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8 hours in Hong Kong airport - what to do?

8 hours in Hong Kong airport - what to do?

Old Jun 14th, 2010, 12:51 AM
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8 hours in Hong Kong airport - what to do?

Hi everyone. My daughter and friend land in Hong Kong airport at 5.45pm and depart at 0150 on a different airline. Is this time to actually leave airport and visit Hong Kong?
They are relatively inexperienced travellers and I don't want them to miss their flight - is it a reasonable option to try and see Hong Kong or should they stay at the airport?
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Old Jun 14th, 2010, 03:48 AM
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They have about 6-7 hours of free time, so it is possible for them to go into Hong Kong. If it is a clear evening they could go look at the skyline of Hong Kong from the Kowloon harbour and possibly get to the Peak and/or have a meal. Otherwise, there is plenty to do in the transit area of the airport, from foot massages to shopping and many restaurant choices. But if they feel they can do it, and it is a clear evening, I would say they should at least try to go look at the skyline.

Here are some thoughts/instructions:

1. Assuming they have their onward boarding passes, they need to be back at the airport at about 12:30 am or so to have time to go through Security and Immigration and get out to their gate. It will take about 30 minutes to get to the airport from the main tourist areas of Hong Kong. So they need to plan to leave Hong Kong about midnight. The should work backwards from this.

2. The sun will set in Hong Kong between 5:30 – 6:30 pm (slight variation depending upon the time of year) and it is dark by 7 pm, so there is not a lot of daylight for sightseeing. That is fine because night views are awesome, but they should bear that in mind. Temples will be closed by then, so they won’t be able to visit any. It could also be raining heavily or even be a typhoon (June-end September is the season), so they may want to keep their plans flexible. If it is poring rain, I would not bother with going into town. Hong Kong is quite safe at all hours, so I would not have any concerns on that point. English is widely and well spoken and signage on public transport is in English so they should not have any trouble getting around, and should not hesitate to ask. (While the English of bus drivers may not be good, that of passengers is fine, so ask a fellow passenger.)

3. The fact that they are flying different airlines should in NO way affect the fact that their luggage should be checked all the way through to their final destination. 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 flight (I assume in Australia). The airline probably can’t give them a boarding pas for the onward flight, they will get that in Hong Kong (see below). But they DO NOT want to have to deal with getting luggage and re-checking it in, as that will only eat into their short amount of time.

4. 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, show them their 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 departure area and 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.

5. Once they have their boarding passes, they should go to Immigration control for Hong Kong and enter Hong Kong (as the transit areas are before 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.)

6. 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/a...gage.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.

7. They can then take the Airport Express train into town. They can buy tickets with cash or credit card. (There are money changers in the arrival hall, as well as ATM machines before the entrance to the train, so they may have to go get cash and then go back to the ticket counter to buy tickets.) 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.

8. 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). They can take the subway from the Kowloon Station to the Tsim Tsa Tsui stop, but unless money is a really big issue, I am not sure it is worth figuring out the subway system, as getting to Tsim Tsa Tsui from the Kowloon Station will involve changing lines and some backtracking for what is actually just a few block journey. 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. There is a laser light show at 8 pm every night which they may be able to see. 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 and a variety of food, both Western and Asian. There is also a Starbucks further down the water if they just want to sit outside with a cuppa. (Restaurant options are huge in Hong Kong, so without knowing their budget, ages, food preferences, etc, it is hard to make reccos.)

7. Once they have seen enough of the view, 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.

8. Once on the Hong Kong side, depending on their time and inclination they could either (i) go to the Peak, or (ii) go to SOHO or Lan Kwai Fong for a drink or meal. (As mentioned above, restaurant options are huge in Hong Kong, so without knowing their budget, ages, food preferences, etc, it is hard to make reccos. If you can give info, I can try. If they are over 18, they may just want to head to the bars/restaurants in Lan Kwai Fong at that point and see what interests them. If they are over 30, then SOHO may be a better place. Both are walkable, Lan Kwai Fong even more so, it’s about 10-15 minutes walk from the Star Ferry.)

To go the Peak, they should take the #15C bus, 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 dinner, 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. If they take the tram, then when they get off the Tram, they should hop a taxi to the Hong Kong Airport Express station (this is a different station than the one in Kowloon they originally went to, as they are now on Hong Kong Island; the taxi will take about 5 minutes and cost HK$15-20). They can take the Airport Express train from there. If they take a taxi down from the Peak, they should tell the driver to go to the Airport Express station (he will know they mean the one on Hong Kong Island). If they take the #15 bus, which costs HK$9.80, they should get off at Exchange Square (this in an indoor stop and is underneath the Airport Express station, this is the only indoor station on the route and would be the easiest to recognize). They can also get off at the next stop, which is the Star Ferry Pier, in which case they have to walk a few blocks back from the water to the Airport Express station which is in the very tall building to the right as the stand at the Star Ferry with the water at their back. They need to plan for about 30-60 minutes to get down from the Peak, depending on what method of transport they take; the bus will take the longest but has no lines and is the cheapest. If the lines are long for the Tram (i.e. if they are outside the Peak tram building), and it is 11 pm or so, I would take the bus or a taxi down.

If they decide to stay at the airport, then all they have to do is get their onward boarding passes, as mentioned above. They will spend all their time in the “transit” area and won’t go though Immigration. There are lots of shops and restarants in the transit area.
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Old Jun 14th, 2010, 08:33 PM
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Wow, thank you Cicerone!!! Thank you so much for such a detailed reply! I will read it thoroughly when I get home from work and see if there is anything I need to clarify but I think you must have covered everything!
Thanks again.
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