I arrived in Hong Kong from London on the 28th of August and stayed a couple of days there to see friends. To get from Hong Kong to Haikou, the capital of Hainan and where Hainan University is based there are three methods:
1. Fly – flying would be the easiest and quickest method. From Hong Kong there are many flights a day, expect to pay between £50 – £150, the flight takes a bit more than an hour. The only problem is the limitations on luggage. Normally there id s maximum of 20-23kg on checked luggage.
2. Train – there aren’t any direct trains from Hong Kong, as one might expect with Hong Kong having their own, independent rail network from that of China. Therefore, it is necessary to take a 2 hour train from Hong Hum in Hong Kong to Guangzhou East station. The ticket is about £4, 50HKD. In Guangzhou, there are 4 trains per day from Guangzhou station and one from Guangzhou East. The Guangzhou East station’s service leaves at 21:22 and arrives in the morning at 9:40 in Haikou. A hard sleeper berth will cost around £20, 190RMB. In spite of the name, ‘hard sleepers’ are in fact very comfortable.
3. Coach. This is the way I went. I took the Hong Kong underground, the MTR to Shenzhen, the first city in China , from there there were coaches advertised to Haikou. The cost was about 200RMB, £20. I asked them again and again that this coach was definitely the one to Haikou. Unfortunately they were not honest. In stead I ended up on the coach to Zhanjiang, the most southernly city in Guangdong province. I left at 8pm and arrived in the morning, about 12 hours. From Zhangjiang, I then bought a ticket to Haikou, about £7, 70RMB, which took a further 6 hours.
For my own experience, I think I got unlucky. Clearly there weren’t any more coaches to Haikou when I arrived in Shenzhen and to still make a sale, the ticket office put me on a coach going to the port from where I’d then go on to Haikou. I would have preferred them to tell me at the start, especially as I spoke to them in Chinese.
For me, taking the train or coach, is the best option. The Chinese countryside is beautiful and watching the world go by from the window makes a 12 hour trip feel like an hour (although there is little to see in the dead of night). At Zhanjiang both coaches and trains are loaded onto ferries and transported across the Qingzhou Strait.
The trains run to this point and then are loaded onto the ferry.