a class="sml_txt" href="http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/">Hong Kong
(?? He?ng Góng
in Cantonese, meaning Fragrant Harbour
) is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China. It is a place with multiple personalities, as a result of being both Cantonese Chinese and under a more recent contemporary ex-British influence. Today, the former British colony is a major tourism destination for China's increasingly affluent mainland population. It is also an important hub in East Asia with global connections to many of the world's cities. It is a unique destination that has absorbed people and cultural influences from places as diverse as Vietnam and Vancouver and proudly proclaims itself to be Asia's World City.
Hong Kong is the first Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China (the other being Macau). Before the transfer of sovereignty was returned to China in 1997, Hong Kong had been a British Colony for nearly 150 years. As a result, most infrastructure inherits the design and standards in Britain. During the 1950s to 1990s, the city-state developed rapidly, becoming the first of the "Four Asian Tigers" through the development of a strong manufacturing base and later a financial sector. Hong Kong is now famous for being a leading financial centre in East Asia, with the presence of local and some of the most recognized banks from around the world. Hong Kong is also famous for its transition port, transporting a significant volume of exports from China to the rest of the world. With its political and legal independence, Hong Kong is known as the Oriental Pearl with a twist of British influence in the culture.
Hong Kong is much more than a harbour city. The traveller weary of its crowded streets may be tempted to describe it as Hong Kongcrete. Yet, this territory with its cloudy mountains and rocky islands is mostly a rural landscape. Much of the countryside is classified as Country Park and, although 7 million people are never far away, it is possible to find pockets of wilderness that will reward the more intrepid tourist.
OrientationHong Kong Island
is the island that gives the territory Hong Kong its name. Although it is not the largest part of the territory, it is the place that many tourists regard as the main focus. The parade of buildings that make the Hong Kong skyline has been likened to a glittering bar chart that is made apparent by the presence of the waters of Victoria Harbour. To get the best views of Hong Kong, leave the island and head for the opposite Kowloon waterfront.
The great majority of Hong Kong Island's urban development is densely packed on reclaimed land along the northern shore. This is the place the British colonisers took as their own and so if you are looking for evidence of the territory's colonial past, then this is a good place to start. Victoria was once the colony's capital but has been rebranded with a more descriptive name, Central
. Here you will find the machinery of government grinding away much as it always has done, except Beijing, not London, is the boss that keeps a watchful eye. Seek a glimpse of government house (?????) which was formerly home to 25 British governors and the Ex Chief Executive "Bow Tie", Sir Donald Tsang. It is now the residence of the man they call 689 (based on the number of votes he received to be elected as the Chief Executive), the Chief Executive C Y Leung.
Leading up from Central is the Escalator and the Peak Tram. The famous escalator passes through the hip district of Soho
and takes you into the residential neighbourhood known as the Mid-Levels
because it is neither up nor down the mountain. Up top is The Peak
, the tallest point on the island where foreign diplomats and business tycoons compete for the best views of the harbour from some of the most expensive homes to be found anywhere. Most tourists do not go much further than the Peak Tram, but take a short walk and you will escape the crowds and be rewarded with some of the best harbour views.
The southern side
of the island has developed into an upmarket residential area with many large houses and expensive apartments with views across the South China Sea. The island's best beaches, such as Repulse Bay, are found here and visitors can enjoy a more relaxed pace of life than on the bustling harbour side of the island. Wan Chai and Causeway Bay are the most visited neighbourhoods on the northern side
of the island.
