Six hours in Hong Kong

Oct 26th, 2007, 11:09 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 29
Six hours in Hong Kong

It'll be our first time through Hong Kong next month, and we have a 8-hr layover (more like 6-hrs total if we have to be back at our terminal 2hrs before departure). My question is, what sights are worth seeing in such a short amount of time there? How would we go about getting from place to place, and would it be a time constraint?

What we would really be interested in is having dim-sum since we'll be arriving early in the day. How early does dim-sum usually get served, and can anyone recommend any good restaurants?

In addition to cuisine and light sightseeing, we would be interested in doing some window shopping, especially for electronics, jewelry, and clothing. Any recommendations for good places to shop are welcome.

Am I being overly-ambitious? We may be so exhausted from our long flight when we reach Hong Kong anyway. We will also have the Cathay Pacific Business Class lounge to keep us comfortable and entertained, if our plans to see Hong Kong fall through... but I'm hoping to make the most of this stopover if we have the energy!

Rho is offline  
Oct 26th, 2007, 11:22 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,074
Dim sum is served as soon as restaurants are open. Some in the city starts at 6am, others later.

Easiest and fastest you can get dim sum is right at the airport. Go back up to the departure level and there's a Maxim's that opens at 6:30a. It's the same restaurant chain as the one at the City Hall, and other locations which you may have read about them here.

You can easily do some sightseeing. Get the same-day return Airport Express ticket for HK$100, and ride it to the city in under 25 minutes. Take the Star Ferry across the harbor, go up to the Peak using the Peak Tram, etc.

For window shopping, there are lots of stores in Central. The ifc mall is right at the Hong Kong AE station. And in the heart of Central is the Landmark, with more high-end stores.

Make sure you go back to the airport early to use the CX lounge. It's one of the best in the world with lots of food inside too.
rkkwan is offline  
Oct 26th, 2007, 11:35 PM
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wow! thanks for the great info and details. it'll really be helpful to have dim-sum right at the airport before we embark on our whirlwind tour of Hong Kong in under six hours!

How do we find the Airport Express schedule, and is this a shuttle bus or a tram? Is it easy to locate within the airport?

Rho is offline  
Oct 26th, 2007, 11:40 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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It's a train that departs about every 15 minutes, right from the airport terminal building. Signs everywhere. You can buy the ticket before you board, or you can wait until you get to the city.

Again, make sure you get the same-day return ticket. It's the same cost as an one-way.

I suggest you ride it all the way to the Hong Kong station, not Kowloon. From there, you can take the Star Ferry back to the Kowloon side.
rkkwan is offline  
Oct 26th, 2007, 11:43 PM
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Great--I'm relieved to hear that it is going to be worthwhile to get out and see Hong Kong during our layover after all.

Thanks for all the great info!
Rho is offline  
Oct 27th, 2007, 12:26 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Rho, I live in Hong Kong and have some thoughts on your itinerary:

1. If you are from the US, you will NOT find electronics to be any cheaper her in Hong Kong. Please don't spend any time looking, there is a lot more to do and see here. If you are from the UK, you may find prices lower, but do a good bit of comparison shopping before you leave. In any event, do NOT go into the shops on the Nathan Road area in Kowloon, they are just tourist rip offs. Stories of people getting a box with a different camera inside than the one they were shown are rife here...really avoid those places. If you have to, go into a place like Wing On Department Store or Fortress Electronics, which are the local department stores and electronics stores selling to Hong Kongers. See the website for Fortress at You can use the prices listed on their website as a basis of comparison for other shops in Hong Kong as well. Be sure the item is dual voltage if you will need it to work on US current, including any batter recharger. Be sure the warranty is international, that is, you can get it repaired under warranty in the US. Some warranties are only good in the country or region in which the goods are sold.

