Metro Manila · To Megacity Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of the top weekend get-away destinations for a lot of Megacitizens in the Philippines. This city of eight million people is a mere two-hour flight away and its efficient public transportation system leaves everyone in awe.
Hong Kong is popular for its gastronomic delights varying from Michelin-starred restaurants to countless street food treats as well as for the shopping deals during the summer and winter sale seasons in malls and night markets all over the city. Even more exciting is the vibrant and captivating nightlife in Lan Kwai Fong. As a global financial center, Hong Kong is host to numerous multinational corporations and to Megacitizens from around the world.
There is no shortage of flights bound for Hong Kong. Philippine Airlines, the country’s flagship carrier, departs for Hong Kong five (5) times a day. The country’s largest carrier, Cebu Pacific, operates four (4) flights per day from Manila, once daily from Clark and Cebu, and thrice weekly from Kalibo and Iloilo. Hong Kong’s pride, Cathay Pacific, has six (6) flights a day departing from Manila and one from Cebu. Its affiliate carrier, Dragon Air, operates four (4) times a week from Manila and Clark. Singapore’s Tiger Air meanwhile flies twice daily to Hong Kong from Clark.
As several carriers connect Manila with and Hong Kong International Airport, you have to check the terminal where your carrier operates. Cathay Pacific departs from NAIA Terminal 1, Philippine Airlines from the Centennial Terminal (Terminal 2), and Cebu Pacific from Terminal 3. Be at the airport at least two hours before your flight to avoid rushing and catching your breath to reach the boarding gate on time.
Arriving at Chek Lap Kok (Hong Kong International Airport)
For most Megacitizens, no visa is required to travel to Hong Kong. Depending on the citizenship, Hong Kong Immigration allows one to stay anywhere from 14 to 90 days (details here). As a new policy though, travel documents are no longer stamped when visitors arrive and depart Hong Kong. Instead, a landing slip will be given to you at the Immigration booth. Keep it safe.
There is no need to bring cash as there are a lot of ATMs at the airport. The value of the Hong Kong Dollar is pegged to the US Dollar so the rate is pretty stable. Should you have some USD with you, just exchange the smallest amount you need at the airport as the rate gets better in the city. If you are staying in Hong Kong Island, the best rates are available at World Wide Plaza in Central (MTR Exit A) but avoid the ones in Causeway Bay (a tourist trap). If you are staying in Kowloon, you can check the money exchange booths in Mirador and Chungking Mansions (MTR Exit D1) along Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui. Usual rates in these areas run from 7.5 to 7.7 HKD per USD. If you wish to use your credit card instead, it is almost always better to be billed in HKD than your local currency. Check the latest exchange rate before you travel in order to have an idea when the cashier asks you for your choice.
Free wi-fi connection is offered throughout the airport. Local SIM cards are available at 7Eleven and other convenience stores at the arrivals level of HKIA. For those using PCCW-HKT as their carrier’s roaming partner, PCCW offers free wi-fi for travelers using their network. CSL Kabayan and Peoples Mobile offer the best rates for calls and SMS to the Philippines.
There are at least four different modes of transportation bringing you to the city. The Airport Express has three stops (Tsing Yi, Kowloon, and Central) which can take you from HKIA to the city in roughly 24 minutes for only 100 HKD. Should you wish to take the MTR, ride the S1 bus to the Tung Chung MTR station and from there transfer trains to your destination. Downloading the MTR Mobile app in iOS or Android is very helpful.
Buses can also take you from the airport to the city. Cityflyer and KMB operate several routes to different areas in the city. Downloading the CitybusNWFB and KMB apps will make your travel by bus around Hong Kong a breeze. Taxis are widely available at the airport as well. A trip to Hong Kong or Kowloon island will set you back roughly 300 HKD (see fare guide here). Be warned though that taxis charge separately for luggages placed at its compartment.
Getting an Octopus card at the Airport Express ticket booth will make your navigating around Hong Kong hassle-free. If you foresee your itinerary to use a lot of MTR rides, you might want to consider getting the Airport Express Travel Pass which gives you a round-trip Airport Express service and unlimited MTR rides for three days for 300 HKD.
Leaving Hong Kong
Departing Hong Kong is as easy as arriving, just choose from the options listed above to go back to HKIA. The Airport Express offers in-town check-in at the Hong Kong and Kowloon stations which will make it easier for you to do more sightseeing in the city - without carrying your luggage. Should you wish to go directly to the airport, HKIA is a destination by itself and has a lot of shopping and dining options. In the unfortunate event that your outbound flight gets delayed, you have a lot of activities to choose from. For the latest offerings, check here.
Hong Kong is a popular New Year's destination among Manila's Megacitizens, be it because of its beautiful fireworks display over the harbor or just to flee Manila's New Year's spectacle with its unregulated and often dangerous use of firecrackers.