With a total population of approximately 86 million people and an economy bigger than South Korea’s, the Greater Bay Area (GBA) is great in every sense of the word. From the mouth-watering Cantonese cuisine of Guangzhou to the theme parks of Shenzhen, there really is no shortage of options in terms of what this sprawling megalopolis can offer.
Fortunately, travelling from Macao to the other main cities of the GBA does not have to be a headache thanks to the region’s extensive transport network, which offers plenty of bus, rail and ferry options. Researching it all can be a chore, so we’ve done it for you. Now you can focus on what really matters – dining, exploring and having a high old time.
Before setting off, make sure you have the right travel document and – if you need one – a visa (see here for more details). Also ensure that you have the right Chinese apps downloaded on your phone: you’ll need them for everything from making payments to finding your way around.
Located approximately 100 kilometres from Macao, Guangzhou is the capital of Guangdong province. It is one of the epicentres of Cantonese culture and cuisine, with a history of 2,200 years. The city is home to many of the GBA’s biggest attractions, historical and modern, from Canton Tower to the pedestrianised shopping mecca of Beijing Road.
From Macao, you can go by either train or bus.
High-speed rail is the recommended way of getting to Guangzhou because it is fast, comfortable and affordable. To get on the high-speed network, you first need to get yourself to Zhuhai via the Gongbei Port of Entry. Directly behind it is Zhuhai Station.
If you haven’t already bought a ticket online, make your way to the station’s ticket office and buy a ticket to Guangzhou South Station. (Incidentally, it is now also possible to travel to Guangzhou South via Hengqin.) Tickets cost 70 yuan for second class and 90 yuan for first class. During the non-holiday seasons, there is no need to worry about tickets being sold out, as regular trains are scheduled between 6:25 am to 10:57 pm every day.
Once you have your ticket, proceed to the boarding gate entrance and wait for your gate to open, which is normally 15 minutes before the train’s departure time. Overall, the whole train journey takes approximately an hour.
Bus from Macao
The nightly Shun Tak Cross-border bus leaves from the Grand Lisboa at 6 pm, calling at Macao Tower, Lisboa Palace and Hengqin Port at 6:10 pm, 6:30 pm and 6:55 pm respectively. Tickets can be purchased through WeChat (Open the link by copying it onto Wechat), online or in-person and cost at 75 patacas or 84 patacas for an adult ticket depending on the vendor.
Bus from Zhuhai
Make your way to Zhuhai via the Gongbei Port of Entry. Within walking distance, you’ll find both the Gongbei Tong Da Coach Station and the underground Kee Kuan Bus Station, which is located at the Gongbei Port Shopping Plaza.
Eleven buses depart from the Kee Kuan Bus station every 60 to 90 minutes, between 6 am to 8 pm each day. The journey takes approximately three hours, and costs just 35 yuan. Upon arrival in Guangzhou, passengers can get off at Wanshengwei, the south gate of Jinan University or Zhujiang New Town, which is right in the heart of Guangzhou.
Buses from the Gongbei Tong Da Coach Station also depart every 60 to 90 minutes, between 7 am and 5:30 pm, bound for Guangzhou Provincial Bus Station. Tickets for the two and a half hour journey cost 65 yuan. There’s also a service to Guangzhou East Coach Station for the same price, although the trip is slightly longer, at three hours, with departures that are less frequent: 8:15 am, 12:25 pm and 2 pm.
With over 14,000 high-tech companies, Shenzhen has more than earned its status as the Silicon Valley of China. The city, however, isn’t just about technological gadgetry. It also boasts an impressive array of beaches, theme parks and museums.
As the crow flies, Shenzhen isn’t far from Macao. The shortest distance between the two places is roughly 60 kilometres, with a bay separating them. However, the distance can reach approximately 200 kilometres if travel between the two cities is done inland. That’s why a ferry is your best bet.
Sailings depart every 60 to 90 minutes from either terminal, but start earlier and finish later from Taipa – with services between 8:30 am to 9 pm, compared to the Outer Harbour terminal, where services don’t begin until 10:30 am and end at 8 pm. Tickets are priced at 260 patacas for economy class.
Bus from Macao
If you’d rather save money, and don’t mind a longer journey, you can get a bus from Macao Port at the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. Currently, there are 12 buses running every hour to the Shenzhen Bay Hong Kong border between 9:10 to 20:40. Other dropoff points include Bao’an International Airport, OH Bay and Sam’s Club bulk-buy warehouse in Qianhai, although the buses to these destinations run less frequently.
The entire trip takes around 75 minutes, with a ticket costing between 185 patacas to 270 patacas, depending on the drop-off point. For more information, click here.
