chinese and English and all announcements are made in Cantonese, Mandarin and English so tourists should not have a problem using the rail system. Should you get lost, staff in the station control room usually speak some English so they would be able to help you out.

Most underground MTR stations have one Hang Seng Bank branch (except for the massive Hong Kong/Central station, which has two). Since they're a common feature, unambiguous and easy to find, they're a good place to tell people to meet you.

Note that in Hong Kong, a subway is an underground walkway, not an underground railway, as in most English speaking countries outside of North America. While many of the trains travel underground, there are also many stations whose trains travel above on raised platforms.

By tram

Operated by Hong Kong Tramways, the narrow double-decker city trams trundling on the north coast of Hong Kong Island are a Hong Kong icon. Trams are slower, but the route along the length of Hong Kong Island's centre is useful and with a flat fare of only $2, they're the cheapest sightseeing tour around.

In a league of its own is the Peak Tram, Hong Kong's first mechanised mode of transport, opened back in 1888. The remarkably steep 1.7 km track up from Central to Victoria Peak is worth at least one trip despite the comparatively steep price ($22 one-way, $33 return; return tickets must be purchased in advance).

By bus
There are three types of bus available in Hong Kong, operated by a multitude of companies. While generally easy to use (especially with Octopus), signage in English can be sparse and finding your bus stop can get difficult. Buses are pretty much your only option for travelling around the south side of the island and Lantau.

The large double-decker buses cover practically all of the territory, stop frequently and charge varying fares depending on the distance. The first seats of the upper deck offer great views. The franchised bus operators in Hong Kong include Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB) (and its subsidary Long Win Bus), Citybus, New World First Bus and New Lantao Bus. Route and fare information can be found on the companies web sites. Fares will depend more on where you board rather than where you get-off which means it is more expensive to board at the earlier stops rather than the later stops.

Van-sized public light buses carry a maximum of 16 passengers (seats only) and come in two varieties, namely red minibuses and green minibuses (also called maxicabs); the colour refers to a wide stripe painted on top of the vehicle. Riding a minibus may not be easy for travellers, as it is customary to call out the name of the stop or ask the driver to stop in Cantonese. Red minibuses do not accept Octopus but will give you change, while green minibuses do accept Octopus payment but can not give you change if you pay in cash. The Hong Kong Island green minibus #1 down from the Peak to Central is particularly exhilarating. Red minibuses tend to have a more Chinese feel than green buses. Prices on red minibuses are often displayed only in Chinese numbers. The price displayed on a red minibus can legally vary according to the market price, so expect to pay more at busy times. Some people argue that the driving standards of red minibuses is lower than green minibuses; Minibus drivers generally drive fast, especially at night. Always use minibus seatbelts where available. You will notice that they all have an extra, large, digital speedometer in the cabin for the passengers to view, this is required by the government after a few fatal accidents due to speeding. Since the introduction of these passenger speedometers mini-bus accident rates have dropped.

Kowloon Canton Railway also maintains its fleet of KCR feeder buses. KCR passengers can enjoy a free feeder service if the payment is made by Octopus. The route K16 is especially useful for tourists who need to go to Tsim Sha Tsui from the New Territories and mainland China by rail.

Note that if paying in cash, the exact fare is required and no change can be given. Paying by Octopus is much more convenient.

Route numbering is independent in six regions: bus on Hong Kong Island/ in Kowloon and in New Territories/ on Lantau Island, green minibus on Hong Kong Island/ in Kowloon/ in New Territories and several exceptional auxiliary buses route (red minibuses does not have a route number). This leads to duplication of routes in different regions. Although the Transport Department of Hong Kong Government has been working on the unifying of the route numbers, it is still a little bit messy at the moment.

If you are confused a bit by the numbering of routes, here is a suggestion: just remember the route number of buses in Hong Kong Island/Kowloon/New Territories only whenever it is necessary. In other special circumstances, ask the driver or the station staffs for the Lantau buses and green minibuses and they can answer you.

