Planning a flight with a layover at Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)? If you have over 5 hours to venture outside the airport, Hong Kong is very worthy of a visit.
Here is a complete guide for stopping over in Hong Kong, from where to store your luggage to visa exemption and what you can do.
- Things to Know During a Hong Kong Layover
- Top Things to Do During a Layover
- Plan China Tours from Hong Kong
- Hotel Options for Your Layover
- How to Get from the Airport to the Downtown Area
- Customize a Hassle-Free Hong Kong Layover Tour
Things to Know Before Leaving the Airport During a Hong Kong Layover
Whether You Need a Visa or Not
Before you make the decision to leave the airport, you should look into what your visa situation will be.
The citizens of over 170 countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Canada, and Germany, can visit Hong Kong without a visa, which will allow them to leave the airport easily during their layover.
Nationals of other countries, such as Albania, Armenia, and Cambodia, require a visa to enter Hong Kong. Learn more about a Hong Kong visa.
Steps to Leave the Airport
For a layover, instead of going to your next gate like a normal transfer, go through immigration and the airport exit. Here are the steps for reference:
- 1. Pass through immigration with your passport and visa if needed.
- 2. Store your luggage, if any, for a burden-free visit.
- 3. Get your boarding pass for your connecting flight if you are traveling with two different airlines.
- 4. Exchange some cash.
- 5. Leave the airport and head to the attractions.
Double-check whether your luggage is checked through to your next destination or needs to be picked up between your connecting flights. If you don't want to take your luggage with you, you can store it at the airport.
A secure short-term baggage storage facility is located on Level 3 of Terminal 2 and is open every day between 5:30am and 1:30am. The storage rates are HK$12/hour (US$1.50/hour) or HK$140/day (US$18/day).
It is easy to find a currency exchange service inside the Arrivals Hall at Hong Kong International Airport. You need some cash for public transportation and taxis. Credit cards can be used in most places, such as shopping malls and restaurants.
Top Things to Do During a Layover in Hong Kong
If your layover is less than 5 hours, you are not recommended to leave the airport as it takes at least 45 minutes to travel to and from Hong Kong International Airport, and you will need to return 2 hours before your next flight. HKG airport has free Wi-Fi, restaurants, and duty-free shops. You will be fully entertained.
Here are some of the best things to do if you have a 2-hour, 4-hour, 6-hour, 8-hour, 12-hour, or an overnight layover in Hong Kong. We have listed the top 30 things to do in Hong Kong and select the best things for you.
1. 2-Hour Layover in Hong Kong
If you only have a stopover period of 2 to 3 hours in Hong Kong, we recommend that you spend your time in the airport. Hong Kong International Airport is one of the world's best airports. It provides a large variety of shops and restaurants, together with a few entertainment facilities.
Apart from shopping and eating, you can have fun at UA IMAX Theatre and Aviation Discovery Centre.
UA IMAX Theatre
UA IMAX Theatre is the largest IMAX giant screen in Hong Kong. The theater is designed and positioned to maximize each audience's field of view. You will be impressed by the world's most immersive movie experience either watching IMAX 2D or IMAX 3D movies.
- Address: Level 6, Terminal 2
- Open: 11am–10pm (Monday–Friday), 9:30am–10pm (Saturday and Sunday)
Aviation Discovery Centre
The Aviation Discovery Centre (ADC) tracks aviation history in Hong Kong through themed exhibits and attractions including the SkyDeck and Cockpit Simulator. It offers you an opportunity to discover fascinating aviation related topics.
- Address: Level 6, Terminal 2
- Open: 11am–10pm (Monday–Friday), 9:30am–10pm (Saturday and Sunday)
2. 4-Hour Layover in Hong Kong: Shopping in Malls Near the Airport
If you love shopping and do not want to miss the "Shopping Heaven" of Hong Kong, you can use your limited time to shop in two shopping malls near the airport: Citygate Outlets and Maritime Square.
Citygate Outlets is the largest outlet mall in Hong Kong and home to over 90 international brands for fashion, beauty, accessories, and household items. It offers year-round discounts of 30% to 70%. Apart from shopping, you can also enjoy a spa treatment, see a movie, or taste some food.
How to get there: It can be reached from the airport in approximately 10 minutes via the S1 or S64 bus services.
Maritime Square is the first shopping mall with a unique ocean theme in Hong Kong. With over a hundred shops and restaurants, it provides all you need by offering a dynamic and energetic one-stop shopping experience.
How to get there: You can take the Airport Express and get off at Tsing Yi Railway Station. It takes about 35 minutes.
