Enter the (Flying) Dragon – Hong Kong Airport Highlights

 

 

The first time I flew out of Hong Kong International Airport (HKG), I was lucky enough to have access to the Cathay Pacific lounge known as The Pier. It was a memorable experience.

Because HKG is Cathay’s home airport, it has several lounges scattered around the terminals. But The Pier is something special. Walking along its length, from room to room, feels like taking a stroll through the opening shot of an arthouse movie.

There’s a dedicated noodle room, a tea room, bars and relaxation rooms, and at the very end there’s a dimly-lit space dotted with comfy reclined chairs that are more like beds.

You need to be flying Business or First on Cathay or another OneWorld airline to access The Pier, of course. But Hong Kong Airport has plenty of attractions even if you’re flying in Economy. Here are some highlights.

1. Take the train. HKG is served by the Airport Express, a dedicated rail service which runs to Hong Kong Island, with stops in Tsing Yi and Kowloon. It takes 24 minutes to make the trip, which you can do with the local Octopus card (though it’s a higher fare than other lines, HK$110). It’s well worth getting an Octopus card for HK$150, which includes HK$100 credit. Aside from use in local travel, it can be used to pay for small purchases almost everywhere.

2. Catch a ferry. If you’re actually heading elsewhere in China, you don’t need to clear immigration at HKG. Instead you can catch a ferry from the airport’s SkyPier, to Pearl River Delta destinations such as Macau. So you get to skip passport control, and have a picturesque cruise into the bargain.

3. Lounge access. Even if you’re not flying at the pointy end, you can access the comfortable interiors of the Plaza Premium Lounge at several locations across HKG (even in Arrivals). Entry costs US$75 for two hours, US$100 for five hours, and includes free wifi and food. The signature dish, as the company happily points out on its website, is Hong Kong-style fish ball noodle soup with homemade XO sauce.

 

 

4. Go to the movies. The UA IMAX Theatre in Departures has room for 350 patrons, and screens some spectacular content designed for its big high-tech screen.

5. See more planes. If too much aviation is never enough, head for the Aviation Discovery Centre on Level 6. It’s full of exhibits devoted to flight, and also has access to the panoramic SkyDeck viewing area from where you can watch planes take off and land.

6. Eat HK style. As you’d expect, there are plenty of food outlets serving Asian cuisines within the airport. For distinctively Hong Kong-style dining, try Tsui Wah, a popular local chain. Sizzling king prawns with fried noodles are popular here, as are the fish balls and fish cakes served with flat rice noodles in fish soup.

7. Shop till you fly. As you might expect, HKG is well stocked with fashion boutiques, and shops selling all manner of desirable retail therapy goods.

8. Go golfing. Fancy a round of golf before you fly? Believe it or not, no problem. The GreenLive Air facility offers virtual simulations of the game over nine or 18 holes (HK$200 per hour). Or you can just practise your putting if you like, that’s time well spent in transit.

For more about Hong Kong International Airport’s highlights and services, visit here

Tim Richards was hosted by Cathay Pacific

You can get Hong Kong included as a stopover on a Navigator RTW or on our Discoverer RTW deal

 

Published by Stuart Lodge

 

 

 

 

 

 

How do you solve a problem like Singapore?

 

 

David Whitley steps back from his computer games to find out how Singapore deals with its lack of space.

For those of us who spent abnormal amounts of time playing SimCity and other such playing god-esque computer games, Singapore is a fascinating test scenario.

The Asian city state is unique in planning terms. It’s a proper country (sorry, we’re not counting Monaco and the Vatican here), that’s also a city, crammed into an extremely limited piece of land. There’s probably nowhere else in the world where use of space is such a delicate balancing act, and every planning decision truly counts.

And it is this tightrope walk that makes the Singapore City Gallery far, far more interesting than it should be. It is basically a museum about how the city is planned, and anywhere else that could be dustbowl dry and nerdy. Here, though, you’re invited to play the game.

It kicks off with big sweeping stats about urbanisation – by 2050, 70% of the world’s population will live in cities; every week a new city the size of Kyoto or Barcelona springs up etc etc. But then it goes into Singapore’s specific challenges.

Despite extensive land reclamation, Singapore only has 710 square kilometres to play with. And the initial bank of touch screens strike home just how much has to fit in that space. Other cities have the luxury of placing some needs outside the city. Singapore can’t do that – defence installations, cemeteries, reservoirs, green areas, ports, airports, sewage works, expressways, commerce, housing and industry all have to be found a spot within the borders.

For comparison, Melbourne has a slightly smaller population than Singapore, but is 10.8 times bigger. London has just under three times the population and is 11.8 times bigger. Then you’ve got to consider that Singapore is also the broadcasting hub of Asia, has the world’s busiest port, and there are massive electronics, petrochemical and aerospace repair industries. Wrangling all that while keeping people happy and the environment liveable is an enormous task.

 

 

It’s also a task you get to try your hand at time and time again. Where the Singapore City Gallery excels is in making you have a go yourself, with a series of games aimed at balancing the competing demands. What would you put where? How would you break the zones down? What building designs would you put in a prime redevelopment slot? And do you preserve heritage or knock down to create more space?

Getting such things laughably wrong several times succeeds in its aim of giving you serious respect for the planners who draw up the ideas for Singapore’s future. But you can look at the plans too. The masterplan for the next ten to 15 years has been computerised, and you can scroll through maps of Singapore, painstakingly colour-coded into zones on a block by block basis. It’s enormously detailed and complex, and it’s difficult not to leave awestruck.

Especially when, on SimCity, you can ignore people complaining about traffic or lack of parks. In SingCity, they’re real human beings and need to be kept onboard in arguably the trickiest town planning puzzle on earth.

 

 

You can get Singapore included as a stopover on your round the world here