2. If you already have your boarding pass for your onward flight, you need to be at the gate, 30-45 minutes before departure, NOT 2 hours. (The first thing you should do when you land if you don't have your onward boarding pass is go to the correct "Transit/Transfer" counter and get your boarding pass.) However, you will need time to go back through Immigration and security and collect any luggage you may have checked (see below). I would leave downtown Hong Kong about 2 hours before your flight departs to give yourself plenty of time. As for the CX lounge, I really don't see the point of it, it is perfectly fine as these things go (they must hide the food from me, I sometimes see noodles but not much else). They do have PCs with free internet which can be nice if you want to check e-mail etc. Airline lounges never really do it for me I guess. I spend a lot of time on Cathay Business class which I think is very good, but I spend a lot of time in that airport and my view is: if you are early enough to spend time in the lounge, then you missed time yourself and arrived too early at the airport. (If you are transiting that is another story.)

3. You can check your hand luggage for HK$35 (US$4) a day, go to 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 which takes 5 hours, take a look at I have not taken it.

5. If you tell me the time of your layover and your dates, I can give you better ideas of what to do. For sure I would actually skip the shopping and (i) go to the Peak via the Peak Tram and (ii) take the Star Ferry ride over to the Kowloon side and see the view from there. You could have a meal in either place, the Peak has several restaurants with spectacular views as does the Kowloon side. These are IMO two of the very best experiences in Hong Kong. For dim sum, see some places below, City Hall would be very convenient for the Star Ferry (and also has a decent view.

6. For jewelery, try one of the shops below

The shops below are not fixed price (except perhaps Tayma) and will bargain to an extent, not huge discounts, but you may get 3-5% or maybe a bit more. (Gaily Jewellery has huge "disounts" off its marked price, but it's really just that their marked prices are to be ignored.) If you can pay cash, you may get a slightly better price (another 1-2%); so when bargaining, mention that as a tool for the price. If you are paying by credit card, don't mention it until the end, unless they do ("is that a cash price?" they may ask). Visa or MasterCard will get you a slightly better price than Amex as they have to pay more to Amex. There are ATMs all over town to get cash.

Golden Mile Jewelry
Shop114A 1st Floor
Hutchison House
10 Harcourt Road
Tel: 852-2525-6760

This is a shop I have used for many years and have no trouble recommending them. The shop is not upscale in any way, but they have a nice selection and do good custom work. I think they are a good choice for pearls and for gifts. I have dealt for a long time with a woman named Candy, but her brother Anthony is also helpful as well. (Please tell them that "Nancy from the Marriott" recommended you; I'm not saying you'll get a better price, but it's always worth commenting on how you found them.) The shop is located on upstairs in a building not too far from the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Central. Closed on Sundays.

Lane Joaillier
106 Prince's Building
10 Charter Road, Central
Tel:.852 2869 8819

I have purchased a few things here over the years. This is a much more upscale shop in a quite expensive shopping centre in Central. They have a good selection as well. I believe they are open every day. This building is located across the street from the Mandarin hotel and not far from the Star Ferry pier.

Tayma Fine Jewellery
Shop 252
2nd Floor Prince's Building,
10 Chater Road, Central,
Hong Kong
Telephone: 2525 5280

This is a well-known expat jewelry designer who has a lot of very modern jewelry, I don't know what your taste is so I have included it in case you want something in a very modern setting. You can see some examples on her website. She is in the same building as Lane Joaillier so you could see both easily.

Gaily Jewellery co Ltd
54 A Queen's Road
tel: 2526-0202

One of the Chinese lawyers in my office uses this jeweler and has brought visitors to the office there, I have gone with but have never bought anything. They have some very pretty designs and good prices. This would be a good place to look for pearls for yourself and for gifts as well. This is quite near to the start of the pedestrian escalator in Central. Open every day. Ignore the marked prices, you should get things for about 40-50% below the marked price.

I would avoid jewelry shops in the Nathan Road area on the Kowloon side as they are aimed at tourists. There are many jewelry shops along Hennessy Road in Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island, these cater primarily to locals, and you may find a lot of 18 and 24 carat gold jewelry which many Caucasians find too yellow for their skin tone.

