Hong Kong’s airport is a world hub connecting the mega city to nearly everywhere imaginable on the globe. There are three main options for those making the most of their holiday and stopping over in Hong Kong.
Take a taxi (HK$320-$400 to Hong Kong Island)
Catch a bus (and take forever, depending on route)
Ride the HK Airport Express (from airport to the city in 24 minutes)
Here are five reasons why you should seriously consider using the Airport Express on your next journey to Hong Kong!
1 – It’s so easy to use!
How much is the Hong Kong Airport Express from Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA)
Adult fares from HKIA to Hong Kong Island on the Airport Express are currently HK$115 one-way. If hopping off at Tsing Yi or Kowloon Station, a discount applies.
After collecting baggage and clearing customs, simply find the Airport Express signs in the arrivals hall. This will direct you to a ticketing desk, or use the ticketing machine if you are well researched in where exactly you are going.
At non-peak travel times, you may be able to step off your aircraft, clear customs and be in the centre of Hong Kong in under an hour!
From Hong Kong to HKIA
Airport Express stations are separated from the regular MTR stations. If taking the MTR (Hong Kong version of a subway), follow the signs on arrival in the main concourse of Kowloon or Hong Kong station. If catching a taxi from your hotel to the station, make sure you clearly say Airport Express so you are taken to the correct entrance.
You may be wondering why you would take a taxi to a train station instead of the airport. The reason is in-town check-in. Most airlines participate in the program, where you can check your baggage in Hong Kong and catch the Airport Express at your leisure.
When I used this, I checked in my baggage at Hong Kong station, went for last minute shopping and sightseeing, before catching the train from Kowloon station.
The only requirement for using in-town check in is that you must first purchase an Airport Express ticket.
3 – You can return the same day for free
If your onward flight from Hong Kong is on the same calendar day, you can use the Airport Express return for the price of a one-way fare. This maximises your time in the city at an exceptional price.
4 – You can connect to free hotel shuttle bus services
This is especially useful when travelling with baggage, as I did on my recent visit to the city. Simply hold on to your ticket after alighting at Hong Kong or Kowloon station and follow the signs to the shuttle bus. Busses run frequently to many hotels. For the current list, and the best station to connect to your hotel, check out the MTR website.
5 – Free Wi-Fi and power outlets
Even the perfect travel plan doesn’t quite go so well. If you lose your power bank, or your data roaming plan doesn’t include Hong Kong, you are covered on the Airport Express. There are power outlets available throughout the train, and free Wi-Fi available for all to send off a last minute email, or Instagram story.
Let me know in the comment section below – what’s your favourite thing to do in Hong Kong?
I travelled on the Airport Express at my own expense. Information correct at 07 April 2019.
This isn’t the normal flight review that you’ll already find all over the internet. I don’t fly business class often; I’ve been extremely lucky to fly a couple of sectors with ridiculously cheap tickets via India, and another time on a lucky domestic upgrade.
For readers who don’t fly business class, this is for you. For the seasoned pointy end flyers, also read on, as I hope you still feel the same level of excitement as I did with this crazy adventure.
I took advantage of Hong Kong’s in-town check-in at the Hong Kong Airport Express station. This service is also available at Kowloon Airport Express station as well. Station staff manage check in for multiple airlines, however there was no line when I arrived and the process is extremely efficient.
As a business class passenger, the biggest perk is access to airline lounges. Qantas has its own lounge inside Hong Kong airport, however I arrived extra early to sample three of the famous Cathay Pacific lounges, the Emirates lounge as well as Qantas – I was really pushing to get the maximum experience today. You also have access to priority check-in and priority boarding to whizz you through the airport as efficiently as possible.
Seat and meal selection is available through the Qantas website for all passengers regardless of cabin class; however, the cheapest economy tickets will incur a fee to select seating.
Just a short walk from the Qantas Lounge, I used the priority boarding lane and waltzed on through the gate. Greeted by name, the lovely flight attendant guided me to my seat, 15K which is on the window.
Awaiting me at my seat were noise cancelling headphones and the dinner menu. Shortly after sitting, a flight attendant came around with the famous Flying Kangaroo pajamas.
