Arriving into Hong Kong Airport the obvious route into the city centre was to use the Airport Express rail service. Operated as part of the MTR railway network, it is a limited stop service terminating at the geographically ambiguously-named Hong Kong station, in the central area.
Getting onto the Airport Express
After a long flight I was very tired and obviously wasn’t tuned into the Hong Kong transport system: the first difficulty I faced was buying a ticket: all the publicity advises visitors to load up an Octopus Card which can be used as a Pay-As-You-Go system; however, you cannot buy one of these cards with a credit card – it is cash only.
- Task number one – find a cash machine.
- Task number two – work out how much money I need to buy an Octopus card and have enough credit to get into town.
Once I’d bought my PAYG card, I was fully expecting to have to validate the card to board a train, so I looked around the boarding platform everywhere for a validation point but couldn’t find one. I eventually asked a member of staff who said that passengers don’t need to validate entry onto the Airport Express. It would have saved a lot of confusion if there was a sign stating this or had the ticket seller mentioned it. It was only at the end of the journey where I had to validate to exit the platform.
Once on the train, the journey itself was smooth felt very fast. The seats are comfortable but there are no tables or seat back trays. Tracking the train’s progress on the carriage display was a novelty but it was useful as it allowed me to relax for the journey knowing I had time to check where I was staying and read some emails. (On the return leg I saw that charging points were only available in carriages 1 and 7.)
Arrival into the City Centre
As a first-time visitor I was completely lost when I arrived at Hong Kong station late at night, there isn’t an obvious ‘main entrance’ from which to navigate into the city – the station is submerged under a shopping and office complex. Once I had left the platform level there were also few staff in sight who I could ask for directions so after walking around scoping out all the possible exit tunnels, I simply chose an attractive looking walkway and wander off into the multi-level rabbit warren with Google Maps in hand.
Author: Liam Henderson