7. For dim sum, my assistant, who I consider an expert on all things Cantonese (hey, she is Cantonese) says that the Chinese restaurant in the Four Seasons has the best dim sum in Hong Kong. I have to say it is good, but is very expensive. I only go when someone else or my company is paying. For a splurge, go there.

Lung King Heen
Four Seasons Hotel
8 Finance Street, Central
Tel: 3196-8888

For just good dim sum at better prices, try these.

West Villa Restaurant
Ground Floor
Gee Tuck Building
16-20 Bonham Strand
Sheung Wan
Tel: 2543-3990

This place supposedly has the best cha xiu bao in Hong Kong; and I have to agree. If you love your cha xiu bao (barbeque pork inside a steamed dumpling) like I do, this is the place. The dim sum is otherwise generally very good as well. Their almond cream is probably the best I have ever had as well. They have several other outlets, including one in Causeway Bay near Times Square and one in TST, addresses are below. I have only been to the Sheung Wan one. The decor reminds me of a mini-Marriott ballroom minus the chandeliers, don’t know how else to describe it. This is a very local place. They do NOT have English menus and the English of waiters is limited, so if you are not familiar with dim sum this may not be the best place to go. If you know what you like and how to pronounce it you are fine; another thing to do if you know what you like is to have your hotel write down your preferences in Chinese on a card and bring it with you. Otherwise, you might ask for a selection of dishes at their choice (but watch prices). The Sheung Wan location is in an interesting local neighbourhood, good for a look and then walking down to the “dried fish” street area or going up to the Graham Street and Hollywood Road areas. Directly across from the restaurant is a little pedestrian alley with stalls selling name chops.

Other West Villa locations:
First Floor, Lee Gardens 2, 28 Yun Ping Road, Causeway Bay Tel 2882-2110
18B Austin Ave, Tsimshatsui, Kowloon Tel 2368-8709

Maxim's Palace City Hall Chinese Restaurant
2/F, Low Block
City Hall, Central
Tel: 2521 1303

This restaurant is in the City Hall building, very close to the Star Ferry, and has a nice harbour view. They have carts, and is one of the few places left which uses dim sum carts. Very popular with locals and tourist. You would need a reservation, if you want a table by the window, ask when making a booking.

The Square
Exchange Square, Block 2
4th Floor
Tel: 2225-1163

According to my assistant, the second best dim sum in town. This is also run by the Maxim's people who operate the one in City Hall, but according to my assistant, this one is 5 star and the City Hall one is 4 star. I have eaten in both and will say that I think the food seemed better at the Square. I am not a huge fan of dim sum and my palate is probably not that refined so take that for what it is worth. The Square is much more elegant with polished wood floors, subdued lighting and a nice ambience, it is also a lot quieter as it is much smaller than the City Hall outlet. It does not have the carts. It has a harbour view, but I have to say that the view is not really as good as the one at City Hall. It is about the same price, maybe a tiny bit more than the City Hall one. It might be a toss-up as to which to pick, if you want the noisy cart experience (which can indeed be fun) then go to City Hall, if really really good food is a bit more important, then go to The Square.

Metropol Restaurant
4th Floor, United Centre
95 Queensway, Admiralty
Tel: 2865 1988

Also has the carts. Good food and good value. No views. It is across the street from Pacific Place Mall and easily reached by MTR or the Tram.

Pacific Place Mall
88 Queensway
Tel. 852/2845 4555
In a shopping mall at one end of Hong Kong park, not far from the Peak Tram, a good break for lunch. No carts, no view.
The Centrium
Upper Ground Floor
60 Wyndham Street
Hong Kong,
Telephone: + 852 3110 1222
Very sishi dim sum with the ladies who lunch in Hong Kong (known as "tai tais" which means "wife" but is used in a pejorative sense). The restaurant has a nice terrace.
Wan Loong Court Restaurant
Kowloon Hotel
19-21 Nathan Road

CLOSED. I add this because it was a huge favourite of mine and on this board and I don’t want people to make the trek over only to be disappointed....

