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The Complete Guide to a Hong Kong Layover

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 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.

layover at Hong Kong

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.

Luggage Storage

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).

Currency Exchange

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.

Aviation Discovery Centre in the AirportAviation Discovery Centre in the airport
  • 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

Shopping in Hong KongShopping in Hong Kong

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

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.

Shopping malls in Hong Kong usually open from 10:30am to 10pm. Learn more about the top malls in Hong Kongand what to buy in Hong Kong.

3. 6-Hour Layover in Hong Kong

Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island is a best place for hong kong layover tour Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island

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

layover in Hong Kong to take a star ferryStar 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

Hong Kong Victoria Peak is great place for your layover tour in hong kongHong Kong Victoria Peak

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

take a junk to explore a fishing village at AberdeenTake a junk to explore a fishing village at Aberdeen.

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.

After lunch, take a junk to explore a fishing village at Aberdeen. Finally, pay a visit to Wong Tai Sin Temple, one of Hong Kong's busiest temples.

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

 Temple Street Night Market Temple Street Night Market

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.

Check our sample itineraries of One-Day Hong Kong Disneyland Tour Package, One-Day Hong Kong Ocean Park Tour Package, or 4-Day Hong Kong Family Tour.

8. If You Plan to Visit Macau

Hong Kong layover tour to MacauMacau

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.

Here is more detailed information about How to Plan a Day Trip from Hong Kong to Macau or check the detailed itinerary of One-Day Macau Tour from Hong Kong.

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:

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:

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.

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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.

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 MTRHong Kong MTR

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.

Public Bus

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.


Hong Kong taxisHong Kong red taxis

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).

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

Enjoy a stopover in Hong KongEnjoy 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:

See more Hong Kong tours. We can provide a tailor-made Hong Kong tour to suit your flight schedules and make the most of your layover in Hong Kong.

Start planning your tailor-made tour with 1-1 help from our travel advisors. Create Your Trip

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