Generally you need not to mention which district the route belongs to when you are asking for directions (almost all people will assume you will asking for the route which runs in the district you are in, e.g. if you ask for bus route #2, locals will assume you will asking for bus route #2 running in Kowloon if you are in Kowloon), but you really need to mention whether the route is bus or minibus when you ask, since in some cases both bus and minibus can have same route number in the same area which are actually different routes. (e.g. there are both bus route #6 and minibus route #6 in Tsim Sha Tsui, which are actually different routes).

If you are curious enough, you may discover a pattern on the allocation of buses in Hong Kong/Kowloon/NT:

Prefix 1 on hundred digit: routes use Cross Harbour Tunnel.
Prefix 2 on hundred digit: refers to some air-conditioned bus routes.
Prefix 3 on hundred digit: refers to several peak-hour only cross-harbour routes, Hong Kong Island recreational or special bus services.
Prefix 6 on hundred digit: uses Eastern Harbour Crossing.
Prefix 7 on hundred digit: refers to some Island Eastern Corridor routes, New World First Bus West Kowloon or Tseung Kwan O routes.
Prefix 8 on hundred digit: refers to specialized Shatin Racecourse lines.
Prefix 9 on hundred digit: uses Western Harbour Crossing.
Prefix A: Airport Airbus routes.
Prefix E: North Lantau external bus routes.
Prefix K: KCR Feeder Bus routes.
Prefix M: Some bus routes that are terminated at Airport Express station.
Prefix N: Overnight bus routes.
Prefix P: North Lantau peak-hour only routes.
Prefix R: North Lantau recreational bus routes (for Hong Kong Disneyland).
Prefix S: Airport shuttle bus routes.
Prefix T: Recreational bus routes (T stands for tourists).
Prefix X: Express routes for special services.
Suffix A, B, C, D, E, F: Conventional routes.
Suffix K: Mainly connecting to KCR East Rail stations.
Suffix M: Mainly connecting to MTR stations.
Suffix P: Mostly peak-hour only routes.
Suffix R: Recreational bus routes.
Suffix S: Peak-hour only routes or special services.
Suffix X: Buses using highways or express services.

By ferry
A vast fleet of ferries plies between the many islands of Hong Kong. The granddaddy of them all and an attraction in itself is the Star Ferry, whose most popular line travels between Kowloon and Central from early morning until late at night, and offers amazing views (especially when coming from Kowloon). Upper deck seats cost $2.20 while the lower deck cost $1.70, both payable with Octopus or cash (change given). The Star Ferry also operates between Kowloon and Wanchai.

Ferries to Lamma, Lantau and other islands depart from a variety of ports, but the largest and most important terminal is at Central adjacent to the Star Ferry. Ferries are usually divided into fast ferries and slow ferries, with fast ferries charging around twice the price for half the journey time, although not all destinations offer both kinds of service. Example fares for trips from Central to Yung Shue Wan (Lamma) are $10/15 slow/fast, and to Mui Wo (Lantau) $10.50/$21. Note that all fares increase by around 50% on Sundays and public holidays.

By taxi
Taxis are plentiful, clean and efficient. They were just recently (2003) rated as the cheapest of all big cities in the world. Not good news for the drivers, but good for the tourist. Fares in Hong Kong & Kowloon start at HK $18, and you can ride for 2 km before additional $1.50 per 200m increments start ticking ($1 for fares of $70.50 and above). New fare increases are indicated in writing until the meter is adjusted. Tipping is not expected but nevertheless still welcome, and drivers often round up the fare to the nearest dollar when giving change.

Drivers are required to provide change for $100 notes, but not for higher denominations. If you only have a $500 or $1000 note and are going through a tunnel, let the driver know beforehand and he will change it when paying at the toll booth.

Life is made slightly more difficult by the fact that there are three different flavours of taxi. These can be distinguished by colour: red taxis typically serve the Island and Kowloon, and some parts of the New Territories (for example Shatin), but they are permitted to travel all over Hong Kong except to Lantau Island; green taxis serve the New Territories (only), but with a slightly cheaper fare than red taxis; blue taxis serve Lantau (only). (You are unlikely to ever encounter a blue Taxi, as there are only about 50 of them in existence.) All three types of taxis can take you to the airport. When in doubt, just take a red taxi.

