Manila to Hong Kong Flight via Cebu Pacific

With just four hours of sleep after the 2009 Philippine Blog Awards Night, me and my siblings were already awake at around 2:00 AM preparing for our 3 days and 2 nights trip to Hong Kong and Macau.

Aerial view of Hong Kong International Airport

Important things to Bring for Hong Kong and Macau Trip

Our things were already packed the night before but we made sure not to forget anything  important, especially our tickets and travel documents. Here’s a checklist of things to bring:

  • Passport
  • Valid IDs (just a precaution but there’s already the passport for ID)
  • Credit card used for purchasing tickets online
  • Money (most of my money were already in US$ so that it’s easier to exchange currency to HK$, I brought a few thousand Pesos to spend for food, terminal fee, and Philippine travel tax)
  • Maps printed from Google Earth (I wished I already had my Ipod Touch this time since all (or most) of Hong Kong has free WIFI and I could have just used the Google Maps app)
  • Printout of detailed 3 days and 2 night Hong Kong and Macau Itinerary
  • Manila to Hong Kong Cebu Pacific Flight Ticket
  • Hong Kong MTR Airport Express Tourist Pass Ticket (3 days)
  • Disneyland Hong Kong Ticket
  • Ocean Park Hong Kong Ticket
  • Hong Kong to Macau Turbojet Ferry Ticket
  • Macau to Manila Cebu Pacific Flight Ticket
  • Small Secure (Sling) Travel Bag to be carried around for most of the trip – contains passport, IDs, ticket, money, credit card, and camera.
  • Light Backpack – clothes, toiletries, and an extra bag for storing stuff acquired in Hong Kong and Macau

Check-in at Ninoy Aquino (Manila) International Airport Terminal 3

Interiors of Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3

At around 3:40am, We arrived in Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) two hours before our Manila to Hong Kong flight. Cebu Pacific uses terminal 3 (T3) for all its domestic and international flights. We had to wait until 4-5:00am for the international check-in counters of Cebu Pacific to open, so for the meantime, we ate breakfast in one of the terminal’s food stalls.

International Check-in Counters of Cebu Pacific in NAIA T3

After check-in, we paid the P750 terminal/departure fee (for international flights) and P1,620 for the travel tax (only applicable to Philippine residents), and then waited at the pre-departure area for our boarding call.

Pre-departure area of NAIA T3

Inside the Smoking Area near the pre-departure area of NAIA T3

I’ve been to NAIA T3 several times already but only for arriving flights. This is my first time departing from T3 … going through the check-in and pre-departure procedures. From the outside T3 looks boring … I would’ve liked it better if it had an ulta-modern appeal since it’s NAIA’s newest terminal. The only consolation I have for T3 is that it’s newer and much bigger than the other terminals in NAIA. It’s actually quite HUGE! having a total length of one kilometer. Such a pain for walking with hand carry baggage, good thing they have walkalators spread across the building. The architecture gets a lot better inside but it still doesn’t compare to the “zenish” style of T2 / Centennial Terminal in NAIA.

Manila to Hong Kong Cebu Pacific Flight

We bought our ticket, months in advance, for only P2,134 (round trip fare per person) during a seat sale promo from Cebu Pacific Airlines. You can find the latest promo fares posted at: Cebu Pacific PromoAir Asia PromoPhilippine Airlines PromoSEAIR PromoAirphil Express PromoZest Air Promo.

Cebu Pacific flies to Hong Kong 5 to 6 times daily. We chose their first flight at 5:40am, which arrived on time during our trip. We forgot to mention at the check-in counter to give us good window seats. We were seated near the wing, which blocked most of the view during the flight. Good thing the plane wasn’t full, I had the chance to transfer to a better window seat.

