Getting around Dongguan can be daunting. Here at HubHao, one writer is still enjoying adventures spanning across the city by hopping on buses and just seeing where he ends up. We’re not all called John Acton though. Here’s his micro-study [which he intends to keep updating]…
” You can bury my bones on the outskirts of town,” sang Meat Loaf in his song Boneyard. For me, burial and fear of the underground are two very simple phobias. That said, I love the underground sardine-train experience. Unlike dusty old London and mega-busy Beijing, Dongguan’s subway is a relatively new affair with shiny surfaces. Having alighted at every stop within the first month of the service coming into force, I can safely say the journey is smooth and there are many places to explore across the limited network of one line.
Line 1/东莞R1线: Yet to open. The route will run from Huangpu Ferry Terminal (Guangzhou Line 5/广州地铁5号线/Guǎngzhōu Dìtiě Wǔ Hào Xiàn) to Lilin (Shenzhen Line 6/六号线). Route to serve 26 stations. Expected to open in 2020. UNDER CONSTRUCTION.
Line 2/东莞R2线: Humen Railway Station [虎门火车站] to Dongguan Railway Station [东莞火车站/Dōngguǎn Zhàn] (also referred to as New Shilong Station) [新石龙站/Xīn Shílóng Zhàn], via Dongcheng [东城] and XiPing [西平]. Planned subway Line 1 interchange at HongFu Lu [鸿福路]. Line expected to extend from 15 stations to 23, with an extension south of Humen, ending at Bitou [碧头] (Shenzhen Metro Line 11), via Chang’an New District [长安新区].
Costs between 2RMB and 7RMB for longer journeys. Dongguan Travel Card available.
See map below.
Line 3/东莞R3线: Qishibosha (north-east Dongguan) to Chang’an New Area South (south Dongguan) via Songshan Lake and Dalingshan. Serving 24 stations. Expected completion date: 2020. UNDER CONSTRUCTION.
Line 4/东莞R4线: A Y-shaped line with three terminal points, Huangjiang [黄江镇] (for Line 1), Qingxi Coach Terminal and Guanguang (Shenzhen Line 6). To serve 12 stations. Expected completion date: 2020. UNDER CONSTRUCTION.
The Dongguan Rail Transit is expected to link to Guangzhou and Shenzhen’s various and extensive services. SZMC (Shenzhen Metro Group) official website (in English)/MTR Corporation (Shenzhen) official website (in English)/Guangzhou MTR.
Address for enquiries/通信地址：东莞市新城市中心区稻花路1号 [邮政编码：523073]
PLEASE NOTE: Passports are advised. Police checks are sporadic. Spray deodorant is not permitted aboard the subway system. I was smelly after a game of football because I did not know…
Bus & Coach Travel
Paying bus fares from 2RMB to 15RMB has been fun over the years. I’ve seen old rust-bucket sheds on wheels replaced by lovely air-conditioned sky blue painted Dongguan City Buses and the odd yellow chunky tourist route bus here and there. Buses are perfect places to place noise-cancelling headphones on, “Trapped in a prism, in a prism of light, alone in the darkness, darkness of white…” Best served with Arcade Fire’s Reflektor. Here are some recommended routes to help explore the city.
- L1: Guancheng (Keyuan Garden) – Humen (Weiyuan Barbette Field) (6:00－19:00).
Main stops of the L1: Keyuan Garden, Guancheng Culture Square, Dongguan International Travel Service, Nancheng Walking Street, Houjie Furniture Market, Houjie Exhibition Center, New Humen Bus Station, Humen Apparel Market, Humen Square, Linzexu Park, Weiyuan Barbette Field, Naval Battle Museum
- L2: Is there even an L2 route?! I have yet to find it.
- L3: Dongguan Central Bus Station – Changping (Yingxian Villa) (6:00-20:00).