Oh. My. Gosh! This feels like sitting on a throne, presiding over a small country. It’s a soft, well padded seat with oodles of buttons for seat recline, hidey holes for your belongings and a massive storage bin by your side.
Sitting on the window means that you will have to climb over your “seatmate” to reach the aisle, however on this flight no one sat next to me, giving me even more space.
For sleeping, the seat lies flat, except for my feet which seemed to dangle off the edge a little bit – I’m not sure if this is a flaw in the seat design or if I’m just too tall.
For those wanting to know, yes, the pajamas are super comfy and stylish!
All the food was delicious, with generous portion sizes. I finished every little bit!
My entree selection was a chicken salad topped with a peanut sauce, and side salad with bread…
…followed by the main where I chose duck wontons in broth…
…and finished with a cheese plate served with a dessert wine. My champagne went down a treat with this selection as well.
All TV screens are folded away under the armrest which makes them highly adjustable to easily watch TV or Hollywood blockbusters whether sitting upright or down in bed mode. With hundreds of shows to choose from it’s nearly impossible to become bored on this flight.
The cabin crew on this flight were simply world class. With a warm friendly welcome they were chatty yet gave an ever professional presence. During our delay they remained friendly and approchable for anyone who had questions, or for those simply wanting a chat.
Extending past the on board cabin crew, the staff in the Qantas lounge are absolute legends as well. This was my last stop of my flying lounge visits in Hong Kong airport, and I wish I had come here first. Super friendly and approachable, they even suggested food pairings with my drink order. If I’m lucky enough to fly business class out of Hong Kong again, you will find me in the Qantas lounge.
How did I pay for this?
With Sydney-Hong Kong business class tickets starting at A$3000 return, I needed a cheaper way to enjoy this premium experience. I secured business class on this flight with a Qantas upgrade bid. This is an invitation only service that allows you to “bid” with a mixture of cash and Qantas Frequent Flyer points to upgrade to a premium cabin. This is dependent on seat availability, and all bids are accepted or denied at Qantas’ sole discretion. Once you place your bid it sits on the Qantas system pending; your credit card is only charged if your bid has been accepted. Further information can be found on the Qantas website.
An important note to make is that if you’re wanting 100% certainty to fly business class, then you should purchase a business class ticket. If you’re happy to accept the risk that you may not get upgraded, these bid now upgrades can provide a fantastic premium experience at a lower cost than the standard ticket price.
One other important note is that Qantas operate the Airbus A380 to Hong Kong during peak demand seasons such as Chinese New Year. At other times of the year, you may be flying on the Airbus A330, or the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Check which aircraft you’ll be travelling on before booking to avoid disappointment.
Our flight was delayed by four hours in Hong Kong due to a combination of an essential mechanical repair and a passenger who fell ill. This caused me to miss my connecting flight to Brisbane (which was no big deal, Sydney to Brisbane flights run more frequently than my local bus) however I received a lovely apology letter from Qantas due to the delay.
I appreciate the small gesture of reaching out to apologise for the delay. This is the first time an airline has proactively communicated with me after a delay and I would hope more follow suit.
The final words
Today was my lucky day. Securing an upgrade on the iconic A380 which will soon cease production, waltzing through five different business class lounges for the sake of it and talking to the lovely cabin crew who made me feel at home in the sky – I can fully recommend this business class experience to anyone who wants to spoil themselves to some extra luxury.
Let me know in the comment section below, what’s your favourite business class experience? How many lounges can you visit in one airport visit?
Featured photo taken on descent into Sydney Airport, on board QF128
Garuda Indonesia, the national airline of Indonesia is ranked as a 5-star carrier by Skytrax. I chose Garuda Indonesia for a recent flight from Singapore to Jakarta, to see if they are worth the hype.
On this route, Garuda Indonesia offered pre-selected seating for AUD20 and the option to request a special meal via their website, for free. My website experience was quite clunky and slow both on my laptop and on my Android phone. If booking via a travel agent, they can assist with these requests in most cases.
