Hong Kong is an incredible city that is often considered a hub to many other destinations across the Asian continent.
Located on the southern coast of China, it is renowned for its stunning skyline, bustling streets, and awesome food scene. Dim sum anyone?
As a global financial hub, as well, Hong Kong is a melting pot of cultures and a center for international trade and commerce – making a Hong Kong stopover a necessity for many business travelers.
While the city is a special administrative region of China, its architecture, commerce, and way of life is a beautiful blend of both the East and the West. From towering skyscrapers to traditional temples, Hong Kong also offers a fascinating juxtaposition of old and new, which you can easily experience on a long layover in Hong Kong.
Its iconic attractions, such as Victoria Harbour and the Avenue of Stars, draw millions of visitors each year. With its unique blend of tradition and modernity, the city is an incredible destination for a family vacation or simply a long layover in Hong Kong.
Table of Contents
About Hong Kong International Airport
Hong Kong International Airport, located on Chek Lap Kok island, is one of the busiest and most efficient airports in the world. Since 1998, it has served as a major transportation hub connecting Hong Kong to over 220 destinations worldwide.
With state-of-the-art facilities, the airport has received numerous accolades and boasts one of the world’s largest passenger terminals, spanning an impressive 570,000 square meters.
Whether you are passing through on a Hong Kong layover or making the city your destination, the airport offers a wide range of amenities and services that you can utilize, including luxury shopping, diverse dining options, and comfortable lounges for travelers.
One of the first questions you might ask when you book a flight with a long layover in Hong Kong is “do you need a visa if you have a layover in Hong Kong?”
If you want to leave the airport and explore Hong Kong for a few hours, you will want to check the Hong Kong Visa policies for your respective country. However, there is a good chance you do not need a visa, if you live in one of the 170 countries that are granted visa free travel in Hong Kong for a certain period of time.
Unlike the transit visa you need in Mainland China, citizens of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and much of the EU do not need a visa to exit the airport and explore Hong Kong.
Storing luggage at the Hong Kong Airport
At Hong Kong International Airport, travelers who want to explore Hong Kong on a layover can store their luggage securely and efficiently after they pass through customs.
There is a staffed and dedicated baggage storage service where you can leave your bags for a few hours while you sightsee. The storage facility is located in the arrival hall on the far end of the airport.
There is a fee of approximately $2 USD ($14 HK) per bag per hour. You can pay with a credit card, so there is no need to take out any Hong Kong currency when you arrive.
It is conveniently located across from the entrance to the Airport Express, so travelers can quickly store their luggage and explore the city without the burden of carrying their bags.
Exiting the Airport
Once you clear customs, you can quickly get to your Hong Kong layover destination. While the customs process varies by season, year, and time of day, when we went to Hong Kong, the line at customs was short and moved efficiently.
If you have hired a tour guide, there is a designated place in the arrival terminal where you can meet your guide.
Depending on how much luggage you are traveling with, you may not have to store your luggage if you have a guide with a private car large enough for your bags.
If you plan to self-explore, you will want to take the Airport Express train after storing your bags or take a bus or taxi from the airport to your destination.
Taking the Airport Express
The Airport Express is a high-speed railway line that connects Hong Kong International Airport with the city center. The journey from the airport to Central Station takes just 24 minutes, making it the fastest way to travel to the heart of Hong Kong.
The Airport Express also stops at Kowloon Station and Tsing Yi Station, where you can transfer to other public transportation options to get to different areas of the city.
Tickets for the Airport Express can be purchased online, at the airport, or at any MTR station. The train runs every 10 minutes and costs approximately $23 USD for adults for a round trip ticket. Kids’ tickets are half price.
What to do during a long layover in Hong Kong
You’ve arrived in Hong Kong, made it through customs, and have entered the arrival terminal. Where do you go next? Here are a few options for things to do during a Hong Kong layover, and the amount of time you will likely need.
Hong Kong long layover option 1: Victoria Peak
The Victoria Peak Tram is perhaps one of Hong Kong’s most visited attractions. Luckily, it is easy to visit during a long layover. Take the Airport Express to Hong Kong Station.
