Traveller's tips: the Hong Kong Airport Express

By David Flynn, June 23 2011
Traveller's tips: the Hong Kong Airport Express

One of the best features of the award-winning Hong Kong International Airport is the Airport Express train, which barrels from the airport to the city’s Kowloon and Central districts in 25 minutes.

Here are our top tips to make your journey even smoother.

Buy a single ticket at the ticket machine

The automated ticket machines at HKIA sell only single and same-day return tickets – not the more practical ‘round trip’ ticket which lets you take your return journey up to 30 days later. Those are sold only at the airport’s ticket counters.

But why bother? The round trip ticket costs HK$160 (A$20) if you’re heading to Kowloon and HK$180 ($22) for Central, which is only A$2.50 cheaper than buying two singles (at HK$90 each way for Kowloon and HK$100 for Central). So just grab a one-way from the machine and be done with it.

And if you’re just heading into Hong Kong for the day, to break up a long stopover, you’ll be pleased to know the same-day return ticket costs as much as a one-way ticket: HK$90 to Kowloon and HK$100 to Central.

Skip the ticket counter in the airport arrivals hall

If you’re buying anything other than a single or same-day return ticket, you could join the line snaking around the circular counter in the arrivals hall.

But because you know better, you cruise past the counter and head up the stairs to the station itself and you buy your tickets at the station counter where the queue is much shorter, if there’s one at all.

Use your Octopus card

If you’ve got one of Hong Kong’s stored-value Octopus smartcards, you can use this instead of buying a ticket.

Train coming? Don’t fret

Airport Express trains run every 12 minutes from shortly before 6am to just after midnight. So if there's a small line at the  ticket machines or desk, take it easy - there’ll be another train along soon.

Get free wi-fi on the train

Want to check your email en route to the city? Hong Kong Airport has free wi-fi but if you were too busy lining up at immigration, then grabbing your bags and making a move, the Airport Express has a wireless hotspot provided by local carrier PCCW.

You can get instant access to this by choosing PCCW as the roaming network on your mobile phone and pressing *166# – you’ll receive an automated SMS with details for 24 hours of free access.

Look for a quiet carriage

Several cars on the Airport Express are labeled as quiet zones.

That means there's no blaring audio to accompany the video programs shown on the in-carriage TV screens. This is good.

However, it does't mean that your fellow passengers are supposed to refrain from yammering away on their mobile phones. This is not so good.

Check your luggage in at the Airport Express station

The Airport Express stations at Central and Kowloon have check-in counters for all major airlines flying out of Hong Kong airport.

Our advice? On the day you fly out, head straight to the Airport Express station first thing in the morning. Check your luggage in and then hit the city for the rest of the day. When you’re done you can make your way to the airport knowing that your bags have already gone ahead of you.

Change your return station

If you buy a round-trip ticket to Kowloon but end up needing to head back to the airport from Central, you can pay the difference at Central's Airport Express ticket counter and your card will be revalidated to work at the Central turnstyles.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Skywards Gold

21 Apr 2011

Total posts 54

You can also hop on the train at the airport without a ticket and buy it at your arrival station.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2545

I didn't know that... great tip, thanks Jetsetter!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Nov 2010

Total posts 60

the quiet cars on the airport train don't have speakers in the headrests for the monitor mounted at the front of each carriage section, the rest do

23 Jun 2011

Total posts 1

I have just been to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific. Their inflight  shopping boklet offers discounted prices on Airport Express tickets, so it is worth buying before you land.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2545

Really? I had no idea - that's a great tip, thanks for sharing!

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