The world’s longest bridge, 48 times longer than Sydney Harbour Bridge, is now officially open and is set to become a Hong Kong landmark.

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge is considered one of the Seven Architectural Wonders of the Modern World. The bridge spans the sea from an artificial island near Hong Kong International Airport and connects to Macao and the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai.

China’s President Xi Jinping opened the bridge on Tuesday and traffic is now flowing – though not just any traffic. Private shuttle buses operate but no public transport and there’s no rail link. To cross the bridge a special permit must be obtained, allocated by a quota system. All vehicles will pay a toll.

The bridge cost about USD 20 billion and was originally slated to open in 2016.

Hong Kong sees the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge as strengthening its position as Asia’s gateway and a hub for multi-destination travel within the Greater Bay Area.

This area includes nine cities in the Guangdong Province and two Special Administrative Regions. The bridge will also shorten the journey time from Hong Kong International Airport to Zhuhai from four hours to 45 minutes.

Spanning the sea from an artificial island near Hong Kong International Airport to Macao and the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai, the bridge contains enough steel to build 60 Eiffel Towers. It’s designed to last 120 years, two decades longer than the lifespan of most major sea-cross bridges.

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge

HKTB regional director Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, Andrew Clark said the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge would reinforce Hong Kong’s position as Asia’s gateway and foster further economic and tourism development.

“The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge will be a fantastic tool to further enhance the destination’s tourism offering by putting a wealth of diverse cultural attractions, including: the stunning ruins of St. Paul’s in Macao; the Statue of Fisher Girl in Zhuhai; the Kaiping Diaolou; the Seven Star Crags in Zhaoqing, all within easy reach,” Clark said.

When entering Hong Kong, the first port of call is Lantau Island, home of the city’s international airport; Disneyland. Visitors can ride the Ngong Ping 360 cable car to the Big Buddha statue and Po Lin Monastery, before taking a walk along Wisdom Path, a peaceful and spiritual trail featuring carved wooden pillars. For an authentic cultural experience, visitors can also explore nearby Tai O Fishing Village, with its distinctive stilt houses.

Written by Peter Needham