Hong Kong is an important air hub connecting Asia and the rest of the world. I used Hong Kong airport for transit several times but only for short periods.
So when I last booked a flight with Cathay Pacific, I planned a 6-hour stopover to explore Hong Kong for a short time. I was very glad to learn that there were great incentives for transit travelers: 1. the 120 HKD (15.50 USD) departure tax is waived for passengers arriving and departing within the day; and 2. the Airport Express train offers a free return journey for passengers traveling in the same day (100 HKD instead of 200 HKD for the two-way journey to Hong Kong Station). I had no reason not to go out of the airport!
Airport Express Train to Hong Kong Station
My flight to Hong Kong arrived at around 3 pm and my flight out was at 21:30 pm, so I had about 5 hours to spare (excluding time I have to spend at immigration). After about 30 minutes at the airport (I already have an onward boarding pass to my next destination and immigration procedures were very fast and efficient), I went out and bought same day return tickets for the Airport Express train to Hong Kong Station.
Trains depart every 10 minutes and the ride from the airport to Hong Kong Station is only 24 minutes — comfy and fast!
Ferry from Central Pier to Hong Kong Station
When I arrived at Hong Kong station a little before 4 pm, I deposited my bags at the left luggage counter (check available station services at this link). It set me back 55 HKD, but at least I didn’t have to carry my heavy luggage around. After that, I walked around the connecting shopping mall for a bit… hmmm alright alright I didn’t know which way to go! But I eventually found the signs pointing me to the Central Pier. I followed the sign to Pier 7, where I rode the ferry to Tsim Sha Tsui (ferries depart every 10 minutes and the trip across is about 10 minutes long).
The ferry ride only costs 2.50 HKD, and I happily inserted my coins into their automated machine to get a token and wait for the ferry.
Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade and Avenue of Stars
I arrived at Tsim Sha Tsui Pier at around 4:15 pm, and walked the length of the Promenade. I passed by and took photos of the Clock Tower, the HK Cultural Center, the HK Museum of Art and other interesting statues before I arrived at the Avenue of Stars, where I found most of the crowds.
I leisurely walked along the Avenue of Stars and enjoyed seeing my fellow tourists gaily posing with the random statues lining the walk and snappily taking photos of each other.
My favorite part of the Promenade, however, was the view of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong skyline. It was really impressive, although the weather was really gloomy (not so good for picture taking with my not so good camera).
Mong Kok Ladies Night Market and Sneakers Street
After an hour, I left the Avenue of Stars and walked towards Tsim Sha Tsui Station and rode the MTR to Mong Kok using the Tsuen Wan Line (7 minutes, 5 HKD). I arrived at Mong Kok around 5:30 pm, and was greeted by lots and lots of merchandise. The street was filled with an assortment of clothes, bags, toys, souvenirs and other oddments, most of which are intended for tourists.
I window shopped while walking the streets of Mong Kok, until I came upon Sneakers Street. Unlike Mong Kok that sells its wares on the street, Sneakers Street have large sports shops that sells, well, lots and lots of shoes. I was really planning to buy trekking shoes as my old pair was ready to retire, so I thought the Sneakers Street was a good place as any to look for a replacement. It took me a good while walking back and forth the shops before I finally decided on a pair that I really liked. So after 45 minutes, I left Sneakers Street wearing a new pair of shoes 🙂
Central Station and (supposedly) The Peak
From Mong Kok, I took the MTR Tsuen Wan Line to Central Station (12 minutes, 11.50 HKD) and made my way to the J2 exit of the station to ride the tram at the Peak Tram Lower Terminus. I initially planned to go to The Peak for its nice night view of Hong Kong, but it was very cloudy when I stepped out of the station. The Peak had been covered in clouds all day, so I figured I wouldn’t see the stunning view that I was expecting, and there would be no point in going if I’ll be standing in a cloud. So I just walked idly around Central’s tall buildings before deciding to return to the airport.
I followed the signs from Central Station so I could get back to Hong Kong Station to take the the Airport Express. I got back to the airport at around 8 pm, plenty of time for dinner before my 9:30 pm flight.
So that was my very short Hong Kong tour. Too bad I couldn’t visit The Peak because of the weather, but I don’t mind. I have that, and a lot more places, to visit when I go back to Hong Kong for another stopover… or maybe a proper trip next time 🙂
Airport express (round trip) – 100 HKD
Left luggage fee – 55 HKD
Star ferry from Central Pier to Tsim Sha Tsui – 2.50 HKD
MTR Tsim Sha Tsui to Mong Kok – 5 HKD
MTR Mong Kok to Central – 11.50 HKD)
[The Peak Tram (round trip tickets – 40 HKD]
*Total expenses (without left luggage fee) would have been around 159 HKD (20.50 USD) if I went to The Peak.