HKG: Hong Kong Airport Guide - Terminal map, lounges, bars & restaurants
Hong Kong Airport GuideNEWS: Hong Kong will develop a new 20-gate midfield passenger concourse, to be open late in 2020.
Hong Kong International Airport (or HKIA) is a vast hub with one of the world's largest passenger terminal buildings, and with over 50 million passengers a year. It is colloquially known as Chek Lap Kok Airport, being built on that island - although it has never officially had that name.
It is of course the hub for Cathay Pacific airlines, as well as newcomers like Dragonair and Hong Kong Airlines. It's also a semi-hub for some other airlines, with London being one of it's most popular destinations. It is the 12th busiest airport worldwide by passenger traffic.
Hong Kong Airport is built on a large artificial island, 20 kilometers (13 miles) west of the centre of Hong Kong, and has really excellent shopping: so much so that it has been accused of being a shopping centre with a few airplanes around the outsides. However there aren't so many good restaurants in the terminals: there are a lot of fast food joints.
Free wireless Internet is available throughout the terminals, but can be flakey, particularly towards the middle of the pier, and quite slow.
A free automated people mover train runs between the east and west halls of Terminal 1 and from the new Terminal 2 to the gates: it is underground, and quite a few passengers prefer the (long) walk to enjoy the spectacular view of the planes with the Chinese islands in the distance.
Hong Kong Airport International Terminal 1For virtually everyone, Hong Kong Airport Terminal 1 is HKIA.
Terminal 1 of the HKIA was the largest airport passenger terminal building in the world when it opened - and it is vast. Forget the pokey hubs in places like Dubai - this place is big. It is so big you won't believe how mind bogglingly big it is, until you try to walk down the main central spine of the terminal. For very good reasons, there is a free train that runs between each ends, the Wing and Pier.
There is a medical centre on level six. Children's play areas are located near Gates 22 and 36. The main shopping centre is at the 'root' of the pier, where you enter past security: the fast food eateries are above. There are some shops at the far end of the pier, but they are much poorer.
Hong Kong Airport International Terminal 2Hong Kong Airport Terminal 2 is an oddity - you can't get a flight from it!
Instead, Terminal 2 operates just as a check in desk - but some checkin - and has a vast shopping centre, called SkyPlaza. Opened in June 2007, it is linked with the MTR Airport Express with it's own platform.
When you are through security in Terminal 2, you go straight through to Terminal 1 on the same free automated people mover train that runs between the east and west halls of Terminal 1.
In terminal 2 if you have time to spare before going through security, check out the IMAX cinema on the upper level, and the Aviation Discovery Centre. Although looking rather tired now, it is a good place to learn about planes, and it has a great Cockpit Simulator. Also here is the Skydeck, for which there is a nominal HK$7 charge (although this is rarely collected). If you go up in the lift - to the seventh floor - there is an amazing wrap around view of the entire airport, and the planes come pretty close when they land too.
Hong Kong Airport North Satellite ConcourseHong Kong Airport ran out of gates, so it built the two-storey North Satellite Concourse (NSC) in 2009. Alas it isn't connected to the train. You need to get the shuttle bus service between the NSC and Terminal 1 which runs every four minutes, although the underground train will soon be extended to here.
The concourse was designed for narrow-body aircraft and is equipped with 10 jet bridges.
First & Business Class lounges at Hong Kong Airport
Hong Kong Airport transportationVirtually everyone who lands at Hong Kong airport takes the Airport Express Line train to the city: there are buses on the Hong Kong Airport to City route, but they take a lot longer than the train. There is really no reason to look for alternatives.
Hong Kong Airport train - the Kong Kong Airport ExpressThe Hong Kong airport rail express line is called the MTR Corporation Airport Express. It operates trains from HKIA to downtown every 10 minutes during the day, and every 12 minutes at night. The journey the airport to Hong Kong Station takes 24 minutes, but most people stop off at Kowloon, which only takes 18 minutes.
Have no fear you'll end up on a tired metro - Kong Kong Airport Express trains are brand new, and travel at 130 kilometres per hour.
The Kong Kong Airport Express ticket price isn't exactly cheap. Single trips from the airport to Hong Kong cost HK$100, Kowloon HK$90, and Tsing Yi HK$60. However same-day return tickets are the same price as a single - a bargain if you are on a stopover at the airport for several hours.
