Cheers
Toby Keps

Travelled to 12 countries / regions

Written 42 briefs
Had an internship & lived in Hong Kong in 2018-19

452 views

0 comments


Best way to get to downtown from Hong Kong International Airport

  • Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) is located about 40km west of downtown Hong Kong. Despite the distance, the transportation links are excellent and it's very easy to get into the city center
  • There are three main ways to get in to the city centre the airport:
  1. Airport Express Train: overall best option
  2. Taxi/Uber: best option if you have lots of bags or have a group of 3-4 people
  3. Public Bus: cheapest option by far
  • In addition to the three main modes, there are numerous other forms of specialty transportation services you can use, including prearranged airport transfers, hotel shuttles, and limousine services


  • Option 1) Airport Express Train:
  • MTR, which is the name of Hong Kong's metro system, runs a special airport line called Airport Express (機場快綫). It can get you from/to the airport to various spots in downtown Hong Kong both on the mainland side and on the island. This is the best overall option in my opinion because it's both quick and cheap
  • This map shows the various stops of the Airport Express Line, click on the red pins to show the names of the station. The yellow highlighted area is downtown HK

  • Travel time:
  • 14 minutes to Tsing Yi Station
  • 22 minutes to Kowloon Station (on mainland side in the commercial district)
  • 24 minutes to Hong Kong Station (on the island in the financial district)
  • Schedule:
  • First train leaves the airport at 5:54am
  • Last train leaves the airport at 00:48am (48 minutes past midnight)
  • From 5:54am to 11:28pm the frequency is every 10 minutes
  • From 11:29pm to 00:48am the frequency is every 12 minutes
  • Fares:
  • To Tsingyi Station: HKD$70 (USD$9) one-way and HKD$120 round trip (USD$15.5) round trip
  • To Kowloon Station: HKD$105 (USD$13.5) one-way and HKD$185 (USD$24) round trip
  • To Hong Kong Station: HKD$115 (USD$15) one-way and HKD$205 (USD$26.4) round trip
  • You can buy either single-journey tickets or the reloadable Octopus Card. I highly recommend getting the Octopus Card because it lets you easily pay for all forms of transportation in Hong Kong not just the Airport Express (metro, bus, even taxis). Also, with the Octopus Card you get a HKD$5 discount from the above-listed fares. Octopus Card costs HKD$150 (USD$20), which includes HKD$50 in fully-refundable deposit and HKD$100 in stored value that you can use to pay for the Airport Express and all other forms of public transportation in Hong Kong including the buses from the airport that I'll write about below
  • How to buy tickets for Airport Express: you can buy tickets either at the airport or online. I recommend getting it at the airport because it's very convenient
  • Buying at the airport (recommended): this is the most common way to get the ticket. Also, there's only 1 terminal at the airport until 2024 (T2 is closed until then for an expansion project) so what I'm about to describe applies to all passengers. The Airport Express has a customer service counter located right in the middle of the arrival hall after you've exited the baggage claim and customs area. It looks like this:User submitted photo of Hong Kong International AirportRight behind the counter, there are also automated machines that you can use to buy the tickets. They look like this:User submitted photo of Hong Kong International Airport
  • Buying online: if you're a big planner you may be thinking about booking the tickets online. you can do so on MTR's official website. There's really no advantage in buying online because you will always be able to get the ticket at the airport, there's no discounts for buying online, and as I'll mention below you can use credit card to pay for the ticket at the airport. But if you do buy online, the way it works is that you will get a QR code emailed to you. When you arrive at the airport, scan this QR code to directly go to the train platform, no need to "pick up" your ticket or anything like that at the airport
  • International credit cards are accepted for payment of single-journey tickets (either single direction or return) whether you buy at the service counter, ticketing machine, or online. If you buy at the airport you can of course also use cash. However, credit cards are not accepted to get Octopus Card
  • Where to board the train at the airport: in the arrival hall, right behind the customer service booth, there's a corridor that lead to the train platform. You can refer to this map as a guide (follow the red dotted line):User submitted photo of Hong Kong International AirportThis is what the corridor behind the service counter and that leads to the platform looks like:User submitted photo of Hong Kong International Airport When in doubt, just follow signs for "Airport Express"
  • After getting off the Airport Express line:
  • Once you get off at Tsing Yi, Kowloon, or Hong Kong stations, you can either transfer to another MTR line to get to your final destination, or hop on a taxi to take you to your final destination. If you use the MTR, you will have to buy another ticket, but if you got the Octopus Card, you don't have to worry about getting another ticket and simply use the card to tap into the transfer line. I suggest using Google Maps to find the closest MTR station to your final destination
  • Alternatively, MTR also runs free shuttle buses from Kowloon and Hong Kong Stations (no free shuttle from Tsing Yi Station) to various major hotels in downtown area, including Grand Hyatt, Renaissance, JW Marriott, Ramada, Courtyard, Empire Hotel, Ibis, Kerry Hotel, Peninsula, Shangri-La, InterContinental, etc., and various landmarks including the Hong Kong Convention Centre and the West Kowloon Station. To use these free shuttles you need to present both your Airport Express ticket as well as the boarding pass of your arrival flight to HK. For more details check out MTR's webpage on this
  • Go to MTR's website for more and up-to-date information on Airport Express: http://www.mtr.com.hk


