My wife and I recently traveled to Hong Kong and we had a wonderful time during our 4-day stay. There were lots of places to visit, lots of food to eat and people to meet. However, one place really caught our attention, the Hong Kong International Airport.
Hong Kong International Airport, or HKIA, is located in Lantau Island, which is a 15- to 20-minute drive to the Kowloon Peninsula and Hong Kong Island. It’s not that hard to go to and from the airport. You can use the MTR to avoid traffic, which usually is light even during rush hour, or you can take a bus or a cab.
The airport is huge. Aside from commercial passenger jets, they also have hangars for cargo planes. Upon approach, you’ll see the large area that the airport covers. Once you step into the terminal, you may even have to take a train to reach the main arrival area if you arrive from the outer gates.
At the arrival area, you’ll have to go through the immigration area and then after that, get your baggage. The baggage claim area is huge and it’s quite efficient. We only waited for around 5-10 minutes to get our bags. There are a lot of trolleys around, which should help you carry your luggage. There’s nothing much here except for a few shops and foreign exchange counters. And then, you’ll be at the pickup area.
From here, depending on whether you have someone to pick you up or not, you can either go out through the driveway or to the MTR station. If you need MTR tickets or an Octopus card, there’s a counter by the exit. You won’t miss it. That’s pretty much everything you’ll need at the arrival area. It’s simple, but efficient.
However, on our way back to the Philippines, the departure area is a different story. It’s one of the busiest places I’ve ever seen. I could just guess, but there are probably hundreds or even thousands of people at the departure area. If you need assistance, you may ask for help from the airport staff. Don’t worry since locating your airline counter is easy even if the area is huge. Flight information screens are also scattered around the airport should you need an update about your flight’s status.
Here, you can shop for toys, chocolates, wines and more. It’s like a mini-mall. There are quite a number of restaurants and fast food chains if you are hungry. When you’re ready, you’ll need to pass through the first checkpoint, which is immigration. Then, you’ll need to submit your baggage for inspection and make sure to remove all metallic objects before passing through the metal detector.
After that, guess what, you’ll be at another huge holding area with more shops, more restaurants and fast food chains, and it even has a food court. Good thing we did not eat at the entrance. We decided to take a break here while waiting to board the plane. You just have to bear the long lines and waiting time to get a table, unless you’re lucky to find one quickly just as we did.
After taking a break, you may proceed to the terminal gates to wait for boarding. But as soon as you get to this area, you’ll be greeted by yet another set of duty-free shops. Do you last-minute shopping here before leaving Hong Kong as the next area will already be the boarding area. One thing to note here in the boarding area is that there aren’t enough seats. It was tiring to stand and wait until we’ve boarded the plane.
Again, this is one of the busiest airports I’ve seen. We were there during off-peak season. Even on an off-peak day, planes were taking off within 5 to 10 minutes from each other. We were there during an ordinary Thursday and there were no holidays, special events or occasions either.
It does seem like, to us at least, they will really make you miss Hong Kong and entice you to come back. And indeed, it did. It’s been a wonderful trip to Hong Kong. As the gateway to their country, Hong Kong International Airport will make you feel at home, relaxed and feel Hong Kong’s culture and heritage. We even got to take pictures in a Bruce Lee gallery.