Bus from Zhuhai
This is the cheapest way of getting to Shenzhen from Macao. Head to Zhuhai’s Gongbei Tong Da Coach Station (it’s an easy walk from the Gongbei Port of Entry), where there are buses that leave for different districts of Shenzhen, such as Bao’an and Shajing, at 9 am, 9:30 am, 10 am, 1 pm, 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm. Depending on the destination, the journey can last up to three and a half hours, with tickets ranging from 90 to 120 yuan.
Alternatively, you can also visit the Zhuhai Gongbei Bus Station which has departures for Futian Coach Station at 3:30 pm and 6:10 pm. The trip lasts for three and a half hours and costs 100 yuan.
Taking the high-speed train to China’s Silicon Valley from Zhuhai Station is another reasonable option. However, there are only two direct trains from Zhuhai to Shenzhen North Railway Station which leave at 5:06 pm and 8:25 pm each day, with tickets costing either 144.5 yuan or 189.5 yuan depending on whether you select second class or first class. The trip lasts approximately 1 hour 48 minutes.
Alternatively, it is possible to go via Guangzhou South Station, which gives you a wider choice of times to choose from, with trains leaving roughly every 30 to 60 minutes between 7:12 am to 8:25 pm. Depending on the train, the journey can take between 1 hour 43 minutes to 2 hours 7 minutes, and the cost is more or less the same as the direct service.
Dongguan is located approximately 93 kilometres from Macao and is often dubbed “the world’s factory” – with good reason. Scores of international brands, from Samsung to Nike, make their products here. But the city has also gained traction as a tourist destination in recent times, through its historical sites and scenic spots, including Nanshe Ancient Village and Humen Fortress.
The ferry services that used to sail to Dongguan were suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic and haven’t resumed, so for now your options are rail or bus.
This is the quickest and most comfortable way of getting to Dongguan from Macao. You’ll need to get yourself to Zhuhai Station (best done via the Gongbei Port of Entry). From there, you can board a non-stop train to Dongguan’s Humen Railway Station, departing at 5:06 pm, with tickets priced at 104.5 yuan for second class and 139.5 yuan for first class. Expect the trip to take about 1 hour 34 minutes.
Alternatively, you can go from Zhuhai Station to Guangzhou South Station, where a greater number of trains to Humen Station are available. Services are scheduled every 30 to 60 minutes between 7:42 am, and 10:13 am, and in the afternoon between 2:11 pm and 9:24 pm. The ticket prices are more or less the same as the direct train, although the journey time will be longer.
Bus from Zhuhai
Departures to Dongguan are from both Gongbei Tong Da Coach Station and Zhuhai Gongbei Bus Station (both of them near the Gongbei Port of Entry). The former has five buses that go to the Dongguan East Bus Station at 8:10 am, 10:30 am, 12:30 pm, 2 pm and 3:50 pm, with the journey taking about two and a half hours. Tickets cost 95 yuan.
For a more flexible option, you could book at the Zhuhai Gongbei Bus Station which has departures for Fumin Shuangzi Cheng in Humen Town, Hongfu Road Metro Station and Dongguan Nancheng Bus Station. Buses are scheduled approximately every two hours between 8:50 am and 7:50 pm, with tickets costing between 50 to 58 yuan depending on the time of day.
Out of the four cities on this list, Huizhou is the furthest from Macao, at a distance of about 135 kilometres. Its rich, mountainous scenery and natural environment are among the best that the GBA can offer, however. Luofu Mountain and the Huizhou West Lake are well worth a visit. In Huizhou itself, don’t miss Pinghai Ancient City and Xihumen Food Street.
High-speed rail is the quickest way.
There is only one non-stop train from Zhuhai Station to Huizhou, meaning that it is best to book tickets in advance, as they are liable to be sold out. The train departs at 5:06 pm and the total length of the trip is 2 hours 19 minutes, with Huiyang Railway Station as the terminus. A single ticket costs 169.5 yuan.
[See more: Here are 10 of the best things to do in Zhuhai]
In case the direct train to Huiyang is booked out, there is still the option of taking an indirect train via Guangzhou South Station. There is a train running almost every hour between 6:25 am to 7:45 pm, with tickets priced between 103 yuan to 169.5 yuan depending on whether you are getting off at Luofu Shan Railway Station and Boluo Station, which are located on the outskirts of Huizhou, or headed downtown, to Huizhou North Railway Station, Huizhou South Railway Station or Huiyang Railway Station. The trip can also vary significantly in length, from 2 hours 27 minutes to 4 hours 4 minutes.
Bus from Zhuhai
Taking a bus from Zhuhai to Huizhou is also possible. From the Gongbei Port, you can walk to the Gongbei Tong Da Station, which has buses that leave for Huizhou at 8:50 am and 2 pm each day. The trip takes roughly four and a half hours and a ticket costs 120 yuan.
Gongbei Bus Station meanwhile has two buses scheduled each day at 12 noon and 3:35 pm. Tickets cost 115 yuan.