Exploring Hong Kong: the Airport Express, going home, and Cebu Pacific’s lateness

As our flight back to Manila leaves at 8:30 am, we opted to take the Airport Express to HKIA instead of the Cityflyer bus. The bus route starts at 5:30 am and would take maybe an hour to the airport, while the train starts at 5:50 am and takes less than 30 minutes. Yes there was only a slight difference in the time we’d get to HKIA but we didn’t want to chance it. The Airport Express cost HK$72 one-way compared to the bus’ HK$33.

We found a taxi after only 5 minutes of waiting (Carla advised us it might take 10-15 minutes because of the early hour) and paid HK$35 for the 2++ km trip to Kowloon Station (there’s a surcharge for luggage). We exchanged our vouchers for train tickets and sat down to wait. If you’re taking Cathay Pacific, Dragonair, or any of the other airlines that support in-town check-in, you can check your bags at the train station for an even more hassle-free ride. You can also use your Octopus card to pay for the train. The train ride wasย fast. Wow. Even though the trip was much longer, I’m glad we took the bus into the city as our introductory sightseeing tour as the AE train mostly goes through tunnels so there’s no view. We got to HKIA in about 25 minutes, checked our bags, then wandered around for something to eat. We easily found seats in the food court area and ate some pancakes and eggs. Unfortunately, the bane of my airport existence is also found in HKIA: expensive drinks. A bottle of water cost HK$16 ๐Ÿ™ Incidentally, you can use the last of your Octopus card load at the airport because you can also use it to pay for food. You can also opt to return your Octopus card to get the deposit and any remaining credit back, though there’s a surcharge if you return it within three months of buying it.

We found our gate without any trouble and waited for boarding. Unfortunately, Cebu Pacific‘s 20%++ delayed flights record reared its ugly head. Our flight was delayed by 30 minutes with no explanations as to why. We landed in Manila at 11 am and got out of immigration and baggage claim by 12 nn. The Customs guys didn’t bother me as it was obvious that I didn’t do much shopping. Aids and I parted ways at the airport. Until the next adventure ๐Ÿ™‚

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And thus ends our awesome Hong Kong trip. To recap:

Day 1: getting there and our first meal in Hong Kong

Day 1: Hong Kong Space Museum, Avenue of Stars, Mong Kok

Day 2: Ocean Park

Day 3: Peng Chau and Tai O

Day 4: Po Lin monastery, Ngong Ping village, Central

Day 4: more Joon, Victoria Peak, Symphony of Lights, and a last walk through Tsim Sha Tsui

All in all, I’m happy with how our budget turned out ๐Ÿ™‚ We didn’t do a lot of shopping and ate cheaper food but invested in nicer accommodations. Now, time to save up for the next big adventure! *ponders Thailand, Vietnam, or South Korea*

Exploring Hong Kong: getting there and our first meal in HK

Aids and I arrived in Hong Kong at 7:30 am. There was a line for immigration but the wait was bearable. Our baggage was waiting to be claimed by the time we got the coveted stamp in our passports (I love HKIA!). First order of business was finding out where the airport buses were. After that, I got in line for the information counter (there was only one lady fielding questions) to find out where the China Travel Service (HK) booth was (it’s booth A10 in the arrivals hall), as they offer discounted admission tickets to some of Hong Kong’s attractions.

The tickets we bought:

  • Ocean Park – HK$240 instead of HK$280
  • Round-trip Peak Tram + Sky Terrace – HK$56 instead of HK$65
  • One-way Airport Express ticket (Kowloon) – HK$72 instead of HK$90
  • One-way Ngong Ping cable car ride – HK$80 (no discount. Boo!)

Edit: we found out later that Ngong Ping is one of several attractions (including Ocean Park and the Peak Tram) that participates in a promo wherein you can get 10% off the admission ticket if you present a recently used ticket from one of the other attractions. So if you’re going to Ngong Ping during the later part of your trip, you can save the Ocean Park or Peak Tram ticket (which you already got at a discount :D) and present it when you buy your cable car tickets onsite. Ten percent off for minimal effort sounds good to me! Promo runs until January 2012.

We took the Cityflyer airport bus going to Tsim Sha Tsui as it was much cheaper compared to the Airport Express train ($33 versus $72) and the room we got was only some steps away from the bus stop. You get a free sightseeing tour too! However, we decided to take the Airport Express going back as we had an early flight. The bus route starts at 5:30 am and takes about an hour, so we could have missed our flight back if we’d taken it. And besides, taking the AE was an added experience ๐Ÿ™‚

Note: if you’re taking the Cityflyer bus from and to the airport, Citybus offer a round-trip bus ticket + Ocean Park ticket for only $295 ๐Ÿ˜€

We arrived in TST by 9:30.Instead of a hotel or hostel room, we rented a private room via Airbnb. Why Airbnb? First, hotel rooms in Hong Kong are extremely expensive in October (think 3x the usual rate) because of the trade fairs that bring hundreds of business people into town. Case in point: we just missed the HK Electronics Fair and could have gone to the China Sourcing Fair (I forget for what products). Second, we didn’t want to get a hostel room because this was a special occasion and we wanted something nicer than the usual clean but tiny room. We ended up staying in Cory’s apartment. He and his girlfriend Carla were such great hosts – very friendly and accommodating. They left for a business+leisure trip two nights after we got there so we had the place to ourselves for the rest of our stay.

The guest before us was still in the apartment by the time we got there so we just dumped our bags and got some brunch. Carla recommended a barbeque place along Hankow Road and we did look out for it, but we missed it somehow and ended up in a hole-in-the-wall noodle shop. It was more than a little intimidating at first, as it was full of locals and the owner spoke limited English. Good thing the menu had photos and English labels so the tried-and-tested pointing method worked ๐Ÿ˜€ One bowl of shrimp wonton noodle soup was HK$33.

We went back to the apartment to rest a bit and unpack some stuff. The day’s itinerary: the museums along the harbor front, the Avenue of Stars, and the Mong Kok night markets!