Main stops of the L3: Dongguan Central Bus Station, South China Mall, Keyuan Garden, Guangcheng Culture Square, Donghu Residential Garden, People’s Park of Changping, Changping Bus Station, Yingxian Hillside Resort
- L4: Dongguan Central Bus Station – Guanyin Mountain Forest Park (6:10-20:20).
Main stops of the L4: Dongguan Central Bus Station, Jinfeng Residential Garden, Hongyuan Industrial Park, Nancheng Hospital, Donghao Plaza, Donghu Residential Garden, Donghua Hospital, East Bus Station, Huangjiang East Station, Huangjiang Square, Baiguodong Industrial Park, Zhangmutou, Guanyin Mountain Forest Park.
- L5A: Dongguan Central Bus Station – Songshan Lake (6:15-20:30)
Main stops of the L5A: Dongguan Central Bus Station, South China Mall, Keyuan Garden, Guangcheng Culture Square, West City Gate Tower (Ying’en Gate Tower), Economy &Trade Center, Jusco,Labor Bureau, Education Information Center, Power Supply Company, Dongcheng Center, New World Garden, Dynatown Residential Garden, Yujing Residential Garden, Huying Park, Dongguan Xiangshi Zoo, Songshan Lake
- L5B: Guangcheng Culture Square – Yuehui Park
Main stops of the L5B: Guangcheng Culture Square, Keyuan Garden, South China Mall, Dongguan Central Bus Station, Jichuan Middle School, Daojiao Gynasisum, Daojiao Middle School, Yuehui Garden.
I’ve had many friends arrive at Dongguan Bus Station, a name which could mean anyone of the following final stops. Inter-city coaches depart most of the main city and town coach/bus stations. The candidates for Dongguan Bus Station are these main city bus and coach depots/terminals/bus stations:
- Dongcheng Bus Station, Liaobu [东莞市汽车东站, 寮步镇横坑五环路侧] – sometimes known as Dongguan Bus Station
- Dongguan East Bus Station, Changping [东莞市常平镇] – sometimes known as Dongguan Bus Station
- Nancheng Bus Station [东莞市南城区宏图路99号] – sometimes known as Dongguan Bus Station
- Wanjiang, Dongguan [广东省东莞市万江路] – sometimes known as Dongguan Bus Station
PLEASE NOTE: Passports are essential for booking, picking-up tickets and travel on inter-city routes.
There is something romantic about rail travel. Many of my fondest memories have involved train journeys. My first overnight train experience was between Dongguan and Changsha, but we’ll save that for another time. Also trains are great ways to slip back and play classic music numbers, like Billy Bragg’s New England, “I loved the words you wrote to me, but that was bloody yesterday.” China High-speed Railways [中国高速铁路] operate from the following stations: Humen Railway Station [虎门站]; and Dongguan East Station [东莞东]. Customs gates are located at Changping’s Dongguan East Station.
China Railways [中国铁路总公司] operate from Dongguan Railway Station [东莞站] in Shilong (end of the subway, Line 2) and Changping Railway Station [常平镇站]. Services are mostly ran by Guangzhou Railway (Group) Corp. [广州铁路(集团)公司] and its subsidiary Guangshen Railway Co. Ltd. [广深铁路股份有限公司]. Services from Dongguan run to cities such as Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. Nationwide connections are available within Guangdong from most major cities. It is possible to travel from Houjie to Xiamen inside 5 hours, or Changsha inside a similar timeframe. I should know, because I have enjoyed wonderfully swift and smooth journeys, complete within-transit potted noodles and picnic.
Train tickets can be booked in person at booking offices located within stations or within most districts of Dongguan. Online bookings are possible via Ctrip, WeChat and various other methods. Passports are essential for booking, picking-up tickets and travel.
The main rail lines that pass-through Dongguan are as follows:
- Guangzhou-Kowloon Railway;
- Guangzhou-Meizhou-Shantou Railway;
- Beijing-Kowloon Railway converge.
What seat do I actually want?
- Hard seat carriages: basic seat, cushioned but not quite as cosy as soft seat. More seats on the carriage. Most common on slower-speed services. Standing room between the aisles can make these services very crowded.