(??) is the peninsula to the north of Hong Kong Island. With over 2.1 million people living in an area of less than 47 square kilometres, Kowloon is one of the most densely populated places on the planet, and has a matching array of places to shop, eat and sleep. Tsim Sha Tsui
(???), the tip of the peninsula, is Kowloon's main tourist drag and has a mix of backpacker and high-end hotels. Further north, Mong Kok
(??) has a huge choice of shops and markets in an area of less than a square kilometre. Kowloon side, as it is often known, managed to escape some of the British colonial influences that characterise the ''Hong Kong Island side''. Kowloon real estate prices are the highest in the world, with multiple flats in West Kowloon setting worldwide records for their multi-million dollar prices thanks to their panoramic views of Victoria Harbor. A number of travel guides treat Kowloon with a fair amount of disdain, either in word or in the lack of space for Kowloon. Whilst not as glamorous as Hong Kong Island, it is cheaper to eat, shop and stay. It gives a 'slice of life' approach to how Hongkongers go about their daily activities, which is fascinating in its own right.
The New Territories
(??), so named when the British took more land from China in 1898, lie north of Kowloon. Often ignored by travellers who have little time to spare, the New Territories offers a diverse landscape that takes time to get to know. Mountainous country parks overlook New Towns that have a clinical form of modernity that has attracted many to move here from mainland China. Public transport and taxis make this area surprisingly accessible if you dare to get out and explore this offbeat place. You will not find many idyllic villages, but once you get over the stray dogs and the ramshackle buildings you will doubtlessly find something that will surprise you and cause you to reach for your camera.
The Outlying Islands
(??) are a generic label for the islands, islets and rocks in the south of the territory. They form part of the New Territories. Lantau
(???) is by far the largest of them and therefore often considered its own district. Most people arrive here, as Hong Kong International Airport is on a small island just north of Lantau. Lantau hosts some of the territory's most idyllic beaches as well as major attractions such as Disneyland and the Ngong Ping cable car. Other islands include Lamma (???), well known for its seafood, and Cheung Chau (??), a small island that used to be a pirates' den, but now attracts seafood aficionados, windsurfers and sunbathing day trippers.
Archaeological findings date the first human settlements in the area back to more than 30,000 years ago. It was first incorporated into China during the Qin Dynasty and largely remained under Chinese rule until 1841 during the Qing Dynasty, with a brief interruption at the end of the Qin Dynasty, when a Qin official established the kingdom of Nam Yuet, which later fell to the Han Dynasty.
In January 1841, as a result of the defeat of the Qing Dynasty of China in the First Opium War, the Chinese government agreed to cede Hong Kong Island in perpetuity to the British Crown under the Convention of Chuanpee, beginning the British administration of Hong Kong. The agreement was later rectified in August 1842 in the Treaty of Nanking, after which the Crown Colony of Hong Kong was established with Victoria City (present day Central) as the capital. After the defeat of China in the Second Opium War, the Kowloon Peninsula was ceded to Britain in 1860 in the Convention of Peking, adding to the Crown Colony. A 99-year lease of additional land on the mainland (the New Territories) and surrounding islands for defense and further development was granted in 1898 as the colony's final territorial change.
When World War II broke out, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill declared that Hong Kong was an "impregnable fortress." However, it was only a reality check for the British as most of their troops were tied down fighting the Germans in Europe, and Hong Kong was not given enough resources for its defence. As a result, after just slightly more than two weeks of fighting, Hong Kong was surrendered to the Japanese on 25 December 1941, making it the first time the British lost a colony to an invading force. After the war, despite American assurances that Hong Kong would be restored to China, the British moved quickly to regain control of Hong Kong. However, they had lost their aura of invincibility and could not continue to rule Hong Kong the way they used to before the war and all restrictions on non-Europeans owning property on prime real estate land were lifted. Hong Kong's post war recovery was astonishingly swift and within 2-3 months all post-war economic restrictions were lifted and Hong Kong became a free market once again.
After the communists took control of mainland China in 1949, many Chinese people, especially businessmen, fled to Hong Kong due to persecution by the communist government. Unlike the restrictive policies imposed by the communists in China, the British government took a rather hands off approach in Hong Kong, as proposed by former financial secretary John James Cowperthwaite, which led to a high degree of economic freedom. Under such conditions, businesses flourished in Hong Kong and its economy grew rapidly, earning it a place as one of the East Asian Tigers. In 1990, Hong Kong's GDP per capita surpassed that of Britain, the first time a colony's GDP per capita surpassed that of its colonial masters. Hong Kong is now the world's fourth largest financial centre after London, New York and Tokyo.
