What can be done during a layover at Hong Kong International Airport? 

A frequently asked question on the Hong Kong Trip Advisor forum is if there is enough time in between connection flights to see one or more of Hong Kong attractions.  Because of the very efficient passenger processing at the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) and the fast means for arriving in Kowloon (20-25 minutes) and Hong Kong Island (25-30 minutes) using the Airport Express, the answer maybe - 'Yes' 

Assuming your layover is during mid day when attractions are open for visitors. 

2-3 Hours layover

If you have only 2-3 hour connection - It is not really possible for you to leave the airport and have enough time to return without missing your flight.  Best-case scenario, it will take you 30 minutes to clear customs and immigration, followed by 25-30 minute ride to the city, you will have to almost immediately turn around to return in hope of not missing your outbound flight.  Thus, it is highly ill advised to consider visiting the city with this short of a layover.  

4-5 Hour layover

If you have 4-5 hours – You can get to the city and back but you need to be CAREFUL to not risk missing your outbound flight. 

Exiting HKIA and catching city bound transportation takes around 30 minutes, add another 15-20 if you need to collect bags and store them at the airport.  Again, it will take you another 25-30 minutes to arrive in Kowloon or Hong Kong Station.  This translates into a probable-case scenario of 60-80 minutes of time spent prior to arriving in the city. 

Returning to HKIA, it is of the opinion of the Trip Advisor Destination Expert panel that visitors return to the airport, a minimum of 90-120 minutes prior to their outbound flights in order to ensure you don't miss your outbound flight.  Thus, all in all, you will spend approximately 2.5 to 3 hours of time exiting and entering the airport, dealing with your bags and transporting yourself to and from the airport.  This leaves you  approximately 1-2 hours to spend in the city if you have a 4-5 hour layover.

This usually means visitors choose to just stay at the airport and not risk missing their onward flight.  However, for those familiar with Hong Kong, it is possible to get into the city and see an attraction or at least have a view of the harbour, a drink and a quick shop before you need to return to HKIA.  

6-8 Hour layover

If you have 6-8 hours – You have enough time to take in a couple or a few of the cities attractions before making your way back to HKIA for your onward flight.  Just budget 2.5-3 hours time to leave and return to the airport, allowing 3-5 hours for sightseeing, shopping or whatever you like during your few hours in Hong Kong.  

8+ Hour layover

You have lots of time in the city and might want to consider checking into a hotel room for some rest as well.  

What if I have questions?

If you have any questions about what you can do/see during your layover in Hong Kong, please visit the Trip Advisor Hong Kong Forum and consult with the local Destination Experts and regular visitors to Hong Kong.  

For a list of possible things to do/see on a quick layover to Hong Kong, you can also visit the following Hong Kong trip list

 

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Original Article posted by TA member - beachsideguy99

 

(updated Nov 2011) by beachsideguy99A

Agree with all of the above - eg arrived HK 6am and departed 12.45pm

Allowing 30 mins for arrival formalities, 30 mins each way for MTR transfers, and return to airport 90 mins prior to departure flight still gives you time for this itinerary

A 4h BREAK IN HK FOR UNDER $100 for 2 

Leave carry-on luggage at the Airport left baggage office

Catch the MTR Airport Express Train to Central (Island side) - sightsee

Taxi to Peak Tramstop - Peak Tram funicular to the summit - amazing panorama - take escalators to
top level

Cup of coffee at summit cafe

Walk or funicular back to base
depending on time (Optional bus or taxi ride to Stanley for market
bargains if you have more than 4 hours in HK)

Taxi to Ferry terminal and catch Star Ferry to Kowloon - sightsee and shopping Nathan Rd

Tea at Peninsula Hotel or Lunch at a local restaurant Yum Cha on Sunday

MTR back to Airport  

total cost for 2 people (excl Stanley) under $US100