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16 hours in Hong Kong - what to do?

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Hi,

My parents-in-law will be transiting through Hong Kong. They have 16 hours between the connecting flights. they arrive at 5:30 am. connecting flight departs at 9:50 pm. so they have the entire day.

- is there a guided tour they could take around the city?
- are there any tours that can they can sign-up for at the airport? i tried searching, but couldn't find anything online.
- any places that would be recommended for visit?

they are not too experieneced with international travel, so would prefer to keep the "figuring-out" to a minimum.

many thanks!

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    I don't know of any guided tours in the city, though I'll bet Cicerone does. Look for her to reply.

    Will they be jet-lagged? Consider this in your recommendations.

    If it were me, (and I wasn't exhausted from jet lag) I'd probably head to the peak early in the morning, then shop a bit on Hong Kong Island, and have a long, lingering lunch some where on the Kowloon side with a view of the Harbor. All of these are easy to do with public transport.

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    It's very easy to get to the city using the Airport Express Train, sightsee and return to the airport.

    However, based on "they are not too experieneced with international travel, so would prefer to keep the "figuring-out" to a minimum".

    Will they be willing to travel around HK by themselves? If not, then they are restricted to a few options, tours, but I don't know of any that start/end at HKIA. Anther option, which comes at a hefty price is to hire a personal driver/guide for the day. IMO, nither are necessary as long as they plan in advance and know where they are going/what they are doing.

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    I was very glad to see this post. I will also have a 14 hour layover in January and will do what you suggested Kathie. I have been there before but the last time was 20 years ago.

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    Hi,

    It will be very easy to tour in HK buy followinf the MTR route.

    1. To see the whole view of HK, go to the Peak.
    Travel the train to the Central station and go to the Peak by Bus, you can ask the MTR staff where is the Bus stataion, it is very easy to find and most HK people can speak fluent English.

    2. After sight-seeing in the Peak, I think it will be afternoon time, then go to the MONG KOK, also go there by MTR. Here is the shopping paradise, and your parents must find some cheaper sounveniers. Remember to bargin when buy on the street hawakers.

    You can spent at least 3 hours in MONG KOK.

    After that, your parents are suggested to enjoy some Chinese foods. There are some food-courts in MONG KOK areas.

    After the dinner, go back to the airport by MTR. From MONG KOK to the Airport, they can travel by the Airport bus or MTR. Airport bus can be found in many main raods. Your parents just simply ask people where can travel it and will spend 1 hour from MONG KOK to the Aiport directly. I suggest your parents travel by Bus becasue the scence of HK will be unforgottable.

    If by MTR, it will spend less than 1 hour and need to be transited in some stations, just a simple job.

    Hope your parents will enjoy in HK.

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    Some thoughts and suggestions are below. If you can provide the exact day of the layover, that would be helpful to me as it may be a public holiday or there may be a festival they may want to see (or avoid) both of which might change some of my reccos below:

    1. That is quite a long layover. Do they want to consider getting a hotel room at the airport just to have a place to change, shower, take a nap, etc? I don’t know their budget, but they could consider it. Also, if their trip is anytime from April through about the first week in October, it could be rainy, esp June- September where we have heavy rains and even typhoons. So they may want to plan for eventualities like it being too crummy to venture out. There are three hotels at the airport: the Regal, the Marriott Sky City and the Novotel. The Regal is attached to the main terminal, the Marriott and Novotel Citygate is a few minutes' taxi or shuttle bus ride away. http://www.regalairport.com, http://www.novotel.com, or Marriott.com. Might be worth considering.

    2. If they don’t want to get a hotel, there are lounges in the airport where you can pay to take a shower, etc see http://www.plaza-asia.com/ . Three of these are located in the “transit” or “airside” area, which is the departure gate area BEFORE they would go through Immigration to enter into Hong Kong. The other is in the Arrivals Hall. They could use any one of them. A booking may be a good idea, see the website. (If they are flying business or first class they can use an airline lounge, most of which have showers to the best of my knowledge. They could also leave hand luggage there, although it is not secure, but should be fine.) As their check-in luggage will be checked through to their final destination and they won’t see it in Hong Kong (see below), they will need to have a change of clothes in their carry-on luggage. Most toiletries would be provided by the lounges.