From there, you can walk approximately 20 minutes, mostly through a high end shopping area and a series of covered bridges that cross Hong Kong’s busy streets.
The tram takes you up to The Peak, where you can get sweeping views of the skyscraper-filled city and the lovely Victoria Harbour. At the top of the tram, there are also restaurants and shops where you can find souvenirs or enjoy some local cuisine.
It is important to note that the amount of time needed for this layover option will vary depending on the time of day.
The queue can be extremely long in the late afternoon and evening hours. But, the tram opens at 7am, and if you visit first thing in the morning, the line is typically less than 5 minutes.
Your layover should be at least 8 hours in Hong Kong for this option.
Hong Kong Layover option 2: Victoria Harbour Boat Ride
An alternative to taking the tram up to Victoria Peak would be to explore Hong Kong by water. Take the Airport Express to Hong Kong Station then head to the Star Ferry Pier to board a boat. Alternatively, some tours leave from Kowloon Public Pier.
Taking a boat ride on the Victoria Harbour is one of the best ways to experience Hong Kong. The harbor is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in the city.
There are a variety of boat tours available, from short 30-minute cruises to longer 2-hour dinner cruises, depending on how much time you have during your Hong Kong layover and the time of day your flight arrives.
You can choose to ride a traditional Chinese junk boat, a modern ferry, or even a glass-bottomed boat. You’ll want to book your tickets in advance if you are traveling during peak season.
No matter what type of boat you choose, you’re sure to be amazed by the views of the city skyline. The harbor is especially beautiful at night, when the skyscrapers are all lit up.
Your layover should be at least 8 hours in Hong Kong for this option.
Long layover in Hong Kong option 3: Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery
Lantau Island is another great place to explore during your Hong Kong long layover. Most notably the Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery are popular tourist attractions on the island.
The Tian Tan Buddha, or Big Buddha, is one of the largest bronze Buddha statues in the world. Situated next to Po Lin Monastery, you can take a taxi from the airport to Tung Chung Station and take the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car up to the Buddha and Monastery.
The cable car ride takes approximately 25 minutes. If you’re short on time, you could skip the cable car ride and take a taxi directly to Ngong Ping Village.
Spend some time exploring the monastery and Buddha, and take in the amazing views of Lantau Island. If you have time, you can also visit the Wisdom Path, a short walking trail with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains.
Your layover should be at least 10 hours in Hong Kong for this option.
Long Layover Hong Kong option 4: Customized Guided Tour
A guided tour is perhaps the easiest and least stressful way to visit Hong Kong on a layover. You’ll have a guide meet you at the airport, drive you around to where you want to go, provide local insight on Hong Kong’s history and culture, and ensure you are back at the airport in time for your connection.
Whether you want to visit the Victoria Harbour and The Peak, see the Big Buddha, or go food tasting, your guide can arrange a tour for you that fits your schedule.
And without having to rely on public transportation or self-navigate around a city that is foreign to you, you’ll save time and maximize your layover.
Your layover should be at least 6-10 hours in Hong Kong for this option.
Long Layover in Hong Kong option 5: Shopping!
Hong Kong is a shopping paradise, with bustling street markets and high-end luxury boutiques coexisting side by side. There are a few key places to go during a Hong Kong layover if you want to shop until you drop.
- Temple Street Night Market: This is a must-visit for any shopper who loves a bargain, however it requires your long layover in Hong Kong to be during the evening hours. The market is open every night, and you’ll find everything from clothes and electronics to food and souvenirs.
- Tsim Sha Tsui: This is another popular shopping district, with a mix of high-end and budget stores. You’ll also find a number of street markets here, where you can haggle for souvenirs and bargains. Within the district you’ll also find the Harbour City Mall. This is a large shopping mall with over 1,000 stores. You’ll find everything from high-end fashion to affordable homewares here.
You’ll want to take the Airport Express to Kowloon Station to visit the night market or Tsim Sha Tsui. It is about a 17 minute walk from the station to the night market or a 30 minute walk to Harbour City and Tsim Sha Tsui. Buses also run to both which cuts the time in half.
