What to do on a long layover in Hong Kong

What to do on a long layover in Hong Kong
Source: Jimmy Chan, Pexels

Flying is such a frequent and now widely affordable mode of transportation that people are traveling all over the world. A 15-hour direct flight over a long distance is ideal, but many of us looking for a competitive rate will quickly opt for 27 hours, or even more than 30 hours of travel just to knock down the ticket price by 30-50%.

On these flight itineraries, you’ll likely find an array of connecting flights and long layovers. Some layovers last as long as 12 hours at one single connecting airport. Aside from walking a marathon through duty-free shops or sleeping on a row of chairs at your gate, you could instead go out and explore your layover destination. Here’s a guide on what to do on a long layover if your connecting flight is in Hong Kong.

Get out of the airport and explore

Hong Kong International Airport is one of the most convenient airports in the world. It runs extraordinarily efficiently. So getting out during your layover to visit Hong Kong will be quick and easy, giving you plenty of time to explore. Before exiting the airport doors, you should have your passport ready and also check if you require a visa to enter Hong Kong beyond the airport.

You can leave your luggage at the airport – Hong Kong International Airport offers a left luggage desk which is open for drop-off from 5:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. every day. These times cover most layovers, and if your layover falls outside of these times, it’s probably best to have a nap at the gate instead. The left luggage desk is available at Arrivals Level 5 (L5), Terminal 1. Before venturing out, make sure to have your boarding pass for the next flight. Once all the details are taken care of, exchange some cash and set out to see the city.

Now it is important not to try to visit six or seven different tourist attractions across the city. Remember you are in the middle of a major travel experience. Do you want to waste your layover time doing even more traveling? Also, think of the higher possibility of getting caught in traffic if you are using a lot of transportation to crisscross the city. You still have a flight to catch, so focus your time in one area of the city where you can see, eat and shop by walking around.

Spend the time in the city center of Central

Getting to Central is very simple. Just take the Airport Express train directly from the airport. It only takes about 20 minutes.

The peak of Hong Kong hovers over Central’s skyscape. Take the Peak Tram up to The Sky Terrace for a 360 degree view from the top. This is also a great spot for your Instagram shots. The tram is a steep vertical journey to a historic scenic landmark. Near the Peak Tram is the Central Mid-Levels escalator. These escalators are the longest chain of escalators in the world and offer a quick tour through the neighborhood.

Off the escalators you’ll find Tai Kwun, the old colonial prison’s renovation and police headquarters leading into an arts and culture center. Before heading back to the airport, you can have a cheeky shopping bout in the posh IFC mall right above the Hong Kong Station, which will also take you back directly to your connecting flight.

Shop in the markets of Mongkok

Take the Airport Express train to the Kowloon station where you can get in the taxi queue for a ride only 10 mins into Mong Kok at the heart of Hong Kong’s Kowloon. In Mong Kok, you can explore a variety of markets. The Ladies’ Market is the most famous of street markets. The wares consist of clothing, accessories, jewelry, toys and Hong Kong souvenirs. Bargaining is normal, but unnecessary if you think the price is right.

Spring is always in the air at Mong Kok’s Flower Market, where there is a variety of exotic plants and flowers from all over the world. If you are traveling around Chinese New Year, the market will be super crowded because of the belief that flowers bring good luck and fortune.

Along with the sweet smell of Spring flowers, you may hear birdsong coming from the nearby Yuen Po Bird Garden. The bird market is a short path full of bird hawkers with a colorful and diverse array of birds. To get in a last bit of shopping, stop by the nearby sneaker haven, Fa Yuen Street. Along this street are exclusive limited edition shoes packaged tightly in shrink wrap as well as sneakers at bargain prices. With bags in hand, it’s easy to grab a taxi for a jaunt back to Kowloon Station in time for your connection.

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