What a ticket buys you
Garuda Indonesia is a full-service airline. The cost of the cheapest “promo” ticket on international flights entitles you to 30kg baggage on most routes. This also allows you a meal, drink and access to inflight entertainment. Seat selection on promo fares come with a charge which is variable by route.
You are eligible to earn frequent flyer miles via Garuda Miles or possibly with a SkyTeam alliance member depending on the fare class you book (I will cover fare classes in an upcoming article!) As I’m a not a member of Garuda Miles or a partner program, I didn’t earn any miles for this flight.
Check-in was inside Terminal Three at Singapore’s Changi Airport. The staff were joyful, polite and efficient. As Garuda is celebrating 70 years of operations, passengers who checked in at manned desks received a small gift package consisting of a muffin and orange juice, a small yet nice gesture.
Boarding was called by row number, however sadly this was ignored by nearly everyone and not enforced. As this flight was 90% full this caused a minor delay with the mad scrum at the gate.
Like all Boeing 737s around the world, seating was in a 3-3 configuration. The seats were well padded with a fabric covering. As this was a short flight and someone was already sitting behind me when I boarded, I did not test the recline. Legroom was surprisingly spacious, I still had plenty of knee and foot room despite my 194cm frame and my backpack at my feet
To be exact, the seat pitch (distance from the front of your seat to the back of the next) is advertised as 32 inches, yet felt slightly more. Seat width is 17 inches.
Beware if you’re on this aircraft as part of a long haul journey; there is no seat back power. You will need to bring your own power bank if you’re needing to charge your devices en route.
Food and beverages
Even on the short 81 minute skip down to Jakarta, a full meal with dessert was served, along with a full choice of beverages. All food and drinks are included in the price of your ticket on Garuda. Dinner was a choice between chicken and pasta; or fish and rice. I requested the fish and was delighted with my choice.
Served with metal cutlery, the fish was in mild South East Asian curry sauce, cooked perfectly. This was amazingly flavoursome and juicy. The meal was accompanied with bread, a side salad and a jelly topped strawberry mousse. With nothing left on my tray, I washed this down with Indonesia’s number one beer, Bintang – served in a 375mL can.
The seatback entertainment contains a handful of comedies, documentaries and Hollywood movies. The touchscreen was quite difficult to operate, needing a fair press of the screen to get a reaction. At times the system registered my request incorrectly and ended up in the games section instead of comedy! Once playing, the ads were minimal and the video playback was very good.
Live TV is advertised however did not work on this short flight – I could go a couple of hours without seeing the news anyway. Wi-Fi isn’t installed on the Boeing 737; keep an eye out for this on the Boeing 777s and Airbus A330s.
The seatback pocket contained the standard safety card, general health information and the monthly airline magazine, Colours.
Garuda Indonesia has been voted as having the world’s best cabin crew for five consecutive years, and deservingly so! All flight attendants worked tirelessly, fully serving a near packed plane in under 60 minutes. They did this with a smile, professionalism and with genuine care for the customer.
One random observation
Most aircraft row numbers start at number one and logically follow through the order of numbers to the last row of the aircraft. Yet Garuda Indonesia starts their first row of seats at “row 6”; and I was seated in “row 42” despite there actually only being 28 rows of seats on the plane. Oh, but I scored a sweet front row seat to an incredible sunset and lightning show!
Make sure you follow me on Instagram to see more amazing photos like this!
Overall impression – Is Garuda the friendliest airline?
Many airline experiences are diminished on shorter regional routes, yet Garuda Indonesia provided a fantastic level of service and comfort from the very moment I checked in, right through to saying goodbye in Jakarta. I highly rate this airline and will look to use them on a future long haul trip – watch this space!
Flick me a like on this article and let me know in the comments: what are your experiences with Garuda Indonesia? Was your journey as incredible as mine?
Singapore is renowned for hosting the iconic Formula 1 street circuit race around Marina Bay Sands each September. It’s also home to the world-famous Changi Airport, the world’s most awarded airport. With four massive terminals, flights departing to all over the world, including the world’s longest non-stop flight to Newark; this airport is meticulously planned with every kind of traveller in mind.
