Ferry to Shekou
Probably the easiest method of getting to Shekou as the ferry terminal is connected directly to the air-side of the airport and so you never have to actually enter Hong Kong, so saving all the time at customs and immigration there. All you need is your flight ticket you arrived on, checked-in baggage stubs and a valid Chinese visa.
On arrival at Hong Kong International Airport, after disembarking the aircraft, follow the signs for the Ferry Transfer Desk. This desk is close to the Hong Kong Immigration desks but DO NOT GO THROUGH IMMIGRATION otherwise you will be unable to use the ferry facility.
Hong Kong Airport Arrivals Area
The directions to the Ferry Transfer desks are well sign posted, the desk being located immediately BEFORE the immigration area.
Typical Airport Directional Sign Post
Ferry Transfer Desk
The ferries leave at approximately hourly intervals, generally on the half hour (a full timetable can be seen here), throughout the day from the airport, with the last ferry being at 21:20. A ticket at current price is HK$220 (adult) but discounts are available for groups and families and are given automatically. It should be noted that payment is only accepted in HK$ or by credit card. You will need to arrive at the ferry desk and purchase your ticket at least 1 HOUR before your ferry to give them time to collect your checked-in luggage from your flight and transport it to the ferry, so basically if you cannot purchase your ticket prior to 20:20 (assuming you have checked-in luggage) then you will be unable to use the ferry (If this is the case I would recommend the use of a pre-booked, cross border, private hire vehicle to take you to your destination).
When you buy your ticket(s), the shipping agency will take your baggage stub and collect your luggage from the arrival area. One piece of luggage per person is free of charge, there is an extra fee payable for each additional piece of luggage over this. This luggage will be loaded onto the ferry for you and no action is required on your part at this time.
To board the ferry, once you have your ticket you will proceed to the ferry terminal via the ferry gate nearby, taking a short train ride to the terminal. Transit time of the ferry from the airport to Shekou is approximately 30 minutes.
When you disembark the ferry in Shekou, you should collect your checked-in baggage on the pier prior to proceeding into the arrival hall and immigration. An immigration arrival form is required to be completed for each person and is available on the ferry.
Personally this is my preferred method of entry into (and out of) China. It is quick, simple, reasonably priced and you don’t have to drag your luggage about until you actually arrive in China. The downside is obviously that this method is no good if you have not been in this part of the world before and you wish to take a few days and explore Hong Kong prior to coming to Shekou, or if your flight arrives late in the evening.
At this stage I feel that its only fair to warn you that you are about to meet one of (if you don’t know the correct prices) the biggest rip-offs in China. As you approach the exit to the ferry port, you will be assaulted by people offering you “Hello! Taxi!” repeatedly, from all directions. These are all unauthorised taxis, usually just some Chinese guy making money from the use of his car. These are all unauthorised, and therefore uninsured (for business use), so if anything happens you could be left high and dry. The prices they ask are also extremely high compared to the taxis, although once they realise you know the correct prices they are willing to drop their price drastically. The taxi rank is only less than a 100m outside of the ferry, so unless you are a regular (and you wouldn’t be reading this if you were), there is a huge queue, or it is raining heavily (making taxis scarce and the taxi rank queue huge), I would suggest not availing of their service. If there IS a shortage of taxis and feel you have no option but to use one of these unauthorised taxis, to give you an idea of cost, a taxis first 3km is 12.5RMB, and you can get all the way to the centre of Shenzhen easily for less than 100RMB.
Ferry from Shekou
Shekou Ferry Terminal
It is also possible to take a ferry directly from Shekou back to Hong Kong International Airport, assuming that you are flying with a participating airline, this list can be viewed here. Note: If your airline is not listed you CANNOT travel from Shekou back to Hong Kong airport directly by means of the ferry.
Should you wish to return to the Hong Kong International Airport by this method, please note that payment for transit is accepted in Chinese Yuan ONLY! They cannot accept foreign currency to exchange, nor take foreign credit/debit cards. MAKE sure that you have enough local currency as if the port bank is closed (for exchanging currency) and the ATM is not working so that you cannot obtain Yuan, YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO PURCHASE TICKETS! An additional point to note is that occasionally the ferry to the airport is full, so if you want to be 100% safe and to guarantee to be able to get the boat you want, go the previous day and purchase your tickets in advance.
Ticket price is currently 260RMB per person
First ferry from Shekou to the airport departs at 07:45, so the ferry company will not accept passengers usually with a flight departure time prior to 10:15
Departing from Shekou ferry terminal to Hong Kong airport is a simple procedure.
- Purchase your ferry ticket BEFORE entering the ferry terminal, these can be bought at the office to the side of the taxi arrival area, to the rights as you look at the ferry terminal.
- As you enter the ferry terminal entrance you will pass through security, which normally means putting all your luggage through a scanner.
- Assuming that you have purchased your ferry tickets (you will not be accepted at the ferry check-in desk if you have not yet purchased your tickets) move to the ferry check-in desk associated with the airline you are flying with. As before details of this can be seen here
- Depending which airline you are flying with, at this stage either you will have your baggage taken and checked through to your final destination OR it will be checked through only as far as the Hong Kong Airport ferry arrival terminal. If this happens the luggage belt is at the rear of the airport ferry arrival terminal and you must collect your baggage from there and take it to the airline check-in desks within the airport ferry arrival terminal. It is worth noting that you do not HAVE to deposit your luggage in Shekou if there are not tagged through to your final destination, and it can be quicker to take your bags by hand on/off the ferry, but it should be also noted that there are a lot of stairs between the ferry check-in and arriving actually on the ferry, both up and down. NOTE - if you are checked-in at this stage you will be given a slip of paper for each adult for an airport tax refund, keep these slips someplace safe for the moment.
- Once you arrive at the airport ferry arrival terminal, if you already have been issued a boarding pass you can proceed from the ferry arrival area through security into the departures area, or if not you will need to go to the airline desk that is for your airline to check-in and deposit your luggage. Note that when you check-in you will be given a slip of paper for each adult for an airport tax refund, keep this someplace safe for the moment.
- Once all luggage is checked-in and you have your boarding cards, you are clear to proceed through airport security, which is located near the entrance to the airport ferry arrival terminal.
- Once you have cleared security and before you take the escalator down to the train link to the airport, there is a small desk close to the escalator. Take the slips of paper that you had been previously given and are keeping safe (either in Shekou ferry port, or in the airport ferry arrival airline check-in desks) and present them to the person there, who will give you in return 120HK$ for each slip of paper.
- Take the escalator down and board the train that will take you to the airport departures. DO NOT get off at the first stop, the second stop is the airport departure area for all gates.
Enjoy your flight home!