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Hong Kong for 1 day

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I have a 15 hour layover in Hong Kong (approximately 6am to 9pm) and would love to check out the city. Any ideas on sites and an itinerary that is do-able in one day? I also need to know what the best way to get around. Is it worth doing a day-tour?

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    You certainly have enough time to tour the city as long as you're not jet lagged. If you're flying from the States or Europe I would get a hotel room just in case you need a nap and then you can do the tour when you're not tired.

    If there's only 1 of you then the airport express or the airport bus will be the most economical but if there are 3 or 4 or you I would take a taxi especially around 6:00 AM as there should be very little traffic.

    Some information from googling 1 day tour: http://www.discoverhongkong.com/us/see-do/tours-walks/guided-tours/day/index.jsp

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    Hong Kong is always worthwhile to have a closer look and with 15 hours of stop-over time you have some decent time to discover and explore Hong Kong. Here are some additional information about how to plan a stop-over, best way to arrange your time and some suggestions what you can do sight-seeing wise: http://www.nextstophongkong.com/attractions/tours/stop-over/

    If you are traveling by yourself simply take the MTR Airport Express. In roughly 25 min your are in downtown area. In case you have 2+ in your party simply take a taxi.

    Make sure you visit the Peak and stroll along Victoria Harbour to admire Hong Kong's skyline.

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    I would encourage you to stay longer in Hong Kong if you can! But if not, you will find it very easy to get around and see sights with the 15 hours or so which you have. We have an excellent, reasonably priced public transport system of subways, buses and ferries. Taxis are also cheap. Signage is in English and is widely spoken (the English of some taxi drivers and bus drivers may not great, but you should not have major issues). Hong Kong is very safe at all hours.

    Over the years, I have put together some thoughts and suggestions for people on this board with layovers in Hong Kong (I live here). See below.

    Otherwise, 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 you may want to see (or avoid) both of which might change some of my reccos below:

    Arrival and Transit into Town

    1. You have quite a long layover. Do you 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 your budget, but you could consider it. Also, if your 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 you 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. My other suggestion is that you book a massage or other beauty treatment at a hotel spa. That almost always gives you access to a shower and a locker for at least part of the time. (My guess is that if you left stuff in the locker and explained you were coming back “after lunch” that would not raise any issues.) Lockers rooms generally include a steam room and sometimes other wet room faculties in addition to showers. Sometimes you can get access to the pool, it depends on the rules. (And the massage would be a good thing for the jet lag.) The Regal Airport hotel has a spa, I don’t know anything about it, but check their website. It is located in the main terminal. You could also try the Novotel Citygate, about half a mile from the airport and offers paid massages. You can take a taxi or bus to the hotel, they may also have a shuttle. The JW Marriott on Hong Kong Island does not have a spa, but has a few massage rooms with some terrific massage ladies (ask for Carmen). You are given access to the locker room with shower, steam and Jacuzzi. I go there from time to time just for massages, and think this may work well. The hotel is located on a subway and bus line which connects to the Airport Express train. It also is an easy walk from here to the base of the Peak Tram or to Central or Wan Chai. (A 50-minute massage is about HK$550. Email or call ahead for a reservation.)

    There are stand-alone spas that are not part of hotels, but those may be trickier in terms of showers and lockers. I would stick with hotels.

    3. If you 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 you would go through Immigration to enter into Hong Kong. The other is in the Arrivals Hall. You could use any one of them. A booking may be a good idea, see the website. (If you are flying business or first class you can use an airline lounge, most of which have showers to the best of my knowledge. You could also leave hand luggage there, although it is not secure, but should be fine.) As your check-in luggage will be checked through to your final destination and you won’t see it in Hong Kong (see below), you will need to have a change of clothes in your carry-on luggage. Most toiletries would be provided by the lounges.

