01 April 2010

Alternative transport to HK airport

Dear TCG

Either Hong Kong is experiencing some serious inflation problems or I've gone cheap....perhaps a combination of both. But I'm sure as hell the airport express was never $90 from Kowloon when I was here 12 months ago and the MTR fares seem to have gone up also.

I dont need to be at HK airport till 3pm so what bus or MTR combo do I use to get to the airport for less than $90? , I dunno $90 isn't exactly much considering a taxi costs $230 from Kowloon.

Any thoughts?



Dear Patrick.

The airport express is fast but bloody expensive, but it is however fast, in that I've been in HK an hour before check in closes and still made it, my friends use it to cut it even closer, using online checkins and arriving 5-10 minutes before the gate closes (HK airport has its own internal MTR system so far gates are easier to get to).

The alternatives are this:

The A21 Bus is most common it goes right into Kowloon onto Nathan Road, opposite Chungking Mansions. Remember there is no such thing as change on HK buses so get thee an Octopus card or get the correct change $33 last time I recall.

Here are some videos of the route. Get on at TST and you always get a nice view in and out.

A21 Airport Bus, Hong Kong from mifan on Vimeo.

A21 Airport Bus, Hong Kong from mifan on Vimeo.

A21 CityFlyer - Hong Kong from mifan on Vimeo.

The A21 however is crowded and often stuffed full with luggage and people, if you sit at the front also be careful to do up your seat belt, no seriously. Although seatbelt law is barely enforced in Hong Kong ($5000 penalty) the issue is when the bus goes through Mong Kok. The road is so incredibly busy that the bus driver will brake harshly regularly. To stop people going through the glass as seen at about 1.41 in this video.

They have steel bars covering the front window at head height, I've seen tons of people lose their teeth on those bars when the bus stops to avoid a crash. It is not a pretty sight.

There are also these alternative buses listed here for Kowloon and also here. Due to the nature of buses being that they have to compensate for the road traffic until at least Stone Cutters Island and the expressway/motorway thing it takes 70-90 minutes and comes 4-5 times an hour the A21 that is.

The usual route that I get and most air hostesses get which is a bonus as you can oggle them if you want. Is the S1 bus from the aiport to Tung Chung MTR station. That will cost HK$3.5. As soon as you hit the MTR station you can go practically anywhere, Central on HK island is HK$18, or MK for HK$13.5. (correct as of January 2010) from the Tung Chung MTR you can get anywhere you want. I take this as even though the A33 bus all the way to Tai Po cost $14.8 it has a very long winded route and can take upwards of 2 hours.

You want it cheaper ?

There is also an overlooked option, in that the airport has shuttle buses to the major hotels nearby. That tourists generally don't know about. In that you'll usually see signs in HK airport for shuttle buses to the Novotel or the Regal based nearby the airport just to one side of Tung Chung. Jump on the bus from the airport it will take you within 3 minutes walk of the Tung Chung MTR station. So getting into say Nathan Road will cost you $15, even cheaper and faster than the A21 bus.

On the way back you can pull the same trick, but you go into the hotel reception then come out and take the shuttle bus, but hey its a $3.5 saving. So not exactly huge, but it is almost as fast as the airport express but costs 2.5/10ths of the amount.

Note this may well have changed in the past few months as I cannot keep a constant eye on developments, for example in Macau they have 'free' shuttle buses if you've gambled a certain amount as you get stamps on a card. They check as you leave via the basement special area. But asofar as Hong Kong is concerned they don't check.

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