Hong Kong International Airport (香港國際機場 HKG IATA), also known as Chek Lap Kok Airport (赤鱲角機場) (after the island upon which the airport sits), is located just off Lantau Island in western Hong Kong. In 2018, it was the 8th busiest airport worldwide by passenger traffic.
Those who remember the daredevil approach of aircraft prior to landing at the old Kai Tak Airport don't need to guess why Hong Kong decided to build a new airport somewhere else. The Kai Tak Airport was the primary hub for air travel until the 1990s. With only a single runway, one terminal building too small, hills that made takeoff and landing tricky, and sharp turns at low altitude so close to high rise residential buildings that passengers could see residents eating dinners during landings were just a few of the drawbacks. Moreover, due to Kai Tak's proximity to residential areas, a curfew had to be in place in the late night and early morning hours, thus limiting its capacity.
A new airport was eventually built at Chek Lap Kok in the north of Lantau Island, joining three of its northern islands into what is now a world class airport. Designed by Sir Norman Foster, the airport opened in July 1998 and has since been named "World's Best Airport" by Skytrax eight times.
Hong Kong is a global aviation hub. Most major cities in Europe and North America are all served with at least one daily flight, and flights between Hong Kong and other major cities in Asia and Oceania are frequent. Cathay Pacific operates one of the longest air routes in the world, between Hong Kong and New York City (JFK). It is the primary hub for Hong Kong's flag carrier Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airlines and low-cost carrier Hong Kong Express.
Due to the special status of Hong Kong, flights to mainland Chinese cities are treated as international rather than domestic flights. As a result of the territory’s rather small size, all flights from the airport are international, and there are no domestic flights.
Check-In at MTR stations
If you have paid the fare for the Airport Express train, you can check-in your luggage and print boarding passes at the airport check-in desks at the Hong Kong and Kowloon MTR stations. Some airlines such as Cathay Pacific allow you to drop off your bags up to one day before travel and not have to deal with luggage as you enjoy your final day in Hong Kong. To enter the check-in areas, you must scan your airport express ticket or Octopus card and the fare will be deducted immediately. However, you do not need to enter the airport express station immediately. You can go and do other things, then the same ticket/card will give you free access to airport express on your next entry.
Each airline uses a specific check-in aisle:
- Aisle A:
- Aisle B: Cathay Dragon, Cathay Pacific
- Aisle C: Cathay Dragon, Cathay Pacific
- Aisle D: Air Busan, Air Canada, Air France, Air Mauritius, Air Seoul, Cathay Dragon, Cathay Pacific, Cebu Pacific Air, Etihad Airways, KLM, Royal Brunei, Turkish Airlines, Vietnam Airlines
- Aisle E: Aeroflot, All Nippon Airways (ANA), American Airlines, Asiana Airlines, EVA Air, Juneyao Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Nepal Airlines, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines, SpiceJet, Virgin Atlantic
- Aisle F: China Airlines, Fiji Airways, IndiGo, Lufthansa, Mandarin Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Spring Airlines, Swiss, Virgin Australia
- Aisle G: Air India, Air New Zealand, Air Niugini, Eastar Jet, EgyptAir, Emirates, Ethiopian, Finnair, Garuda Indonesia, Japan Airlines, Jeju Air, Jin Air, Korean Air, Lanmei Airlines, MIAT Mongolian Airlines, Royal Air Philippines, Shenzhen Airlines, United
- Aisle H: Bangkok Airways, HK Express, Malindo Airways, Myanmar National Airlines, Peach Aviation, Scandinavian Airlines, T'way Air, Thai Airways
- Aisle J: Air China, British Airways, China Eastern, China Southern, Finnair, Qantas, Shandong Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, Thai Smile Airways, Xiamen Airlines
- Aisle K: AirAsia, Hong Kong Airlines, Jetstar, Philippines AirAsia, Thai AirAsia
- Aisle L: Air Astana, El Al, Eznis Airways, Philippine Airlines, Scoot, VietJet Air
Hong Kong is one of the few major cities in the world where you can get between the city centre and the airport in less than 30 minutes via the Airport Express. There are also plenty of other cheaper options.