Cicerone is offline  
Oct 27th, 2007, 10:59 AM
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Posts: 29
Our flight arrives from LAX at around 5:40-ish in the morning on Dec. 18th. and we depart from HK to BKK at 2:25pm. What time do you recommend we start heading back to the airport for our departure? I don't know anything about the timeliness of the transit system or about traffic, so we don't want to cut it too close.

Shopping isn't that great of a priority for us since we will be doing a lot of that in Bangkok. I think we would be more interested in going to the peak, taking the Star Ferry, and of course experiencing what culture and cuisine that we can.
Would you recommend that we skip Nathan Road altogether? If great deals are to be had in Hong Kong that we shouldn't miss, what would they be for and where to get them?

To save ourselves some time, should we get some Hong Kong currency at our bank in the US before we arrive? Or is it just as easy and cost-efficient to use the ATM there?

Any other recommendations for us newbies to Hong Kong?

Thanks so much for all the info!
Rho is offline  
Oct 27th, 2007, 11:28 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,074
Dim sum won't be open at the Four Seasons (Lung King Heen opens at 11:30a Sunday or noon weekdays) or most of the restaurants in Central that early.

Actually, if I were you, I would go through the transit desk and head to the CX Lounge in the departure area first. I've never been there, but am totally sure they serve some good dim sum and other breakfast. You probably will enjoy a shower after the long flight from LAX.

After that you can tell the agent that you don't want to sit around for 6 hours afterall, and they'll escort you back to the arrivals area and go through HK immigration to get out.

This way, you get your breakfast early and its free.

After you get to the Hong Kong station, take the #15C bus (NOT #15) to go to the Peak Tram Station (or you can walk if you want). The Peak Tram starts at 7am, so you won't be too early for it.

After you get back down from the Peak, then you can take the Star Ferry across the harbor. Forget about shopping, unless there's something specific you want to buy. You can take the ferry back to HK Island and ride the AE back from there, or you can use one of the free shuttles from a major hotel in Tsimshatsui to the AE Kowloon station.

Since there's also food at the CX Lounge for lunch, and you'll be served food again, I wouldn't bother have a "real lunch" in HK. Just eat at the CX lounge instead.
rkkwan is offline  
Oct 27th, 2007, 06:09 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 1,836
I have been to CX business lounge in the morning but found only a limited dim-sum items (like 2 types of dumpling, some kind of dumplings or sui-mai and fluffy steamed buns).

They used to have an Elemis spa at the lounge--does anyone know if it's still there?

You basically have the whole morning, so getting out of the airport is quite feasible. I also had a dilemma of finding an early morning dim-sum, and I tried Serenade on Kowloon side (in the same building as Cultural Centre). I believe they open from 7:30am thereabout. No wagons, but we found the quality/variety and the service were very good. You can take the Airport Express to Hong Kong (about 30-40min?), take the Star Ferry across to TST, it's about 5min walk from the ferry terminal. You can stop by at China Arts & Craft shop near the ferry terminal.

I must confess when I have more than 2hrs transfer at HKG, I go on the landside just to have a mango desert supreme at the chinese dessert shop Hui Lau Shan (on arrival floor).

W9London is offline  
Oct 27th, 2007, 06:49 PM
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Serenade opens at 8am, from what I gather. Or one can go to the very famous Luk Yu in Central - it's a really old fashioned tea house. It opens at 7am. It's address is 24-26 Stanley St. Stanley St parallels Queen's Road Central, one block up the hillside.
rkkwan is offline  
Oct 28th, 2007, 06:28 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,689
OK, that is helpful to know the time and date. My suggestion would be that you go to the Peak first, have a coffee at the Pacific Coffee Company (which has The View) and watch the city wake up, ands tretch your legs with a walk around Lugard Road/Harlech Road to get some good views. You should run into people doing Tai Chi up there in the morning as well. Also, mornings can be a little clearer, although our air pollution is pretty bad these days, but generally is a little better in the mornings if it is going to be a clear day. I would bring a jacket or sweater as it could be cool up on the Peak in the early morning hours (plus IMO the air con on public transport is freezing). Then come down, have dim sum, take the wonderful ferry go over to the Kowloon side, gawk at the views, and then take the Airport Express Train back from the Kowloon side.