In addition, red taxis are based in either the Island or Kowloon, if they do take you across the harbour, they will charge you twice the bridge/tunnel toll so they can get back! But you can use this to your advantage by picking a homebound taxi from a cross-harbour taxi rank in places like the Star Ferry pier or Hung Hom station. In these cross-harbour taxi stands only single toll charge will be applied to the taxi fare.

There are no extra late-night charges. Baggage carried in the boot ("trunk" if coming from north America) will cost you $5 per piece and all tolls are payable. The wearing of seat belts is required by law.

All taxis are radio equipped and can be reserved and requested via an operator for a token fee of $5, payable to the driver. You are unlikely to need to call a taxi, though, as they are plentiful.

It is good practice to get a local person to write the name or address of your destination in Chinese for you to hand to the taxi driver, as many drivers speak limited English and Mandarin. For example, if you wish take a journey back to your hotel, ask a receptionist for the hotel's business card.

Talk in Hong Kong

Cantonese is the language spoken by 95% of the people in Hong Kong. Due to British influences from the colonial era, colloquial Cantonese in Hong Kong tends to incorporate some English words and slang, which may sound strange to Cantonese speakers from mainland China. Though Hong Kong is a former British colony, the degree of English proficiency is limited among non-professionals in those districts where more locals visit than tourists. Also, some locals, even if they can understand English well, do not feel comfortable speaking it. However, others including most taxi drivers, street vendors, salespeople etc. are fluent enough for sufficient communication, especially at tourist destinations such as hotels and certain restaurants. English is spoken fluently among the business community. English language education usually starts in kindergarten. To ensure that local people understand you, it is a good idea to speak in short sentences, use standard English and avoid slang or colloquial expressions.

Hong Kong also has several minority communities, such as the Teochews (Chiuchow in Cantonese) and Shanghainese who fled to Hong Kong when the mainland fell to the communists in 1949. Some of them still speak their respective dialects, though most of them are also fluent in Cantonese. There are also non-Chinese resident communities in Hong Kong, largely originating from the Indian subcontinent, and among them, various South Asian languages are spoken, though it should not cause much of a problem as almost all of them are fluent in English and many are fluent in Cantonese as well.

Most locals are not fluent in Mandarin, but can comprehend it to a certain degree. Mandarin proficiency is increasing, especially after the reunification with the Mainland. Due to the increasing number of tourists from mainland China, most (if not all) shops and eateries in the city centre and more touristy areas will have at least one staff member who can speak Mandarin.

All official signs are bilingual, in both Chinese (Traditional) and English. However, Chinese only signs have become more common in recent years, e.g. at minibus stops. Most shops and restaurants also have English signage, though don't expect this from the more local or obscure establishments. Under the "one country, two systems" policy, Hong Kong continues to use traditional Chinese characters and not the simplified Chinese characters used in Mainland China.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Get in HongKong

Hong Kong maintains a separate and independent immigration system from that of mainland China. This means that unlike mainland China, most Western and Asian visitors do not need to obtain visas in advance. However, it also means that a separate visa is still required to enter mainland China from Hong Kong. Macau residents may enter using their identity card while other PRC passport holders and residents of Taiwan holding ROC passports need to apply for a separate visit permit. Detailed visa requirements are available from the Immigration Department. Those who require visas should apply for one at a Chinese embassy, but note that the Hong Kong visa has to be applied for separately from the mainland Chinese one. Anyone arriving at Hong Kong International Airport who requires an onward visa for mainland China, will find a kiosk in the foyer in the arrivals area that issues them. A photograph will be required and the staff will be happy to accommodate you.