The Airport Express is the quickest, most comfortable way to travel between airport and city. Trains run every 10 min 6AM-12:45AM, taking about 30 min. For adults (aged 12+), single fares (which cover same-day return) are $70 to Tsing Yi, $105 to Kowloon, and $115 to Hong Kong Central Station. Returns valid for 30 days are $120, $185 and $205 respectively; fares for children aged 3-11 are about half. There's no ticket barrier at the airport, so you can just board and pay in the city. All stations have free porters to help you get heavy bags on and off of the train; there is no need to tip. If you travel with other people you can get a group discount if you buy your ticket from the staff at the counter. If you take a taxi to reach the airport express, you are entitled to a 50% discount when boarding in Tsing Yi and Kowloon. Tourist travel passes sometimes include a return journey on the Airport Express and some airlines sell duty-free tickets during the flights. A cheap way to get to Central is to take the Airport Express to Tsing Yi, and change to the Tung Chung MTR line, which costs in total $72.5 one-way or $135 return. A free connection from the Airport Express to the MTR is offered if you use the same Octopus Card to change from the Airport Express to the MTR at Central, Kowloon, or Tsing Yi stations. The transfer is free no matter which station you exit the MTR. Free transfers to shuttle buses to area hotels are also provided for users of the airport express.
Kowloon Station on the Airport Express line is located next to West Kowloon high-speed rail station and connected by pedestrian walkways, making it easy to transfer from the airport to a high-speed train if you intend to head elsewhere in the Pearl River Delta. The downside is that unlike taking a ferry from the airport, you do have to pass through Hong Kong customs and immigration to do this.
Tung Chung Line
If you want to save around $70, an alternative way is to take the S1 bus from the airline terminal to the nearby Tung Chung MTR station ($3.50, 15 minutes), where you can transfer to the Tung Chung MTR line to Kowloon ($18, 27 minutes) or Hong Kong ($24, 30 minutes). The Tung Chung line runs the same route as the Airport Express except it terminates at the Tung Chung station and has four additional stops. The MTR system has luggage restrictions and in any case, carrying luggage on the MTR may be cumbersome. This method will take about 45-60 minutes more than the Airport Express.
Buses are cheap ($10-40), more scenic, have longer operating hours but are slower. Depending on where you are going, they may be more convenient than the trains and some routes run 24 hours (unlike the Airport Express). A complete list of airport buses is available online. There is also an information board at the airport bus terminal. Two companies run buses from the airport: Citybus ('CityFlyer') and Long Win. Buses travel over the scenic Tsing Ma Bridge, the seventh-longest suspension bridge in the world. Buses with routes beginning with "A" (Airbus) (cost: $20-40) have free Wi-Fi internet and take a more direct route than buses with routes beginning with the letter "E" (External) (cost: $10-20), which travel via the cargo terminals and airport offices. Buses with routes beginning with "S" (cost: $3-4) are shuttle buses: the S1 bus operates bus service to the closest MTR station. Bus route "B4" is for cross-border and stops at Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities of the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge. This route is particularly useful if you are heading towards Macau or Zhuhai. Finally, bus routes beginning with "N" are overnight routes. They tend to be more expensive, less frequent and take a less direct route (often going through cargo area, airline catering section and mail centre) before heading for the highway.
Taxis are a relatively expensive option, with a journey from the airport to Central costing $250-350. The taxi area is clearly signposted near the Airport Express and has separate queues next for each taxi colour:
- Red taxis are for destinations on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, although they are also allowed to go to the local town of Tung Chung as well as Disneyland on Lantau island. If you are going to Hong Kong Island, asking the driver to use the "Western Harbour Crossing" will avoid congestion, but will result in an additional $50 toll charge.
- Green taxis are restricted to the New Territories (other than Lantau Island)
- Blue taxis serve Lantau Island only. Useful for quickly getting to local Lantau sights before your flight, although there are not many of them and often there are none waiting at the airport. It is easier to hail a blue taxi at the nearby Tung Chung
The information desk after customs can provide you with an estimate to your hotel and maps to show the driver. See official taxi fare table. The rates for blue and green taxis are cheaper than red taxis.
Do not take private cars and vans operating as illegal taxis since they are not licensed and in case of accidents, your insurance will not cover you. Generally they are operated by non-Chinese and will be in white or black vans, rather than the ubiquitous blue and red Toyota Crown Comforts. They will approach you inside the airport.
Taxi queues are available at both Kowloon and Hong Kong stations, although the queues are very long at weekends.
There are no ferry services from the airport to destinations in Hong Kong. However, Turbojet ($254, 50 minutes) and Cotai Water Jet ($270) operate services directly to Macau. Additional destinations include Dongguan, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Zhongshan.