Beware however that Kowloon station is in an inconvenient location west of the heart of Kowloon, in a great big shopping centre called Elements, and from where buses leave for most of Hong Kong. The only thing you can't really do is walk out of the station - you are expected to take a cab to your destination. There are a couple of sets of doors at the extreme ends of the shopping centre (exit D2), or if you get desperate - as many people do - you can leave by walking out of the exit ramp of the car park onto the pavement outside.
You can check-in for flights and receive a boarding pass at Hong Kong and Kowloon Stations at no extra cost: this can be a life saver if you are running close to the 90 minute checkin deadline.
The Airport Express forms only a small part of the Hong Kong metro system: there are many other lines: most people change at Hong Kong itself which connects with Central station, and the trams on the island. The metro is clean and quiet, but beware of the strange ticketing system: without a Hong Kong credit card, you need change for the machines, for which you need to visit the ticket office, which oddly cannot sell you a ticket.
Hong Kong Airport shuttle bus servicesThere are many bus services from Hong Kong airport to the city.
At the airport, head to the Ground Transportation Centre. The main to the ciry centre (including Kowloon) are the A11, E11 & N11 (the nightbus). The Hong Kong airport bus to kowloon fare is HK$90 (taking about 20 minutes); To Tsing Yi, the cost is HK$60.
Hong Kong Airport taxi servicesGetting a taxi to and from Hong Kong Airport is usually trouble free.
Taxis are readily available from the Ground Transportation Centre next to the passenger terminal. There are separate queues for various services; urban taxis are red and serve almost all destinations in the city, New Territories taxis are green, and Lantau taxis are blue.
If you want to head from Hong Kong airport to Nathan Road, or Kowloon you'll almost certainly end up on a red taxi. The Taxi cost from the airport to downtown, and the Hong Kong taxi to airport cost HK$250.
While most Hong Kong taxis are in general honest, it can pay to switch on your sat-nav on your phone, and check which route they are taking: some of the taxi drivers are known to take a very circular route through the downtown area if they suspect you aren't local.
Hong Kong Airport ferry services
Car Hire at Hong Kong AirportDriving is chaotic in Hong Kong, and it is very rare for tourists to hire cars. Chauffeur-driven cars are the way to go, if you don't like public transport.
Hong Kong Airport ArrivalsArrival and passport control is generally a breeze at Hong Kong: passport control only takes a few minutes, and then you can quickly collect your luggage from the vast arrival hall. Beware that fragile items such as pushchairs (strollers/buggies) are delivered to the far end of the carousel. Once past customs, you are in the arrival hall of Terminal 1: terminal 2 is through the tunnel.
Hong Kong is technically part of China - and technically also not: the visa requirements are different. Hong Kong maintains a separate and independent immigration system from that of mainland China. This means that, unlike mainland China, almost everyone doesn't need to obtain a visa in advance.
United Kingdom passport holders (Full British citizens only - not British Overseas Citizens) can enter Hong Kong visa free for up to 180 days, and then re-enter without limit. Everyone else, including all European Union member states, are limited to 90 days, except for some countries like South Africa, Thailand, much of middle east and the Americas, who are only permitted a basic 30 day visa, and a very few countries who need a Hong Kong Visa, however anyone can go through Hong Kong transit without Visa requirements if you are just changing planes.
British citizens and Hong Kong citizens can register to use the e-Channel. Instead of clearing passport control at the desk, you can avoid the (rare) queues by going through an automated barrier which uses fingerprint recognition technology. It takes about 3 minutes to register.
Hong Kong Airport HotelsThere is just one airport hotel at Hong Kong airport which you can walk to directly from arrivals: the Regal Airport Hotel. It is connected to the passenger terminal by a covered walkway; just turn left at customs, head to Starbucks and follow the signs. The hotel is a little dated - and pricey - but for the convenience it is worth it. Not surprisingly, it is the main one populated by overseas aircrew.
The Regal at Hong Kong Airport has a decent open air swiming pool, and two bars. Many rooms have an excellent view of the active runway, and are tripple glazed (which works well). The main bar in the lobby has free wifi, but shuts at 11pm, however the Regal Hotel China Coast bar in on the lower levels is open until 3am, and has live music some nights. The bar is the only one landside at the airport open late, and as such is very popular with pilots and crew - and come to that businessmen on their own. The free wifi from the lobby bar wafts down to the outside tables.
There is a second airport hotel, the Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Hotel, close to, but not within walking distance, of HKIA Terminal 2.