3. 6-Hour Layover in Hong Kong
If you have 6 hours in Hong Kong, these are two of Hong Kong's most popular attractions for you to visit:
Option 1: Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island
Po Lin Monastery is a famous Buddhist monastery known for having the world's largest sitting Buddha statue. Your trip will be enriched with a scenic cable car ride and some hiking opportunities.
A visually spectacular 25-minute ride over nearly 6 kilometers crosses Tung Chung Bay and climbs over 500 meters to Ngong Ping and the Big Buddha. Vistas of the South China Sea and rolling grassland slopes of Lantau's country parks replace the urban backdrop as the ride offers a breathtaking panorama of Lantau Island.
At the end of the line is the largest outdoor, seated bronze Buddha in the world and a 360-degree view of Ngong Ping plateau. See one of our Lantau Island tours for inspiration.
The distance between Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) and Po Lin Monastery is 29 kilometers. You can travel by subway and get off at Tung Chung Station, and then take the New Lantau bus 23 to Ngong Ping. Alternatively, book a prepackaged tour with us, which will include a private transfer and a private guide.
Option 2: Victoria Harbour and the Star Ferry
If you want to experience the iconic Hong Kong skyline, a typical short layover plan is to take the Airport Express to Hong Kong Station, then enjoy a Star Ferry ride at Victoria Harbour to admire Hong Kong's grandeur, and then walk along the Avenue of Stars.
If you happen to be visiting in the evening (and know your plans well in advance), you can leave some time to catch A Symphony of Lights, which is renowned as being the best light show in the world.
4. 8-Hour Layover in Hong Kong
If you have about 8 hours to spare before your connecting flight, you can consider exploring the downtown areas and doing some sightseeing.
Victoria Peak is a must–see attraction in Hong Kong. It is the best place to enjoy the panoramic view of the harbor.
The best way up to Victoria Peak is by riding on the tram but the queue for the tram is often very long. If your time is tight and travel independently, we suggest you take a taxi to go up to Victoria Peak and a taxi down so that you do not have to spend time waiting for the tram.
Our Hong Kong Island Half-Day Tour can help you enjoy this place smoothly and comfortably. Your guide can buy a tram ticket in advance and help to shorten your waiting time. If your time is tight
5. 12-Hour Layover in Hong Kong: Enjoy a Hong Kong Highlights Tour
In addition to the above, here's what you can add on if you have a 12-hour layover in Hong Kong, and you can select one or two of them:
- Take a junk trip to explore a fishing village at Aberdeen and enjoy lunch in a floating restaurant.
- Taste dim sum at Hong Kong's cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant, Tim Ho Wan. You can find the restaurant in IFC Mall in Central.
- If you are interested in Chinese culture, you can visit Wong Tai Sin Temple.
- If you want to do some cheap shopping and explore local neighborhoods in Hong Kong, spend some time in a street market, such as Stanley Market in Stanley or Ladies' Market in Mong Kok.
- See more recommendations when you read about the Top 30 Things to Do in Hong Kong.
Here is a sample tour, for your reference:
In the morning, you can reach Hong Kong's symbol, Victoria Peak, for a bird's-eye view of Hong Kong Island. Then take some time to stroll around Repulse Bay, which is one of the most beautiful beaches in Hong Kong, or hunt for bargains at Stanley Market.
Here are more Hong Kong sample tours for inspiration. You just tell us your interests and budget, and we will tailor-make a tour for you.
6. Overnight Layover in Hong Kong
If you have an overnight layover in Hong Kong, you should take the opportunity to explore Hong Kong's nightlife. Here are some ideas for your reference, from admiring the night view to shopping and dining.
- Go to the Avenue of Stars to watch A Symphony of Lights, a dazzling display of lights and lasers across the Hong Kong skyline. Get there before 8pm. It is free.
- Explore Temple Street Night Market to delve into the nightlife of Hong Kong. It is a great place to taste some local snacks and buy cheap clothing and souvenirs.
- Want to spend some time in a bar or club? Go to Lan Kwai Fong (LKF), which is Hong Kong's party district full of bars and clubs.
7. When Traveling with Your Kids
If you're traveling with kids, these activities can make your layover in Hong Kong more colorful:
- Spend a full day in Hong Kong Disneyland or Ocean Park Hong Kong.
- Visit interactive museums, such as the Hong Kong Space Museum.
- Enjoy some leisure time in Repulse Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches in Hong Kong.
- Learn about the top things to do with kids in Hong Kong.