To get to the ferries after you land, do not go through Hong Kong customs and immigration. Instead, follow the signs for "Ferries to Mainland/Macao" to find the ticket counter, where you can buy your ticket with credit card or cash (HKD; RMB are accepted at the unfavorable rate of 1 RMB=1 HKD). There are currency exchange places on the way to the ferry ticket counter. You need to show your boarding pass to buy the ticket. If you have checked luggage, present your baggage stub when buying the ticket and they will transfer your luggage for you—in this case you have to buy your ferry ticket 60 minutes before the ferry departs (in other words, leave yourself a solid 90 minutes between landing and the ferry departure). When it's time to board, you can travel directly to SkyPier for your ferry without having to pass through Hong Kong immigration at all.
Again, if you're taking the ferry, don't go through immigration or collect your luggage—the staff will collect your luggage for you once you buy the ticket and give them the baggage stub. If you do pass through immigration by mistake then the train journey to the Hong Kong ferry terminal will take you about another hour (with a significant connecting walk between trains in Central station), so taking this direct ferry is a great option.
The ferries to Macau from the airport only run a few times a day. If they are not convenient for your schedule, you can take TurboJET's Premier Plus service. ($461) Buy this at the same counter before Hong Kong immigration. This departs much more frequently (every 30-60 minutes) and includes car transfer to the Sheung Wan ferry terminal, ferry to Macau, then car transfer to any location of your choice in Macau. Food and drink on the ferry is included in the price. Staff will accompany you all they way and carry your luggage for you. You will need to pass Hong Kong immigration so ensure you have the correct documents.
Ferries to Shenzhen stop at either Shekou (the city's main ferry terminal) or Fuyong Ferry Terminal. This second option is located close to Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport and connected by a 5 min shuttle bus ride. This makes it a convenient option if you need to connect between flights at Hong Kong and Shenzhen airports. Be sure to give yourself ample time to make any connections, preferably at least 6 hours between your two flights. Prices as of 2019: HK$220 to Shekou, $295 to Fuyong, $340 from Shekou to HKIA, and $360 from Fuyong to HKIA. When taking the ferry to the airport, you can collect a departure tax refund after getting off—HK$120 as of 2019.
Car rental services are provided in the airport complex. They provide airport pickup and drop off services and can be booked prior to the flight.
Chauffeur service is an expensive way to travel to and from the airport, which is dedicated to business travellers, and it ranges from $400 to $1000. Services feature a point-to-point travel by luxury cars or MPVs. Services are usually provided by bank credit card concierges, hotels and airlines. Chauffeur service usually requires advanced booking and individual price quoting. Drivers will meet at the exit of the arrival hall and hold a card with your name. Never ride cars of those who ask you in the airport. They are illegal and accidents are not covered by insurance.
Terminal 1 consists of a large Y-shaped pier, with check-in and security located at the bottom of the "Y". All check-in counters are located at Terminal 1. After security, your flight may board from Terminal 1, the Midfield Concourse, or the North Satellite Concourse. An automated people mover runs between the east and west ends of Terminal 1, and to the Midfield Concourse. A shuttle bus is provided for passengers heading to the North Satellite Concourse. Terminal 2 closed in 2019 for redevelopment.
- Cathay Pacific has 4 lounges spread around the airport. All Cathay Pacific lounges feature a noodle bar where you can order noodle dishes such as their signature dan dan noodles. 'The Pier' lounge near Gate 62 is the largest, and offers showers, barista coffee and gourmet tea blends by London-based luxury tea brand Jing. Generally lounges open at 5:30AM and close at 12:30AM, though 'The Wing', near Gate 1, remains open until 2AM. All lounges are open to Cathay Pacific Business and First Class passengers as well as select Marco Polo Club and oneworld members, although 'The Wing' and 'The Pier' have portions set up exclusively for First Class passengers.
- The Bridge.
- The Deck. Cathay's newest lounge.
- The Pier.
- The Wing.
- Hong Kong Airlines operates the Club Bauhinia lounge near Gate 23.
- SkyTeam operates a lounge near Gate 8 for first and business class passengers travelling with airlines in the alliance, as well as travellers with SkyTeam Elite Plus status travelling on SkyTeam airlines.
- Qantas has a large lounge with showers, food, internet terminals and plenty of drink.