  • Option 2) Taxi/Uber:
  • The Hong Kong International Airport is connected to the city by a fleet of metered taxis. Additionally, Uber is completely legal in HK and allowed to pickup passengers from the airport. While taxis are obviously much more expensive than MTR, each cars can seat up to 4 people so if you have a small group it's actually very similar in price to the Airport Express
  • Metered taxis:
  • There are 3 types of taxis operating at the airport: Red, Blue, and Green taxis. They serve different parts of Hong Kong:

  • Red taxis (also called Urban Taxi) go to pretty much anywhere in HK except southern Lantau Island. Probably over 95% of visitors to HK take a red taxi because they serve the downtown areas. Chances are you will also need to take a red taxi:User submitted photo of Hong Kong International Airport
  • Green taxis (also called New Territories Taxi) only go to the New Territories, which is the large suburban area north of downtown HK. It overlaps with red taxis because red taxis also serve New Territories:User submitted photo of Hong Kong International Airport
  • Blue taxis (also called Lautau Taxi) serve southern Lantau Island:User submitted photo of Hong Kong International Airport
  • Metered taxi fares:
  • To Hong Kong Island (Central, Causeway Bay, Wan Chai, etc.): HKD$315-$380 (USD$41-$49)
  • To Kowloon (Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui, Yau Ma Tei, Hung Hom, etc.): HKD$250-$300 (USD$33-$39)
  • To Disneyland: HKD$130-$140 (USD$17-$18)
  • Here's the official list of approximate taxi prices from the airport, to various destination in HK (updated in 2020):User submitted photo of Hong Kong International Airport
  • Payment is cash only in Hong Kong Dollars, so make sure you have sufficient amount of money on hand
  • Where to board the metered taxis: once you exit the baggage claim area, simply follow overhead signs for "To City":User submitted photo of Hong Kong International AirportAnd eventually you'll come across this sign for the three types of taxis:User submitted photo of Hong Kong International AirportFollow the sign to the queue and wait for your taxi
  • Taxi operating hours: Hong Kong International Airport is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Taxis there are also operating 24/7. You never have to worry about not being able to flag a taxi no matter when you arrive
  • Uber:
  • Instead of taking a metered taxi, your other option is to hail a Uber ride, which is completely legal in Hong Kong and very safe. When I lived in HK I almost always used this option instead of the metered taxis
  • Prices: Uber prices vary by the type of car you get. There are three types of cars you can hail:
  1. Flash: this is the lowest tier equivalent to UberX in North America where the cars are driven by regular people. Expect to get Toyota Corolla-type cars. Fare to the island (financial district) is about HKD$320-360 (USD$42-$47), to Kowloon is about HKD$200-$250 (USD$26-$33)
  2. Comfort: you get nicer and roomier cars (like Toyota Camry) than Flash but still driven by regular people. Fare to the island is about HKD$440-480 (USD$57-$62), to Kowloon is about HKD$320-$360 (USD$42-$47)
  3. Black: you get luxury cars like BMW and Tesla or professionally-chauffeured cars. Fare to the island is about HKD$540-600 (USD$70-$78), to Kowloon is about HKD$420-$500 (USD$54-$65)
  • Where to meet your driver:
  • I suggest you hail the car after you've picked up your baggage and exited the customs. There is free wifi at the airport as well as in the waiting areas that you can use to hail the car
  • The app will tell you where to board, but basically you can choose to get picked up from either Car Park 1 or Car Park 4:
  • Car Park 1: turn right after you exit from the customs. Personally I recommend using Car Park 1 because it's a slightly shorter walk and more convenient to get to
  • Car Park 4: turn left after you exit from the customs
  • Look for the blue signs directing you to car park 1 or 4, like this:User submitted photo of Hong Kong International Airport
  • Uber hours and availability: there will be cars available 24/7. From experience I've found that Comfort cars are the hardest to find. Flash is pretty easy to find but you may have to wait over 15 minutes for a car to get to you. Black is usually the most readily available