8. If You Plan to Visit Macau
It is no problem for most foreign tourists to Hong Kong to enter Macau without a visa. Check whether you need a visa or not.
It is convenient to travel from Hong Kong International Airport to Macau. SkyPier at the airport provides speedy ferry services for transfer passengers. Direct shuttle buses starting from the airport take you to Macau via the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge.
China Tours from Hong Kong
As the main international flight hub and with a convenient transportation network to the mainland, Hong Kong is an excellent gateway city for a China tour.
By taking advantage of the 72/144-hour visa-free transit policy in China, you can enjoy a visit to Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guilin, or other cities that apply this policy. Here are visa-free itineraries for inspiration:
- 4-Day Beijing Private Tour
- 5-Day Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou Bullet Train Tour
- 3-Day Guilin and Yangshuo Tour
It's important to note that under this visa-free transit policy when you leave the mainland, you cannot directly return to Hong Kong. You need to travel to another country or a third region, such as Macau.
If you have more time for an in-depth tour of the Chinese Mainland, applying for a tourist visa is the best option. When booking a tour with us, we can provide you with an invitation letter for visa application purposes.
It is also possible to apply for a China visa after entering Hong Kong, which generally takes 4 working days. Here are some popular China itineraries:
- 2-Week Beijing – Xi'an – Zhangjiajie – Guilin/Yangshuo – Shanghai Tour
- 2-Week Beijing – Xi'an – Lhasa - Shanghai
- 12-Day Shanghai– Beijing– Hong Kong–Guangzhou–Zhangjiajie
- See more on 10 Top China Tours from Hong Kong
Further reading: China Itineraries from Hong Kong for 1 Week to 3 Weeks
We would solve the problem of planning a complex trip in an unfamiliar region, saving your time and effort while ensuring that your travel needs and desires are met. Just contact us to book a tour by telling us your requirements.
13 days in China
We booked a 13 day’s tour of China with China Highlights. Our travel advisor, Ms Leah Zhou organised an itinerary that suited what we wanted. She was really helpful and patient will all our needs. Leah helped us organised our 30th Wedding Anniversary Dinner and my 60th Birthday celebration?? in Beijing. For this to be possible, she had to liaise with our guide in Beijing. The flowers and cake were a real surprise. My husband and I, were really touched at the good service provided by China Highlights and Ms Leah Zhou. Thank you China Highlights and Ms Leah Zhou for your constant care of your customers. I will certainly recommend China Highlights to my friends.more
Nov 2023, Eda Adams
Do Beijing like a local
They organised my trip very quickly and efficiently. On the day, Anna was very friendly to me, my mum and my baby. Very accommodating to our needs. The car was immaculately clean and very comfortable. We visited everything we initially wanted and more. Also, Anna took us to the best meal we had in China. It makes a difference to have a local choosing the dishes!more
Nov 2023, Natali A
Beijing 2 day tour
Spent 2 days in Beijing with Ethan as my guide and had a fantastic experience. Ethan is very knowledgeable, easy company and takes excellent photographs. The organisation was excellent as well including the driver for the tour as well the airport pick up.more
Nov 2023, Tam
Excellent Two Weeks Across China
We used Asia Highlights (China Highlights in China) to help plan two weeks across China: Beijing, Xian, Guilin, a Yangtze cruise and Shanghai. Albee helped put it all together and was a huge help. She was very responsive and all the guides in each city were excellent! The hotels were perfect. We would definitely use the company once again for other trips to Asia.more
Oct 2023, Charles
Great Experience with China Highlights
Over at Beijing, Angela met us at the train station and ensured we were well settled in our hotel. We spent 2 days with her as our Guide. Angela is well informed and also adapted the itinerary to cover areas we wanted to take advantage off, e.g. apple picking at the orchard! The driver we had on both legs were good and friendly.more
Oct 2023, Edwin
China Round Trip in October 2023 Family FT & G Braun from Germany
Here in Beijing we got Jack as a tour guide who is very knowledgeable and supportive as well as flexible when there is a change in the program needed. Communication with him is easy as he is fluent in English. It is difficult to say which attraction is the greatest as all are outstanding being it the Forbidden City, the Great Wall or the Summer Palace as well as the Temple of Heaven. The driver, Mr. Hu needs also to be mentioned very positively as he politely took special care of us and his driving style was safe and patient with all the heavy traffic situations.more
Oct 2023, Franz-Theo Braun
I engaged Roger Li at China Highlights to arrange a One Day Beijing Tour for my clients from Brazil and the UK after our business meetings last week. Not only did the clients have a fantastic time visiting Tiananmen Square, Forbidden Palace and the Great Wall all in one day; but they came back with rave reviews on how well the day was organised and commented on the expertise of the tour guide too. I had 4 very happy clients then meet me in Shanghai for part 2 of meetings - thanks to Roger and Felix! Many thanks again.more
Oct 2023, Bobby Tsang
Jinshanling amazing hiking trip
We took the hiking trip Jinshanling package, we like it because the view was amazing, not much crowd and our tour guide arrange everything perfectly. We like it.However please be aware that this hiking trip will involve challenging stairs step and inclination, but still suitable for someone that exercise regularly.more
Oct 2023, Frans A
Awesome experience touring Beijing with China Highlights. My tour guide, Jennifer, was knowledgeable, professional, friendly, and very accommodating. It was like taking a tour with a friend. My favorite part of the tour was walking the Great Wall of China. Jennifer made sure to take me to a remote area, not just the crowded tourist area near Beijing, so I could get a more authentic experience.more
Oct 2023, Consumer
Awesome personalized tour. Well worth the money.
