After eight years of construction, the groundbreaking this express rail link (also known as the XRL) has finally been unveiled. Inaugurated at the end of September, the trains, which move at a top speed of 300km/h, offer tourists the convenient option of hopping to two Chinese megacities, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, from Hong Kong.
The XRL shortens what used to be a two- to four-hour train ride to a 48-minute hop — from West Kowloon station to Guangzhou South station, on selected trains with no stops. From West Kowloon to Futian and Shenzhen North stations, it takes 14 and 23 minutes respectively. Fares range from HK$80 (about P550; from Hong Kong to Futian) to HK$260 (about P1,785; from Hong Kong to Guangzhou South).
The train connects Hong Kong with more than 25,000km of high-speed railway lines, which means tourists visiting the Fragrant Harbour can now travel overland, with ease, to other metropolises like Beijing and Shanghai.
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Follow our XRL trail this October
First stop: Hong Kong
What to do: Ocean Park, which will be hosting a Sanrio- and Hello Kitty-themed Halloween party as part of its Halloween Fest (Oct 5 to 31). The program features activities at a Halloween party house, a Trick-or-Treat Trail and plenty of interactive games for participants of all ages. oceanpark.com.hk/en
Where to stay: Hotel Cozi Harbour View (pictured). Situated in Kwun Tong, East Kowloon, it has 598 decent-sized rooms, many offering harbor views overlooking Hong Kong Island. hotelcozi.com/harbourview
Second stop: Shenzhen
What to do: “Game On” (until Oct 14), an exhibition at the OCT Creative Exhibition Center that focuses on the history and culture of gaming. The showcase reveals, through interactive displays, the evolution of more than 150 video games, including Space Invaders and The Sims. Suitable for players of all ages. octharbour.com
Third stop: Guangzhou
What to do: “Decoding the Chinese Landscape Painting” (until Nov 11), at Guangdong Museum. Go on a visual journey through the time of ancient China, with the help of a selection of 130 stunning Chinese ink artworks. gdmuseum.com
Where to stay: Chimelong Panda Hotel in Guangdong. It offers a whopping 1,500 rooms — each colorfully themed. The Alice in Wonderland room, for example, is suitable for young families. int.chimelong.com
This article first appeared in the October 2018 issue of Smile magazine.