  • Option 3) Public Buses:
  • There are lots of public buses (look identical to those double-decker public buses you see all over HK) that can get you from the airport to pretty much anywhere in the cityUser submitted photo of Hong Kong International Airport
  • The main benefit of using these buses is the low cost that can get you to the city for less than USD$5
  • The main disadvantages of using these buses are the large number of routes you have to research through, as well as the crowd, especially if you're carrying lots of luggage. In fact, if you have anything larger than a single carry-on sized suitcase, I do not recommend using the public buses
  • Routes:
  • There are two bus companies (Citybus and Long Win) with buses that depart from the airport, and between them there are over 70 routes
  • Citybus (specifically their Cityflyer service) has all the buses that go to the downtown area of Kowloon and the Hong Kong Island, so most people take these buses. The most useful routes are:
  • A10, A11, A12: these routes go to various places on the Hong Kong Island. A11 and A12 in particular are the most popular routes so chances are you will end up taking one of these
  • A21, A22, A29: these routes go to various Kowloon destinations
  • There are too many routes for me to list them individually here, so you can research them on these three websites:
  1. Citybus/Cityflyer website: http://www.nwstbus.com.hk/routes/airport-bus/hotel/index.aspx
  2. Long Win website: http://www.lwb.hk/en/routeintroduction.html#airbus
  3. Airport website: https://www.hongkongairport.com/en/transport/to-from-airport/public-buses.page
  • Fares: about HKD$30-$40 (USD$4-$5) to get to Kowloon or to Central (the financial district on the island) so it's extremely cheap
  • How to get to the bus terminal at the airport:
  • After you've picked up your baggage and exited the customs into the arrival hall, follow signs for "To City"User submitted photo of Hong Kong International Airport
  • Then follow signs for "Bus"User submitted photo of Hong Kong International Airport
  • Then eventually you will get to the Bus TerminusUser submitted photo of Hong Kong International Airport
  • Once you get to the bus terminal, you will find the stops for each individual routes in a circle, like this (the "You are here" spot below corresponds to the "Bus Terminus" sign in the picture above)User submitted photo of Hong Kong International Airport
  • How to buy bus tickets: you have three options to buy the tickets
  1. At the bus ticket office (recommended): once you get to the bus terminal and see the blue "Bus Terminus" sign shown in the picture above, turn left and you will see this ticket office:User submitted photo of Hong Kong International AirportThe benefit of buying your ticket here is that you can tell the cashier where you're trying to go to and they can tell you exactly which bus to take. Accepted payment method at the ticket office are cash and credit card
  2. Pay cash onboard: you drop the cash into the receptacle next to the bus driver when you board the bus. No change will be given so you must give exact change (you can overpay too but again no change will be given)
  3. Octopus Card: if you have an Octopus Card, which you can get at the Airport Express Service Counter I described above, you can use it to board the bus directly. You tap the Octopus Card only when you board the bus. You do not tap when you get off the bus. Tap the card at the machine next to the driver that look like this:User submitted photo of Hong Kong International Airport
  • Hours: individual routes have start and ending times but there are always buses running throughout the day


  • Other options: in addition to the 3 main options I detailed above, you can also try some other specialty transportation options
  1. Prearranged private transfers: if you Google "Hong Kong Airport Transfers", or go to websites like Viator and Klook and search for "Hong Kong" then filter for "Transport" in the results, you will see lots of private transfer providers at all kinds of price points for you to choose from. They're generally more expensive than metered taxis but they're on par with Uber Black and you have a peace of mind knowing that a driver is waiting for you at the airport when you arrive
  2. Hotel shuttles: there's a company a couple of companies that provide shuttle services from the airport to various hotels in HK. I know of two companies:
  3. A company called Vigor that operates pretty cheap shuttle services for a limited number of hotels. These shuttles run on a fixed schedule and you can either book online ahead of time by emailing them at general@vigorholding.com, or go to counter B18 in the arrival halls of Terminal 1 to book when you get there. Fare is HKD$140-150 (USD$18-$19). For more information and list of hotels served, go to Vigor's website at http://www.vigorholding.com/en/shuttle.html
  4. A company simply called Hong Kong Shuttle that offers similar services as well. Their price is $24USD. You can check out their website for more details and list of hotels served at http://www.hongkongshuttle.com/hong-kong-airport-shuttle
  5. Limosine services: if you're feeling fancy, you can head to counter B01 in the arrival hall after you've picked up your luggage and exited the customs. Here you will be able to get a luxury limousine service (like Mercedes S Class) to get you to your hotel. This map shows where it is:User submitted photo of Hong Kong International Airport