By plane

Hong Kong International Airport

The Hong Kong International Airport which is also known as Chek Lap Kok (named after the small island it was built over), is the main port for visitors to Hong Kong by air. The architect for the impressive airport terminal was Sir Norman Foster. This modern and efficient building opened in July 1998, and it has since been named the best airport worldwide by Skytrax for five years.
There are many direct flights to Hong Kong from every continent in the world. Most major cities in Oceania, Europe and North America are all served with at least one daily flight. Sydney has 6 daily flights, Melbourne 5, London 10, Frankfurt 2, Paris 3, Amsterdam 2, Los Angeles 4, San Francisco 3, Vancouver 3, New York 3, Chicago 2 and Toronto 2.
Flights between Hong Kong and other major Asian cities are also frequent: up to 40 flights per day connect Hong Kong with Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei, Tokyo, Shanghai, Manila, Seoul, Bangkok and Beijing. Other routes may be cheaper, however. For destinations within China, it is often cheaper to fly from Shenzhen than from Hong Kong, as flights from the mainland to Hong Kong are considered to be international flights and therefore, priced as such. For elsewhere in Asia, consider Macau. The discount airlines land there because it has lower fees than Hong Kong. There are also less frequent flights between Hong Kong and several mid-Pacific islands and nations including a twice-weekly service from Guam.

Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary airline Dragonair are Hong Kong's main carriers, with Hong Kong Express providing some welcome competition.

There are two terminals, creatively called T1 and T2. Signs on approach to the airport by car/taxi list the terminals and check in zones. The station is located between the two terminals, so follow the signs when you exit the station. Once checked in you can clear security at either terminal, there is an underground shuttle bus Outside the security area. There are probably more shopping opportunities before security at T2 before security, but the shops close earlier. There are lots of shopping opportunities after security as well. Travellers will find an efficient post office in the airport which provides boxes, wrapping material, scissors and tape.

There is a public lounge inside the airport with prices as follows (in HK Dollars):
• Shower Only $80.
• 2 Hours Lounge Use $250.
• 5 Hours Lounge Use with Seated Massage (15 mins) or Nap (2 hrs) $300.
• 10 Hours Lounge Use with Seated Massage (15 mins) or Nap (2 hrs) $350.
• Overnight Package with Shower + Nap (8 hrs) + Breakfast $450.
• Whole Day Package with Lounge Use + Nap (8 hrs) $600 .

Airport Express
The Airport Express is a fast and environmentally friendly form of passenger transport to and from the airport. The clean and efficient train speeds you on a journey that takes only 23 minutes, and there are plenty of baggage handling officers to help you get heavy bags on and off of the train. There is no need to tip them. Each way costs $60-$100, or a round trip for $110-$180, depending on the distance travelled. If you buy your ticket from a machine you will have to pay the standard fare, however, if you travel with other people you can get a discount from the staff at the counter. If in doubt, ask the staff for advice before you hand over your money. After arrival, free shuttle buses connecting to major hotels in Kowloon and Central are provided, or you can continue onward by the MTR or by taxi.

• The Airport Express Tourist Octopus 3-Day Hong Kong Transport Pass gives you an Octopus card (see Get Around) good for 3 days of unlimited MTR travel, plus one ride on the Airport Express (for $220) or two (for $300). In effect, you're paying $70 for 3 days on the MTR, which is a fair bit of travel but might be worth it if you're planning to visit the Lantau Island or the New Territories. You can return the card after use to get back $50 deposit, or keep it for your next trip — any leftover value will remain valid for 3 years [you can also add money to the card, which you can use for payment for the busses, the tramway, at many vending machines, some stores, and when taking the Star Ferry]. Around 50% of the trip will be underground and at least 20% of the "above-ground" travel is through "covered" tracks.

If you want to enjoy the view while going to the city, then you should consider taking a bus.
Taking a bus to the airport is cheaper, but slower than the train. For example, the A21 ($33) bus will take you down Nathan Road, the main artery of Kowloon, stopping outside many hotels and hostels. Lines A10, A11 and A12 go to Hong Kong Island ($48, $40 and $45 respectively). Alternatively, take bus S1 to Tung Chung ($3.50) and connect to the ordinary MTR for a cheap ride to the city (Kowloon $17, Hong Kong $23). The free Airport Express shuttle buses connect Kowloon and Hong Kong airport express stations to various hotels in each area.

For a full listing of buses available at HKIA refer to the Hong Kong airport website.