Lily Liu was our guide. I highly recommend using her. She helped us check out several local places that we absolutely loved and was great at answering all our questions and helping us experience Peking duck, Hawthorne and other things we were curious about.more
Oct 2023, Jessica P
Two great weeks!
We had Olivia as our tour guide in Beijing and Mervyn in Xi'an. They were both fantastic at their job and made us feel so welcome and added to the great experience we were already having. So grateful to their professionalism and wide knowledge as well as their friendliness. We're glad that China Highlights took us to the Mutianyu Wall instead of the crowded Badaling Wall. Less crowded and great views all around!more
Oct 2023, Road36501241284
Beijing 4 day trip
Silvia arranged my itinerary which included buying the high speed train ticket from Shanghai to Beijing and airport transfers. I did not have to think about anything. She added places to the itinerary which I would not have known to visit .more
Oct 2023, Wing Yee Cheung
Amazing 2 weeks because of China Highlights
We had Olivia as our tour guide in Beijing and Mervyn in Xi'an. They were both fantastic at their job and made us feel so welcome and added to the great experience we were already having. So grateful to their professionalism and wide knowledge as well as their friendliness.All in all, we are so glad for China Highlights. Affordable and really value-for-money kinda tour.more
Oct 2023, Elisabeth Zackrina
One Day Beijing Trip (Great Wall, Summer Palace) With Jennifer
My tour guide Jennifer made this quick one day trip to Beijing great! The day started out a bit overcast and rainy when I landed, but Jennifer’s positive attitude and kind communication (along with her being able to keep up/put up with my jokes) made it fine.Despite this, Jennifer and our driver Chen were able to swing an extra photo shoot stop at the Olympic Stadium. I guess it gives me an excuse to come back to visit again, and when I do - I will use China Highlights and this great fantastic team.more
Sep 2023, Alan Landau
Best Great Wall experience
Used China Highlights for a private all-day tour of Jinshanling portion of the Great Wall. One of the best days of my life! Tour guide Alan and a driver met me at my hotel and the ride was very comfortable. Alan was extremely knowledgable and friendly, I really enjoyed talking with him. The scenery was astoundingly beautiful; this is a less touristy portion of the Wall. The hiking was fun, Alan brought plenty of water, and showed me things I would not have noticed by myself. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at a local restaurant for lunch that Alan had arranged - delicious! Once in a lifetime experience.more
Sep 2023, LZviajera
Non-standard private China tour
I booked a 4 weeks private China tour with ChinaHighlights covering landscapes and cultural sites between Beijing, Xian, Guilin, Zhangjiajie, Hangzhou and Shanghai. The entire tour was set up accurately, very fast and in the light of all relevant personal preferences by Mrs. Carol Wang, an expert in organizing hand made voyages in China. Due to her knowledge and immediate responses the tour was scheduled comfortably and straightforward, including all transfers and authentic hotel bookings. I highly recommend ChinaHighlights and in particular Carol Wang for organizing any extraordinary, non-mainstream travel to China.more
Sep 2023, Dr. Manfred Leubner
Alisa was very helpful tailoring a trip to China for my wife and I.Alisa was able to put together a great itinerary at a reasonable cost.Alisa is very conscientious and pays attention to detail.Example - We had a midnight flight into Shanghai on one segment of the tour. Alisa followed the flight until an earlier flight became available. Alisa changed the flight, guide and driver. Alisa has great attention to detail. Thank you Alisa. Al and Debbiemore
Sep 2023, AI Cluett
Best way to see Beijing
Our guide Lily Liu was lovely - super patient, warm, knowledgeable about Chinese history, and great English skills. Would definitely recommend this service!more
Sep 2023, Stephanie N
Our guide, Linda, was by far the best person to have for our tours of The Forbidden City, Tianamen Square, and Mutianyu Great Wall. She was an encyclopedia with great knowledge of Chinese History and was able to explain every detail of what we were seeing. She picked us up with a very nice car and driver from our hotel both days, at the time most convenient to us, and dropped us back off wherever we wanted at the end of our tours. Both the Forbidden City and the Great Wall are marvels of human and Chinese achievements and are a must to see in Beijing. Visiting them both with a tour guide that feels more like a friend was certainly helping enjoying it even more.more
