The Hong Kong – Zhuhai – Macau Bridge (HKZMB) opened to traffic last fall. The bridge has been under construction through my whole time in Shenzhen, but I had not yet been on it. So my girlfriend Elaine and I decided to use our weekend trip to have a mini-adventure and take a ride across the new bridge.
Shenzhen to HKG
First off, we had to get to the start of the bridge from Shenzhen. A little internet digging showed that we needed to go to the HKZMB Hong Kong Port Bus Terminal (really rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it), which happens to be right next to the Hong Kong airport. I had seen signs at HKG for bus transport to Macau. Plus, there is transport from many points in Shenzhen direct to HKIA. Putting this all together, Elaine and I figured the airport was our first stop.
With border crossings the ride was about an hour and fifteen minutes, 40 minutes driving. This ride itself can be stunning, weaving through the bridges and neighborhoods of the New Territories.
1.25 hours, 150RMB ($21.81)
HKG to HKZMB Hong Kong Port Bus Terminal
We arrived at HKG and followed the signs for Mainland and Macau Transport. However, at the end of those signs, we were told we were in the the wrong place and would need to go outside and catch bus B4 to the correct bus terminal. 10 minutes of total walking.
We of course just missed the bus, and had to wait 10 minutes for the next one. The bus was a regular Hong Kong city bus, and as such required the 6 HKD ($0.77) fare to be paid on either an Octopus card or in exact change – a cause for concern for those who had just landed. Once boarding the bus, it was a 10 minute ride over to the bus terminal. This was the least efficient part of our brief journey, and seemed out of place at the usually extremely well organized Hong Kong airport. But we got the best seat on the bus for the brief ride over, so we enjoyed that.
30 minutes, 6 HKD ($0.77)
HKZMB Hong Kong Port Bus Terminal to HKZMB Zhuhai Port Bus Terminal
Views from the bridge, along with some bonus photos of our time in Zhuhai 🙂
And finally then, then main event. We arrived at the correct bus terminal. We cleared Hong Kong immigration back into no-man’s land (though you might say we’d be in China the whole time?), bought a bus ticket (60HKD, $7.68), and got in line. Lines were divided for Zhuhai and Macau, corresponding to which border post you would go through on the far side. Our tickets were not for a particular bus, and we waited five minutes for the next one. The buses themselves were seemingly standard issue public buses, not the intercity coaches I was expecting. Right hand drive. Everyone got a seat, and was instructed (and then reminded in my case) to wear a seat belt. Maybe since the buses were so new, these seat belts were tight enough for a roller coaster – it was genuinely hard to lean forward. About 15 minutes after entering the terminal, with a quick snack break, we were off.
The route starts behind freight terminals of the Hong Kong airport before entering a 7km tunnel, which allows container ship traffic to continue up the delta. Signs clearly change from Hong Kong to mainland-style as you clear Hong Kong territory. Three lanes in each direction, though for most of the ride there were no other vehicles in sight. Emerging from the tunnel, the majority of the ride was above the water. With a relatively clear day in terms of both rain and pollution, we could see the far side of the delta through the whole ride. It was beautiful.
Half an hour after departing, we arrived at the Zhuhai + Macau side of the bridge. After quickly clearing immigration at the Zhuhai border post and re-entering China, we caught a taxi to our hotel to begin a relaxing Saturday.
45 minutes, 60 HKD ($7.68)
If you’ve been keeping track, then the total trip from Shenzhen to Zhuhai took us approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes and cost $30.26. Considering that there are ferries from Shenzhen to Zhuhai that take 1 hour and 15 minutes, cost $18.18, and don’t require you to cross two borders, this is not the most efficient path. However, if starting from the Hong Kong airport, then this could be a compelling way to get to the other side of the delta for work or pleasure. Particularly if the connection between the airport and bus terminal becomes smoother.
Riding across, I found myself drawing links between this new bridge and the recent unrest in Hong Kong. An important note is, with two semi-autonomous regions and mainland China all connected to this one bridge, there are very few vehicles that currently have the right permits to drive across. But looking at a mostly empty six lane highway in the sky, one has to imagine this can’t be the intent forever. While the bridge has been designed to last for 120 years, and complete reunification is only 27 years away, one does wonder how patient Beijing will be in recouping these types of investments.
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