Sunrise on December 18 will be just before 7 am, so you may actually get to see some of the city skyline in darkness and some of the buildings, which will be decorated for Christmas, may still be lit at that time of the morning.

There are ATMs at the entrance to the Airport Express station at the airport (you can also use a credit card to purchase your ticket for the train and for the Peak Tram), and there are ATMs in the Airport Express Station in Hong Kong as well. There are ATMs all ove town too. There are also money changers in the airport if you want to use them rather than an ATM, there is a counter as you exit Baggage Claim/Customs. You can buy Airport Express tickets here or there is a counter outside in the main Arrivals Hall as well. For info on the airport generally go to As I have noted beofre, the first thing you have to do is make sure you have your onward boarding pass. If they did not issue this to you in LAX, then you will need to get this before you get to Immigration, look for "Transit/Transfer", the website also gives information.

When you arrive into Hong Kong Station on the train, while there is a bus that runs from near there to the Peak Tram station, I don't know what time it starts running; it might just be easier to take a taxi from the Hong Kong Airport Express station to the Peak Tram station on Cotton Tree Drive (would take about 5 minutes and cost about HK$15-20, no need to tip, but you can leave change). There is a taxi rank right at the station, so it is very convenient.

The Peak Tram starts running at 7 am, and at that hour and on a weekday, there should not be any line, so that is a good thing. The right side of the tram will offer a slightly better advantage going up. Once you get to the top, there is a Pacific Coffee Company in the Peak Tram building that has a really jaw dropping view hanging out over the Peak Tram tracks, there is also a Starbucks in the Galleria shopping Mall, both open at about 7:30 am. Be sure to go to the very top of the Peak Tram building to the open viewing gallery for some great views.

On the Peak, there is a very nice flat walk around Lugard and Harlech Roads, offering some very nice views of the city harbour and the South China Sea on the backside. It is a loop so you can start from the Harlech Road side or the Lugard Road side, it does not matter. Facing the Peak Tram Tower with the brown Galleria Shopping mall and fountain at your back (there is a lot of construction there currently), turn left and walk toward the low brick building. There are three roads off to the right, Harlech forms the corner of the building, Mt Austin in the middle heading uphill and a small pedestrian road called Lugard to the right. Take either Harlech or Lugard. The walk will loop around and return you to this spot in about 2 miles. If it is a clear day (rare and getting rarer), you can considering taking the steeper hike up Mt Austin road for about 20 -30 minutes to the top of the actual Peak for some very good water views, but limited city views.

Once you come down from the Peak, if you want dim sum, actually the Metorpol, which is very good for dim sum and has the carts (hard to find in Hong Kong these days), opens at 8 am and is very close to the bottom station of the Peak Tram. Walk through Hong Kong Park (follow signs from the bottom of the Peak Tram station, you will walk under some roads here), and then go down the long escalator into Pacific Place Mall, cross the pedestrian bridge into the Admiralty/Queensway/United Centre shopping malls, and the Metropol is in the United Centre which is to the right. This is a maze of several shopping centres, so you may have to ask directions. You have to go the a lift to get to the restaurant. No views at all, no windows really, but good dim sum.

Metropol Restaurant
4th Floor, United Centre
95 Queensway
Admiralty District
Tel: 2865 1988

After dim sum you could hop onto the double-decker tram 2 stops to the Hong Kong Bank Building, walk around Central very briefly and then walk to the Peak Ferry pier and take the ferry over and take in the view from the Kowloon side. Then hop a taxi to the Kowloon station of the Airport Express and take the train back to the Airport.

