The Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macao Bridge opened in October 2018, making it possible to travel directly by car or bus from Hong Kong to Macau. The HKZM bridge is an overseas highway with three cable-stayed bridges and an undersea tunnel, so it’s not technically a continuous bridge. However you classify it, at 55-kilometres long it’s the longest fixed link in the world.
I first became aware of the bridge on a flight to Hong Kong. Looking out the window I saw an absurdly long bridge/overseas highway in the Pearl River Delta that was seemingly not connected to any land. Then I saw this artificial island where the road disappeared into.
I made a note to Google “big-ass bridge in Hong Kong”, and sure enough I found out about this mega project that even by Chinese standards is pretty mega.
I’ve been following the construction and related controversies of this project, so when it finally opened I planned to see it for myself on my next visit to Hong Kong.
I was wondering what it would feel like to travel on a bridge without seeing the end, and to go in an undersea tunnel, which made me a little nervous at the thought.
This is my review of taking a public shuttle bus on the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macao Bridge.
How to get the bus from Hong Kong to Macau
The bridge begins at the Hong Kong Port of HK-Zhuhai–Macao Bridge, located next to Hong Kong International Airport.
[Location map of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.]
To get to the port you can get to the airport by airport express train and then get a bus, or get one of the airport buses, which now terminates at the port instead of the airport. I got the A21 airport express bus from Nathan Road in Kowloon, and that takes you straight to the terminal after the airport. The bus stops have been updated to include the port stop, so you know you are on the right bus.
If you didn’t know what this building was you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that the port is a new airport terminal.
The bus took exactly one hour to get here from my bus stop in Jordan, Kowloon. If you are just looking to do a quick trip to Macau then you are already behind compared to catching the ferry to Macau. A ferry takes one hour and has the benefit of departing from central Hong Kong.
The port is a beautiful building that would put most airport terminals in the world to shame. There are no half-measures when it comes to building infrastructure in China.
The terminal was busy but it appeared that most people were in tour groups with their own buses.
There are ticket kiosks and ticket counters. I bought a ticket at the counter and it took less than 5 minutes.
The ticket cost 65 HKD ($8.30 USD), and the airport bus cost 33 HKD ($4.20 USD) making it a combined total of 98 HKD ($12.50 USD). By comparison an economy ticket for a ferry from Kowloon to Macau is 171 HKD ($21.83 USD) on the cheapest day.
There are separate buses running to Zhuhai and Macau. Zhuhai is the city on the border of Macau in mainland China, which has different visa requirements to Macao Special Administrative Region.
Overall it took me 20 minutes from arriving at the terminal to clear immigration, buy a ticket and then board the shuttle bus. I probably could have done it in 10 minutes if I didn’t stop to look at everything (plus it’s your last chance for a toilet break).
There are buses running every 5 minutes and there wasn’t a queue to wait for a bus. This was early days in the history of the bridge, so it may become busier in the future.
There are regular coaches and double decker buses running this route. I was hoping to get on a double decker bus and get a front seat at the top. I didn’t wait around though and instead just got on the first available bus. I ended up getting a second row seat, which was suitable enough for taking photos for the purpose of this blog.
The driver walked through the cabin holding a sign in Chinese and English saying to fasten seat belts, and he was checking.
The road goes by the airport on the island of Chek Lap Kok, and from there the journey across the sea begins. The road is three lanes across plus an emergency lane in each direction. With the bridge being eight lanes wide it felt safe and comfortable. Before the trip I didn’t like the idea of being on the edge of the bridge.
After about 10 minutes we came up to the island of the tunnel entrance. In the middle of the sea.
It was weird driving through here knowing that the Pearl River Delta was above us. My mind also recalled from its vast useless database of pop cultural references that Sylvester Stallone movie where he is trapped in a flooded tunnel.
The bus displays the speed on the front like a clock, and it never went over 80km/h during the whole trip. The trip through the tunnel takes about five minutes.
It was a comfortable trip and it helped that there was no traffic, but I was happy to see daylight again. And I’m glad I didn’t read this article before my trip 😱 (sorry for ruining your trip).
If you are taking this bus specifically to look at the bridges then try and get a front seat, otherwise a seat in the middle of the bus will have a boring view.
Despite its length there are enough points of interest along the way to make it an interesting ride. For a start it’s not gun-barrel straight the whole way, so there are some bends where you can see the pillars and bridges.
About two-thirds of the way across I started feeling anxious, but not for the reasons I had thought I would. I felt comfortable riding on the bridge and being unable to see land, and going into the tunnel didn’t bother me either. What gave me anxiety was how much this bridge cost ($18.77 billion USD), and how little traffic there was on it.
The bridge will be useful for freight and tourist buses, but the amount of cars are limited and you need a permit to drive across.
Like the expensive Hong Kong West Kowloon station that serves the Hong Kong – Beijing high-speed railway, it’s more likely that it has been built as a political statement to bind the Special Administrative Regions to the mainland, blurring boundaries in the process.
Before arriving at the mainland city of Zhuhai the road forks for Macau and Zhuhai, avoiding the complications of sending traffic to Macau via the mainland. The total driving time from Hong Kong to Macau was 37 minutes.
Like its counterpart in Hong Kong, the port building in Macau is also a massive building that appears to be built for future growth. If it’s one thing that China does well, it’s anticipating future growth and building for it.
The Macau port building is built on a man-made island and there is no way to walk from the terminal into town. There is a bus stand with local buses, and shuttle buses provided by various casinos. In hindsight I should have hitched a ride on a shuttle bus, but I wanted to try out the public transport.
It seems that the Macau transport authority haven’t accommodated for the demand of the bus service. There was as bus every 20 minutes for where I needed to go, and the bus was standing room only and packed tight.
Should you get the bus from Hong Kong to Macau?
You should to take the bus if:
You want to save money.
You want the novelty of driving on the longest fixed link in the world.
You hate ferries.
You are blogging about enormous infrastructure projects in China.
You should to take the ferry if:
You hate buses.
You want a faster way to get to Macau.
You don’t like the thought of being in an undersea tunnel.
Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge resources
Three cities, one bridge – Excellent multimedia presentation of the bridge by the South China Morning Post.
China’s Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao mega bridge is more than an engineering challenge
Bus is a great option. Gets a bit crowded though.
C. Randen says
Wow! Great article! I have seen the opening of this bridge in the news, thank you for the detailed story of actually crossing it!
Great review! I love the pros/cons list at the end. I have done the ferry a number of times and I’m interested in trying out the bridge just to mix it up. Seems like as long as you’ve got the time, it’s a reasonable ferry alternate.