If you have more time to spend during your layover, book a visit to the Sky 100 Observation deck for awesome views of the city. The attraction is located near Kowloon Station.
Your layover should be at least 6 hours in Hong Kong for this option.
Long Layover in Hong Kong option 6: Relax and Refresh
Finally, if you are exhausted when you arrive in Hong Kong, there is no shame in taking it easy, relaxing in the airport, paying for lounge access for the day, or booking a day room or a night room at the transit hotel to shower, sleep, or simply relax during your layover.
In fact, one of the best things to do on a long layover anywhere is to recover from your journey and try to combat jet lag so you will arrive at your final destination feeling rejuvenated and ready to hit the ground running.
FAQs about a Hong Kong layover
If you’re flying to or from one of the many popular destinations in Asia for a family vacation and have a long layover in Hong Kong, here are a few frequently asked questions about a Hong Kong layover that will help you decide what to do during your time there.
Is there a hotel at the Hong Kong airport?
Connected to the airport by an enclosed bridge, the hotel provides suites, standard double rooms and even family rooms with 2 or 3 beds for larger families who want to relax and catch some zzz’s during their layover.
Whether you have an overnight layover in Hong Kong or want to book a day room for up to 10 hours during your layover, you can do so.
Where do you store your luggage during a layover at the Hong Kong airport?
One of the best things about a layover at the Hong Kong Airport is that you don’t have to bring your bags with you if you leave the airport for a few hours to sightsee. After you get through customs, there is a convenient luggage storage area on the far end of the airport.
Follow the posted signage to the luggage storage room. You’ll need to show your passport, and there is an hourly fee for storage of approximately $2 USD per bag.
What is the best guided tour from the Hong Kong Airport?
There are numerous tour companies that offer guided tours around Hong Kong for those who have a long layover in Hong Kong.
This tour comes highly recommended for those with 8-10 hours in Hong Kong. It takes you to some of the best attractions in Hong Kong and includes transportation to and from the airport. If you only have 6 to 8 hours in Hong Kong, this tour might be better suited for you.
Can you leave the airport during a layover in Hong Kong?
Depending on the length of your Hong Kong layover, you can absolutely leave the airport and get a taste of the city.
We wouldn’t recommend leaving the airport, however, for a layover shorter than 5 hours. Too much can go wrong and it leaves no room for error. And with any layover, you do not want to miss your connecting flight.
By the time you clear customs and account for the time it will take to go back through security when you return to the airport, a layover less than 5 hours does not leave you enough time to leave the airport.
We personally had an 8 hour layover in Hong Kong on our way to Bangkok for a 2 week trip to Thailand with kids. During that layover we had plenty of time to leave the airport, go up the Victoria Peak tram, get back to the airport and still visit a lounge for a complimentary breakfast.
How much time do you need to visit Hong Kong on a layover?
Ideally, you will need at least 8 hours during your Hong Kong airport layover to get through customs, explore the city for a bit, and return to the airport in time to go through security and get to your gate without any stress.
You can explore the city with less time – say 6 hours, for example. But if you have a layover in Hong Kong that is less than 8 hours, we would highly recommend booking a guided tour that will pick you up, take you around to a tourist attraction or two, and drop you back off at the airport.
What is there to do in the Hong Kong Airport?
There are a lot of things to do at the Hong Kong International Airport for those who don’t want to bother with leaving the airport or going into the city.
The airport has more than 20 lounges, many of which are available for Priority Pass holders. In the lounges you can find complimentary food, drinks, and alcohol, cozy chairs, and often showers!
Within the airport, you’ll also find plenty of restaurants serving local and international cuisine, shops – both high-end and souvenir stores, and even a children’s play area where little ones can get moving for a while before your next flight.
Like it? Pin this Hong Kong long layover guide to save it for later!
Have a question about what to do during a long layover in Hong Kong or any of these Hong Kong layover options? We’d love to hear from you! Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Did you know…
When you make a purchase or book hotels, tours, or other travel services, through our links, we receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. We only EVER recommend service providers, websites, or products we personally use when booking our own travels. Your support enables us to keep producing helpful travel content. Thank you!