You could also skip dim sum (I am not a huge fan myself) and have breakfast over on the Kowloon side at the Harbourside Restaurant in the Intercontinental which as The View from its huge windows on the waterfront.

Intercontinental Hotel
18 Salisbury Road
852 2721 1211

You could also pop into the Penninsula to see their lovely lobby and maybe have tea, they aren't serving the full tea in the morning, but you could have a little breakfast there. No views, but the lobby is quite something.

The Peninsula Hotel
Salisbury Road, Kowloon
(852) 2920-2888

With a 2:25 pm departure, assuming you already have your onward boarding passes, IMO if you are boarding an Airport Express Train or are getting into a taxi at 12:30 you will be in plenty of time (and probably a tad early). The train to the airport takes about 28 minutes. A taxi would take about 40 minutes and cost about HK$350 from the Hong Kong side. There is rarely, if ever, any traffic on the highway to the airport and to the best of my knoweldge, there have never been any delays on the Airport Express system (it's the only train which runs on the tracks). You will have to go through Immigration, but at that time in the afternoon your lines should not be too bad. You will miss the day trippers going to Beijing and Shanghai, and most international flights to the US/Europe are earlier or later. You then have to get to your gate, if you are at a further gate, you have to take the underground train, but that adds at most 10-15 minutes.

IMO the best things to buy here in Hong Kong are jewelry (but you are going to Bangkok which is also very good for this), furniture and rugs both antique and reproduction (you don't have time and it's expensive to ship) and handmade bags and shoes (you don't have time). Tailoring you don't have time for and good tailoring isn't really cheap here IMO (you can have tailoring done in Bangkok too.) Really, with 6 hours you don't have a lot of time to do shopping, if you want to look for some fun souvenirs, try the Chinese Arts and Crafts shop located about a block in from the Star Ferry pier on the Kowloon side ( click on “E” for English). Nathan Road is a lot of high-end shops like Gucci, Bvlugari, etc which you can get at home, and a lot of mid-range shops like the Gap which you can get at home, and a lot of schlock electronics and gift stuff which you don't really need to waste your time looking at with 6 hours IMO. Go to the Weekend Market in Bangkok, that is about all you need....
Cicerone is offline  
Oct 28th, 2007, 09:20 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,689
The penny just dropped for me on your Bangkok flights. First, much as I love Hong Kong, there is an earlier Cathay flight to Bangkok which would not necessitate a 6 hour layover in Hong Kong. There is a flight at 9:05 am (CX 713) which you could more than easily make with your 5:30 am arrival time. You do not have to go through Immigration or Customs in Hong Kong, and your baggage is automatically transferred, all you have to do is change airplanes, therefore even 1.5 hours is more than enough time for a transfer even if you have to get a boarding pass. I think you should look into getting onto that flight. You would arrive into Bangkok at 11 am and could spend the afternoon relaxing by the pool at the Marriott.

Secondly, another thing to consider is that you are landing in Bangkok at 4 pm, and by the time you clear Immigration and Customs and hit the highway it will be 5:30-6 pm on a weeknight in Bangkok, which in my experience is THE worst time to be on the roads there. It could easily take you 2 hours or more to get to the Marriott. (It once took me almost 3 hours to get to the Peninsula at about the same time.) Therefore, you might consider taking the earlier CX flight or one of the later flights, which would give you more time in Hong Kong (assuming your jet lag can handle it). There are departures at 4 pm (arriving 6 pm, still a bit early IMO), and 6:25 pm (arriving 8:15 pm). These would give you time to shower in the lounge first and then hit Hong Kong.
Cicerone is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 08:42 PM
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We certainly have considered the jetlag we will no doubt experience. But as optimistic as we are to do as much as we can during this trip, we know we will certainly be pushing it. We already have arranged for a car and driver to pick us up from the airport in Bangkok, as we knew we would be arriving during peak traffic time.

Thanks for the wonderful recommendations and all the advice everyone! No guidebooks can provide the type of advice and insight I'm looking for like the people on this forum!
Rho is offline  
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