In the peak hours of arrival, the taxi queue at Paddington (connecting for the Heathrow Express) can be quite sizable. Don't forget that there is a taxi share service that runs from the station so you can get to where you are going and save money if you share a taxi. London is split into different zones and there should be an agent at the station to help you.
Fed up with battling with the tube? Not wanting to switch at Paddington? Try the new service from National Express which provides a dedicated stopping service to central London and Canary Wharf. Prices from around £20 (various offers currently available online).
...yes there is one. Most people arriving are EU citizens anyway and the non-citizens queue (on the right) is out of bounds, but there is a way. Choose the far right hand queue of the seven or so normal EU queues when you exit the train from the terminals - this is next to the non-EU desks and here there is always double the manning of every other EU queue. Works every time.
We've all heard the stories. You get off a long-haul flight, queue at immigration and when you think you're finally there... you discover that your suitcase has been damaged in transit. Whilst cursing under your breath may make you feel better. Remember that you can actually claim back off the airlines and get them to replace the suitcase. Make sure you fill in a claim form and ideally keep the receipt for your luggage and take photos to prove its condition. Full details can be found on the relevant airline's website
Claim counter at baggage collection
Many long-haul Asian and transatlantic flights land early in the morning. Whilst this is not so much a problem during the week, on Sundays I've found myself waiting outside the locked underground station waiting for it to open (with no information to go by and no one around to help), particularly when my flight lands early. To save you some time and worry, here are the details:
First tube - Heathrow T 1,2,3
Sun - 0553
First tube - Heathrow T 5
Sun - 0558
Note the first Heathrow Express trains are: T5/T1, 2, 3
Sun - 0503/0508
Note first T4 departure is 0553 on Sundays
Note the first Heathrow Connect trains are: T4/T1, 2, 3
Sun - 0607/0613
It's a little-known fact but if you are a BMI gold card holder, and are flying on Virgin Atlantic (any class) out of London Heathrow, you are able to use their award-winning Virgin Atlantic clubhouse. The clubhouse is world-renowned with a beauty therapist, hairdressers, full bar and restaurant and games area. Those who want to bring in a guest may look at the virginholidays website where guest passes can be purchased for £60.
When travelling on the Heathrow Express from Paddington, keep an eye on the platform floor, it points to the end of the train you should sit at in order to be closest to your terminal. Also, when getting to the terminal from the Heathrow Central station, never take the escalators, these wrap around and take longer than the lifts.
Taxis are cheap and plentiful but getting to an exact address can be difficult unless your Cantonese is up to scratch. Use the underground (MTR) instead.
Each MTR station has lettered exits. There is always a map in the station and using this can help you find the correct exit. Or just ask the office you are visiting for the exit number. If you are revisiting, write the exit number on any business card you get - but not while you are in the meeting. It's a bit of an insult to write on a business card.
Would you like to avoid lugging your suitcase all the way to the airport? All you need to do is make use of Hong Kong's airport express train. Direct to Hong Kong Island/Airport in 25 minutes, you can also check in before departure at the train station. This becomes ideal when you have to check out of your hotel by 12 but you don't have a flight until the evening.
Those who are familiar with Hong Kong will know that the city is split across two key areas. Kowloon is attached to the mainland and whilst it benefits from all the colour and charm that Hong Kong has to offer, it isn't as convenient for business as Hong Kong Island. When you are in Hong Kong for business, it's best to stay on Hong Kong Island and you will be close to the business district. Taxis are easy to come by but you may find yourself commuting more quickly by MTR, tram or even walking.
Hong Kong Island
What it is: Hong Kong's Octopus card - a prepaid travel card that can also be used to pay for items at convenience stores as well as travel.
Why I recommend it: One of the headaches of travelling to a new place is dealing with all of the change and new currency. A big headache can be removed by getting an Octopus card (which can be bought from the Airport Express counter). You can purchase an Octopus card at any MTR station or at the airport that can be charged up with a return Airport Express journey (or single) and 3 days unlimited travel on the MTR. Buy one card and you can also use it for paying for chewing gum, water or whatever at your local 7-11 store as well. A guide on how to use it can be found online.
Airport Express One Free Single Journey + 3 days unlimited travel on MTR + $50 deposit + Stored value $20 = Price HK$220.
Airport Express Two Free Single Journeys (valid for 180 days) + 3 days unlimited travel on MTR + $50 deposit + Stored value $20 = Price HK$300.
You can also get a card which excludes the Airport Express transfer if you don't need it. Also remember that there is a refundable deposit on the card too.
If you're in Hong Kong and you can take two days (or more) off, then travel agents on Nathan Road (Kowloon) can arrange a trip to Beijing (flights, hotel and visa) with 24 hours' notice. It's not so expensive and well worth the effort. Just one or two nights in Beijing are very rewarding.
Bottom of Nathan Road (ferry end) on Kowloon. There are many travel agents.
How can waving your handbag over a sensor gain you entry to the underground railway network? They must have an Octopus card in there somewhere. A must-buy as soon as you arrive in HK. The best thing to use when paying for public transport (except taxis). You simply pay a HK$50 deposit (which is refunded on its return, or you can keep as a souvenir) and add as much value as you think you need. We charged ours up with HK$100 which lasted us comfortably for 3 days travel. Simply wave your card over the reader to gain entry to the MTR and then wave it again to exit. Your fare is calculated and deducted. Dead easy to use. Not only that but the MTR is the most efficient way to get around Hong Kong. My wife summed it up best when she mused that the MTR is the best underground railway she had even been on. When asked why she simply replied "it's so clean and I feel tall".
Valid though these reasons may be, what impressed me was the speed and the efficiency of the service which moves 2.4 million people every weekday through its 51 stations over 83.7km. Simple touches like a map showing you where on the line your train is and lights showing which side of the train the door will open on made the journeys more enjoyable.
Unlike older underground networks, like London, you can also get a mobile phone signal on the MTR, making sure you don't miss that vital call. It is also cheap with the maximum fare around HK$13 for a single journey (unless you venture out to Chung Tung which will set you back HK$20 – around £1.20). Of course there is the inconvenience of packed carriages at times and the confusion about which exit to take in the larger stations but the attractions are all well signposted. But we agreed that safe is the keyword for the MTR. We always felt safe, unlike in London, Rome, Paris and Barcelona, which is possibly due to the clean, modern look of the stations and the trains.
The only problem is that it is largely underground! Whilst the MTR is the way to get around Hong Kong, the Star Ferry is the only way to get from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon (or vice-versa). By taking the ferry you can get a view of the Hong Kong skyline like no other. And how much do you pay for this view? Something in the region of £1 - £2 for the 10 minute crossing, and photo opportunities aplenty. You can also use the Octopus card to make purchases from 7-Eleven stores (where you can also charge them up, as well as at MTR stations), McDonalds, KFC etc.
In summer consider renting a public bicycle. The cost of three days is 125 kr (or 250 kr for the whole season). You can get the card to use the bikes at any SL centre. You can use a Bicycle for three hours, then place it back in one of the 70 stations in Stockholm, and you can grab another one.
It's available from 6am to 6pm every day.
The south of Hong Kong Island is a nice place to escape to after spending time walking through the interesting streets of Hong Kong. Sit and enjoy the view of the sea and find the hotel with a hole in it - apparently something to do with the spirit of a dragon! Probably best not to swim in the sea though - I hear it's quite polluted. Get on a bus and take to the top deck for a ride across Hong Kong Island.
It’s quicker to take the S-Bahn rail service from Terminal 1 at Frankfurt airport than to bother with a taxi. It’s cheaper, too. You can get a day pass that includes the airport trip for around €6.85 and the journey is just 11 minutes into town. A taxi, on the other hand, will take you half an hour and cost about €30.
Its often popular to stay near the 'hauptbahnhoff' in Frankfurt - but if you can, try and avoid it. The 1km around the Hbf (hauptbahnhoff) has a reputation for being seedy and full of crime. There are many hotels just five minutes' underground ride away from the Hbf, which will leave you more centrally located for any meals/drink you may want - usually located around Hauptwache or Konstablerwache.
Get yourself a Privium card if you regularly transit through Schiphol to Schengen countries (most of Europe). This allows you to bypass the long Passport queues using an Iris Scanner and channels you through the Aircrew Security Scanners. This has saved my trip many a time due to delayed flights and tight connections.
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