Hong Kong was the first time I had alighted an airplane on the tarmac. I usually see smaller airports or airplanes doing this, but we were able to get off the airplane and be loaded straight onto a bus to take us to the arrivals hall.
If you plan on adding a Hong Kong stamp to your passport, I have bad news for you. Hong Kong stopped issuing passport stamps in 2013, instead you get a small piece of paper with your information on it and how long you’re allowed to be in the country. (Source) If you lose the slip of paper, don’t worry, you can still hand over travel documents and make it through customs again. You’ll also be issued a new slip if you plan to visit Macau, and will be issued yet another new one if you return from Macau at any point on your trip.
Once making it out of the arrivals hall, one of the first booths you’ll see is for the MTR Airport Express train. Here you can buy a variety of transportation cards, similar to T-money cards in Korea. In Hong Kong, you don’t pay a flat transportation fee though, it is based on how far your travel. For that reason, I highly suggest getting the Octopus card since:
- It’s HK$150 to purchase. HK$50 is held as a deposit. HK$100 is loaded onto the card automatically for you.
- It’s activated for as long as you keep putting money on it. It only becomes deactivated if you haven’t added money to it in over 1000 days.
- You can use it for a variety of transportation options. The most common being buses and subways throughout the city.
- You can refill the card at any 7-11 location throughout Hong Kong (there are plenty) or at the MTR stations.
- When you return to the airport for your flight home, you can return the card. A HK$9 administration fee will be withdrawn from your saved HK$50 deposit and you can keep the rest. (I ended up having a negative balance on my card and they also just subtracted my negative balance from the HK$50 deposit along with the HK$9 fee.)
From my experience in Hong Kong, I believe the HK$100 is enough to last an average traveler in Hong Kong about 5 days. I had to reload my card once or twice, but I also had to take a specific bus to get to one of my accommodations that cost HK$10 one way.
Another thing I recommend purchasing is a pre-paid SIM card. The service I ended up choosing was by 1010, located near the bathrooms across from the MTR Airport Express both. They have several SIM card choices, but the one I ended up deciding on was the 8-day 5GB SIM card. They’ll transfer your SIM card for you and make sure the new one works before sending you off with your new data plan. With the plan I chose, I could also tap into thousands of Wi-Fi locations throughout the city. At some points during my trip, I’d rather use the data plan than use the free Wi-Fi in places because the data was faster.
Happy travels and with love,