GBA Lifestyle News
By Alice Liang | May 28th, 2024

With an abundance of affordable restaurants, all-inclusive spas, mega shopping complexes, interesting accommodations, and family-friendly attractions in the GBA, there has never been a more popular time for those of us in Hong Kong to cross the border over to China for an all-out weekend or ambitious day trip.

Planning to cross the border soon? From choosing the right mode of transport to understanding visa requirements and navigating border checkpoints and downloading essential apps, these tips will help you prepare for your journey.

Modes of Transport

The most common modes of transport for crossing the border from Hong Kong to the mainland are train, bus, and private vehicle.

The train is a popular choice due to its speed and convenience, with several high-speed MTR rail services connecting major cities in the mainland — Shenzhen can be reached in as short as 12 minutes!

The good ol’ MTR will also take you a long way and be a very cost-effective option for traveling straight to Shenzhen. Popular border stations include Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau.

Cross-border buses like TIL China Link and HZM Bus are also a viable option, offering a more affordable but slower alternative. 

Then, there are ferry services like TurboJet and Chu Kong, departing from Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan or the China Ferry Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Private vehicles can also be hired for crossing the border — many can pick you up directly from the Hong Kong International Airport. 

Border Checkpoints from Hong Kong

There are several border checkpoints in Hong Kong that connect to different cities in the mainland. The most frequently used checkpoints include the Lo Wu Control Point (Open daily 6am-midnight; Lo Wu Station on the MTR East Rail Line), the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Point (Open daily 6:30am-10:30pm; Lok Ma Chau Station on the MTR East Rail Line), and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (with Control Points close to the Hong Kong International Airport). Each checkpoint has its own procedures and regulations, so it’s advisable to check the latest information before your journey.

Here is a list of the 14 Control Points for entering the Mainland from Hong Kong.

Visa Processing 

Foreign visitors crossing the border from Hong Kong to the mainland are required to have a valid visa. The type of visa required depends on the purpose of your visit, such as tourism, business, or work. It’s important to apply for the correct visa well in advance of your trip and ensure that you have all the necessary documentation to support your application. Foreigners can obtain their China visas from the China Visa Application Service Centre. It usually takes around four to five working days to process the visa, and you can book an appointment through their website.

In a hurry and don’t have your visa sorted? The Lo Wu Control Point is one port that offers a same-day-processed 5-day Visa On Arrival for those who really can’t wait. Many countries qualify for this VOA, but it’s best to check before you go.

Meanwhile, options for stays much shorter than 30 days are available to citizens of 15 countries, including The Bahamas and Barbados, as well as those in transit. These options include 144-hour, 72-hour, and 24-hour passes that allow travelers to enter the country through designated ports and move around in limited areas.

And from December 1, 2023 to November 30, 2024, travellers from France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia will be able to enter the Chinese mainland visa-free for up to 15 days for business, tourism, family visits, and transit purposes.


Apps to Download

To make your journey across the border more convenient, consider downloading the following apps:

  1. WeChat: A popular messaging app in China that can be used for communication and accessing local services. Note that the WeChat Pay function, which is used by restaurants and merchants in China, may not currently work for most Hongkongers in China unless they open a Chinese bank account in Hong Kong and have the account validated on the app.
  2. Alipay HK: The Hong Kong version of Alipay, which is widely accepted in mainland China for making purchases and transactions. 
  3. Didi: A ride-hailing app that is useful for booking cars and navigating cities in mainland China. 
  4. Baidu Maps or Amap: The best Chinese map apps for useful navigation with accurate maps, real-time traffic news, public transport info, and local recommendations.
  5. Meituan: This app helps you scour sweet deals on hotels, restaurants, attractions and so much more.