Sep 2023, Robin Z
Beijing is AMAZING
Linda Wang our amazing tour guide helped us to have an unforgettable trip to all the best of Beijing. From organizing the driver (also excellent) to drop us/pick us up exactly when we were leaving busy tourist sites, excellent food recommendations, fascinating knowledge relevant to us and our children (13yo and 11yo) making The Forbidden City, Tiannamen Square, Great Wall, Beijing Zoo and The Hutongs thoroughly enjoyable. Handling all the entrance/exit passport and ticket requirements, interpreting, answering any questions we had about local culture, we were so comfortable and happy, never rushed, everything you could want and more.more
Sep 2023, Michelle A
Hotel Options for Your Layover
If you want to have a good sleep during your layover, we have listed some hotels for your reference below. These include hotels near the airport and hotels near the Airport Express stations, Kowloon Station, and Hong Kong Station.
Recommended Airport Hotels
Regal Airport Hotel Hong Kong is directly connected to the passenger terminal of the airport by an air-conditioned bridge. It is a 2–minute walk or 1 minute ride via the scheduled airport shuttle.
Novotel Citygate Hong Kong is just 5 minutes from the airport by taxi or the free shuttle bus.
Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Hotel is the only international 5-star hotel near the airport.
Read some details about Top Layover Hotels in Hong Kong.
Recommended Hotels in the Downtown Area
Hotels near Kowloon Station are within walking distance of Tsim Sha Tsui and Temple Street Night Market. A few options are Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong, Royal Plaza Hotel, and West Hotel.
Hotels near Hong Kong Station are within walking distance of LKF, SoHo, and the IFC. You can find many hotels from luxury to budget ones, such as Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, and Mini Hotel Central.
The Airport to the Downtown Area
Hong Kong International Airport, located on the island of Chek Lap Kok, provides many transit options to the city center. It is very convenient for you to get to and from the airport by public or private transport.
Airport Express and Hong Kong's MTR
You can take the Airport Express to the city center in 24 minutes. The trains depart every 10–12 minutes daily. The cost is about HK$100 (US$13). Hong Kong's MTR has a station just outside the Arrivals Hall. Learn more about Hong Kong's subway.
Hong Kong International Airport is well served by public bus routes. You can take buses to and from most parts of Hong Kong. It is an inexpensive way to travel but it may take you up to an hour to reach your destination.
You can buy bus tickets at the Customer Services Centre located in the airport's Ground Transportation Centre. The rates range from HK$27 (US$3.50) to HK$42 (US$5.40) depending on the route.
It is more flexible and convenient to take a taxi but it may not be a good option during the rush hours (8–9am and 5–7pm). In Hong Kong, taxis are color coded according to their operating areas. Red taxis operate in the urban areas.
Taxi fares are calculated by taximeters. It costs about HK$250 (US$32) to get from the airport to Tsim Sha Tsui (Star Ferry Pier). Learn more about Hong Kong's taxis.
The Octopus Card
If you are going to stay in Hong Kong for a couple of days, you can consider buying an Octopus card, which is an easy alternative to cash for the city's public transportation (buses, the MTR, and trams) and even some shops and restaurants. A card costs HK$150 (US$20), including HK$100 of credit and HK$50 of refundable deposit.
Customize a Hassle-Free Hong Kong Layover Tour
It is not very easy to plan a layover tour in Hong Kong if you are not familiar with the transportation and sightseeing there. Please feel free to contact us if you need any assistance.
Whether you choose a more exclusive experience by having a private tour of the city or you opt for a budget trip in a seat-in-coach tour, we can arrange a Hong Kong layover tour based on your requirements and give you a hassle-free layover experience.
Check some of our sample tour itineraries for inspiration: