Visitors to Hong Kong will discover that there are many options for Hong Kong public transportation, including buses, trains, MTR, ferries…and even old Victorian trams! The best ways to get around Hong Kong will likely include a combination of all these different methods of travel, depending on where you are staying, and what you plan to do. Here is a quick overview of some of the major modes of Hong Kong public transportation.
Hong Kong Public Transportation – MTR
Hong Kong has a fantastic commuter railway system called the Hong Kong MTR. It is the most cost efficient and most use of all the Hong Kong public transportation. Built in 1979, the system provides convenient, efficient, and safe transportation all around Hong Kong. The MTR is one of the best ways for tourists to get around the city. Just look for the metro signs around town (pictured below).
The Hong Kong public transportation’s MTR covers a wide area, and even connects the main Kowloon peninsula with Hong Kong Island and Lantau Island, where the airport is located. In fact, the HK Airport Express line transports passengers between the airport and the Hong Kong Central in just less than 30 minutes.
There are a variety of ticket options available for the Hong Kong MTR
Single Journey: You can easily purchase single journey tickets at the station using the kiosks, or you can go to the counter. Prices will range depending on the length of the journey, but to give you an idea, the trip from Tsim Sha Tsui station to Hong Kong Island Central station is 9.5 Hong Kong dollars.
Tourist Day Tickets: The Hong Kong Tourist day pass is a cost effective way to enjoy unlimited travel around Hong Kong on the main MTR and certain light rail lines for one day. The pass is only available to non-residents of Hong Kong who have been in Hong Kong for less than 14 days. The pass is valid for 1 month from the date of issue. Once the first use is recorded, you will have a full 24 consecutive hours to use it before it expires.
Hong Kong Octopus Card: The Octopus card is a great option for people who plan on being in Hong Kong for multiple days, or plan to visit on multiple occasions. With this single card, passengers can easily pay for all types of transport around Hong Kong, including ferries, and some journeys are at a discounted rate.
The Octopus card can be purchased at any of the major MTR stations, and at the airport upon your arrival. Then you need to load the card with funds, a minimum amount is required. When you use the card, it will tell you how much balance you have remaining, and you can easily reload the card at the machines inside the MTR stations.
** Note: You will also see the Octopus readers at some stores and restaurants, like 7-11 and McDonald’s, which makes it easier to pay for your purchases. You can also put money on your Octopus cards at any 7-11 location (as well as some other stores around town – they should have a sign).
How to Purchase Tickets for the Hong Kong MTR
Buying tickets for the Hong Kong MTR is easy. Just go into any of the stations and look for the self-service machines. Here you can purchase a single journey ticket. You will also find machines to check the balance of Octopus cards, as well as machines to reload the Octopus card.
If you are purchasing Octopus cards for the first time, or if you have questions or more complicated matters, then simple look for the customer service kiosk for help.
Hong Kong Public Transportation: Historic Hong Kong Island Trams
On Hong Kong Island, you have the chance to travel on one of the historic trams that have transported passengers along busy streets since 1904. If you want to travel on historic public transportation in Hong Kong then this is for your. You have to at least ride it once while visiting HK. Even all these years later, they offer an affordable and fun way to get around, while harkening back to a different time of Hong Kong. It’s definitely worth the small price to ride around town in these old trams, especially if you can get a seat on the top on a nice day!
No matter how far you travel, all trips on the Hong Kong trams cost a flat $2.30 and you are expected to have exact change. However, Octopus cards are accepted too. Board the tram at the rear and have a seat, you will pay the fare at the front when getting off.
Trams run daily from early morning until midnight, and you can hop on routes that will take you around Hong Kong’s most colorful and scenic neighborhoods, such as Happy Valley, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, North Point, and the Western district.
Hong Kong Public Transportation: Bus System
Buses are everywhere in Hong Kong. They are comfortable, safe, inexpensive, and the double-decker buses are popular because of the great views of town from the top level. There are many bus companies in Hong Kong, each with differing routes.
The final destinations of each bus are displayed on the front of the bus in both English and Chinese, and the bus numbers are easy to see as well. Bus stops are all over town, and some will also have the route information displayed on a sign. Fares differ depending on the destination, and you must have exact change. However, Octopus cards are also accepted.
On Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the New Territories, major buses include the Kowloon Motor Bus, Citybus, and New World First Bus. On Lantau Island, New Lantao Bus has routes all over the island, while Long Win bus has service on the north side of the island and to the airport.
You will also find small mini-buses around town. These are cheap and prices are fixed. You must have exact change, but some will take Octopus cards. The green routes are fixed, while red routes are more flexible. These are used a lot by locals, and can be difficult to navigate — especially if you aren’t familiar or don’t know any Chinese. But they are inexpensive – and great for adventure travelers who want to be among the locals.
Hong Kong Public Transportation – HK Ferries
Given its geography of peninsulas and islands, ferries are another form of transportation while in Hong Kong. The historic Star Ferry has been providing transportation between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island since 1888. A ride on this iconic ferry is a must if you are traveling to Hong Kong — and the price for a crossing is reasonable, especially compared to the MTR.
There are also many ferries that operate to Hong Kong’s outer islands. One of the biggest ferry piers is the Central Pier, on Hong Kong Island. Here you will find ferry service to the main islands including Peng Chau, Cheung Chau, Lamma Island, and Lantau Island. There are two types of ferry services to choose from, the standard and the more expensive fast ferry.
Major ferry companies in Hong Kong include:
New World First Ferry Services Ltd
Services: Cheng Chau, Lantau Island and Peng Chau
Tel: +852 2131 8181
The Hong Kong & Kowloon Ferry Ltd
Services: Lamma Island and Peng Chau
Tel: +852 2815 6063
Discovery Bay Transportation Services Ltd
Services: Discovery Bay, Lantau Island
Tel: +852 3651 2345
Park Island Transport Company Limited
Services: Ma Wan Island
Tel: +852 2946 8888
Public Transportation in Hong Kong – Taxis
While there are many different forms of public transportation in Hong Kong, sometimes a taxi is just the most convenient way. The good news is that taxis are plenty in Hong Kong, and they are safe and reputable. The government makes it very clear that taxis should not barter for a price, or charge you anything but the standard rates on the meter — which is great, especially for those of us who are used to haggling around Asia for taxis!
You can flag a taxi down, or stop at one of the many “taxi stands” around town — especially common in touristy and popular areas. Many of these taxi stands will also have a sign telling you the approximate amount for popular destinations, such as Central Pier or Causeway Bay. This way you will know ahead of time what to expect before you board the taxi.
Other Ways of Getting Around Hong Kong
These are the most popular ways for getting around Hong Kong for visitors — besides walking. Walking is safe in Hong Kong, and there are lots of sidewalks and crosswalks for people. You will find that generally, people in Hong Kong obey the pedestrian lights (unlike other places in Asia). Walking is efficient if traffic is bad, and in some areas (like the mid levels) you will find plenty of stairs and escalators to help with hills.
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