The Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) is a powerhouse as the number one ranked airport in cargo traffic. It had 71 million passengers that traveled through the airport in 2017 to earn the ranking of eighth in the world for passenger traffic. Upon arrival from this busy hub, some travelers head to Shenzhen and my family were some of them up to the journey. First, let me acknowledge that the amount of research available today is simply amazing compared to a time before the internet and Youtube. A person will soon realize that transport from HKIA includes buses, trains, taxis, mini-vans, private cars and ferries. The private car is tempting for those extremely sensitive to time or hesitant with travel into Mainland China. This option is the most expensive with an estimated cost of $235 (US). The purpose of this post is to share and validate the ease of use and the efficiency of the HKIA SkyPier to Shenzhen (Shekou Port) for 700 HKD ($89) for two adults and two children.
Step 1: Review the ferry schedule for HKIA SkyPier
The HKIA SkyPier provides a direct air-sea link from Hong Kong International Airport to nine ports along the Pearl River Delta. Therefore, it is extremely important to identify the port closest to your hotel and review the ferry schedule to ensure evening departures are still available upon arrival. Schedules can be found with a general search or at https://www.hongkongairport.com/eng/transport.
NOTE: SkyPier ferry service is for transfer passengers only. It is not applicable to passengers originating in Hong Kong. This notice was taken directly from the HKIA website.
For those that are observant, there are 8 icons on the map. Macao has two terminals represented by one icon to result in nine port destinations. This is good to remember prior to a ferry ride to Macao.
Step 2: Follow the signs/arrows to the ferries after deplaning
Hurray! You have arrived at Hong Kong International Airport. Now what? First, we gathered our carry-on luggage and exited the plan. Next we followed the sign for to the ferries headed to Mainland China.
This sign was within view within seconds after exiting the non-stop Delta flight from Seattle.
There were multiple signs that provided guidance and this was one of them.
Step 3: Purchase economy ferry tickets at the ticket counter
Does this sign look familiar? The map at the ticket counter was great validation we were at the correct spot after 20 hours of travel. For this trip, the Shekou Port was closet to the Shenzhen Marriot Hotel Nanshan. The attendant spoke English, but I was still compelled to show him the hotel information as a second check. He gave me the “everything is okay” look and I purchased 2 adult and 2 children tickets for economy class with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The cost was 700 HKD ($89). The ferry purchase counted toward the $300 travel credit that comes with the card, 3x points for travel, and it does not have a foreign transaction fee. I mention this because I received questions on which card that was used and why.
The ferry ticket counter around 8 p.m. on a Thursday was not busy. Would be make the 8:30 p.m. departure to Shekou Port?
Step 4: Board the ferry to Shekou Port
Thankfully, more signs.
The signs directed us and other passengers up an escalator.
A 7-Eleven was open at 8:10 P.M. and right next to the departure gate.
We arrived at the departure gate around 8:10 p.m. and boarded the ferry at 8:20 p.m. The travel time toward Shenzhen Bay was approximately 30 minutes.
Step 5: Show your China visa at immigration
Upon arrival, you guessed it… more glorious signs directing us to immigration for Mainland China. After immigration, I withdrew some RMB/CNY from a Bank of China ATM with my no fee USAA debit card, walked to the parking garage, showed our hotel information to the driver and traveled by taxi to the hotel. The total time to get to the ferry, ride the ferry and travel by taxi to our hotel was about 70 minutes. Overall, the time is similar to a private car from HKIA to a Shenzen hotel at a fraction (37%) of the cost. I also liked that most of the motor traffic was eliminated from the equation and we had one less immigration point to deal with.
A traveler has multiple options when departing Hong Kong International Airport to Shenzhen. Each option has its own price tag and level of complexity. The ferry is not the cheapest nor is it the most expensive. I would describe it as the Goldilocks option as just right. For my family, the ferry from HKIA to Shenzhen (Shekou Port) was a very positive experience. I wish you the best for financial security, freedom and adventure.
- The ferry from HKIA is simple to use.
- Review the ferry schedule and follow the signs
- Credit cards with no foreign transaction fee is recommended
- Cheaper can be better or as good… do your research