If you are on a budget, take an "E" route bus rather than the "A" routes bus, they take about 20 minutes longer (50-60 min instead of 35-40 min) and are about half price (e.g. $21 for the E11 from Central). These 'External' buses are aimed more at airport workers, so they make several detours around Tung Chung. They will give you a nice tour around the airport island. However, E21 (Kowloon KCR Station to Airport) takes about an hour to the airport comparing to A21 (as E21 tour around not only airport island but Kowloon peninsula).

A taxi from the airport to the city (Central/Mid-levels) will cost you around $350 depending on your exact destination. If you have three or more people travelling together, it is generally cheaper to travel by taxi than by Airport Express, but you may have a problem fitting so many bags into the taxi. Use a red taxi for destinations to Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, Green taxis are restricted to the New Territories and blue taxis are for Lantau Island.
There is a large chart at the exit to the taxi stand, on the approximate fares to most destinations. The law is strict on taxi drivers who must charge according to the meter. The meter fare does not include the luggage fee, toll fee, waiting fee, pet fee.
Taxis from the airport to downtown Kowloon do not suffer from much traffic congestion. If you are going to Hong Kong Island, tell the taxi driver to use the "Western Harbour Crossing" to avoid congestion, but it will attract an additional surcharge.
From the airport there are private cars and vans operating illegally as taxis. Do not take these as they are not licensed and in case of accidents, your insurance will not cover you.

Shenzhen International Airport
Because flying from Hong Kong to the mainland is considered an international flight, flying around mainland China using Shenzhen Airport (IATA: SZX) is often significantly cheaper. There is a new convenient bus connection from Kowloon to Shenzhen Airport. It is not cheap as foreigners need visas at $1040 single entry 2-3 days in HK, and most flights leave late. In the recently completed Elements shopping centre above the Kowloon MTR station on the Tung Chung and the Airport Express line, there is a shop front waiting room where you can check-in and receive your boarding pass, and then board a bus direct to Shenzhen airport. This in-town check-in is completely separate from the in-town check-in provided for Hong Kong International Airport. Take the escalators up from the AE/MTR station to 1/F of the Elements Mall, turn right, and then look for Starbucks. It is opposite Starbucks. The bus uses the new western passage immigration facilities where both Hong Kong SAR and Chinese immigration formalities are completed under one roof. The cost of the service is $100 and the bus is advertised to take 75 minutes (more like 90 minutes in reality). Buses currently run every half an hour from 7:30am to 5pm at Hong Kong side, and from 10am to 9pm at Shenzhen side.

Macau International Airport
Because of higher fees at Hong Kong International Airport, it is often cheaper to fly out of Macau International Airport (IATA: MFM). Air Asia has set up a hub at Macau and flies to destinations such as Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Sydney among others. Macau International Airport is easily reached by ferry from Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and Hong Kong International Airport. Before completing immigration formalities at the ferry terminal in Macau, one can take a direct bus to Macau Airport without going through Macau immigration.

By ferry
Hong Kong is only a 1 hour hydrofoil ride away from Macau, and there are good connections to mainland China as well. The main terminals are:

Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Pier, 202 Connaught Road (Sheung Wan MTR exit D), Central.
o TurboJet, 24 hours a day to Macau plus 6-8 times a day to the Shenzhen airport.
o Cotai Jet, every hour to/from Macau from 0700 to 1700.

Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal, 33 Canton Road (Tsim Sha Tsui MTR exit A1), Kowloon.
o Chu Kong Passenger Transport, to Zhuhai and various points in Guangdong.
o New World First Ferry, every 30 min to Macau.
o Xunlong to Shekou in Shenzhen.
o TurboJet to Shenzhen airport.

Tuen Mun Ferry Pier
o Hong Kong North West Express Limited offers trips to Zhuhai and Shekou, Shenzhen.

By cruise
The Ocean Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui is one of the hubs of Star Cruises. Cruise ships leave from here for various cities in Vietnam, mainland China and Taiwan. There are even long haul service all the way to Singapore via various points in Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia.

