The cheapest way from Hong Kong Airport to the city centre

From a budget traveller’s perspective, I’d say there are many types of airports when it comes “how do I get downtown at a cheap price?”:

  • First factor: how far is the airport from the city centre? I am not talking about airports misleadingly named by some low cost airline (Paris – Vatry, I am looking at you… – 147km from Paris) but rather airports that are the primary gateways to their respective city. They can be 60km (Tokyo Narita) from downtown or just a few kilometers (Hamburg, Lisbon, Taipei Songshan… just to name a few)
  • Second factor: cheap vs. expensive taxis. A taxi ride from the airport will likely set you back significantly more in New Zealand or Switzerland than in Malaysia
  • Third factor: how good are public transport options? Alternatives range from several direct trains every hour (Zurich) vs. not even a proper bus service (Pasto, Colombia)
  • Fourth factor: is the public transport option reasonably priced? There are airports with fantastic public transportation links, however if they are privately owned they can get very expensive. The Heathrow Express certainly is a great time saver, however at SGD45 one-way not exactly cheap.

At the end of the day, the combination of the four factors leads to the question: how much do you value your time? Do you have plenty of time and don’t mind taking the cheaper but slower option or are you in a hurry. But a word of advice here: if you do dash for the cheapest option, think it through. Have a look at all options, especially if you are in a group. In some cases, an extra 50 cents per person (ok, maybe slightly more) can make the difference between a 30 minute door-to-door taxi ride or a 2 hour journey with three different busses and trains.

The case of Hong Kong is interesting as there are various options and traffice can get busy.

  • Most straight forward is a taxi at around HK$300 (SGD50)
  • Depending on traffic, the Hong Kong Express train HK$100 (SGD17) can be quicker but then requires a taxi ride at the end or a subway transfer
  • There are numerous busses (HK$20-40 – SGD3-7) but they can be slow and less convenient
  • The cheapest and still reasonably fast option: connecting with a bus to the closest subway (MTR) line

In this post I’ll be outlining the last option and share whether it is worth it in my opinion.

It is actually quite straightforward and doesn’t need a lot of explanation:

  1. As you exit baggage claim and customs, turn to your right and walk all the way to the end of the terminal. You will see a sign towards parking at the end of the terminal, exit and proceed down the elevator, escalator or stairs to the ground level
  2. Immediately below you will find the platform for the S1 bus to Tung Chung MTR station. The bus leaves from the most left platform (driving direction). It should arrive every 15 or so minutes. The catch is, if you don’t have an Octopus card, you need exact change (anything above is forfeited)  HK$3.50. The drive to the MTR takes around 15 minutes and takes you through an industrial area with some airline and civil aviation authority offices
  3. At Tung Chung MTR (there is a large shopping mall), you can connect to the MTR (around HK$20) which takes you nonstop to Kowloon and Central stations. It actually runs parallel to the Hong Kong Express and only has two additional stops. Along the way, you can change for other MTR lines.

All in all, I paid HK$21.50 (SGD3.70) and took just about an hour to get to Tsim Sha Tsui. Would I do it again? If I was in no hurry and with little luggage (the transfers are quite convenient), I would chose it again instead of the Hong Kong Express – especially coming from the airport.

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