- Thai Airways has a Royal Orchid Lounge near Gate 40
- Singapore Airlines has a SilverKris Lounge near Gate 5
- Emirates operates an Emirates Lounge near Gate 30
- Plaza Premium Lounge. 2 pay-per-use lounges airside, one near Gate 1 and one near Gate 40, which are also available to people with membership in programmes such as Diners' Club and Priority Pass. All lounges feature a noodle bar where you can order hot dishes, including their signature fish ball noodles. 2 hours $580, 1 hour shower and breakfast package $280.
- American Express Centurion lounge. American Express operates a Centurion lounge that is available to people with American Express Platinum or Centurion credit cards.
- United Club (near gate 61), ☏ . 6AM-midnight.
Hong Kong International Airport is known for housing a number of renowned eateries, some of them of Michelin quality. Virtually all of them, however, are landside. There are restaurants airside as well, but most of them fast food parlours such as McDonald's.
There are drinking water fountains in the departures area. A few of these are machines that offer a choice of cold, warm or boiling water.
- Ho Hung Kee (何洪記粥面專家), Arrivals Hall, Arrivals Level (L5), Terminal 1 (Non-restricted area/landside), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 6AM-midnight. A branch of the famous Ho Hung Kee restaurant in Causeway Bay, this eatery was awarded one Michelin star in 2010. The place is most prized for its noodles, especially for its beef chow foon and wonton noodles, but also offers an extraordinary selection of Cantonese food in general. If you arrive at Terminal 1, Ho Hung Kee is strongly recommended. HK$51-100.
- Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao (翡翠拉面小籠包), Arrivals Hall, Arrivals Level (L5), Terminal 1 (Non-restricted area/landside), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 6:30AM - midnight. Crystal Jade is a chain Shanghai restaurant that has been, at one point, included in the Michelin Guide for Hong Kong and Macau, although without receiving a star. The place offers a variety of Shanghainese foods, but is most famous for its Xiao Long Bao (juicy pork dumplings) and noodles. If you need a break from Cantonese food, you may give this place a try. HK$101-200.
- 1 Yung Kee (鏞記), Food Court near Gate 40-80, Departures Level (L6), Terminal 1 (Restricted area/airside), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 11AM - 11PM. An outlet of the once Michelin one-starred restaurant Yung Kee in Central, the place is prized for its charcoal-roasted goose and Cantonese double-stewed soups. However, besides its goose, Yung Kee is also well known for preserving traditional and authentic Cantonese flavors. If you need to eat airside and have money to burn, Yung Kee should be your top priority. HK$200–500.
Hong Kong has no duty on most goods besides alcohol, therefore the concept of duty-free in the airport is rather meaningless. Nevertheless there is the usual selection of luxury brands on the air side, as well as opportunities for last-minute souvenirs such as Chinese cookies and a large Disney store.
If you need to pick up any last-minute necessities before going through security, you can visit the shops just beyond the Terminal 1 check-in desks. This area has a variety of shops selling useful travel goods, e.g. toiletries and medication (Mannings), light snacks (7-Eleven), or fresh clothing (Muji).
- Internet terminals: The airport has 100 desktop computers offering free internet access. Most of these are at 36 locations, airside, at the Departures Level of Terminal 1 as well as the Midfield Concourse. There are also six computers at the Departures Level of the North Satellite Concourse. As of August 2013 the terminals can be faulty and slow and the browsers do not work properly with some websites.
- Post office: There is an efficient post office in the airport, providing boxes, wrapping material, scissors, and tape. Mailing items is sometimes cheaper and easier than paying airline baggage fees.
- Telephones: There are more than 150 pay phones and courtesy phones at the airport.
- WiFi: There is a free Wi-Fi facility (after accepting terms and conditions) and a hotline (2188 7799). The WiFi is throughout the air-side areas and has a fast connection speed. The WiFi SSID is "#HKAirport Free WiFi". The Internet in Hong Kong is not censored by China's "Great Firewall", and you can freely access websites that are blocked in China, such as Google, YouTube, and Wikipedia.
Services at Hong Kong International Airport are generally far better, or at least on par, with those at other major international airports. If you need help, visit one of the 11 customer service centres, approach an Airport Ambassador, or pick up one of the 220 courtesy phones located throughout the terminal.