    3. If they have hand luggage they do not want to bring into town, they can check it in the Arrivals Hall, see http://www.hongkongairport.com/eng/aguide/baggage.html#left for info. The "Meeters and Greeters Hall" is the main arrivals area, the Left Luggage area is on the far right of the hall as you exit the baggage claim/Customs areas.

    4. There is a transit tour of Hong Kong, which starts from the airport at 9:30 every day, and from what I can see from the website takes about 3-4 hours. Take a look at http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/touring/, and click on “Transit Tours” in the left hand column. I have not taken it. Otherwise, as they have a lot of time, they could sign up for just a regular tour with other tourists which would depart from somewhere in Hong Kong (pickup is usually at a hotel), see the link above which shows all tour options. I have to say that as so much of Hong Kong is walkable, and public transport is so good (and taxis are cheap) that I don’t know that I would bother with a bus tour, although they are certainly easy. The transit tour would show them basic highlights and they could go on from their to explore Hong Kong Island on their own. Hong Kong is quite safe at all hours, so I would not have any concerns on that point.

    5. The above notwithstanding, the one “bus” tour they may want to do is the hop-on-hop off bus. There are two operators who run buses, see www.rickshawbus.com and http://www.bigbustours.com/eng/hongkong . There are tours of both sides of the harbour (Hong Kong Island and Kowloon/Tsim Sha Tsui). They can get the buses for the Hong Kong Island tour from near the Star Ferry pier which is near the Airport Express Station on Hong Kong Island. (I am not sure I would bother with a tour of the Kowloon side. But they certainly have time if they want to.)

    The other thing which they may want to do is take a walking tour with a wonderful tour guide here named Jason Wordie who gives great walking tours. He is expensive but IMO very much worth it), see www.jasonswalks.com. However, I would stress that you really do not need a guide to see the major tourist sites, Jason Wordie is very good for history and background, but to take the Star Ferry, the Peak Tram, walk the Esplanade etc, you do not need a guide at all.

    I have some suggestions for things to do which are described further below.

    6. If they are not flying the same airline out of Hong Kong on which they flew into Hong Kong, then when they land, the first thing they need to do is get their boarding pass for their onward flight. They will do this by going to the “"transit/transfer desk" for their airline and showing an e-ticket or paper ticket. When they get off the plane, they should follow signs to find the "transit/transfer desk" assigned to their airline. Also look at http://www.hongkongairport.com/eng/aguide/transit.html for info. The transit/transfer desks are located before Immigration, they will NOT have to go out to the main check in with regular passengers. Depending on what gate they land at, they may have to take an underground train to reach the transit area to get their boarding pass. (Gates 34 and above require using the train.)

    7. Note that their checked baggage would be checked all the way through to their final destination when they check in for the flight to Hong Kong (wherever that is). That would be the case even if they are flying two different airlines on each leg. Don’t confuse a lack of a partnership or code share between airlines with baggage transfer agreements which virtually all airlines share. (I would be shocked if any airline landing in Hong Kong would not transfer baggage automatically.) So they need to make sure this is done when they check in for their first

    8. Once they have their boarding passes and are ready to go into Hong Kong for the day, they should go to Immigration. Depending on what gate they land at, they may have to take an underground train to reach the Immigration area and the airport exit. (Gates 34 and above require using the train.)

    9. There are money changers and ATMs in the arrival hall. The ATMs are near the platform for the Airport Express trains into town. The money changers are just after baggage claim as you walk out the customs doors. A good street map would be helpful. They should be able to get one at a Hong Kong Tourism Board desk. There are several at the airport, there is one just after you exit Baggage Claim through a set of glass doors, but before you walk out through another set of doors into the main arrival hall. There are also offices at the Star Ferry piers on the Kowloon side, and on the Peak.

    10. For their departing flight at 9:50 IMO, they only need to be at the airport 1 to 1.5 hours before the flight. (This assumes they already have boarding passes.) They will have to go through security and Immigration again, which can take a little time, and get out to their gate. But 1.5 hours should be more than enough time. By taxi or train, they should plan on 30 minutes to reach the airport from the main areas of Hong Kong. So if they hop the train or a taxi for the airport 2 hours before the flight (i.e. by 7:45 pm) they should be fine.