By land
Crossing the border to Mainland China puts you in Shenzhen, a well-developed boomtown. Please note that there are special visa regulations if you plan to visit Shenzhen.
There are six land checkpoints between Hong Kong and mainland China, namely Lo Wu, Lok Ma Chau Spur Line, Lok Ma Chau, Man Kam To, Sha Tau Ko and Shenzhen Bay. Lo Wu is a train and pedestrian crossing; Lok Ma Chau spur line is a pedestrian crossing; Lok Ma Chau and Sha Tau Kok are road, cross-boundary bus and pedestrian crossings; while Man Kam To and Shenzhen Bay bridge are road and cross-boundary bus crossings.

Lo Wu: This control point can only be accessed by the MTR East Rail Line and the crossing can only be done on foot (unless you take a through-train from Hung Hom where the train will not stop at all. See "By train" section below). It is often congested with travellers during weekends and holidays, so if you want to avoid for the long queues, please use the other control points on holidays. Visa-on-arrival can be obtained on the Chinese side.Getting there/away: Trains from Tsim Sha Tsui East to Lo Wu run every five to eight minutes. Shenzhen city centre lies just beyond the Chinese immigration checkpoint.
Lok Ma Chau Spur Line: This crossing can be accessed by the MTR East Rail Line, by bus/minibuses or by taxi, and the crossing can only be done on foot. Using the double-decked Lok Ma Chau-Huanggang pedestrian bridge, passengers will find themselves at the FuTian immigration checkpoint of the PRC. The control point is not popular and thus less crowded than at Lo Wu. Travellers should note that its opening hours is slightly shorter than that of Lo Wu. Getting there/away: While 1 out of 2/3 northbound East Rail Line trains terminates at that station, the control point can also be reached from Yuen Long by KMB bus number B1 or by minibus number 75. On the Shenzhen side, Huanggang metro station is just after the immigration checkpoint.
Lok Ma Chau: This crossing consists of separate facilities for pedestrians which is accessed by bus and for road vehicles, and is the only border control point which offers 24-hour immigration services. A shuttle service, known as the "Yellow Bus", operates between the Lok Ma Chau Public Transport Interchange located at San Tin and Huanggang Port of the PRC side. Alternatively, travellers can board the express buses from urban areas of Hong Kong which will carry their passengers directly to the control point. For both modes, passengers after passing through Hong Kong Immigration control has to board the same bus at the other side of the control point, which will then carry them to Huanggang port of Shenzhen side, where they need to get off again and pass through PRC immigration control. Getting there/away: The Lok Ma Chau Public Transport Interchange is served by KMB buses 277, N277, 76K, and 276B, and passengers can board the "Yellow Bus" shuttle there. Alternatively, passenger can board the buses to the port at urban areas in Hong Kong (See "By bus" section below). Over in Shenzhen, a large taxi stand and a bus terminus is right outside the control point but its no where near the Huanggang metro station .
Man Kam To: This crossing is mostly used by private vehicles and cross-boundary buses. See "By bus" section below.
Sha Tau Kok: Located furthest east, this control point can be accessed by taking the cross-boundary coach. It is quite a distance from the centre of Shenzhen and is relatively quiet. There are no Chinese visa-on-arrival facilities. See "By bus" section below.
Shenzhen Bay Bridge: This control point links Hong Kong directly with Shekou, Shenzhen. It can be used by private vehicles and cross-boundary buses. See "By bus" section below.

Please note that all the crossings, save for Shenzhen Bay Bridge, are located in the Frontier Closed Area and everyone is required to have a permit to be there unless crossing the border. Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau can be easily reached by train, but if you are just there to look around, be ready for some security questioning. It is also not easy to directly access the train departure area from the arrivals area.

