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Hong Kong International Airport
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrHong Kong International Airport, or HKG in short, is one of the world’s largest and busiest aviation hubs. This airport has been in operation since 1998, when an extensive man-made island was constructed in order to move the then existing airport out of the city center. You read that right. Had you flown into Hong Kong before 1998 you would have had the distinctive heart-stopping pleasure of landing, quite literally, right between high-rise apartment buildings, smack-bang in the center of Kowloon. The former airport, known as Kai Tak, was ranked the 6th most dangerous in the world. Luckily, demand soon overstretched Kai Tak and a newer, bigger, and better airport was built off the northern shores of Lantau Island .
Alas, landing at the relatively new HKG does not grant such an exciting experience but, perhaps, that’s not such a bad thing after all.
Hong Kong Airport is the main hub of six airlines, which include Cathay Pacific (the city’s flag carrier), Air Hong Kong, and the American cargo liner, UPS.
Plans are under way to expand HKG, with a 136 billion USD project expected to be completed by 2030. Currently, the airport is home to the largest IMAX theater in the city, as well as an exceptional nine-hole, international-standard golf course.
As far as aesthetics go, Hong Kong International Airport is nothing to rave home about. It lacks the beauty and opulence of Singapore's Changi International Airport (or even Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport) yet what it lacks in looks it certainly makes up for in services. Should you be stuck here overnight or even a few days (stand-by is a bugger!) you’ll certainly have plenty to do and explore. At any given time, there seems to be more cleaning staff than passengers at this airport, and HKG would have to rate as one of the cleanest in Asia.
HKG comprises two large terminals (T1 and T2) and 66 gates, five of which are able to handle the Airbus A380 . After those of Dubai and Beijing, HKG’s T1 is the largest in the world, a tag it keeps sharing on and off with Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport as both airports vie for extensions. T2 is a much smaller space and reserved for check-ins only. It boasts no departure gates at all, although there are plenty of shops and cafés. If you really do need to overnight it here, and wish to save on a hotel bill, then this is the section you may want to retreat to for a (semi) quiet and comfortable sleep. Between the PlayStation arcade and movie theater, you should be able to retain some form of sanity on a very long layover.
- HKG handles over 63 million people and 4 million tonnes of cargo every year. At peak traffic time, it handles over 60 flights per hour.
- HKG employs roughly 65,000 workers.
- The total area site covers more than 4.6 square miles.
- HKG is serviced by more than 1,000 airlines and links Hong Kong to 180 locations worldwide, more than a third of which are in China alone.
Visitor Information & ServicesThe red-coated Airport Ambassadors are there to help passengers in case they are lost or need assistance in any way. You’ll see them loitering about all over the airport, so feel free to approach them should you have any issues. At the Arrivals Hall (Buffer Hall, T1), you’ll find two large Visitor Information Desks, where you can pick up printed guides of the city and all touristy related stuff.
For ease of movement, a pilot-less people mover shuttles passengers between terminals and departure gates.
The recently opened SkyPier connects passengers to mainland Chinese port cities without the need to clear customs and enter Hong Kong. You’ll find access to SkyPier just before customs.
ATM & Currency ExchangePlenty of both spread out through the entire airport, in both terminals.
Airport Transfers in/from the City CenterGetting to and from Hong Kong’s Airport is very easy, thanks to the comprehensive transport system in place.
By Airport ExpressTrains depart from the airport every 10 minutes or so, and will have you in Central within half an hour. Ticket prices vary between HK$5 ($0.65) to HK$100 ($13) depending on destination.
By Public BusA cheaper option, although ideal only for those who are familiar with the city or don’t mind a challenge. There are at least 30 buses which connect the airport with central Hong Kong locations.
By TaxiIf you can’t make heads or tails of the bus scheduling, and wish to reach your hotel in comfort then hiring a taxi may be your best bet. By and large, a metered taxi fare will cost HK$285 ($37) to Causeway Bay (and surrounds) and HK$325 ($42) to Repulse Bay. There are three taxi lines in service, which are denoted by their color. Red taxis service the whole city except the lower section of Lantau, blue taxis drive around Lantau only and green taxis connect passengers with destinations in the New Territories.
By Hotel CoachIf you’re staying in one of Hong Kong’s major hotels, you’ll likely be offered a free coach transfer. The Coach Station is located in T2.
Food & RefreshmentsThere is a multitude of eating and drinking options spread throughout both terminals, and include everything from Western fast-food, Asian, dedicated dessert joints and a few trendy bars and cafés. Do note that in T1 (landside) and T2 (airside) , all food outlets close for at least four or five hours every night. SkyPier is also well stocked with a good range of cafés and convenience stores and you’ll also find an ATM and currency exchange office.
ShoppingThe great majority of duty free shopping options are in T2, rather than T1, although prices here are slightly higher. You’ll find the usual array of products on sale, including liquor, tobacco; electronics, clothing; fashionable garb, and plenty of souvenirs.
Wi-fi/Internet accessUnlike Bangkok’s airport, the one in Hong Kong offers free unlimited WiFi throughout both its terminals. If you’re travelling without a laptop, then you’ll find a couple of computers in T2, inside the Chinese tea shop. These are free to use at 15-minute intervals, but the lovely ladies will allow you to stay on longer if it’s not busy.
Transfer LoungesThere are plenty of dedicated seating areas in both terminals of the airport, however T2 has none where a sleep is possible on seats.
Paid LoungesFor about $ 30 USD you can purchase a day pass at one of the various lounges in the airport. The great majority will offer shower services and a meal for that price. There are three Plaza Premium lounges in T1, and one (landside) in T2. There’s no need to book your space, simply show up and pay at the door. The United Club in T1 is the priciest option ( $ 50 USD ) although arguably the most luxurious. Many rate this as the best United Airlines' lounge the world over and, considering it is open to the public at a fee, it is a lovely way to see how the other half (those flying First and Business Class) lives.
Dedicated lounges are also operated by Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Qantas (combined with Emirates), and the Oneworld Group of airlines. Of all these, the Qantas/Emirates club is by far the best, with a phenomenal fresh BBQ grilled pork bar which may make a Business Class ticket a worthwhile splurge. Cathay Pacific’s lounge gives it a run for its money, however, with the all-you-can-eat pork bar replaced by an all-you-can-drink champagne bar. Pick your poison and enjoy.
Airport HotelsIf you need to spend the night at the airport, but can’t quite face the prospect of sleeping on rigid chairs, then head to one of three airport hotels which charge a day rate for a 10 hour stay. The Novotel Citygate and Sky City Marriott offer free shuttle transport to their digs directly from the Hong Kong Airport, whilst the Regal Airport Hotel is a particularly convenient choice, as it is connected to the airport via air-conditioned skywalk.
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Author: Laura Pattara. Last updated: Apr 06, 2015