How to get from Hong Kong to Yangshuo: the stressful way.
During my travels, I’ve encountered all kinds of adventures. Good ones but also… well let’s say ‘less good ones’… Now I’m the kind of girl that thinks any travel experience is a good experience – that is as long as you don’t get robbed, violated, injured or things like that, of course – so I decided not to choose the easy way out of Hong Kong in an attempt to save some money. Always a good reason, right? We were going to Yangshuo, at about 600km from Hong Kong and had different options to get there:
- take a plane from Hong Kong to Guilin (+- 1h30), followed by a bus or taxi from Guilin to Yangshuo (+- 1h30). Total price +- € 280 pp for our travel date
- take a bus from Hong Kong to Shenzhen (China) (+- 1h30, price +- € 10 pp), followed by
- a sleeper train from Shenzhen to Guilin (13h, prices from € 15 to € 40 depending on the train class) and a bus or taxi from Guilin to Yangshuo (price +- € 2 pp for the bus (no busses at night) and +- € 30 for the taxi (total price).
- a nightbus from Shenzhen to Yangshuo (11h, price +- € 20 pp)
- a plane from Shenzhen to Guilin (1h, price +- € 100 for our travel date) and a bus or taxi from Guilin to Yangshuo (prices above)
The bus and train were obviously the cheapest options but also the longest ones, and we didn’t feel like spending the night on a bus or a train and be tired the next day. So instead we took the bus from Hong Kong to the airport of Shenzhen and took a plane to Guilin from there. This was still a lot cheaper than taking a plane out of Hong Kong.
It didn’t go as planned from the beginning. We had been looking for the best way to get to the bus stop in Hong Kong and decided to ask at our hotel. They told us the hotel shuttle could drop us off there for free whenever we wanted. We asked to leave about 5.30pm (we had to take the bus to Shenzhen around 6.30pm) but the driver insisted we’d wait for other hotel guests. It was close to 6pm when we finally left. About 10 minutes later, we arrived at what had to be the bus stop. The driver dropped us off but didn’t know which bus it was exactly. I decided to ask the first person I saw but he told me the busses for Shenzhen were on the other side of the city…
Trying to stay calm – with only 20 minutes left, we’d never get to the other side of the city in time – I kept on searching until finally somebody showed me the right bus. It was a little bit further in the street. People were already getting on it when we arrived and we were almost the last in line. When it was our turn, it turned out there was no way to pay with visa and we had no more cash… In fact, the ticket booth was just a table and the tickets were handwritten. We had about 2 minutes to climb up 2 floors, run to the other side of the building, get money from the bank and get back to the bus. We quickly decided my boyfriend would stay close to the bus and prevent it from leaving without us and I was going to get the money. I got back right in time!
When we got on the bus we received a sticker to stick on our t-shirt, so that the people from the bus company would be able to recognize us. We had to leave the bus (with all our belongings) to go through passport and visa control at the border between Hong Kong and the rest of China. We arrived there after an hour, got out of the bus, had to hand over our entrance card for Hong Kong and were out of there in no time. We got back on the bus, that stopped a second time a few minutes later. This was where we ‘officially’ entered China.
It didn’t take very long but when we came out of the building, our ‘group’ was totally split up so it was just my boyfriend and I. We were on the other side of the building than when we got out of the bus and didn’t see the bus. A man that was waiting outside pointed at our stickers and told us to follow him. We thought he was going to show us the way to the bus. He took us on a bridge leading to what had to be another part of the bus stop and was walking really fast. He kept on saying we had to hurry.
We were already halfway on the bridge when suddenly he started talking about a taxi to the airport. I was like:
“OK STOP!!! What’s that with the taxi?!?”
He wanted to keep on walking but I refused to move before I got an explanation. He said the rest of the trip was by taxi and that we had to pay extra, of course! We immediately made a right turn and at that exact same time, we saw our bus right where we walked out of the building 5 minutes before, leaving the parking lot! We ran to catch it but it was too late… the bus was gone…
I was angry at myself and a little bit panicked at the same time. Not so much because of the situation itself (there had to be another bus at one time or another), but mainly because we did have a plane to catch and didn’t want to miss it. The whole point of this adventure was to save some money and having to pay for a second flight would kind of turn that into a useless effort.
Getting closer to the exit of the building again, I saw a woman in a uniform directing other people to their busses. I showed her our tickets and asked if there was another bus coming anytime soon. We were lucky: there was another bus about 15 minutes later, around 8pm. Nobody seemed to speek English and we weren’t sure the bus was going straight to the airport and how much time it would take, but everything turned out fine. We made it in time to the airport and check-in went smoothly so we even had time to sit down for a few minutes before getting on the plane.
The plane took off at 10pm and less than an hour later, we arrived in Guilin. We went looking for the taxi we’d booked through our hotel (there were no more busses at this time) but it was nowhere to be seen. We waited for half an hour, after which we decided to stop waiting and take another taxi. Of course it was more expensive than the one from the hotel: € 35 instead of € 28 and the driver was falling asleep the whole time. We didn’t stop talking loudly in an effort to keep her awake, even thought we were quite exhausted ourselves!
“Our taxi driver was falling asleep the whole time!”
We arrived at Magnolia hotel in Yangshuo in 1 piece around 1 am and I told them we weren’t to happy with the taxi story. They found no trace of our reservation at all, but when I showed them the e-mail I’d sent, they immediately apologized and gave us the imperial suite in stead of the double deluxe room we’d booked! Now that’s what I call a happy ending! 🙂