The massive influx of mainland Chinese refugees led to the rise of the Kowloon Walled City, which was a horrendous convolution of maze-like alleys, utter darkness, cramped space, and unsanitary conditions. Reports claim that dog meat was served (something which is quite common in Mainland China, but considered intolerable by the British) and that unlicensed physicians practised there. The Walled City was evacuated and subsequently demolished in 1993, and the Kowloon Walled City Park was built on the site.
Although Hong Kong Island and Kowloon were ceded to Britain permanently, the New Territories and outlying islands were to be given back to China in 1997. As Hong Kong developed, these regions became heavily integrated with the permanent cession. As a result, by the time the lease was approaching expiration, it was considered highly impractical to separate the colony into two. Initial British proposals for joint administration of the entire colony were rejected by China, and in 1984 the Sino-British Joint Declaration created a "one country, two systems" policy on the Question of Hong Kong, giving Hong Kong back to China on 1 July 1997. Hong Kong thus became a SAR of the People's Republic of China. Under the principle "One Country, Two Systems", Hong Kong is to be granted a high degree of autonomy for at least 50 years after the handover, including remaining in charge of its own capitalistic economy, maintaining a separate border and immigration control from China, and not being affected by various restrictions that apply in mainland China such as news censorship and foreign exchange controls.
In accordance with the Joint Declaration, the Basic Law was enacted to serve in effect as a mini-constitution for the Hong Kong SAR. In theory, Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy in most matters except foreign affairs and defence. In practice, it is more complex than that. On the one hand, Beijing exerts much influence, on the other, there are increasing calls pushing for a more democratic regime and universal suffrage. In fact, the campaign for full democracy has been a major issue for China regarding Hong Kong in recent years, with protests drawing hundreds of thousands of residents demanding for full elections and denouncing the Chinese Communist Party, with some even proposing outright independence from China.
In many respects, little has changed since the handover to China in 1997. A chief executive, chosen by an elite electoral college, has replaced the Colonial Governor; Beijing's man has replaced London's man. What was once a British colony now looks like a Chinese colony. Although part of China, Hong Kong operates like a tiny country with its own currency, laws, international dialling code, police force, border controls and the like. It is also a member of international organisations that are normally restricted to sovereign states such as the WTO, APEC and the IOC.
The majority of Hong Kong's population are Han Chinese (95%), mostly of Cantonese ancestry, though there are also sizeable numbers of other Chinese groups such as Chiuchao (Teochews), Shanghainese and Hakkas. A significant number of Indian, Pakistani and Nepalese live here too, and many have families that have lived in Hong Kong for several generations.
The large numbers of Filipinos, Indonesians and Thais, most of whom are employed as domestic helpers also live in Hong Kong. On Sundays, the free day of many foreign domestic workers, they congregate in the thousands in Central and Admiralty and spend the day there together, sitting talking, eating and drinking wherever there is free space. Several whole streets in the Central area are blocked off for foreign domestic helpers on Sundays.
Hong Kong is also home to a significant number of people hailing from Australia, Europe, Japan and North America, making it a truly international metropolis.
The people of Hong Kong are somewhat reserved, but very friendly, especially to children. A few words of Cantonese learned will ingratiate you further.
What the traveller will notice is the sheer volume of people and their density. Whilst Mong Kok is seen as the indicator of the worst of this, even in the other areas of Kowloon, you will still struggle for personal space. Whilst bumping into people (accidentally of course) is very common, it isn't considered particularly bad manners and you are unlikely to upset the locals, especially if you give a short apology.
Hong Kong has a sub-tropical climate, but is cooled in winter by sea breezes. Summer (June to September) is long, humid and hot with temperatures often exceeding 32°C (90°F) and with night time temperatures that do not drop below 25°C (77°F). Typhoons usually occur between June and September and can bring a halt to local business activities for a day or less (see natural disaster section).
