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Hong Kong Versus Singapore – Coming and Going

Two days ago I started to compare Hong Kong and Singapore, and then I got distracted by the Dragon Boat races so I want to continue what I started.

Airports
For years I believed that Changi Airport in Singapore was the best airport in the world. Now that Hong Kong has Chek Lap Kok, Singapore has some competition.

Changi still has some things Chek Lap Kok doesn’t like an in-terminal movie theater and an interactive science museum for the kid in all of us. I think Hong Kong has better airport restaurants and Singapore has better airport shopping. Boarding in Hong Kong is easier because carry-on bags are inspected before you enter the departure area while in Singapore; carry-ons are inspected at the gate, which means once you enter the boarding area, you are pretty much stuck there until your flight leaves. It also means, there’s no place to sit and wait for the gate personnel to arrive.

Check-in at both airports is as hassle free as it can be in this era of heightened security. I wish the management of Los Angeles International would visit these two airports to find out how to do check-in and security right. Immigration personnel at both airports are courteous and efficient, arriving and departing. I have an advantage at Chek Lap Kok because all I have to do is insert my new Smart ID card and have my thumb print read. Luggage retrieval is fast, usually my bag gets to the carousel before I do, but that could be Cathay Pacific’s doing.

Public Transportation

Changi Airport is much closer to Singapore’s City Center than Chek Lap Kok is to Hong Kong’s. The Airport Express train in Hong Kong makes that difference negligible, though. At HK$180.00 (US$23.40) R/T it is an incredible bargain and is set up for travelers with luggage. Porters help you load your bags on the train. In Singapore you can take the MRT train for only S$2.00 (US$1.28) but it is not very user friendly if you have bags or wish to taxi from your stop to your final destination. The quickest alternative is to take a taxi which costs about S$15.00 plus a S$5.00 surcharge (US$12.80 total).

The dedicated airport busses in Hong Kong are a very economical substitute for the train. The fares vary but figure HK$45.00 (US$5.85) to Central District. Singapore’s busses are cheaper but once again not traveler-friendly. Singapore does have door to door shuttle vans at S$6.00 (US$3.80) per person each way. This is an excellent alternative if you are traveling alone. Taxis to and from the airport in Hong Kong are very expensive, minimum HK$350.00 (US$45.50), although you can sometimes negotiate a cheaper fare.

The bottom line is that both cities offer many economical and convenient alternatives to get to and from the airport. This is in stark contrast to airports like Narita, outside Tokyo or New York’s JFK airport to say nothing of LAX which has only an inefficient shuttle van service, taxis or rent-a-car.

More Hong Kong versus Singapore later.