The Hong Kong Airport Marriott Hotel isn't bad, but the pain of the shuttle bus to is a problem: standing on the roof of terminal 2 you can see a covered walkway that goes half of the way to the hotel, but then kind of just gives up in the middle of the bus park, and you are left to walk along an airport perimeter road if you don't fancy taking the bus.
There is a third alternative, the Hong Kong Airport Novotel. This is a long way from the airport - about a 15 minute bus ride, which after you wait for half an hour for the bus makes a late evening arrival feel like the middle of the night. It is a very good modern hotel, and is attached to a large shopping centre, at the end of which is the local metro train service to Hong Kong: it's just that it is a long way from the airport.
Hong Kong Airport Left LuggageHong Kong airport luggage storage is handled by a company called Pacific.
The Hong Kong Airport Left Luggage desk is available in the Arrivals hall - just follow the signs, although they aren't that obvious; it really is quite hard to find: once you exit customs at either the top or bottom of Terminal 1, head to the centre, and follow the signs to 'Trains to City' and then, when you see three escalators heading into the basement marked 'Transport to Mainland China' turn sharp right. Head down a bit of a slope, and then left to where the tunnel is under the road to Terminal 2. At the mid point of the tunnel is the left luggage area.
Car parkingHong Kong airport car parking is quite good.
From Hong Kong Island, follow road signs to Western Harbour Tunnel. Once out of the tunnel, drive along the West Kowloon Expressway; follow airport road signs and cross the Tsing Ma Bridge to the airport island. Then continue along North Lantau Highway to reach the airport.
Hong Kong Airport Bars and RestaurantsIt's an odd thing, but there aren't that many places for a decent pint at Hong Kong airport. Sure, there are a few (but not that many) restaurants, but when it comes down to just a plain old pub, you're out of luck.
Alas, the Irish pub in the Arrivals hall has now closed. If you need a pint after 9pm in arrivals, or landside, head to the basement of the Regal Hotel where the China bar is open until 3am, and has live bands. Its the usual aircrew hangout.
If you fancy a beer, you're best off in terminal 2 before security, where there is the Heineken bar high up on the balcony. In Terminal 1 the Peak Lookout bar and restaurant does much the same job. The only real option airside is right at the end of the pier where there is the new addition of the Heineken beer trolley. Also beware that these places close insanely early. After 9pm and you'll be really stuck for anywhere to prop up the bar counter. No wonder the pay-per-entry lounges do such a roaring trade: they are just about the only places to sit down with a quiet beer.
There are quite a few fast food joints, but again not so many decent sit down restaurants.
Caviar House & Prunier Seafood BarOpen: 0700-2330 Terminal 1, Airside, Food Junction, Wing
One of the classiest places to drink - or come to that eat - the Caviar House and Prunier Seafood Bar is right at the root of the pier where it branches out into the two wings.
There is a very good French wine selection, and not a bad collection from the new world down under either.
As for eating, this seafood bar is well known for producing its own smoked salmon and fresh caviar in it's own factories, and also imports caviar from the Caspian.
Everything from the menu is prepared in front of the customers - which slightly reduces the shock of getting the bill.
Heineken Bar - LandsideOpen: 1100-2100 Terminal 2, Landside, high up on the balcony midway between the IMAX and HSBC
The only decent boozer at Hong Kong airport is alas landside: you need to get the pintage in here, before going through security, which can be an issue.
Worse still, it sells itself as 'the airport's first theme bar concept'. Hmmm. However there is no missing it: the Heineken Bar has a loud green décor with the ominously sounding "Sub-zero Fridge & Freezer". Don't miss the display cabinet with Heineken trophies.
Beer is, not surprisingly, Heineken to Heineken, at HK$40 for a half pint! You can however also get Murphy's stout, and the steak and beer deals are not bad, with a steak and pint coming in at around HK$300.
Heineken Bar - AirsideOpen: 0900-2130 Terminal 1, Airside, at the far end of the pier
The only real beer bar airside at Hong Kong airport is so hidden most people miss it: indeed, the bar was an afterthought because many people complained about the lack of facilities.
Take the train - or walk - to the end of the pier by gate 40. Head through the shops on the left, then right to the HSBC cash point, down the narrow alley, beside the Sea Food bar, and there is a small Heineken beer trolley / shelf and a few tables, with one of the best views in the airport: you overlook the main runway, and beyond the distant Chinese islands. It is spectacular.
Beer is only Heineken at no less than HK$70 for a pint, which is reassuringly expensive. If you want to drink a couple, it may be worthwhile going to the Plaza lounge upstairs, which is HK$400 for a couple of hours.