Winters are generally very mild, with daytime temperatures of 18-22°C (64–72°F) but with nights dipping into 10°C (50°F) and below sometimes, especially in the countryside. Christmas in Hong Kong is considered warm compared with many other Northern Hemisphere countries. Chinese New Year is notorious for cold (10°C/50°F), wet weather; this is because winter in Hong Kong tends to start out mild and dry and then turn a bit cool and wet later, though the cool weather is brief.
Spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November/December) have average temperature between 21-24°C (70-5°F). Autumn is probably a more comfortable season as spring tends to be more humid and rainy.
Although most buildings in Hong Kong have air-conditioning to cope with the summer weather, winter heating is something of a novelty. During the coldest days, most locals simply wear more layers even indoors. In a restaurant for example, it is not unusual to see customers eating with their jackets and scarves on.
Its quick rise as an economic power and unique mix of East and West has made Hong Kong an interesting destination to write about. Much has been written about its history, politics, economy, culture and social matters, and it has figured as an ideal background in many fictional works as well. Reading some of these books enables you to further understand the culture of Hong Kong before actually visiting it.
Myself a Mandarin (Oxford in Asia), Austin Coates. This book contains the memoirs of Austin Coates. Each chapter is an entertaining episode of the Englishman's time as a colonial magistrate in the New Territories district.
East and West: China, Power, and the Future of Asia (Macmillan), Chris Patten. The memoirs of Chris Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong. Published in 1998, Patten provides his account of Hong Kong in the final years before the handover to China.
Gweilo: Memories of a Hong Kong Childhood (Bantam Books), Martin Booth. A well-written book that offers an insight into colonial life in Hong Kong through the eyes of a young English boy.
Hong Kong: Epilogue to an Empire (Penguin Books), Jan Morris. In this well-written and detailed overview of the territory by a noted Welsh travel writer. Morris alternates chapters on Hong Kong's history with descriptions of its geography, economy, politics and society. The book includes descriptive portraits of some of Hong Kong's leading politicians and entrepreneurs.
The World of Suzie Wong (Fontana Press) Richard Mason. A classic novel published in 1957, later adapted to film in 1960. Set in Hong Kong, it is the fictional story of a young expat's romance with a Chinese woman.
Hong Kong Landscapes: Shaping the Barren Rock (Hong Kong University Press), Bernie Owen and Raynor Shaw. Beautifully illustrated, this is a fascinating guide to the territory's geology and geomorphology.
Film and cinema
Chungking Express, 1994, Wong Kar-wai. The unrelated stories of two love-struck cops in Hong Kong. Its colourful and fast cinematography has been admired by Quentin Tarantino. The World of Suzie Wong, 1960. Based on the novel by Richard Mason, it is the fictional story of an expat's affair with a Chinese woman. The film has interesting footage of Hong Kong in the late 1950s.
When to visitWeather
— The time between October to December has the least rainfall, less chance of a typhoon (almost non-existent after October), less humid and more sunshine (see Climate section above for more details).
— During Chinese New Year (Spring Festival), there are some extra celebratory events such as lion dances, fireworks, and parades. Many shops and restaurants close on the first three days, so it may not be an ideal time to visit, though larger department stores, supermarkets and Western fast-food restaurants generally remain open.
Culture lovers will be able to feast on a multitude of cultural activities from February to April. The Hong Kong Arts Festival, a month-long festival of international performances, is held in February and March. The Man Literary Festival, a two-week English language festival with international writers as guests, is held in March. The Hong Kong International Film Festival, a three-week event, is held in late March to early April.
Rugby fans, and those wishing to party, should come during the weekend of the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens
. This annual event brings many visitors from around the world to celebrate the most entertaining instalment in the IRB Sevens Series. It is a giant three day sell-out event that takes place between the last days of March and beginning of April.
There is a second round of cultural activities in the autumn lasting till the end of the year.