My first sunrise during a plane flight

I got to see blue skies, clouds, clouds, clouds, and c-l-o-u-d-s … zzz

Arriving in Hong Kong International Airport

View of the Hong Kong International Airport outside a glass windows in the terminal

Cebu Pacific Planes use the tubes/bridge at the far end of the terminal building at the Hong Kong International Airport. Immediately after exiting the plane, my brother told us that he couldn’t find his passport, which he though was still in his pocket. We were so worried and started to panic … not able to find the passport in his pockets, and bags. We were still at the terminal tube and the airport staff were already signalling us to move on … we looked like soon to be OFWs looking for work abroad and then anticipating to be deported back to the Philippines moments after arriving in the airport. If I weren’t so worried, I would’ve just laughed at our situation. Luckily, one of the airport officials found the missing passport under his seat at the plane. It must have fallen while he was sleeping during the flight. After our stress-inducing first blooper, we walked a lengthy way to the next step – the immigration counters.

Inside the Hong Kong International Airport

We ended up going to this large hall with a platform and  rail line. At the time, we were confused and thinking that we weren’t ready to to go out of the airport yet since we still haven’t gone though immigration, exchanged our US$, and claimed our MTR Travel passes. Taking cue from the other passengers, we blindly went inside the next train. Turns out that train was just for transporting passengers from different parts of the airport … and not the trains going to downtown Hong Kong. Second blooper!

Immigration Counter at the Hong Kong International Airport

The queue at the immigration counters were soooooo long! It took us a little more than an hour to go through this step. This was our third blooper, which was a consequence of our first blooper. If you want to avoid long wait lines at the immigration counters, I suggest making a run for it immediately after you exit the plane to get ahead of all the other passengers. The airline you flew in gives you a Hong Kong arrival card to fill up during the flight. You should present this card together with your passport at the immigration counters.

Since we didn’t have any of our bags checked-in, we didn’t have to go through the baggage reclaim hall.

Exchanging currency to Hong Kong Dollars (HK$)

We exchanged most of our US$ at the currency exchange counters at the International Airport (after reading tips online saying that the rates at the airport are good). We found out later that the exchange rates in Downtown Hong Kong (Tsim Sha Tsui and Mongkok) are actually a lot better than the rates at the airport. I wished I had just changed a few bucks in the airport … just enough to get to Downtown Hong Kong and then change most of my money there.

Free Duty Shops at the Hong Kong International Airport

Hong Kong Tourism Board Visitor Information

We made a quick pitstop at the Hong Kong Tourism Board information stall at the arrival  hall to get free maps and brochures. I usually do this in all of my trips for free souvenirs :D

Hong Kong MTR Airport Express Travel Pass

For our trip, we got a 3 Day MTR Airport Express Travel pass with 1 single journey on the Airport Express. We purchased it online (Hong Kong MTR official website) for HK$220 and claimed the actual tickets at the Hong Kong International Airport. Airport Express Travel Passes are an ideal way to get around Hong Kong. Enabling tourists to travel not only to / from the Airport, but also within the city.

Getting in and out of Hong Kong International Airport

Hong Kong International Airport is locally known as Chek Lap Kok Airport because it is built on the island of Chek Lap Kok. Chep Lap Kok is one of the islets surrounding Lantau Island. From the airport, it takes around 30 minutes to Downtown Hong Kong. The fastest and most convenient way to transport from the airport to the city is through the Airport Express line (regularly priced at HK$100 one-way).

Inside the Hong Kong MTR Airport Express Line

You can also ride the taxi or bus:

A taxi ride to Tsim Sha Tsui costs HK$225 while going to Central will be just under HK$300. Red-colored taxi takes passengers from the airport to anywhere in Hong Kong, including New Territories and Lantau Island. Green taxis will travel only within the New Territories. Blue taxis are limited to Lantau.

The Cityflyer airport bus is also an inexpensive option to get in and out of Hong Kong International Airport. The buses depart every 15 minutes to Central with travel time taking approximately one hour.

My next Hong Kong and Macau journal entry will be about how we traveled from the airport to Wing Sing Hotel in Yau Ma Tei (along Temple St.)