A red hydrofoil jet boat is docked at the Macau ferry terminal.

A jet boat ferry waiting to take passengers to Macau. Photo © James Diggans, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Given the distances involved, long-distance bus connections are infrequent from Hong Kong, and unless you want to lose the feeling in your ass and possibly the will to live, bus travel really should be a last resort.

Set on the tip of the Pearl River Delta, one of the more enjoyable and often most efficient ways to travel around the region is by ferry.Most available services travel to the Pearl River Delta and Southern China with regular services to several cities, including Jiangmen, Foshan, and Zhongshan, as well as Fujian and Shantau farther out. Hong Kong has no dedicated bus station, but most buses originate at Hong Kong International Airport, where you can buy tickets and check timetables. There are frequent bus connections to both Shenzhen and Guangzhou, but both of these destinations are better served by their subway and railway connections,

Set on the tip of the Pearl River Delta, one of the more enjoyable and often most efficient ways to travel around the region is by ferry. Hong Kong has regular ferry connections to Macau as well as to several nearby Chinese cities. The ferry is the most practical way to reach Macau, with sailings almost every 15 minutes during peak periods and taking a little over an hour.

Tickets can be bought from travel agents or online. They are also usually available directly before the sailing at either the Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan or the China Ferry Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui and cost HK$130–180, depending on the day and time of the sailing. Shenzhen is also well served by ferries, although they serve the Shekou district rather than downtown Shenzhen. There are also bonded ferries to both Macau and Shenzhen, as well as Guangzhou and other Pearl River Delta cities, available from Hong Kong Airport’s Sky Pier. These allow you to transit to your destination without passing through Hong Kong immigration. From the China Ferry Terminal there are also services of varying frequency to around 10 destinations on the Pearl River Delta, including the popular beaches of Zhuhai.

Ferries on all routes are either modern boats or slightly faster catamarans which have individual passenger seating, icy air-conditioning, and big screens constantly blasting advertisements about beauty products to ensure that you don’t get a wink of sleep. Some have a small shop, but the journey is usually so short that by the time you sit down, it’s almost time to leave again.

Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Living Abroad in Hong Kong.