With the Formula 1 mindset and three hours to burn before my flight, I set out to explore three of the four terminals to see how much I can squeeze in my short time.
Having only three hours until my departure, it was unrealistic for me to expect to cover everything this airport has to offer. Some decisions were made; such as not exploring each of the terminal’s check-in areas, and deciding to skip terminal four until next adventure. I didn’t want to risk being stuck on the other side of the airport when my flight was ready to board!
Start your engines: Check-in
Check-in for my Garuda Indonesia flight was in terminal three. As I was staying at the airport hotel, the total travel time was about two minutes from hotel check-out to airline check-in. Terminal three has a simple yet open, elegant design from floor to ceiling. From the rooftop artistic fans to the gentle flowing ceiling to the floor water feature, you feel somewhat relaxed in what is normally a chaotic environment.
Staff are on hand to guide you to a line which should get you through immigration the fastest. An officer approached me and asked if I had tried the automated gates as an Australian passport holder – mine didn’t work and I ended up at the back of the short queue for manual processing.
An interesting quirk about Changi Airport compared to most others is that you do not clear security before passing through immigration. Full security checks are done at the departure gate. This gives Changi a second rare feature in that arriving passengers are able to mingle with departing passengers. These quirks have the benefit of shorter security lines upon departure, as you’re only queuing with the same passengers that you’re flying with – and arriving passengers have the same access to the high-end duty-free shopping as you do on departure.
Having cleared immigration in terminal three – in a clockwise motion; I’ll guide you through my one flying lap of Changi Airport.
Shop ’till you drop!
There are a lot of shops in Changi Airport for anything you can imagine. The biggest brand names are here; Rolex, Channel, Gucci and all the way down through to Uni Qlo, multiple bookstores and a strangely high amount of pharmacies. This place has it all.
The Carp Pond
While small, this is a slice of tranquillity despite the surrounding rush and buzz. Upon investigating the water’s edge you will find gigantic carp! I sat here for a couple of minutes listening to the gentle trickle of water before remembering I wasn’t in a magic garden.
The Enchanted Garden
To be honest it’s much like the Carp Pond without the water and fish. Its major difference is brighter, bolder colours which pop out and lets your imagination run free. You can actually hide in here if you want to, it’s a cool little place to spend ten or so minutes just having a sit-down or zoning out from the stress of long haul travel.
The Sunflower Garden
On the roof of Terminal 2, this is a little pocket of sunshine. There are hundreds of sunflowers overlooking the apron and there were multiple people laying in the sun trying to get a tan during my flying visit here.
Get a free massage!
As you walk through the terminals you can’t miss the leg massagers, which are free! My gangly legs decided to give it a try. The pressure was a bit tight around my ankles, but it soothed my aching calves from the two days of non-stop walking around Singapore.
Cactus Garden with a view…and beer!
Near the Emirates lounge, you will find the Cactus Garden, a large area with varieties of cactus from all over the world. While you’re here you can stop by the adjoining bar, or simply watch aircraft jet off with a near perfect view of the runway.
This was my favourite part of Changi Airport (other than watching the planes, of course!). You are greeted by hundreds of butterflies as soon as you walk into this two-tiered enclosure. The smell of the flowers and fresh fruit laid out to attract the creatures creates a pleasant atmosphere and some extremely photogenic butterflies.
Catch the latest Hollywood blockbuster
That’s right, for the cost of nothing, you can sit back and relax watching full-length feature films at the airport cinema. Displays just outside will show you the schedule of what’s playing and when; so if you have multiple hours at Changi Airport and you consider yourself a movie buff, then you’ve found your pit stop!
Appreciate the art
The real beauty of Changi Airport is…the beauty of itself. There are dozens of art pieces, sculptures and floral arrangements scattered around each of the terminals. This is a fascinating place in that it doesn’t feel so airport-y; rather it feels like a high-end shopping mall combined with a gigantic art gallery.
Why Changi works
Changi Airport is accurately described by many as a mini city. This 24-hour a day machine supports everything you would expect to see in a city let alone an international airport – easy navigation, a variety of shopping options, places to eat or sleep at affordable prices and many leisurely activities for the entire family. The best thing is it doesn’t matter if you have one hour or a full day to spare; there will be something here keeping you occupied the entire time. I raced around this airport in less than two hours and I know there is so much I have missed and need to see next time (the entire Terminal 4, for starters).
