‘Go north’ trend for holidays on the rise during Christmas in Hong Kong
Published: Dec 25, 2023 10:41 PM
Travelers wait to check in luggage at the Hong Kong International Airport on December 23, 2023. Photo: from

Travelers wait to check in luggage at the Hong Kong International Airport on December 23, 2023. Photo: from

It has been a popular trend recently for Hong Kong residents to "go north" and spend their weekends in mainland cities. This trend appears especially prominent with the arrival of Christmas. 

According to local immigration statistics, as of 9 pm on Sunday, there were 576,000 departures from Hong Kong, approximately 250,000 more people than arrivals. Among them, about 400,000 people traveled north to Shenzhen through land border crossings, local media reported. 

The three-day Christmas holiday in Hong Kong began on Sunday, the Christmas Eve. 

A total of 110,000 people passed through the control stations at Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau Spur Line to exit Hong Kong, making them the busiest exit points. Additionally, 67,000 people traveled north via Shenzhen Bay Port, while another 65,000 took high-speed trains to the mainland. About 76,000 people crossed the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge to reach Zhuhai and Macao. Approximately 61,000 people departed via the airport.

According to data from Hong Kong immigration authorities, on Saturday, there were over 1.06 million entries and exits through various border points, marking the first time Hong Kong surpassed 1 million entries and exits since the pandemic. On the first day of the holiday, over 570,000 people crossed the land border to the mainland, with Hong Kong residents accounting for 430,000 of them. 

The Sam's Club in Shenzhen has become a hotspot for Hong Kong residents shopping in the mainland. Hong Kong travel agencies are capitalizing on this trend by organizing shopping tours to Sam's Club, offering a four-hour shopping extravaganza.

A licensed Hong Kong travel agency even launched its first weekend Sam's Club shopping tour recently, according to local media The agency advertised the tour as including "entry to Sam's Club, with a tour leader, local guide, and luxury bus transportation to and from the location." The cost for adults is HK$228 ($29.19), while children are charged HK$188.

Some local residents in Hong Kong told the Global Times that they favored northbound travel for weekends and holidays as they believe that mainland cities offer better services with a wide range of choices. Additionally, online payment is particularly convenient in the mainland.  

"A big meal in Hong Kong could cost several thousand Hong Kong dollars, but in mainland cities, it can be settled for just a few hundred yuan. This contributes to a higher happiness index," Hebe Fung, a 33-year-old Hong Kong resident, told the Global Times on Monday. 

In Hong Kong, for instance, cab rides still largely require cash payments, lacking comprehensive electronic payment options, which is quite inconvenient. "And the initial charge for taxi in the mainland is much cheaper than that in Hong Kong," she said. 

As many Hong Kong residents "went north" or traveled abroad on Christmas Eve this year, the catering industry's overall business volume in Hong Kong was estimated to be around HK$380 million, which was lower than the HK$430 million on the same day in 2022, a drop of more than 10 percent, local media Sing Tao News reported on Monday, citing industry representatives. 

Some netizens said that the popular trend of "going north" for holidays and weekends reflects the better integration of the Greater Bay Area, signaling growth potential in the region while others also showed concern for the sluggish business recovery in Hong Kong post-pandemic. 

However, some Hong Kong residents say that the Christmas atmosphere in the mainland is not as strong as in Hong Kong, especially since the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government has put in a lot of effort to attract local spending and tourists for the 2023 holiday season. 

The overall Christmas atmosphere in Hong Kong is still quite good. Areas like Central and Sheung Wan, Tsim Sha Tsui's Avenue of Stars, and along both sides of Victoria Harbour are adorned with Christmas lights and various themed exhibitions featuring comic book characters and more, creating a festive ambiance, local residents said.