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Hong Kong scraps pre-departure testing

Travel to and from Hong Kong is now fully back to normal, with the pre-departure ART test requirement finally axed.

Hong Kong has finally removed its last remaining COVID-19 travel restriction this month, having maintained some of the strictest COVID-19 health and border measures during the pandemic, with a removal of the pre-departure testing requirement for all inbound travellers from 1st April 2023.


This follows progressive relaxations since late September 2022, which have gradually seen the process for visting the city-state become more straightforward and realistic.

Pre-departure testing axed

The only aspect of travel to Hong Kong that hadn’t quite returned to pre-pandemic norms was the pre-departure test requirement.

Believe it or not, until 31st March 2023 a self-swab pre-departure antigen (ART) test within 24 hours of departure, or a clinic PCR test within 48 hours if you preferred, was still a requirement for travel to Hong Kong.

Supervision was not required and there was no need to visit a clinic if you didn’t want to – you basically just had to swab yourself at home with a S$5 ART kit.

Arriving travellers were asked to retain a photo of the negative test result for 90 days and provide it on request, though no one ever seemed to want to see it!


The Hong Kong Government admitted earlier this year it was keeping the PDT only “for the time being”, but now it’s formally gone.

From 1st April 2023, there are no more restrictions for inbound travellers to Hong Kong, with the pre-departure test requirement axed.

(Source: Government of Hong Kong SAR)

This returns the Hong Kong travel process entirely to pre-pandemic norms – no vaccination, no testing, no movement restrictions, no masks and no silly forms.

That’s a situation that still seemed unthinkable six months ago, when hotel quarantine had just been axed, but a plethora of other restrictions still made leisure travel a no-no.

The long road to pre-COVID travel to Hong Kong

Hong Kong went from being the potential first quarantine-free travel option for Singapore residents, in the form of the failed Air Travel Bubble (ATB), to one of the last, with the Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China only finally beginning to relax its entry requirements in September 2022, nearly two years after the ill-fated ATB was first due to launch.

Here’s how the city’s most significant reopening steps have looked:

  • 26th September 2022: Hotel quarantine was scrapped, though a strict testing regime and the inability to access most venues for a 3-day period after arrival remained (i.e. benefit primarily for returning residents).
  • 17th November 2022: Two out of four PCR tests for arriving travellers were removed, along with slight concessions over 3-day post-arrival movement restrictions.
  • 14th December 2022: Post-arrival movement restrictions were scrapped, but PCR testing remained.
  • 29th December 2022: On-arrival and post-arrival PCR testing was scrapped, leaving a pre-departure ART self-swab as the only mandatory test.
  • 6th February 2023: The requirement to be fully vaccinated to visit Hong Kong was scrapped.
  • 1st March 2023: Hong Kong ditched its mask mandate, removing the requirement to wear a mask in all except healthcare settings (mask-wearing on flights had already been made optional in 2022).
  • 1st April 2023: Pre-departure testing was removed.

Latest process for travel to Hong Kong

Here’s the latest process for travel to Hong Kong from any country.

Travel to Hong Kong

Eligibility & Vaccination
  • Hold one of over 160 nationalities to enter Hong Kong visa-free, or obtain a visa in advance
  • Vaccination is not required.
  • Travel insurance is not mandatory.
  • Tourist stays are limited to 14-180 days, depending on your nationality.
  • Singapore Citizens can visit for 90 days.
COVID-19 Tests
  • Recommended to conduct daily ART tests for the first five days after arrival (this is not mandatory).
  • Mask-wearing is mandatory in healthcare settings.

  Travel to Hong Kong

Singapore – Hong Kong flights

Since Hong Kong went quarantine-free, flight schedules have progressively increased and there are now 63 weekly flights between Singapore and the city state.

That’s more than double the volume running when quarantine was first dropped in September 2022, but still less than half pre-pandemic levels of 137 per week (January 2020).


April 2023 flights are shown in the following table.

Singapore – Hong Kong flights
(April 2023)

Airline / Flight Number Aircraft Days
CX658/711 777-300ER
CX690/691 A350-900
CX714/715 A350-900 Daily
CX716/2717 A350-900
SQ874/875 A350 LH Daily
SQ892/893 A380-800 Daily
SQ898/899 A350 MH Daily
TR978/979 787-8
UO781/780 A320 Daily
9 Daily

Cathay Pacific in particular has ramped up to four daily flights, while SIA has three daily services including its highest capacity aircraft – the A380.

Cathay Pacific is now offering 28 weekly Singapore – Hong Kong flights. (Photo: Cathay Pacific)

Cathay Pacific reopened its dedicated lounge at Changi T4 in February, and is progressively raising the shutters on all its global lounges by September 2023, including The Pier First Class in Hong Kong.

Singapore Airlines has brought forward the reinstatement of its fourth daily Hong Kong flight from 1st October 2023 to 1st August 2023, with a new SQ894/895 service operated by the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which will also mean additional First Class capacity on the route.

Hong Kong has now featured in SIA’s Spontaneous Escapes monthly award promotion in January 2023, February 2023, March 2023 and April 2023, with discounted redemptions in Economy, Premium Economy and Business Class, including on the Airbus A380 in some months.

Let’s hope the trend continues for the May offer, which will be released in mid-April.




Hong Kong has returned fully to pre-COVID normalcy from 1st April 2023, axing its pre-departure test requirement following a removal of the strict mask mandate, vaccination requirements, post-arrival testing and movement restrictions over the last six months.

That last remaining requirement – a self-swab ART test to conduct yourself at home – probably wasn’t putting many people off visiting, and probably wasn’t really being adhered to any more, but nonetheless it’s great to see it finally removed.

It’s been a long road, but visiting Hong Kong is now a fully pre-COVID experience for all travellers once again.

Will you be planning a trip to Hong Kong from 1st April? Let us know in the comments section below!

(Cover Photo: Robert Bye)



  1. Yes, going during the last week of this year!
    Hopefully the complimentary shuttle bus to hotel from Kowloon Station will be available by then.

  2. So it looks like there’s no chance that HKG-SFO will come back just yet right?

    Part of the reason could be due to the number of Boeing 777-300ER still in storage and not active (i.e. SWJ, SWK, SWM, SWN). Otherwise if it does come, it may be with an A350. CX is from time to time using 3x 77W interchanged with the A350 in certain periods. However, it looks like UA is also trying to go 2x daily with their 77W’s. Could this be why it’s not coming back online just yet?

    1. There could be any number of reasons but SIA has also been struggling with a shortage of cabin crew recently. SIN-HKG-SFO is quite a crew-intensive route.

      1. Got it. So we should anticipate that it should either come back next year or maybe not at all if they feel SIN-SFO-SIN route is doing good.

        The main problem is that only 1 flight has Y class while the ULR does not. Maybe the delivery of their next few A350’s will allow SQ34/33 to have Y class I suppose.

        Maybe it will come back with the B779’s instead when it comes in 2025 or 2026.

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