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

    6. Note that your checked baggage would be checked all the way through to your final destination when you check in for the flight to Hong Kong (wherever that is). That would be the case even if you 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, but you will find this out when you check-in for the first leg of your flight to Hong Kong.)

    7. If you have hand luggage you do not want to bring into town, you 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.

    8. Once you have your boarding passes and are ready to go into Hong Kong for the day, then you should go to Immigration and enter Hong Kong proper.

    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. You 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 your onward flight out of Hong Kong, as you already have a boarding pass, IMO, you only need to be at the airport 1 to 1.5 hours before the flight. You will have to go through security and Immigration again, which can take a little time, and get out to your gate. But 1.5 hours should be more than enough time. By taxi or train, you should plan on 30 minutes to reach the airport from the main areas of Hong Kong. So if you hop the train or a taxi for the airport 2 hours before the flight, you should be fine.

    Sightseeing Suggestions :

    1. 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. 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 you could go on from there to explore Hong Kong Island on your own. Hong Kong is quite safe at all hours, so I would not have any concerns on that point.

    2. The above notwithstanding, the one “bus” tour you 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). You 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 you certainly have time if you want to.) http://www.bigbustours.com/eng/hongkong

    3. The other thing which you 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.

    4. If you want to do sightseeing on your own, a sample itin could be as follows:

    -Take the Airport Express train into town. You can buy tickets with cash or credit card. I would suggest you take it to Kowloon Airport Express Station, which will take about 25 minutes. You 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.

    -Once you 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 about 10 hours in town, I don’t think you 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, you can walk to the waterfront (it will be obvious how to find the water) and take in the gorgeous view. You should come upon people practicing tai chi on the waterfront here. If you 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 you will reach it. ) if you 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 you have seen enough of the view from the Kowloon side, I would next suggest that you 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. You want to go to Central. The first class fare is HK$2.20 and I suggest you go first class as views are a little bit better.

    - Once on the Hong Kong side, depending on your time and inclination you 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 you 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 your time schedule. If you can tell me a little bit about your 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 you could do some shopping and have lunch.

    Another suggestion if you 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 not start serving at 10 am. See http://www.lockcha.com/home/. To get there, you 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. You can walk from either place, its 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 an hour. Perhaps when you finish, you could go up to the Peak from there.

    To go the Peak, you 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. You have to pay cash, the fare is HK$4.20 but you can put in HK$5 each or HK$10 for 2 people, you won’t get change back but you are overpaying by a tiny amount. You can you 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, you can skip this and instead go for a meal, or consider taking a bus to the Peak, you have to walk back down hill a little bit to get the bus, it is the #15. You could also take a taxi. A taxi would cost about HK$80-100.) Once up on the Peak, you 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 you have seen the views there, you can either take the tram back down to Central, or a take a taxi or the #15 bus.

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    Misleading answer on point no. 6. Non of the major airline have "interline" luggage check through agreement with any low cost airline so if you are flying with a low cost and connecting to a regular airline then your luggage will not be "be checked all the way through to your final destination".

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    Just some additional thoughts and comments on Cicerone answer:

    1.) Taxi fares, Star Ferry fares as well as MTR, Bus and Tram fares have been inaccurate. There have been several fare increases in the past few years and e.g. although the Star Ferry is still quite cheap it is not available for HK$ 2.2 anymore. A Star Ferry ride is HK$ 2.5 on weekdays and HK$ 3.4 on weekends/public holidays. The bus to the peak (15c) is more expensive as well.

    2.) Both Rickshaw and Big Bus Company are imo not worthwhile to do. Waste of time and money.

    3.) Aside from "Jason" there are plenty of other famous guides in HK. Simply check other forums and/or google.

    4.) Regarding: Airport Express or taxi: it really depends how many people in your party. If you have 2 or more than you are better of to take the taxi from the airport to downtown. Unless time is important key factor. With the Airport Express train you know that you can get within 25 min from downtown to the airport whereas a taxi/bus can get in difficulties if you hit rush hour.

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