- Baggage packing: Terminals 1 has a fast and efficient service to wrap up your baggage in cardboard or clingfilm and strap it up. Very useful if your airline restricts the items of baggage you can check in. A typical boxing costs around HK$230.
- Chemist (drugstore): There are two 'Mannings' stores airside in the airport, each of which stock medicine, baby milk powder and chocolate. If you need any of these then one store is near the north immigration gate, and the other is next to Gate 60.
- Clinic: The Airport Medical Centre is a privately run facility open 24 hours. It is in the non-restricted area of Terminal 1.
- Hospital: In case of emergency, dial 999. The nearest hospital to the airport is the North Lantau Hospital, in nearby Tung Chung New Town. It is a modern public hospital with a 24-hour accident and emergency centre. Hospitals offer service in Cantonese and English, while the Hospital Authority also offers an interpretation service for other languages on demand.
- Left luggage: 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 is open from 6AM to 1AM. There is another left luggage facility close to the bus station between Terminals 1 and 2. If you are travelling by Airport Express, there are luggage storage facilities in both Kowloon and Hong Kong stations, which are more convenient for those who plan to use the in-town check-in service.
- Lost property: The Airport Lost and Found office is located in Arrivals Hall A, Level 5, Terminal 1 (a non-restricted area). It is open from 7 a.m. to midnight.
- Nursing rooms: The airport has 39 nursing rooms equipped with changing and feeding facilities.
- Police: In case of emergency, dial 999. For non-emergency reports, call the Airport Police Station directly on 3661 2000 or visit the airport's Police Reporting Centre, located in the Check-in Hall of Terminal 1 at the end of Aisle D.
- Prayer rooms: There are prayer rooms in the departures area. These are completely devoid of any religious symbols, and can appear clinically bland.
- Showers: For arrival or in-transit passengers, there are free shower rooms located in Terminal 1 on the arrivals level. There are two such shower facilities: one near gate 12 and another near gate 43. These are open 24 hours a day.
- Smoking: Smoking in the airport is prohibited by law, except for in the smoking lounges in the restricted area of Terminal 1. At busy times you may have to wait to get in.
Staff are tolerant of passengers sleeping in the airport. Airside is safer and more comfortable than landside.
There are three hotels in the immediate vicinity of the airport. Via the Airport Express train, you can access more hotels in central Hong Kong very quickly.
- Regal Airport Hotel (富豪機場酒店), No. 9 Cheong Tat Road, ☏ . Connected to the terminal building via an enclosed footbridge. With 1,171 guestrooms, this hotel was the largest in Hong Kong when it opened in 1999. It also hosts a large conference centre, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, restaurants, and bars.
- Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott (香港天際萬豪酒店), No. 1 Sky City Road East, ☏ . Located beside AsiaWorld-Expo, an exhibition centre on the airport island. A complimentary shuttle service runs between the airport and hotel. Alternately you can take a taxi (HK$24), or travel one stop on the Airport Express (HK$5, two minutes) to AsiaWorld-Expo Station and then walk 200-300 metres. This hotel has 658 rooms and features five restaurants, a coffee shop, a bar, a spa, and a fitness centre that includes an indoor swimming pool.
- Novotel Citygate (諾富特東薈城酒店), No. 51 Man Tung Road, ☏ . Located in Tung Chung New Town, this hotel offers a complimentary shuttle service that runs at 15-minute intervals. The hotel is also a 10-minute taxi ride away, or you can also take franchised bus route S1 ($3.5) from the airport bus station to the terminus at Tung Chung Railway Station and then walk through the Citygate shopping centre, to which the hotel is attached.
In addition to the Novotel Citygate, there are several new hotels under construction in Tung Chung. The 206-room Silveri Hong Kong, operated by French hotel company AccorHotels, is expected to open in early 2020 as part of an expansion to the CityGate shopping centre. In addition, the "Sheraton Hong Kong Tung Chung Hotel" and "Four Points by Sheraton Hong Kong, Tung Chung" are expected to open in late 2019. Owned by a Shanghai-based conglomerate, the two hotels occupy a combined development in a somewhat inconvenient location near the Tung Chung waterfront, far from the MTR station. However, the airport is easily reached by taxi.
- Hong Kong, of course
- Lantau Island – take the cable car up to the Buddha statue or visit Disneyland.
- 1 AsiaWorld–Expo. A large exhibition and conference centre which is a few minutes walk from the terminal building. This hosts concerts and various trade exhibitions.