By bus
There are some Cross Boundary coaches operating from the business districts in Kowloon or Hong Kong Island to the Chinese side of the checkpoint. If you take these coaches, there is no need to change for the yellow shuttle bus and hence it is a good choice for boundary crossing to avoid the queues. There are 6 lines of short trip cross boundary coaches serves the port,
1. Jordan, Kowloon departs from Scout Centre, Austin Road, Tsim Sha Tsui (5 mins walk from Jordan MTR).
2. Mongkok, Kowloon departs from Portland Street, near Metropark Hotel Mongkok (exit from Prince Edward Hotel).
3. Wanchai, HK Island departs from Wanchai Ferry Bus Terminus.
4. Kwun Tong, Kowloon departs from Lam Tin MTR, stops at Kwun Tong APM Shopping Plaza and Kwun Tong Rd, Kowloon Bay MTR.
5. Tsuen Wan departs from Discovery Park Bus Terminus (10 mins walk from Tsuen Wan MTR).
6. Kam Sheng Road departs from Kam Sheung Road West Rail Station.

Except the route to Kam Sheng Road, 24 hour services are provided with half hourly or hourly departure in midnight and around 10-20 mins per bus during the day and evening.
Lok Ma Chau is a around-the-clock border crossing ; visa-on-arrival can be obtained on the Chinese side (subject to nationality, at the present, applications from USA passport holders are not accepted).

Man Kam To control point can be accessed by taking the cross-boundary coach on the bus interchange under the shopping centre of West Kowloon Centre, Sham Shui Po (near Sham Shui Po MTR)in Kowloon, which costs $35, the bus calls at Landmark North also, which is just adjacent to Sheung Shui KCR Station, with section fare of $22. It is seldom crowded with travellers even during holiday periods. You can also enjoy the free shuttle service outside the Chinese checkpoint, which takes you to the central area of Shenzhen. However, no visa-on-arrival can be obtained on the Chinese side, which means you need to arrange for your visa in advanced before arrival.
It is the best route to go to the downtown in Shenzhen especially during holidays.
Sha Tau Kok control point can be accessed by taking the cross-boundary coach on the bus interchange at Luen Wo Hui in Fanling and Kowloon Tong. It connects the eastern boundary of Hong Kong and Shenzhen and it is a bit remote from the central part on Shenzhen. As a consequence, only very few passengers choose to cross the boundary using this checkpoint. No visa-on-arrival can be obtained on the Chinese side.
Coaches departs from Kowloon Tong MTR from 7:00 to 18:30 every 15 minutes which costs $20, which is also the cheapest direct coach to Shenzhen.
Shenzhen Bay control point links Hong Kong directly with Shekou, Shenzhen, and can be accessed conveniently by public buses. Route B2 departs from Yuen Long Railway Station via Tin Shui Wai Railway Station to Shenzhen Bay, while B3 departs from Tuen Mun Pier. There is also a express coach service departing from Sham Shui Po to Shenzhen Bay.

By train
MTR Corporation runs regular Through Train service between Guangdong Province, Beijing and Shanghai. The through train terminus is Hung Hom Station on the Kowloon side, while the current terminus of the domestic service is East Tsim Sha Tsui station.
The destinations of the Intercity Passenger Service are Guangzhou (East), Dongguan, Foshan and Zhaoqing in Guangdong Province, as well as Beijing and Shanghai.
The online directory of MTR Corporation provides information on the timetable and fare information of the Intercity Passenger Service.
Train service between Hong Kong and Mainland China stops before midnight as the border, at Lo Wu, is closed at midnight.

When to visit HongKong

Weather— For those who are seeking warm, dry and sunny weather, the ideal time is October to December. Those who are wanting to escape the humidity of tropical climates will appreciate the cooler months of January to March. The temperature ranges from 9°C to 24°C during winter, and ranges from 26°C to 33°C during summer. The humidity is typically high in the spring and worse in the summer, when high temperatures (usual maximum of 32-34°C) are often recorded.
Events — During Chinese New Year, whilst there are some extra celebratory events such as a lion dances, fireworks, and parades, many shops and restaurants are closed for three days to 5 days. Official public holidays last 3 days.
Culture lovers will be able to feast on a multitude of cultural activities from February to April. The Hong Kong Arts Festival, a month-long festival of international performances, is held in February and March. The Man Literary Festival, a two-week English language festival with international writers as guests, is held in March. The Hong Kong International film festival, a three-week event, is held in late March to early April.
Rugby fans, and those wishing to party, should come during the weekend of the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens.
There is a second round of cultural activities in the autumn lasting till the end of the year.
Christmas is also a nice time to visit as many shops and shopping centres are nicely decorated and the festive mood is celebrated across the city.