The chequered flag: Final thoughts
Leave a comment below and let me know what’s your favourite feature of Changi Airport!
This airport finds innovative and cunning ways to reduce the stress and strain of long-haul travel. There was so much to see in such little time in that Changi Airport nails the showbiz brief – leave them wanting more!
Mountains, canyons, reefs, deserts, people, food and everything in between; Jordan is far more than The Treasury
Landlocked for all but a 26km stretch of the Red Sea, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan brings out the best in Middle Eastern culture and showcases dynamic, jaw-dropping scenery from tip to toe.
Having to stop myself from writing many more, here are just ten reasons why Jordan needs to be on your bucket list, now!
1 – You are welcomed with open arms
Walking down a back street in Amman, a young shop keeper cheerfully calls out “Welcome to Jordan! Enjoy your time here!” I turn around expecting to be fronted by a clever sales pitch, however, the young man is kindly waving from a distance and is using the opportunity to practice his rusty English. Not being a rude person, I wave hello back and try and say thank you in Arabic and receive massive laughs all round from the locals. Clearly, my Arabic needs a lot of work, yet every local Jordanian went above and beyond being super patient and friendly, and made certain that we were happy and on our way in the right direction.
2 – The food; OMG GUYZ THE FOOD!
I entered the country hungry and departed drooling for more. Food brings family and strangers together in Jordan and is done so deliciously. I’ve returned home not being able to look at Hummus or Baba Ganoush the same way. While you’re there try a local Shawarma (the closest thing I can compare this to is a Yiros) or pick up some sweet treats at one of the many little bakeries set up along any major street. Going hungry in Jordan is nearly an impossibility with cheap, massive portions of hearty goodness in every direction.
3 – I’m seeing double…four countries?!
Set sail on the Red Sea for a fantastic day of snorkelling and sunbathing. While out on the water you will be able to view four countries with the swivel of your head. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan & Israel are all within touching distance of each other and give a real sense of where you are in the world, yet the unreal sense in that borders are literally just imaginary lines decided over thousands of years of humans agreeing to disagree.
4 – Get under the sea
I never associated Jordan with snorkelling and coral reefs, but here we are. Dive in the beautiful warm waters and discover the weird and wonderful aqua life below. This rivals the snorkelling I’ve experienced in Indonesia and even ranks as an honourable mention alongside the Great Barrier Reef. Once back on dry land in Aqaba make sure you try some delicious local seafood that’s on offer in nearly every restaurant.
5 – Camp under the stars
Camping in Wadi Rum is like no other experience and gave “glamping” a run for its money. Rich red dirt surrounded by massive rock formations and sand dunes; watching a picture-perfect sunset with a colourful display of vibrant red, pink and blue hues; followed by a Bedouin made dinner of spiced chicken cooked underground with a selection of vegetables, bread and delicious dips. Topping off the night, a campfire under the galaxy of stars, drinking local herbal tea (cheekily referred to as Bedouin Whiskey despite being zero alcohol). Answering to natures call during the night, I stop and look up to the stars; gazing upon what our ancestors had witnessed and pondered big questions to over the generations.
6 – Feel the desert breeze
Wadi Rum offers more than just camping under the stars. You can spend days here joyriding in Jeeps in the dunes or slowly trekking across by camel. In the Jeeps, the scenery takes a dramatic plot twist seemingly every minute. This place is what Mars must be, or close to it. I challenge you to take a bad photo here, you will be hard pressed to do so.
7 – Feel alive again in the Dead Sea
I haven’t used that heading purely for a clever play on words. I genuinely came back to shore feeling fresh and engergised after a dip. The Dead Sea is unique in two ways in that you don’t swim, rather you float due to the super salinity of the water thanks to huge salt deposits. It’s also the lowest point of elevation on land at -430m below sea level. I’ve never been able to float in a normal swimming pool and felt as though I would be the exception to the rule here. As you reach the point where your feet can’t quite touch the ground, suddenly…Nah, I’m going to make you feel this strange experience for yourself! Whatever happens, do not put your head underwater; you’ve been warned. While you’re there, try slapping Dead Sea mud on your face and body, or shop around for some natural salt scrub. My skin felt a lot smoother and radiant for days after!
