Roundup: Airport to city transportation tips

26 Oct 2016 by Craig Bright
Hong Kong Cityscape

When travelling between a major airport and the city centre, going by car or taxi isn’t always the most effective means, particularly when those airports are located far on the outskirts of the city. In these instances, using a dedicated express train can often be the most prudent option.

But travel by train is not simply a matter of buying a ticket and being on your way – there are tricks to making that journey even more efficient. We take a look at some of the ways travellers can make their trips between the airport and the city in these Asian destinations a little more cost effective.

Hong Kong International Airport – Hong Kong

Operated by the MTR (Mass Transit Railway) Corporation, Hong Kong’s Airport Express takes travellers from the airport to the city’s central business district on Hong Kong Island in just 24 minutes.

Costing HK$100 (US$12.8) for a one-way journey to Hong Kong Station, the service becomes cheaper with a larger group. A ticket for a group of two averages out to HK$85 (US$10.9) per person, while a group of three costs HK$76.7 (US$9.9) per person and a group of four is just HK$70 (US$9) per person. That said, if you are travelling with children between the ages of three and 11, stick to buying them a HK$50 (US$6.4) children’s ticket.

Meanwhile for travellers staying on the Kowloon peninsular side of Victoria Harbour, Airport Express currently offers a 50 per cent discount on train tickets when a taxi is used to travel to the line’s Kowloon or Tsing Yi Stations, for travel on or before June 30, 2017. The taxi fare must be HK$60 (US$7.7) or more with an original receipt for the taxi on the date of issue – and travellers need to have a valid stored-value Octopus travel card.

Looking out over downtown Seoul and the Han River.

Seoul Incheon International Airport – Seoul

Seoul’s notorious rush hour traffic jams may make travel via road seem like an awful idea. Indeed, taxis in the city can be quite expensive – operating on flat rates to particular areas of the city, starting at KRW55,000 (US$48) – and the journey by road can take upwards of 45 minutes depending on traffic.

A more economical but still highly comfortable option is Korean Air’s KAL Limousine bus service, which stops at a wide number of hotels. The service is not just restricted to those flying with the carrier either, and while the journey takes approximately 80 to 90 minutes, it costs just KRW16,000 (US$14). Spacious seats and complimentary wifi and mineral water are offered.

That said, an even more economical option is the city’s Airport Railroad Express (AREX) – not to be confused with the KTX Korea Train Express – that goes non-stop between Incheon airport and Seoul Station and takes 43 minutes. The service is currently offering a discount from its previous price of KRW14,800 (US$13) to KRW8,000 (US$7) for all travellers, valid until December 31, 2016. Meanwhile, purchasing a ticket at an automatic ticket machine at Seoul Station or Incheon airport provides a further KRW500 (US$0.44) discount.

Travellers with tickets for flights on Jeju Air, Korean Air, Asiana Airlines and China Southern Airlines within seven days can get a further discount to KRW6,900 (US$6) when they present their tickets upon purchase. Regardless of airline, however, groups of three or more can get a discounted rate of KRW6,000 (US$5.3) per person.;

Tokyo Rainbow Bridge

Narita International Airport – Tokyo

Though it shares incoming international traffic with Tokyo’s other major airport, Haneda International Airport, Narita is a great deal farther from the city than its counterpart. This distance can make taxis or cars to the centre of the city particularly prohibitive in terms of cost and time efficiency.

East Japan Railway Company (JR East) operates the Narita Express (N’Ex) that travels directly between Narita International and major stops in the city, including Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shibuya and Yokohama, among others. The journey time is approximately 53 minutes from Tokyo Station and the trains offer wifi.

Perhaps the most attractive aspect for international travellers, however, is the reduced fare offered to foreign passport holders. The N’Ex Tokyo Round Trip Ticket reduces the cost for a regular round-trip ticket in ordinary cars with reserved seating to a flat 4,000 yen (US$38.3) regardless of destination – a vast discount compared to the regular fare of 6,040 yen (US$57.9) to Tokyo Station or 9,240 yen (US$88.5) to Ofuna. Tickets have to be purchased at the JR East Travel Service Centers or JR Ticket Offices at the airport, and require passengers present a non-Japanese passport.

Pudong International Airport – Shanghai

Much like Narita, Pudong International Airport acts as an out-of-town alternative to its sister airport, Hongqiao International Airport – though the large majority of international flights go through Pudong.

The city’s Maglev (magnetic-levitation) train is fast. Hitting speeds of up to 430km/h, the train gets you to the outer part of the city on the Pudong side of the Huangpu River in approximately eight minutes – a journey that would typically take about 45 minutes by road. From there, connections to the Shanghai Metro can be accessed directly at Longyang Road Station, or a taxi could be taken the rest of the way into the centre of town.

A single-journey ticket costs RMB50 (US$7.3) and the service also offers a VIP class at twice the cost. However, if you present an air ticket for the same day as your journey, a single journey ticket ends up being just RMB40 (US$5.9) for standard class. Meanwhile, regular travellers to the city can opt for a RMB900 (US$132.8) ticket valid for 30 standard-class trips for one year after purchase – averaging out to RMB30 (US$4.4) per trip.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia city skyline.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport – Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur’s KLIA Ekspres is arguably the most convenient way to travel to the city from the airport. The express even offers a VIP Service providing executive-class door-to-door service with a car transfer between the main station in the city, KL Sentral, and your hotel.

However, travellers looking to get the best deal when using the express can get a 20 per cent discount when buying a single or return ticket from now until December 31, 2016. The purchase has to be made with a Mastercard debit or credit card, with tickets valid for travel one month from the date of purchase. Thought it should be noted this discount applies only to standard one-way and return ticket purchases and not for the VIP Service.

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