Can you still do a quick daytime stopover in Hong Kong?

A bit of shopping plus dinner and drinks with friends used to be the perfect way to break your journey.

By David Flynn, October 7 2022
Can you still do a quick daytime stopover in Hong Kong?

Breaking up a flight to Europe or the UK with a quick visit to Hong Kong used to be one of my favourite things to do. 

As enjoyable as a few days and nights in the city were, sometimes my schedule didn’t allow such side-trips – so I’d simply engineer a long break between my Cathay Pacific flight from Sydney to Hong Kong and the onwards leg to London, for example.

With luggage checked to lighten my carry-on load, I could stroll off first flight at Hong Kong, zip through the Frequent Visitor e-Channel passport gates and step onto the Airport Express, to arrive at Kowloon or Central stations less than 30 minutes later.

After a wander around, maybe some shopping or a stroll through the colourful but hectic night markets, and catching up with friends for dinner and drinks, it was a doddle to jump back onto the Airport Express, visit one of Cathay’s excellent lounges for a shower and supper and then continue my journey.

Now that Hong Kong has ended mandatory hotel quarantine, and with Cathay Pacific rebuilding its international network – including bringing scores of aircraft back from desert storage  – are such layovers still an option?

There’s the obvious need for all arrivals to undergo a PCR test on arrival at Hong Kong airport, although you don’t need to wait around for the result – you can head straight to the city and your hotel – but the risk of testing positive for Covid and being forced into quarantine at Hong Kong could be simply too high.

Even so, advice supplied to Executive Traveller by the Hong Kong Tourism Board suggests that breaking your journey with a side-trip to the city is not allowed.

All travellers bound for Hong Kong must complete an online health declaration form, which in turn requires an address in Hong Kong if you intend to leave the airport.

“At this stage, a transit of only a few hours can only be within the restricted area of the airport,” a spokesperson said, "but passengers can enter HK if they are staying overnight.”

And with only The Pier business class lounge open for lounge-worthy Cathay flyers, we’d suggest a sensibly short transit time will make the most sense.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2013

Total posts 136

Main land china government is a little too obsessed with covid (and making its SAR) to comply with their outdated mindset on covid control. This most likely would be the reason why most corporates are avoiding HKG and preferring SIN or other cities. I would love to see HKG become the awesome city it used to be, but i'm losing hope with Mr.Jinping being back for 3rd term.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Jul 2013

Total posts 15

there's a section of the Cathay business Pier lounge reserved for Oneworld Emerald's - with champagne, table service and an a la carte option available too

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Sep 2018

Total posts 155

Even if you were allowed to enter, you wouldn't be able to dine in. What's the point?

10 Apr 2020

Total posts 9

I think you will find at the National congress starting on the 16th of this month, for an opening up of China will be on the cards sooner rather than later.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Oct 2022

Total posts 2

Quick stayover? Thanks and no thanks. 

Read what is written in our Smartraveller - Overall advice level: Exercise a high degree of caution. Dual citizenship is no longer recognised in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region following the application of the Nationality Law of the People’s Republic of China (see ‘Local laws’). As previously advised, Hong Kong's National Security Law could be interpreted broadly and you could break the law without intending to.

11 May 2016

Total posts 12

As a mainland Chinese I have to admit HKG still possesses its priority over the rest of mainland China. HKG has a unique position in China that connects the international financial market, which is so crucial that the government would not risk losing that. 

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