Christmas is also a nice time to visit as many stores and shopping centres are nicely decorated, and the festive mood is apparent across downtown areas of the city. Major buildings facing the harbour are decorated in Christmas lights to add to the festive spirit.
As Hong Kong is a very crowded place, this is especially so during holiday seasons. Visitors should note that it could be very difficult to find a table in a restaurant during public holidays.
Additionally, Hong Kong doesn't have street benches and the like to sit down. Whilst "sitting down areas" are around, these are generally infrequent. Additionally, restaurants (especially cheap and quick ones) will prefer quick table turnover. All this adds up to spending a considerable amount of time on your feet in any given day. Make sure you have a pair of comfortable shoes, as even a good pair of shoes will still leave your feet sore after a full day on your feet.
For its electrical sockets, Hong Kong uses the British three-pin rectangular blade plug (type G). Additionally, some hotels will have a bathroom with a parallel three-pin outlet which is designed for use with electric shavers, but might be used to re-charge a phone or rechargeable batteries. Electricity is 220 Volts at 50 Hertz. Most electronic stores will have cheap ($15-20) adapters that will allow foreign plugs to fit into British sockets, but be aware that these will not convert voltage or frequency.
Often, when you buy a tablet or mobile in your home country, you will get multiple plugs for different countries for the one device. Simply convert the plug over (assuming the voltage is the same) from your home plug to the British style plug before you go, as this will minimise the number of adapters you need to purchase.
H K Heliport
h3>Hong Kong International Airport Hong Kong International Airport (IATA:HKG)
which is also known as Chek Lap Kok
??? (named after the small island it was built over), is the main port for visitors to Hong Kong by air. Designed by Sir Norman Foster, this modern and efficient building opened in July 1998 and has since been named "World's Best Airport" by Skytrax in annual ratings five times.
There are many direct flights to Hong Kong from every continent in the world. Most major cities in Oceania, Europe and North America are all served with at least one daily flight, and flights between Hong Kong and other major Asian cities are also frequent. Cathay Pacific operates one of the longest air routes in the world, linking Hong Kong and New York (JFK).
For destinations within mainland China, it is often cheaper to fly from Shenzhen than from Hong Kong, as flights between the mainland and Hong Kong are considered to be international flights and priced accordingly. There are also flights between Hong Kong and several mid-Pacific islands and nations.
and its subsidiary airline Dragonair
(used mainly for domestic routes within China with some destinations within Asia) are Hong Kong's main carriers, with Hong Kong Airlines
and Hong Kong Express
providing some welcome competition.
There are two terminals, creatively called T1 and T2. Signs on approach to the airport by car/taxi list the terminals and check-in zones. Once checked-in, you can clear security at either terminal with an underground shuttle bus outside the security area. There are more shopping opportunities before security at T2, but its shops close earlier. There are lots of shopping opportunities after security as well. Travellers will find an efficient post office in the airport, providing boxes, wrapping material, scissors and tape. It might be more economical to send your excess luggage via surface mail than paying fees to the airline. Terminal 2 is a check-in only facility, all flights depart from Terminal 1.
. Airport has free Wi-Fi facility (captive portal to accept terms and conditions) and a hotline (2188 7799).
There is a manned left luggage facility in the arrival hall, perfect for securely storing your luggage at the airport, for around $55-80 per day (depending on duration): it opens from 06:00 to 01:00.
Overall, services at Chek Lap Kok are generally far better, or at least on par, with those at other major international airports.