HongKong Festivals

• Chinese (Lunar) New Year
Although this may seem like an ideal time to go to Hong Kong, many shops and restaurants close down during the Chinese New Year. However, unlike Christmas in Europe where you can hardly find shops open on this big day, you can still get food and daily products easily during the Lunar New Year period. The week or two leading up to the Chinese New Year as well as the period just after the third day up to the fifteenth day are good times to soak up the festive mood and listen to Chinese New Year songs being played in the shops.

• Spring Lantern Festival
If you go to Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, you will be able to experience this traditional Chinese festival. A number of beautiful lanterns can be found in the park at this time.

• Ching Ming Festival
This festival in Spring is also known as grave sweeping day. To show respect to the deceased, family members go to the grave of their ancestors to sweep away leaves and remove weeds around the grave area. Paper offerings are also burned, such as fake money.

• Cheung Chau Bun Festival
This is takes place on the tiny island of Cheung Chau. In the past the festival has involved competitions with people climbing bun towers to snatch buns. After the unfortunate collapse of a bun tower in 1978, due to an overload of people, the competition was abandoned. It was resumed again in 2005 with better safety measures.

• Tuen Ng Festival
This is a festival in memory of a national hero from the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history. Dragon boat races are typically held during this festival and glutinous rice dumplings, usually with pork fillings, are eaten by many.

• Hungry Ghost Festival
This festival runs throughout the seventh month of the Chinese calendar. It is believed that the gates of hell open during this period and hungry ghosts are allowed to roam freely into our world. Though not a public holiday, this is the time where one can see many people perform various rites to appease the wandering ghosts, such as offering food and burning joss paper. One can also see traditional performances such as Chinese opera which are held to appease these ghosts.

• Mid Autumn Festival / Moon Festival
This festival is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month. Moon cakes which contain lotus seed paste and duck egg yolks are a popular delicacy. Many Western people will find the traditional mooncake hard to appreciate, so you might like to try the ice-cream version as well. The festival is also known as the lantern festival and various parts of Hong Kong will be festooned with decorative lanterns which set the night scene ablaze with colour.

• Chung Yeung Festival
Is a day also known as Autumn Remembrance, which is similar to Ching Ming in spring, where families visit the graves of their ancestors to perform cleansing rites and pay their respects. As the weather cools down during this part of the year, hiking is a good activity to do during this holiday.

• Halloween
Halloween has grown rapidly in popularity and many people dress up to party till late. Trick or treat is not common but most restaurants and shopping centres are decorated and have special programmes. It is not a public holiday.

• Christmas
Christmas is celebrated Hong Kong style. The city is adorned using traditional Western Christmas decorations. Many shopping centres, such as Pacific Place, offer ample opportunities for children to meet Santa. Most shops and restaurants remain open throughout Christmas. You should expect large crowds out shopping for the Christmas sales.

• New Year's Eve
New Year's Eve in Hong Kong is something to check out if you are seeking a carnival experience. Hundreds of thousands of people out on the streets to celebrate the New Year is truly an unforgettable time. There are all-night services on the MTR, night-buses, and of course, many taxis. Fireworks go off on the harbour front, which a lot of people attend to watch on both sides of the harbour: Tsim Sha Tsui (Kowloon side) and Central (Hong Kong Island). The young adults and older adults decide to party with the rest of Hong Kong at the hot-spots such as Causeway Bay, Lan Kwai Fong and Tsim Sha Tsui. Many people dress up and attend private parties and others flock to the streets to enjoy the atmosphere. Police patrol around popular areas to make sure the city is a safe party-zone. Hong Kong people are not great drinkers and most of them stay dry for the night. Drinking alcohol on the street is uncommon. So visitors who drink should moderate their behaviour or risk being screened out by the police as the only drunks in the crowd.