12 Hour Hong Kong Layover – Best Day (Ever)
Make the most our of your layover #BestDayEver
Dan and I had flown through Hong Kong airport many times. In fact, it is my favorite airport in the world and i truly enjoy the idea of stopping there be it for two hours or high hours. If you are wondering there have been many layovers in this place it is simply because the airport is a major international hub for Asia, and most often getting to places like Bali, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia (just to name a few) from the United States (specifically for us from New York) has been through this major airport.
The first time I stepped off into this airport was on our honeymoon. We were headed to Bangkok and used our points of one of my favorite airlines Cathy Pacific. The trip was to take us from JFK to Hong Kong and just three hours later to the capital of Thailand where our vacation and exploration would truly start.
I remember departing from the airport and to my surprise easily following the signs to the transfer point where you go trough a second point of security and into the main airport terminal to wait for the connecting flight. If you have traveled through the UK to connect you would think that this, like the many other connecting airports would feel exhausting, and yet somehow the airport makes this transition fast and easy.
We were through security in minutes and then found ourselves in the main part of what looked like an incredibly beautiful glass airplane hanger. Everywhere I looked there was light and room and people from all sorts of countries walking and strolling and waiting. There were art exhibits everywhere, from a Bruce Lee exhibition to a large and very beautiful Buddha what was made entirely of sardine cans, the airport felt more like a travelers Disney land, with food and light and air and art and discoveries at every corner.
Beyond the glass I say jagged mountain ranges, small uninhabited islands rising like dragon teeth from the water and the mount ranges, and i felt instantly like I was on the other side of the world.
Hong Kong Airport 101
I have developed a ritual in this place, one for going to a destination and one for the long return back home.
If you are here for just several hours, or even five or six you can easily and very comfortable entertain yourself in the many shops, exhibits, restaurants and lounges.
My top ‘in-airport’ picks:
THE LOUNGES Have an amex? flying business? have Marco Polo? – if you do enjoy one of the many flagship Cathy lounges:
The Wing is the main one and a MUST, as it overlooks the airport and has a famous noodle bar that should not be missed
The Pier, The Deck, The Bridge and The Arrival are also great and may be closer to your gate of boarding – but if you have time go there and kick back by people watching below and reading and eating.
If you don’t have a card or aren’t flying business or first there are still paid lounges (with showers, food and even massages) that you can hit up, just go to the information desk and ask
If you’ve ever been to Hong Kong, you know that eh shopping is out of tis world and in your face (like it or not). Well, the coolest thing here is that the same can be said for the airport… Some of the many awesome stores to visit;
Zara: yes, they have a Zara and a ton of fashion in Zara HK you won’t find in the US
Chanel: even if you just window shop, this store here is beautiful and two full floors of fashion dreamy fun
Make-up: my mom always gives me a list because, well, the makeup and face creams are must less expensive (for name brands) then they are when imported to the US, so do your research before and buy in HK
Gadgets and tech: there are so many cool gadgets you can find in the simple no-name small shops, some are fun and things you’ll never see in the US (explore)
Go here and find a list of all the HK airport shops
3. EAT, eat and EAT!
On our first trip, not knowing about the lounges we hit up a caviar bar (yes it was luxurious and a bit $ but worth all of it), we sipped Champaign and ate caviar and watched the planes take off over the beautiful mountains of Hong Kong.
Dean & Deluca (a taste of home)
For a full list of restaurants click here
LAYOVER Hong Kong Day Trip –
Explore THE Tian Tan Buddha
In case you’re wondering if its ‘worth the time and effort, check out these pictures:
Lets get started- YES you’ll need to leave the airport. If you have 8-16 hours you are great to do this, at 6 hours you may be calling it a bit close (considering you have to get in and out of the airport) and 4 hour layover is hard cut off for me, DONT CHANCE IT.
Day lockers are the best and easy to use. Approach information and ask for the day locker station. Leave your bags (I’ve done it many times it’s secure!) and walk right outside to the MTR Bus station (ask information about the best bus and bus number to visit the Buddha, they’ll be enthusiastic to help.
Busses come fast here and it’s fun to wait around and people watch while eating snacks and breathing the fresh air after a long flight.
To get there, take the MTR to Tung Chung station.
Worried about missing the stop? Tell the bus driver to tell you when the bus stops at this station and sit at the front. No matter how poor his English, he will happily accommodate.
Once you get off the MTR, you will then enter a mall called CityGate.
If it’s really early like when Dan and I arrived and the Cable Car wasn’t open yet, walk over to the square park across the street from the mall (it’s set between two buildings) and peak inside- we found many men and women practicing Tai Chi and sword and stretching – it is a culturally inspiring site and worth a peak.
NOW FOR THE ACTUAL TRIP to
Next, you either have the option of taking the Ngong Ping Cable Car, or the bus. Your option will depend on your budget, as the price for a round-trip gondola ride is $125 HKD, whereas the bus is only $17.20 HKD. (Prices may change so consider this a ball park).
You decision will also be based on fear of heights and waiting in line.
The cable car usually has a long line, but it moves fast. Then, there’s the long, beautiful ride up where you are literally dangling above mountains, over city, water and then clouds. So if you have a fear of heights— THIS IS NOT YOUR OPTION. the ride is 15-20 beautiful Instagram worthy minutes.
The moment you get off the bus and slowly make your way towards the Giant Buddha
(It’s a simple walk and you won’t miss it).
If you are hungry there is a series of food places sitting atop the mountain – so eat or grab a coffee or I cream before exploring.
Once you enter the mountain you will be greeted by statues of generals, each representing one of the twelve Chinese zodiac signs. Once you pass these statues, you will find yourself in a large open space, where you are free to roam and enjoy the beauty of nature and history and culture. It is said that you should take time to gather good energy and make a prayer while facing the Giant Buddha.
If you are Buddhist or want to participate in Buddhist rituals, you have the option of purchasing incense from one of the shops near the Po Lin Monastery.
Google rituals or, very simply light the incense as an offering, and make a prayer at the many stations around the Buddha.
Then, get your camera out. The scale and design of the Buddha and the statues around it are incredible and worthy of many pictures and simple zen moments.
When Dan and I went it was summer (August) and hot, but the mountain cooled us and we felt truly transformed and inspired by our excursion. Having been on the busy streets of New York just 20 hours prior.
We walked and ate and kept an eye on the time. Making it back to the airport with plenty of time to check security, show our passports and pick up our luggage to board a plane.
On this trip we were flying from Hong Kong to Beijing, (rail China by rail and luxury hotel post).
And — DO IT!!!!