The Airport Express
train is perhaps the quickest and most comfortable passenger transport from the airport to Central, also stopping at Tsing Yi and Kowloon en route. As the only rail link to the airport, it has a frequency of one train every 10min and takes 24min to Hong Kong station. All stations have staff to help you get heavy bags on and off the train; there is no need to tip them. Each way costs $60-100, and a round trip $110-180, depending on the distance travelled. A fare saver
to Central is to take the Airport Express to Tsing Yi, the next stop, and change to the parallel but stopping Tung Chung line, which costs in total $72.5 one-way or $135 return as opposed to $100 one-way and $180 return. Free MTR connections are offered if you use the same Octopus Card to interchange within one hour of arrival between the Airport Express at Central, Kowloon or Tsing Yi stations and the interconnecting MTR Line. The free connecting trip even includes travel to Lo Wu or Lok Ma Chau stations. So, if you use an Octopus Card and change at Tsing Yi, you can reach all MTR stations for $60 one-way or $120 return (though no round trip fare for Octopus user). An even cheaper way is to take the S1 bus from the airline terminal to the nearby Tung Chung MTR station ($3.50) to catch the Tung Chung MTR line
into town. The Tung Chung line runs the same route to the "Hong Kong" station in the Central District as the Airport Express except it terminates at the Tung Chung station instead of the airport terminal and has four additional stops. Cheaper than taking the Airport Express to Tsing Yi to make the transfer. The fare on the Tung Chung line to Kowloon is $17, Hong Kong $22.5 and Tsim Sha Tsui $17. Note that the MTR system has luggage restrictions.
If you buy your ticket from a machine you will have to pay the standard fare. Children and elderly persons are normally entitled to a discount. Tourist travel passes sometimes do include a return journey on the Airport Express. If in doubt, ask the staff for advice before you hand over your money. After reaching your station, you can continue to your final destination by underground (MTR) or taxi.
Usually there are Airport Express discount offers; check the MTR Airport Express website for the most up-to-date discounts. Alternatively, some incoming flights to Hong Kong Airport will offer reduced fare Airport Express tickets as part of their duty free offerings (example: Korean Airlines (KE)).
MTR has been offering concessionary fares to senior citizens and eligible persons with disabilities.
For a full list of buses available at HKIA refer to the Hong Kong airport website
There is also an information board at the bus terminal.
If you would like a leisurely scenic ride from the airport, you should consider taking a bus. The airport is well served by public bus routes, taking passengers to and from most parts of Hong Kong. Comfortable and relatively inexpensive, they offer a convenient transport option. Another bonus is the nice views of Lantau Island and travelling over the Tsing Ma Bridge, the seventh longest suspension bridge in the world. There are primarily three types of bus, characterised by differed letters in the route code: "A", "E" and "S".
The "A" airport buses are mostly designed for flight passengers / tourists etc and depending on where you are going they might be easier to use than the airport express; they are considerably cheaper than the airport express train (average fare $40). Most of the "A" buses are WebBuses; you get free Wi-Fi internet.
The "E" airport buses are mostly designed for airport workers; however they usually have luggage racks, and are cheaper than the "A" buses (average fare $20), but they take a bit longer because they go through various cargo terminal, and airline offices on-route. They are heavily used by airport passengers despite this slightly longer route.
A good option to get to central Hong Kong is to take bus S1 from the airport to the Tung Chung MTR station ($3.50) and change to the Tung Chung underground line for a cheaper ride to the city (Kowloon $17, Hong Kong $22.5, Tsim Sha Tsui $17). Note that the MTR system has luggage restrictions, but more practically if you have bulky luggage you might find it tricky/unpleasant to use the MTR after a long-haul flight. This option is cheaper than changing from the Airport Express at Tsing Yi.
After walking through Customs, there is an attendant at a desk who is able to assist travellers with orienting themselves in preparation for a taxi ride (a service provided by the airport). The individual has a very good working knowledge of hotels in the area. Free maps are also available, in both Chinese and English, which can help give you a sense of the direction of your hotel and in the rare case that your taxi driver does not know the location, give them a chance to find the location as well. He or she can also give an estimate of the fare but also be prepared to have more cash on hand in case their estimate is a bit off.
A taxi from the airport to Central will cost you around $250-350 depending on your exact destination and traffic conditions (including bridge tolls and return fees the driver is legally allowed to charge). Use a red taxi for destinations to Hong Kong Island and Kowloon; Green taxis are restricted to the New Territories and blue taxis are for Lantau Island. Getting the right coloured taxi can save you some money. So if you're using a hotel on Lantau (such as Disneyland's 2 hotels) or the New Territories, grab the right coloured taxi.