- Soft seat carriage: Tad more-spongy for your bottom. More leg-room. Less seats on the carriage.
- Hard sleeper carriages house more than soft sleeper carriages. In the hard sleeper options, expect more people and booths with bed slabs three-up, and 6 per cubicle. Standing space is throughout the carriage. Upper berths are cheaper than the lowest berthed beds. For my height, I could fold myself in nicely. Just.
- Soft sleeper carriages are delightfully spacious by comparison. As someone who is 194cm long, I fit in perfectly. Upper beds fold away, allowing for a sofa on the lower settee. Those games of I spy with my little eye… became far more comfortable. Lockable compartments throughout are common.
- Deluxe soft sleepers house even less people in the carriage. These private two-berth pods sometimes come with televisions and private bathrooms. Think luxury.
Having sat on sacks of seaweed with my Dad on an old diesel train from Morecambe to Manchester once, I can safely say these trains are very high-quality.
So, what’s with the whacky sevice numbers?
|G||High Speed||Long distance high-speed service. Maximum speed 300 km/h (190 mph). G1–G5998 for cross-bureau service; G6001–G9998 for service within one railway bureau|
|C||Intercity||Intercity high-speed service. Maximum speed 300 km/h (190 mph). C1–C1998 for cross-bureau service; C2001–C9998 for service within one railway bureau|
|D||Electrical Multiple Unit||Long distance high-speed service. Maximum speed 200–250 km/h (120–160 mph). D1–D3998 for cross-bureau service; D4001–C9998 for service within one railway bureau|
|Z||Direct Express||Direct express service between two cities with few or no intervening stops; often overnight trains. Maximum speed 160 km/h (99 mph).|
|zhida tekuai 直达特快|
|T||Express||Long distance service stopping only at provincial capitals, subprovincial-level and major prefecture-level cities. Maximum speed 140 km/h (87 mph). T1–T4998 for cross-bureau service; T5001–T9998 for service within one railway bureau|
|K||Fast||Service stopping at prefectural and higher-level cities. Maximum speed 120 km/h (75 mph). K1–K6998 for cross-bureau service; K7001–K9998 for service within one railway bureau|
|Regular service stopping at all prefectural and higher-level cities and some county-level cities. Maximum speed 120 km/h (75 mph). 1001–1998 for service across three bureaus; 2001-3998 for service across two bureaus, and 4001-5998 for service within one railway bureau|
|Regular service stopping at all passenger stations along route. Maximum speed 100 km/h (62 mph). 6001-6198 for cross-bureau service. 6201-7598 for service within one railway bureau|
|L||Temporary||Additional holiday service, especially for Chinese New Year travellers. L1001–L6998 for service across bureaus; L7001-L5998 for service within one railway bureau|
|Y||Tourist||Summertime service to tourist destinations. Y1-Y498 for service across bureaus; Y501-998 for service within one railway bureau|
For me, nothing beats a ride down a great winding road. My ride is on a bike. Not stuck in a car. The Wild Atlantic Way, in the good old Emerald Isle of the Republic of Ireland is the world’s longest signed coastal road globally (2,750km/1,700 miles). Sorry, People’s Daily. Guangdong’s coastal links are set to come close to that with a new 1,600km slab of tarmac lined from A to B taking in Zhanjiang, Maoming, Yangjiang, Jiangmen, Zhuhai, Zhongshan, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Shenzhen, Huizhou, Shanwei, Jieyang, Shantou, and Chaozhou. Bicycle lanes will also be installed. The Zhanjiang section is set to be under construction by the end of 2017. Viewing decks will soon be installed along the route. I’m not a fan of highway driving, “You can’t escape yourself, you can’t just fall away, it comes to the point when you feel nothing…” (Lyrics from Doves – Last Broadcast)
The Humen Pearl River Bridge [虎门大桥] is a massive suspension bridge linking the west and east banks of the Pearl River. The G9411 Dongguan-Foshan Expressway passes across it. Construction work on the Humen Second Bridge [虎门二桥] started in early 2014.
