When the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge opened on 23 October, it unlocked the potential for much easier travel within the Pearl River Delta. A major component is connecting travellers arriving at Hong Kong Airport directly to Macau, but does it work for groups?
Well, after many calls from clients, Bruno Simões and Sam Li of DOC DMC Macau & Hong Kong decided to take the trip for themselves to answer their questions, such as: is the service convenient for groups? Is it better than the ferries? Can we take luggage? And is it really ready?
“With this system there’s no restriction to connecting Hong Kong Airport to Macau 24 hours a day—and at low prices,” says Simões, managing director, DOC DMC, a PCO and DMC that has been managing groups travelling to the territory for more than 10 years. “For the MICE business, this is an exceptional connection.
“The ferries linking Macau and Hong Kong Airport are not as frequent in recent years, with gaps of sometimes four or five hours between them. They also started at 9am and finished around 10pm so if you got in early or late you would have to go via Hong Kong, and possibly even spend the night.”
However, for groups travelling between Hong Kong Island/Kowloon and Macau, Simões says ferries are still the best option in most cases.
“There’s an express bus from the Cotai Strip directly to Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, but guests need to leave the bus to cross immigration at the two large bridge ports,” he says.
How does it work?
On arrival at Hong Kong Airport, delegates will need to take a short shuttle bus from the terminal to the bridge port where they clear immigration. In the future this part of the journey is expected to be replaced by a train.
A private transfer takes just five minutes, while for scattered arrivals, there are two meet and greet staff in the arrivals terminal directing guests to the shuttle bus. The B4 shuttle bus runs 24 hours a day at a cost of HK$6 (US$ 0.77), every 8 to 12 minutes (06:15 to midnight) and every 15 to 30 minutes (midnight to 06:15).
Simões notes there are still some “unfinished” areas at both the Hong Kong bridge port and the airport, but that everything works well.
Delegates go through immigration then head off across the bridge on a “Golden Bus”. The journey takes just 45 minutes and costs HK$65 per passenger (US$8.30).
“One escort for each small group of up to 15-20 people can cross the bridge with guests and each bus can take up to 15 to 20 pieces of luggage,” says Simões. “The Golden Buses travel every five minutes during busy periods, 10 to 15 minutes during other periods and every 15 to 30 minutes from midnight to 6am.”
What happens when you get to Macau?
On arrival in Macau, Simões says the travel time from the bridge port to hotels is just 15 to 20 minutes. Delegates disembark from the Golden Bus, clear immigration and then meet a private transfer or board a complimentary shuttle bus to Taipa Ferry Terminal (and the free hotel shuttles there) that runs every 10 to 20 minutes from 10:00 to 23:00.
“The way between immigration and the buses is easy,” says Simões. “It is much better than the ferry immigration and transfer experience, which can be quite congested.”
So what’s the verdict? Simões and Li say the advantages are the 24-hour service, five-minute transfer from Hong Kong Airport to the Hong Kong bridge port and the experience of crossing the bridge itself. On the down side, guests need to carry their own luggage in both terminal ports as there is no porter service, and they need to cross two immigration control points. There can also be some delays in the Golden Bus service during peak times.
Simões’ conclusion? “Travelling on the world’s longest sea-crossing bridge between Hong Kong and Macau is amazing!”