Our final sleeper train for China took us from Guilin south to Shenzhen on the K950/K951 service. Where we could then jump across the border into Hong Kong, ending our 6 months of living and travelling in China.
The K950/K951 train that takes you to the border was one of the newest sleeper trains we used throughout China, offering a lot more comfort than our previous travels. Either it was new or recently refurbished, either way it gave us a glimpse of the western comforts that the South of China and Hong Kong would offer us.
In terms of the journey, it takes just over 13 hours (according to it's schedule), but in reality it took more like 14 and a half hours maybe because of delays we had on the specific day we travelled. But our journeys in the south were slightly delayed, so it might be a general trend in the south.
Cost for K950/K951 Sleeper Train for 2013
|Train Number||Departs||Arrives||Duration||Distance||Seat||Hard Sleeper||Soft Sleeper|
|K950/K951||21:18||10:35||13h17m||1030||133RMB||230RMB (Top) / 238RMB (Middle) / 245RMB (Bottom)||356RMB (Top) / 372RMB (Bottom)|
Getting across the border to Hong Kong
When you arrive in Shenzhen, it's not hard to figure out where to go in order to get across the border and onto the Hong Kong metro system. Shenzhen train station is located on the border itself, and the border controls are signposted clearly everywhere.
There is a roughly 10 minute walk from getting off the train and getting to the escalators that will take you up to immigration clearance and then across to border control for Hong Kong. Now remember that counterpart departure card that you safely put away upon arrival in China? Yes, you need to have that to hand along with your passport.
Exiting China is fairly straightforward and there are little to no queues for foreigners. We were a little scared, as we had a visa for 180 days and were very close to reaching this and maybe we had worked it all out wrong! No matter, all went well and we got across the border without a hiccup, saying goodbye to China finally.
So the next part is to walk to the border into Hong Kong. It feels very much like an airports border control, security is pretty tight and signposting was good throughout. Here is the part that you need to read though, if you want to save time.
If you are travelling across the border and NOT Chinese or from Hong Kong you will have a pretty easy time getting across. When you walk towards the queue areas, you will see 3 signs left sign / queue is for Chinese Nationals (DO NOT GET INTO THIS QUEUE), then to the right / straight ahead is for Hong Kong nationals – clearly this isn't for you! If you decide instead to walk just to the right of the long queue that is full of Chinese nationals (and a few confused foreigners) and get to the front area, where you will shown an empty and narrow queue area that you take to get to border control.
Taking this advice will save you 30 minutes and the whole process from getting through the 2 borders and through the other side would take less than half hour, just avoid any area where you are standing in any line with Chinese nationals (they will be queueing for hours and you don't need to queue with them). You will need to fill out an arrivals card to hand over with your passport, so fill this in and then get in line. As we are British, we get 6 months visa free travel in Hong Kong (not that we could afford to live there that long!).
Getting across the border will bring you to the main station where you can pick up your metro tickets to get down to Kowloon or Hong Kong Island. Just make sure for the best value that you get an Octopus Card, it costs $150 dollars which includes the deposit that you can refund at the end of your travels. If you need to exchange money you can do it here as well or if you want you can exchange it before you got across the border with currency exchange shops on Shenzhen side (there are plenty of them) just don't get too much money exchanged as you will get a better rate for your US dollars / UK Sterling in town.