Spending a day in Hong Kong before your flight

Over the last year, I’ve travelled to Shenzhen in China five times, and I’ve got it down to a fine art. On several occasions I’ve provided colleagues with a cheat-sheet on how to deal with such things as Shekou ferry tickets and immigration paperwork. But on my last trip I tried something new, and I thought I might as well document it here.
Flights from Hong Kong to the US and Europe tend to leave at two times: late morning, and late at night. On my previous trips I had been booked on late morning flights, which meant that I barely had time to get from the hotel in Shenzhen to the airport. This time, I was going to Europe, departing on a Saturday evening flight to London. My initial impulse was to spend the day exploring Hong Kong, but I wasn’t sure what to do with my bags. This is how I worked it out, organized as a “how to” for my colleagues:

  1. Take a taxi to Luohu (Lo Wu) station in the center of Shenzhen.
  2. Go through China emigration and customs, followed by Hong Kong immigration. Don’t forget to hand in your departure slip, and complete a Hong Kong visit form.
  3. Buy a Metro ticket to Central Station. You’ll need HK$ to do this, and the vending machines won’t accept HK$50 bills.
  4. Take the Metro: East Rail Line from Lo Wu to Kowloon Tong; Kwun Tong Line from Kowloon Tong to Mong Kok; Tsuen Wan Line from Mong Kok to Central. (Be sure to change at Mong Kok, because it’s trivially easy: just walk across the platform.)
  5. At Central Station, follow the signs for In-Town Checkin. (Note: verify here that your airline participates in the program – if not, this whole plan is inapplicable!) Eventually you’ll go through a turnstile and take an elevator up to the In-Town Checkin floor.
  6. Buy yourself a one-way Airport Express ticket to the airport from the vending machine. You have to do it now, not later, because you’ll use the ticket to gain access to the airline checkin area.
  7. Check in for your flight. If you are checking any bags (as I was), do this now. Ask what time you should plan to leave for the airport.
  8. If you have any carry-on bag(s) that you don’t want to lug around Hong Kong, there is a Left Luggage office at the other end of the building. Show them your boarding pass and passport; you’ll pay when you collect your bags.
  9. Now you’re free to explore Hong Kong for the day!

In my case, I left the Huawei hotel in Shenzhen just before 9am, and I was checked in by 11:30. This gave me plenty of time to walk up the hill and find an English pub for lunch, with Boddingtons and WiFi. The longest delay was at Hong Kong immigration: lots of people wanted to visit Hong Kong for the day. I didn’t stay in the city as late as I could have, because I wanted to take the Airport Express during daylight. (As it turned out, there wasn’t really anything to see from the train.)
UPDATE: My Hong Kong photos are here.