Did you know that it’s possible to travel from Hong Kong to Macau by bus in 30 minutes? Yes, it’s the cheaper option too! This land travel is made possible through the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HKZM Bridge or HKZMB) which officially opened in October 2018.
We’ve been living in Hong Kong for almost two years now and I have used the bridge crossing twice. Before that, it took our family three hours to get from our door in Tung Chung, Lantau Island, Hong Kong to the famed Senado Square in Macau via the usual ferry options. With the HKZM Bridge, this travel was cut in half (yes, including the immigration clearances and actual travel time) and the expenses were cut by 60%.
Video of the bus crossing the HKZM Bridge by @sunnidaez Instagram
The HKZM Bridge is a 55-kilometer-long bridge which connects the two administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau to Zhuhai in southern Guangdong, and in effect, to mainland China.
While this “long bridge” (as referred to by our tour guide in Macau) is ridden with controversy (which I will not talk about), it has definitely become our preferred transport option due to the savings in the fare (which only costs about 1/3 of the ferry) and the time, as well as convenience and availability.
So how much is the fare? It only costs HKD65 any day for the main shuttle bus/coach from the main HKZM Bridge Hong Kong side port to the HKZMB Macau side port. For comparison, the ferry fare is HKD160 for weekday and HKD 175 for weekends.
There’s more savings and convenience for night travelers (especially those who enjoy the Cotai strip aka casino side of Macau). The HKZMB bus from Macau to Hong Kong will only set you back HKD70 for night trips but the late night ferry sailing will cost you HKD200. That’s between HKD95-130 savings!
You can also use your Hong Kong-issued Octopus Card for paying the fare in Hong Kong and in Macau for more convenience (and no leftover MOP which is not used in HK).
And how about the time savings? To clarify, as we live in Tung Chung, which is the closest city to the HKZMB Hong Kong side port, it’s very convenient to us. It takes about 20 minutes and HKD8 riding the Green Mini Bus 901 from our door to the Hong Kong side port (HKD7 if you’re taking B6 bus in Tung Chung bus terminus). In contrast, as the closest ferry terminal to us is Sheung Wan, it would take us a little over an hour to get to the ferry terminal (and MTR fare of HKD26).
Assuming that the immigration process takes the same time for the HKZMB bus port and the Sheung Wan ferry port (which feels like the case, or actually I’m biased to say that it’s faster in HKZMB port as there’s fewer travelers using the bridge for now — except during long weekends and pubic holidays, in which case I strongly do not recommend to cross by bus or by ferry), we still save more time in the embarkation or getting into the bus than the ferry. Ferry sailings are usually 15-30 minutes or so apart. But the shuttle buses or coaches depart as soon as they are full, which happens quickly.
The actual travel time is also cut in half. It takes only 30 minutes to traverse the HKZM Bridge from the Hong Kong side to the Macau side. Tung Chung or Lantau Island is actually in between Hong Kong Island (where the Sheung Wan ferry terminal is) and Macau and Zhuhai.
The ferry will take about an hour, sometimes in rough waters (I’ve been puked on by my toddler quite a few times and I’ve been seasick as well). The HKZMB buses cover the length of the bridge in more or less 30 minutes at a speed of about 70-80kph. This is about the same time for the Macau to Hong Kong journey (although I feel like going back takes lesser time).
Video of the bus crossing the HKZM Bridge by @sunnidaez Instagram
In the two times we’ve traveled there, we have tried a very nice coach bus with a raised passenger seating deck and a luggage deck and an older, regular single deck bus with a luggage section. I would prefer the nice coach bus with leather seats but it seems like you’d get these in random as there were no special/first class tickets and no economy options either. For a 30-minute journey, it was ok.
Now, I also recommend the bus for more convenience than the Macau ferry. While both options are available 24 hours, it just always felt easier to travel by bus as you can just show up with your ticket. You can actually do your immigration process first before buying your ticket from Macau to Hong Kong (although we’ve always bought our tickets before immigration). And you don’t have to be at the terminal an hour or 30 minutes before your trip. So you can enjoy more of Cotai strip’s night sights, inside and out. When you’re ready, you just have to go to the Macau bus port side (to save: take a free hotel shuttle to Macau outer ferry and then get on the free shuttle to the bus terminal), buy your ticket, and then present your ticket to board the bus.
Once you return to the Hong Kong port side of the HKZMB, you can just look for the B6 buses to take you back to the Tung Chung terminus close to the MTR station or the GMB 901 which goes around Tung Chung (great option if you are on AirBnB accommodation in the area).
The GMB 901 is available every 10-15 minutes from 6:00am to 1:00 and then 30 minutes from 1:00am to 6:00am. B6 has a similar headway schedule from 06:15am to 00:45 and 00:45 to 06:15.
You can find the information on the B4 (Hong Kong International Airport to HKZM Bridge port through the New Lantao Bus site). There’s also taxis available 24 hours (they are not that cheap though).
To be fair though, there are a few downsides to the bridge travel. First, if you’re staying in Hong Kong island like in Central, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, etc., the ferry will be the closer option to you. Maybe even if you’re in Tsim Sha Tsui. But, if you’d consider the savings in cost, and that the MTR will get you to Tung Chung in more or less and hour (35minutes from Hong Kong/Central station), the HKZMB bus crossing is still a good option. Especially if you usually get seasick. However, if you’re staying at an AirBnB in Tung Chung, Discovery Bay, and Tsing Yi (if you’re new to AirBnB, please use my link for credits for you and me!), or at Novotel, Regal Hotel, Marriott Hotel (both are close to the airport), or Disneyland Hotel, crossing to Macau via bus is faster and more convenient.
Another downside I can think of which I hope the Macau side can fix soon is the lack of free hotel/casino shuttle buses. Your only options are the regular 101 and 102 buses which goes around Macau fishport areas before arriving at the old Macau or Macau city areas. From there, you can switch to the other local transport options or take advantage of the free hotel and casino shuttle bus. I understand that this could be remedied only after more visitors would come in using the Macau side port of the HKZM bridge. (I have a value-priced tour guide contact btw, who will take care of your public and hotel shuttle bus transport and take you to Macau’s tourist spots for a stress free day trip).
Lastly, the Hong Kong-Macau ferry sailing does offer a glimpse into some of the islands of Hong Kong. Who would’ve thought that Hong Kong had some nice natural landscapes and not just the skyscrapers, right? I enjoyed it on my first ferry sailing. Not so much after my daughter threw up on me though. Of course, you can always enjoy the natural beauty of Tung Chung, filled with views of the mountain and the ocean. It’s also your jumpoff point for the Ngong Ping cable car and the Tian Tan Buddha (aka Big Buddha).
Ultimately, I would recommend going from Hong Kong to Macau via the bus and experience crossing the world’s longest bridge (with an underwater tunnel experience–without the view of course). It’s still the cheaper, faster, and more convenient option for us.
I will try to write a Travel Guide on how you can also make this crossing, whether from the airport, the MTR, or city buses, including what to expect while inside the HKZMB port — from getting your ticket to clearing the immigration and security.
In the meantime, more information on the Hong Kong and Macau bus crossing, including options for Zhuhai and connections in other parts of Hong Kong, can be found here.
Will you be traveling from Hong Kong to Macau soon? Let me know if you’d be going from Hong Kong to Macau via the bus or the ferry and share the experience too!