Roads are everywhere. There seem to be more and more newer links throughout the city. Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong are easily accessible due to the many roads.
Dongguan has no airport. Shenzhen’s Bao’an and Guangzhou-Baiyun are the closest two International airports (around 50km away). Crossing the border to Hong Kong International Airport or utilising Macau and Zhuhai‘s airports are other options (around 100km away). Foshan Airport offers decent domestic transfer options too. Skyscanner, Ctrip and eLong then come in handy. Other flight sources are available. Having paid for flights on a major travel provider using my WeChat wallet and pay system, one can safely say I am happy with that travel retailer. They have a cute logo that resembles a dolphin, I think. The Pearl River Delta boasts one of the largest concentrations of airports globally.
- Check-In services are available around Dongguan.
- Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Hong Kong airports boast intercity services, from limos, to coaches and private taxi efforts that can get you door to door, or not far off.
- Ferry services connect Dongguan with Hong Kong International Airport.
- CTS Hong Kong to mainland services.
- Dalang Aiport Bus (Phone 0769 8116-9111) Address: Chenggong Technology Park, No. 539, Jinlang South Rd, Dalang [大朗城市候机楼, 东莞市大朗镇金朗南路539号橙工科技园 (莞樟公路与虎岗高速公路交汇处)] For Guangzhou and Shenzhen Airports.
- Dongcheng Airport Bus (Phone 0769 2277-1111) Address: Shop 1, Main Gate of Liuhua Park, Dongcheng [东城城市候机楼, 东莞市东城榴花公园正门1号铺] For Guangzhou and Shenzhen Airports.
- EE (Eternal East) Hong Kong to mainland services.
- Gogo Bus, Hong Kong to mainland China services.
- Humen Airport Bus (Phone: 0769 8151-1111) Address: Guangshen Highway Exit Humen (opposite Huwei Petrol station) [东莞候机大楼，东莞市虎门镇广深高速路口旁（虎威加油站斜对面）] For Guangzhou and Shenzhen Airports.
- Hong Kong International Airport mainland coach services.
- Hong Kong International Airport Sky Limo service.
- Nancheng Airport Bus (Phone: 0769 2315-1111) Address: Dongguan Ave., next to Hongcheng Hardware City, Nancheng [南城CBD国际航空港, 东莞市东莞大道国际航空港大厦1楼（宏诚五金城旁)] For Guangzhou and Shenzhen Airports.
- Sea’s Young Ferry (Phone: 0769 8519-0888) Address: No.27 Yanjiang East Rd, Humen Town [虎门港澳客运码头，虎门镇沿江东路27号]
- Wanjiang Airport Bus (Phone: TBC) Address: 1/F, BC 3 District, South China Mall, Wanjiang [东莞城市候机楼, 万江区华南MALL, BC3区一楼（尼罗河国际大酒店侧）] For Shenzhen and Hong Kong Airport.
Flying is essentially a way to realise that you don’t have time to walk somewhere. And, there are obstacles, likes seas or mountains. “If this was any other day, I’d turn and walk the other way…” (Lyrics from All I Want To Do Is Rock by Travis)
Operated by Sea’s Young, from Nancheng to Humen Ferry Port. Check-in in Dongguan, available on selected airlines. Click here for our review of this service. There is also a cross-Pearl River car transporting ferry service between Dongguan and Nansha, Guangzhou, a little further north of the Humen Pearl River Bridge. But, when I think of ferry travel, I always start humming Mancunian band Herman’s Hermits song, Ferry Across The Mersey, “So ferry ‘cross the Mersey’, cause this land’s the place I love, and here I’ll stay…”
Please note all information was correct at the time of writing. It is subject to change without notice. Sadly, we can only provide guidance and nothing 100% concrete. Please verify all information with your travel provider – especially when travel is of an urgent nature! Best of luck on your travels. Feel free to advise of any updates using the comments sections below. It is good to share! And I think to myself what a wonderful world…