Hong Kong is a well-known pitstop for travelers heading from and to mainland China, or stopping by to get their Chinese visa renewed. I’m speaking from first-hand experience, as I have traveled through Hong Kong several times going to Macau, Taiwan and even coming from North Korea. Once a visa in Hong Kong is arranged (read here how you can arrange your visa) many people book a flight to mainland China. This could cost 50 up to 300 euro, depending on the season and the destination. You guessed it: there is a cheaper alternative for flying from Hong Kong to China.
This tip saved me a lot of money. In this example I will assume that you would like to book a one-way ticket from Hong Kong to Xian, leaving the 17th of October 2014. You’re right, that is 6 days after I wrote this article. I’ve noticed that the below mentioned method works best for last-minute flights. If you book far ahead, flying from Hong Kong to China’s mainland might be the same price or even cheaper. Check flight comparison websites such as Skyscanner before booking.
The trick: travel from Hong Kong to China over land
Instead of flying from Hong Kong, take the light blue line of the MTR (subway) from Hung Hom station in Kowloon to Lok Ma Chau. There you will find an smooth passage to the Chinese mainland, with customs at both sides of a covered bridge. Once you get through these, you will be at the Futian Checkpoint station in Shenzhen. From there you can take the red line on the MTR (subway) to the Convention & Exhibition Center, where you change to the green line to Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport.
Why do all this instead of flying from Hong Kong to China? Well, it could save you some money. You would rather spend it on sights than flights right? The breakdown (at time of writing):
MTR ticket from Hung Hom Station to Lok Ma Chau: 20 HKD, around 2 EUR.
MTR ticket from Futian to Bao’an International Airport: 8 RMB, around 1 EUR.
Flight ticket from Hong Kong to Xian: 162 EUR
Flight ticket from Shenzhen to Xian: 91 EUR
Both flights are with China Eastern airlines.
So, if you don’t mind the 2-4 hours (depending on day and time) detour of taking the MTR to Shenzhen, you could save an easy 70 EUR and go see the Terracotta Army twice in a limousine.
This has to be said: the prices and travel times mentioned in this article are purely referential. Please check all your options first before booking a flight.