The official taxi fare table
is available online. There is a large chart at the exit to the taxi stand showing the approximate fares to most destinations. The law is strict on taxi drivers who must charge according to the meter. According to the Hong Kong Transport Department, the first two kilometres costs $20, then $1.50 for each 200 metres. When the meter fare reaches $72.50, the cost for each 200 metres will change to $1.00 The meter fare does not include the luggage fee, toll fee, waiting fee or pet fee.
Taxis from the airport to downtown Kowloon can suffer from traffic congestion. If you are going to Hong Kong Island, tell the taxi driver to use the "Western Harbour Crossing" to avoid congestion, but this will attract an additional surcharge.
From the airport there are private cars and vans operating illegally as taxis. Do not take these as they are not licensed and in case of accidents, your insurance will not cover you. Generally they are operated by those of sub-continental heritage, and will be white or black vans, rather than the ubiquitous Toyota Crown Comforts (in blue, green or red of course). They will approach you inside the airport, rather than you walking to the taxi bay to find them.
In-City Airport Check-In
If departing Hong Kong by air, you can check-in your luggage and get boarding passes at Hong Kong and Kowloon MTR stations. The stations serve as airport satellite locations with airline staff and ticketing booths. This is convenient for people wishing to spend their precious final hours in the city instead of at remote Lantau Island where the airport is.
If you opt for these check-in services, you must first pay the fare for riding Airport Express. With some airlines, such as Cathay Pacific, you can drop off your luggage up to one day before travel, get your boarding passes, go off on that last shopping foray, and then return to ride Airport Express to complete your Hong Kong adventure. Check with your airline.
Shenzhen International Airport
Because flying from Hong Kong to the mainland is considered an international flight, flying around mainland China using Shenzhen Airport (IATA:SZX) See Online
is often significantly cheaper. Also the connections to Hong Kong are good, albeit time-consuming: first you take the underground (Shenzhen Metro) line 1 from the airport to the Luohu terminus (65 minutes, ¥9 or $11.25), then pass through a long corridor and an international border gate (make sure to have your visa ready for this) and once in Hong Kong, hop on the East Rail suburban rail line to Hung Hom (43 minutes, $35). Total travel time from Shenzhen airport to Hong Kong is thus under two hours at the price of $46.25.
An alternative to Luohu is "Futian Checkpoint" (called Lok Ma Chau on the HK side) which is served by the East Rail Lok Ma Chau Spur Line. The emigration queue at this control point is less crowded than Luohu. It takes about 48 min from Lok Ma Chau to Hung Hom ($35).
Alternatively, from the Elements shopping centre above the Kowloon MTR station on the Tung Chung and the Airport Express line, there is a shop front waiting room where you can check-in and receive your boarding pass (although check in at this location is not available for China Southern Airlines passengers), and then board a bus direct to Shenzhen airport. This in-town check-in is completely separate from the in-town check-in provided for Hong Kong International Airport. Take the escalators up from the AE/MTR station to 1/F of the Elements Mall, turn right, and then it is opposite Starbucks. The bus uses the new western passage immigration facilities where both Hong Kong SAR and Chinese immigration formalities are completed under one roof. The cost of the service is $100 and the bus is advertised to take 75 minutes, but is more like 100 minutes in reality. Buses currently run every half an hour from 06:30 to 19:00 at Hong Kong side, and from 10:00 to 21:00 at Shenzhen side.
Macau International Airport
Because of higher fees at Hong Kong International Airport, it is often cheaper to fly out of Macau International Airport (IATA:MFM)
. Air Asia
has set up a hub at Macau and flies to destinations such as Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Macau International Airport is easily reached by ferry from Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and Hong Kong International Airport. With the Express Link
service, you can even transfer directly from airport to ferry (or vice versa) without going through Macau immigration.