    11. A sample itin could be as follows:

    -Take the Airport Express train into town. They can buy tickets with cash or credit card. I would suggest they take it to Kowloon Airport Express Station, which will take about 25 minutes. They can also take a taxi from the airport, in that case I would say to go to the Intercontinental Hotel Kowloon. This will cost about HK$350.

    -If they decide to take the train, then once they have reached the Kowloon Station, I would say to hop a taxi to the Tsim Tsa Tsui waterfront in Kowloon (tell the driver “Star Ferry” or the “Intercontinental Hotel”). (For 10 hours I don’t think they need to bother to figure out the subway system.) A taxi would be about HK$20 and take about 5 minutes.

    -From the Intercontinental Hotel or the Star Ferry area, they can walk to the waterfront (it will be obvious how to find the water) and take in the gorgeous view. They should come upon people practicing tai chi on the waterfront here. If they don’t mind spending some money, there is a nice casual Harbourside restaurant in the Intercontinental Hotel along the water with a fantastic view which may work for breakfast. There is also a Starbucks further down the water (to the left as the face the harbour, can’t swear it will be open at 7:30 am which is when they will reach it. ) if they just want to sit outside with a cuppa.

    - There are also several good museums in town, notably the Art Museum which is the (ugly) pinkish building on the waterfront, and the Hong Kong History Museum which is a not a bad walk from the waterfront down Chatham Road. See http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/Museum/Arts/index.htm and http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/ce/Museum/History/index.php. Both open at 10 am. The Art Museum is closed on Thursdays the History Museum is closed on Tuesdays.

    - Once they have seen enough of the view from the Kowloon side, I would next suggest that they take the Star Ferry over to Hong Kong Island. This will give them a chance to take in more views and is one of the classic travel experiences. The ferry pier is right on the waterfront, just follow signs or ask, it is quite easy to figure out. They want to go to Central. The first class fare is HK$2.20 and I suggest they go first class as views are a little bit better.

    - Once on the Hong Kong side, depending on their time and inclination they could either (i) go to the Peak or (ii) wander some of the areas in Central. (I would try to keep the Peak until just before sunset, as they will then be able to get day, sunset and night views on one trip. See sunrisesunset.com for sunset times. Generally sunset is somewhere between 6 – 7 pm most days of the year.) An early dinner on the Peak is certainly a possibility given their time schedule. If you can tell me a little bit about their interests, I can suggest some areas to walk in Central or Wan Chai. It would also be possible to take a scenic (public) bus ride over to the Southside to see Stanley Village and market, where they could do some shopping and have lunch.

    Another suggestion if they don’t want a Western breakfast at a hotel, is to try dim sum for breakfast or lunch. Most dim sum places do not serve early, but the excellent Lock Cha Teahouse on Hong Kong Island does start serving at 10 am. See http://www.lockcha.com/home/. To get there, the should take a taxi (or the Peak Tram bus) to the bottom Peak Tram station on Cotton Tree Drive or to the Island Shangri-La Hotel. They can walk from either place, it’s a few minutes walk inside Hong Kong Park. All vegetarian dim sum made by monks in a very atmospheric setting, and hundreds of teas to choose from. The little Tea Ware Museum next door to the restaurant is interesting and can be seen in a hour. Perhaps when they finish, the could go up to the Peak from there.

    To go the Peak, they should take the #15C bus from the Star Ferry, which is an open-top double deck bus which goes from basically in front of the Star Ferry Pier, and will take them to the bottom terminus for the Peak tram. That bus journey takes about 10 minutes. They have to pay cash, the fare is HK$4.20 but they can put in HK$5 each or HK$10 for 2 people, they won’t get change back but they are overpaying by a tiny amount. They can they get tickets for the Tram, see http://www.thepeak.com.hk/en/home.asp, for info and take the tram up to the top. (If the line for the Peak Tram looks too long, they can skip this and instead go for a meal, or consider taking a bus to the Peak, they have to walk back down hill a little bit to get the bus, it is the #15. They could also take a taxi. A taxi would cost about HK$80-100.) Once up on the Peak, they can take in the view, and there are several places for a meal, some very casual (Burger King, Pacific Coffee Company) and some more expensive (Peak Lookout or Café Deco would be fine choices, first has good food, second has a good view and OK food). From the Peak after they have seen the views there, they can either take the tram back down to Central, or a take a taxi or the #15 bus.

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