The most straightforward way to get to Shenzhen, take the MTR to Lo Wu or Lok Ma Chau station on the East Rail line (formerly KCR.) You can catch the East Rail Line from any MTR station by changing at Kowloon Tong. I used to do this before I got smart.
Since I am coming from the island side, I would hop on any 100 series bus which all travel through the Cross-Harbour Tunnel. At the first stop after the tunnel, I’d talk over to Hung Hom Station and board the East Rail line there. There’s three reasons for this:
1. It is less crowded than interchanging at Kowloon Tong
2. There’s less changing of trains, as coming from the island line requires three interchanges.
3. I’m guaranteed a seat for the 45 minute journey
Lo Wu Station brings you to the older part of Shenzhen, where the Shenzhen Railway station is, Shenzhen Bus Terminal, and the infamous Lo Wu Commercial City. The Shangri-la Hotel is also located about a 5 minute walk away. There is where most passengers will go through, so expect large crowds. Immigration isn’t too bad, since there’s tons of counters, but the sheer number of people and multiple pathways may be confusing at first. Just read the signs carefully depending what type of visa/passport you hold.
Lok Ma Chau will bring you to FuTian, the newer part of Shenzhen. There isn’t much outside this station except the large Water Cube Massage Spa. This is a much more calm and civilized immigration facility with less people. The facility is also newer so it’s a bit more pleasing to traverse.
Before I sign off, two secrets I’ll share with you about train fare arbitrage. Ever wonder why Sheung Shui Station is so crowded? Besides all of the gray goods movers, regular passengers will disembark there because it’s actually cheaper to get off and get back on than to go to China straight.
(1) Exit at Sheung Shui
Example using Octopus card:
a. Hung Hom – Lo Wu/Lok Ma Chau: $33.5
b. Hung Hom – Sheung Shui: $8.9
Sheung Shui – Shenzhen: $21
Therefore, if you exit the turnstiles at Sheung Shui and reenter, you’ll save $2.6. Usually you’ll need to wait 3-5 minutes before re-entering using the same Octopus card. This year there’s also another bonus, the MTR offering 10% off your second trip through June 30, 2013, so if you do this, you’ll actually pay only $27.8 total, by exiting at Sheung Shui.
(2) Take First Class for cheap!
Another trick is to take the First Class car from Hung Hom to Sheung Shui for $16, then exit and re-enter and pay $21 for regular class to travel the remaining last stop to Shenzhen. Total $37 vs $33.5 (Regular class straight to SZ.) First Class is a lot more civilized and quieter than regular class, and the seats are more comfy too! Unless it’s very quiet, most of the time I will travel this way since it’s just more relaxing than dealing with all of the people and luggage in the regular cars.
You don’t want to take First Class all the way to Shenzhen, that’ll cost you $67 from Hung Hom, totally not worth it.
Note the border from Lo Wu Shenzhen back to Hong Kong closes at midnight officially, but I’d suggest getting there by 11:30pm. Last time I arrived slightly before 12am and the gate was already closed. I had to take a shared van to Huang Guang and take the bus back. You can probably negotiate the van ride to around 20 RMB if you end up in this situation.
If you’re interested in HK MTR to Shenzhen Metro connections, check out my article here.