Hong Kong Transport

Travel Tips, What's New — By Shirley Yau on August 25, 2010 at 9:14 am

What kind of transport does Hong Kong have?

Hong Kong transport can be described in three words: Efficient, Convenient and Cheap. Getting around in Hong Kong is easy since Hong Kong isn’t that big and the signs are clear, tourists will find it extremely easy to find their way around Kowloon, Hong Kong and New Territories. Cars are simply a nuisance in Hong Kong as there is no place to park, so as a result Hong Kong has got the highest usage rates of public transport in the world – 90% of Hong Kongers commute via public transport. Yet don’t be mistaken that no one drives here because Hong Kong has got one of the highest per capita ownership of luxury cars in the world.


Payment System:

An Octopus‘ card is essential during your stay in Hong Kong, this is a store value card which goes “Doot” whenever you swipe it across the yellow Octopus reader.

Octopus Cards in Hong Kong

Octopus cards are found in every wallets of all Hong Kongers, young or old. They are recharged in denominations of HKD 50 to HKD500 and can be used as cash on Hong Kong public transport.

The card is owned by all Hong Kongers and can be used on every sort of Hong Kong transport like The Airport express, MTR, Light Rail, Double decker buses, mini buses, trams and even ferries. The card value can be topped up unlimited times and until it goes negative you can still use it as cash. Not only used to pay fares, Octopus is common form of payment when you go to convenience stores like the ubiquitous 7-Elevens, Circle K and supermarkets. The only place where Octopus is not accepted are on taxis so do have loose cash when paying for a cab ride. Octopus cards for both adults, the eldery and kids can be bought at any MTR station for HKD 100, where HKD 50 is a refundable deposit for the card itself.

How to Ride Hong Kong transport:

To and From the Hong Kong Airport: Once you leave the Hong Kong international Airport there will be a mass of public transport waiting outside. What to take to and from the airport really depends on how many people and pieces of luggages you are travelling with – 4 or more people or suitcases then don’t bother with public transport, it will be cheaper and easier to just cab your way to the hotel.

Hong Kong Taxis:
Hong Kong taxis are so convenient that all you really need to do is wait at the curbside and flag your hand and within (at most 5-10 minutes) you’ll be sat inside a taxi. The easiest places to look for a taxi are definitely busy roads and at hotel lobbies. The starting fare is at HKD18 and luggages and pets cost 5 bucks per piece, you do also need to pay for the cross harbour tunnel toll fees.

Urban Taxis

Hong Kong Taxis

The red Hong Kong Taxis that run 24/7 and because the average Hong Kong local doesn't drive, these taxis are what people use to get to places without having to worry about parking.

Known as the ‘Red taxis’, they are toyotas painted in red and seen everywhere on Hong Kong, Kowloon and New Territories other than Tung Chung. Its better to take a cab to places when you are travelling with kids or with a large group of people, the fares are cheaper when you take long distance rides as opposed to short trips.

New Territories Taxis

New Territories Green Taxi

Green Taxis run in the New Territories and the starting fare is HKD12

Known as the ‘green taxis’, New Territories Taxis are basically only allowed to run in parts of the New Territories such as Tuen Mun, Yuen Long, Tai Po, the North, Sha Tin and Ma On Shan and parts of Sai Kung.

Lantau Island Taxis
Known as the ‘Blue taxis’, these light blue cabs are only allowed to run on Lantau Island and you’ll see plenty of these waiting to collect people from Hong Kong Disneyland and the Hong Kong airport.

Lantau Island Taxis

Blue taxis that run on Lantau Island in Hong Kong.

Travelling alone or with company of less than 4? Fear not, it is actually an experience to take public transport in Hong Kong. The airport express train costs HKD 150 and is the quickest way to get to Central, it runs every 10 minutes and only takes 23 minutes. After you get off there are complimentary shuttle buses that take you to major hotels as well as transport interchange junctions.

Backpacking Hong Kong on a shoestring? Here is an ingenious and next to nothing way of travelling to and from the airport: Take either the S51 or S61 Orange buses to Tung Chung MTR station then switch to the Tung Chung line to get to Central – all for only HKD23 in 40 minutes. Otherwise there many airport flyer buses that run to all major areas of Hong Kong and it may be cheaper to take the bus depending on where you are going.

How to get around Hong Kong by public transport?
Double decker buses:

Hong Kong KMB bus

KMB double decker buses are probably the most frequent buses followed by the green minibuses that act as a subsidiary to the routes not covered by the bus.

With coverage so wide and with so many buses running over Hong Kong, it would be safe to say that there is at least one bus that will take you where ever you want to go in less than an hours time (except in rush hour traffic). Most buses are double decker buses with air conditioning but some buses without, known as ‘Hot Dog’ buses- notorious for their temperatures of up to 40 degree celcius during the monsoon like summer. Hong Kong buses cover nearly everywhere that you would want to visit and the easiest way to find the right bus is to ask the bus driver before you board the bus whether the route passes where you want to go. One of the most scenic bus routes in Hong Kong are in Southern district or else some buses that go through Castle Peak Road gives a fairly panoramic view of the Tsing Ma Bridge.