8 – Road side stops are natural attractions in themselves
You may know a few of the major landmarks in Jordan, but the “ordinary” countryside offers views which in my opinion rival some of the best road trip scenery anywhere. A highlight is driving between Wadi Rum and Petra, taking you into the highlands with jagged hills and refreshing mountain air. It doesn’t matter which side of the car or bus you sit on as the twisting roads give everyone 360-degree panoramic views of this gorgeous part of the world.
9 – Rediscover the reward of hiking at The Monastery
Many people come from all corners of the Earth to view The Treasury at Petra, but don’t go any further. They miss out on potentially days of experiences and discovery of lesser-known landmarks which have an equally fascinating story. One of these is The Monastery, about a two-hour return hike from The Treasury, up roughly 850 stairs and passing countless little shops selling souvenirs and drinks. As you slowly ascend up the steps your view down over the surrounding valleys are literally becoming breathtaking. The peak appears suddenly, without warning the massive facade of The Monastery jumps out at you somewhat like a Jack in the Box. Even in the cooler months of November-March, aim to climb early in the morning to escape the crowds. Enjoy the serenity in the courtyard before further exploring a little further upwards to witness the infinite views of valleys and mountains behind.
10 – The crown jewel
Saving the best to last. I’ve stressed the importance of not centring your Jordan journey around The Treasury, but it truly stands out as a wonder of the world in its own right. Your Petra and Treasury journey will start with a long walk down a gentle hill entering The Siq, a long narrow gorge naturally cut into the Earth. Just as you begin to accept that the walk may just take forever, a beam of light, like at the end of a tunnel strikes you. With each step closer, the heart rate goes up a notch. Those who don’t believe in love at first sight will be converted within seconds of studying the immense figure of The Treasury. For an iconic view from the top, take the walk down to the Royal Tombs before heading near vertically up a steep set of stairs and across the mountain top. The 90-minute return trip is worth every second.
One opinionated tip about Petra…
I love animals, so much so that I won’t hurt a fly. There are numerous vendors at Petra who offer donkey rides around the park, especially on the ascent to The Monastery. I do not recommend taking a donkey as these animals are subjected to unreasonable workloads and are not treated with respect by many owners. Donkeys are commonly used as working animals around the world, however, in my opinion, the majority of owners at Petra were treating their animals with borderline cruelty. Ultimately it’s up to you, but I will not support anyone who cannot treat a living being with minimum respect. On the other hand, I witnessed camels in Wadi Rum being treated with extreme respect and care and I highly recommended taking a ride for a fantastic desert experience if you feel so inclined.
How to get to Jordan
You will most likely arrive by plane into Jordan’s capital, Amman. Many major airlines service Jordan including the large Middle Eastern carriers such as Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad; offering multiple daily services. The national airline of Jordan is Royal Jordanian, who fly non-stop to Amman from the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.
Unless visiting neighbouring Israel or nearby Egypt, it’s unlikely you’ll arrive overland or by ship. Syria and Iraq are northern neighbours, and I will assume that you will stay away from those borders (there are no tourist attractions in the border regions). Eastern neighbour Saudi Arabia does not currently offer tourist visas.
Some countries in this region will refuse you entry if you show evidence of travel to Israel. Consult your local Jordanian embassy to check visa requirements well before you book your holiday.
The final word
If you have even a remote interest in the Middle East, Jordan is a must visit and there are many fantastic tour operators who can guide you seamlessly and on a friendly budget. This country surprised me with how remarkably friendly and safe everyone made me feel and I’m already figuring out ways on visiting again in the future. Now, how do they make such good hummus??
Comment below have you experienced the magic of Jordan yet? Or are you perhaps a bit stuck and need some more information before deciding to jet off?
Feature photo taken @ The Monastery trail, Petra, Jordan