Getting There

It is usually much cheaper to fly into Shenzhen from other mainland cities than it is to fly directly to Hong Kong, and there are around 60 Chinese cities to choose from, including Beijing, Chengdu, Guilin, Hangzhou, Kunming, Shanghai, Xiamen, and Xi'an.

Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport (SZX), is the fifth-largest airport in China, and located 32km (20 miles) from downtown. It serves a dozen domestic airlines with regular flights to all the major tourist cities and beyond. Long distance international flights usually land at nearby Guangzhou, although Shenzhen is served by half a dozen Asian carriers. Convenient shuttle buses between Hong Kong International Airport and Shenzhen Airport run every 20 minutes costing HK$180 per adult and HK$100 per child, as well as buses going further afield to locations such as Dongguan. Helicopter service between Macao and Shenzhen flies 10 times per day. Call tel. 0852/2108-9898 for more details.

Airport bus no. 330 (tel. 0755/99788) runs from the airport to the Hualian Dasha (a hotel and department store), just west of the center on Shen Nan Zhong Lu. The ride takes 40 minutes and costs ¥20; the buses run every 15 minutes from 6:20am to 9pm. When work on an extension to the KCR East Rail line is complete, buses will run to the railway station. For now it's a ¥20 taxi ride farther. (Coming from Hong Kong, ignore touts at Luo Hu, and make for the signposted taxi rank.)

The railway station (tel. 0755/8326-5043) is 2 minutes' walk north of the Luo Hu/Lo Wu border and connected by elevated walkway. Tickets for Guangzhou are on sale at this level, and for elsewhere on the floor below, from 7am to 8pm. The express trains directly from Kowloon to Beijing and Shanghai pass through but do not stop here. Shenzhen has its own services from Beijing Xi (2,373km/1,483 miles). Tickets for this and many other trains from Shenzhen can be bought at CTS in Hong Kong, but there's a much greater choice of services and destinations from Guangzhou. Departures by 200kmph express trains to Guangzhou Dong (East) leave 45 times a day from 7:18am to 8:45pm. They occasionally continue to the main station.

About 30 long-distance bus stations operate out of Shenzhen, but it is the Luo Hu Qichezhan (tel. 0755/8232-1670) that visitors will find most useful as buses here depart to most cities of Guangdong Province. Buses for Guangzhou leave every 5 minutes and cost ¥60.

From Hong Kong, the easiest train route is via the KCR East Rail line from Hung Hom or Kowloon Tong to Lo Wu. The first train from Hung Hom is at 5:30am and the last at 11:07pm. Only stay on for Lo Wu if you plan to cross the border, or you may be fined. The long-distance bus station, Luo Hu Qichezhan, is beneath Luo Hu Commercial City, to your right as you leave Customs. There are rapid bus connections with Guangzhou, Zhuhai Gong Bei (the Macau border crossing, every 15 min. 7am-8:30pm), Kaiping, and most other corners of Guangdong Province. A cross-border coach service runs to the Shangri-La hotel directly from Hong Kong Airport's arrivals hall counter 4B; 16 services make the 2-hour trip from 10:30am to 8:30pm for HK$100. In the other direction, 10 services operate from 7:30am to 5:50pm. Warning: Access to Shenzhen is subject to extra controls. Have your passport ready if you're arriving or leaving by bus.

Getting Around

Few people get farther than Luo Hu, with its border station, railway station, bus station, shopping, restaurants, and hotels, all close together. Red taxi fares are among China's most expensive with a flagfall of ¥13 including 2.3km (1 1/4 miles), then ¥2.40 per kilometer up to 15km (9 miles), then 50% more. Green taxis, on the other hand, are a much more reasonable ¥7 including 2.3km (1 1/4 miles), then ¥1.60 per kilometer. Never deal with touts who approach you at the border. The taxi stand is signposted beyond Luo Hu Commercial City to your right. At the north end of the plaza, with the border on the south side and the station on the west, stands the Shangri-La hotel. The street leading north on the left side is Jianshe Lu, and the street on the right side is Renmin Nan Lu; between the two of them, they lead to everything you might want.

There is a tour bus that makes a comfortable 2-hour trip around the city that leaves the front of the bus station every 10 minutes, but thanks to all the construction it can be a little difficult to locate. Get directions from the English-speaking staff at the information desk, which is located next to the ticket counter on the first floor in section B. Tickets are ¥10, but do not catch this bus at rush hour or you will just end up sitting in one of the city's infamous traffic jams.

The new metro is currently limited to two lines. Line no. 1 (green on maps) runs 15 stations from Luo Hu 17km (11m) to Window on the World (Shi Jie Zhi Chuang). Line no. 4 (blue on maps) runs five stations from Huang Gang to the Children's Palace (Xiao Nian Gang). Tickets cost ¥2 to ¥8 according to the distance to be traveled.

Fast Facts

Banks, Foreign Exchange & ATMs -- A branch of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank (HSBC) is on the Renmin Nan Lu side of the Century Plaza Hotel -- you can't change money here but you can use its ATM outside. A branch of the Bank of China (Mon-Fri 8:30am-5:30pm; Sat-Sun and holidays 9am-4pm), which has foreign-exchange service and an outside ATM, is nearby to the right and beyond the Shangri-La hotel.

Internet Access -- The 24-hour PC-War E-Cafe even has a nonsmoking area. It's on the fourth floor of the Cybermart at Renmin Nan Lu 3005 and charges ¥2 per hour. Use the side entrance from 7pm to 9am.

Post Office -- A useful post office (9am-noon and 12:30-5pm) is on the ground-floor level of the north end of Luo Hu Commercial City.

Visa Extensions -- Cross into Hong Kong and purchase a brand-new 3-month visa within 24 hours if you need one..

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.