Nileguide local expert recommends taking the Rickshaw Bus for sightseeing if you don’t mind waiting a little, say 30 minutes for a bus. This line is best with a one day pass costing only HKD 50, it passes most the bus is open deck.

Hong Kong Minibuses are the way to see the true Hong Kong local style. There are Green minibuses and Red minibuses and what separates red from green mainly is that green minibuses are operated in a more rigid and

Hong Kong Minibus

Minibuses are alot faster and run more frequently than the big double decker buses.

standard manner where passenger can only alight at designated bus stops whereas red minibuses are alot more flexible and drivers will let you alight as long as you yell out the street or station name. Sometimes you can get change given to you on red minibuses so its best to check on board with the driver.

These are the four major lines that most tourists will be using during their stay in Hong Kong: The Tsuen Wan line which runs from Tsuen Wan to Central, the Kwun Tong line which runs from Yau Ma Tei to Quarry Bay, the Island line which runs from Sheung Wan to Chai Wan and the Tung Chung line which runs from Central to Tung Chung. The MTR is the most used mode of transport in Hong Kong and locals know that the fastest way to avoid morning and afterwork rush hours traffic jams is to take the MTR to cross the harbour. The coverage is wide and once you’ve experienced the efficiency of the MTR in Hong Kong, public transport elsewhere is a joke – the trains come every 2-3 minutes and so there is no such thing as a train timetable.The carriages are fully air-conditioned, clean and bright.

Hong Kong MTR subway Map

Simple colour coded MTR map which shows all the subway lines. Coverage is extremely reliable and the trains come every 2-4 minutes.

Though at first sight it may seem that the Hong Kong subway system map looks like a labyrinthe, the chances of you getting lost are rather slim because signage inside the MTR is extremely clear and signs are in both Chinese and English and added to that there is a monotonous English woman voice that broadcasts stations and interchange stations on the trains. All you need is to take note of the directions the train is heading and the interchange stations to change trains and before you know it, you’ll be looking for the exits. It very commonplace for people to wait at MTR exits for friends so groups of people do congregate outside the exits of popular stations like Tsim Sha Tsui, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok.

A single journey trip costs HKD 4 to HKD26 and there are souvenir tickets that you can buy. The best way to travel is to use the Octopus card rather than queuing up with the masses of tourists trying to figure out how many coins to put into the ticketing machines.

The Tram:

Hong Kong tram

Hong Kong trams that run on Hong Kong Island can get quite crowded and the top deck is always better. You pay when you get off.

Been in Hong Kong since 1904 and only limited to the outer parts of Hong Kong Island from Kennedy Town to Shau Kei Wan. Hong Kongers affectionately call the tram ‘Ding Ding’ because of the rings hum drum noise it makes as it rolls down the tram tracks. Hong Kong trams are actually non air-conditioned and used when people can’t be bothered to walk three blocks down the road rather than a stable mode of transport. They are actually rather slow and do get stuck in the traffic but the best for people watching on Hong Kong Island.

Hong Kong Ferries:
The Star Ferry has been in Hong Kong for over a hundred years and its been used by Hong Kongers to cross the harbour from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui and Hung Hom. The National Geographic names the Star Ferry trip as one of the fifty things that you need to do in a lifetime. The best way to enjoy Victoria Harbour is to enjoy the Star Ferry during sunset. Otherwise the other Hong Kong ferries used to carry passengers to and from the outlying islands depart from the Central Ferry Pier and ferries are the only mode of transport to Lantau Island, Cheung Chau, Lamma Island and various small islands scattered around Hong Kong waters.

Star Ferry

Star Ferries at the Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry Pier. The view is absolutely spectacular at night and the photo captures only just a part of what you would see on the ferry.


  • Taxis run by the meter so there is no bargaining which is more common place in Southeast Asia.
  • When getting off a mini bus it is unwritten that you yell the name of the place that you want to get off before the stop and the driver will raise his hand to signal that he’s heard you.
  • There is no change given on double decker buses so have exact change ready.
  • The MTR does get really packed during morning and afterwork peak rush hours so don’t feel as if your personal space is being invaded and let other people on first – people will really cram themselves in and you’ll never be able to get on. Do get ready to fight your way out of the trains once you’ve reached your stop.
  • Do not attempt to cycle in urban Hong Kong because Hong Kong just isn’t a bicycle friendly city at all.
  • Traffic moves on the left and signage is in kilometers and meters.
Tags: hong kong buses, Hong Kong ferries, Hong Kong mini buses, Hong Kong Octopus cards, Hong Kong public transport, hong kong taxis, Hong Kong tourist attractions, Hong Kong trams, hong kong transport, MTR


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