Guide to the Hong Kong Tram | Hong Kong Pass

Follow our guide to the Hong Kong tram to see the city in one of oldest modes of transport still going.

One of Hong Kong’s most beloved features is not a major sight but just a humble tram. Affectionately referred to as the "Ding Ding" for its ubiquitous noise it makes, the Hong Kong tram is one of the oldest continual modes of transport in the futuristic city.

Follow our guide to learn its colourful history and many much needed tips.

Hong Kong Tram: History

One of the oldest ways to get around Hong Kong that still exists today is the beloved electric tram that hugs the north coast of Hong Kong island. Originally proposed in 1881, it wasn’t until 1904 that the city’s first trams left the depots.

Initially created with single deck trams in mind, double deckers were soon added to quell the demand that the new mode of transport had created. Since then in 1912 the system has used double deck trams of the majority of the time with single decker trams used as freight.

During the Japanese occupation of the city in World War 2 the city’s trams system became an afterthought with 15 of the 109 tramcar fleet managing to stay operational throughout the war.

Some of the first tram cars were designed solely for members of the elite with upper decks being furnished with garden style seating and open top transport. Trailer carts were even added to the rear of the tram to serve as a first class seating option. It wasn’t until 1972 that the class distinction fares were scrapped making the trams more accessible and economically more viable.

What to see on the Hong Kong Tram?

As you ride along from Kennedy Town to Shau Kei Wan, you’ll meander by some of Hong Kong’s most interesting sights. One great place to visit is Sheung Wan in the west of the island. Here you can see the Western Market which is a beautiful colonial building that was built in 1904, making it one of Hong Kong’s oldest buildings. In Sheung Wan you can also see the mid-level part of the Central-Mid-levels escalator system which is said to be the longest escalator system in the world.

As you head further east into Central, you will come across the magnificent Bank of China tower which stands on the same spot as Murray House after it was relocated to Stanley brick by brick. The incredible design has caused locals to label it Yaat Baa Dou in Cantonese, which literally means 'One Knife', alluding to its cutting edge shape.

If you’re tram is deviating from the Kennedy Town to Shau Kei Wan direction you will find yourself most likely going to Happy Valley. Here you will see the Happy Valley Racecourse in all its splendour. The venue which has been open since 1845, is a major tourist attraction and certainly the home for many who like to have a flutter with their cash. Victim to a huge blaze in 1918 that saw the bamboo stables perish and with it at least 590 people, the racecourse has since grown and can now hold 55,000 punters.

If you do travel towards Shau Kei Wan you will come across Chun Yeung Market in North Point otherwise known as wet market. Here the tram will take you literally through the heart of the market with stalls either side of your tram as you ding along. Previously market stalls were set up on the tracks and the incoming ding dings from the tram would signal them to move but with more and more trams this has been forced to stop.

However if you’re looking for a more complete tram tour experience you jump aboard the TramOramic Hong Kong tram tour. With The Hong Kong Pass you will get 15% off your ticket price as you enjoy an hour long tour guide on a vintage style tram cart. The open top double decker tram will show you sights and teach you about the rich history of the city’s tram ways with a host of interesting photos, videos and artefacts along the way.

Hong Kong Tram Routes

The Hong Kong Tram has six overlapping routes that take visitors to certain points along the two way track system. These routes are as followed:

  • Kennedy Town to Happy Valley
  • Kennedy Town to Shau Kei Wan
  • Shek Tong Tsui to Causeway Bay
  • Shek Tong Tsui to North Point
  • Western Market to Shau Kei Wan
  • Happy Valley to Shau Kei Wan

Fact about the Hong Kong Tram system

  • It’s pretty long
    The system length from end to end is a mere 13km (8.1 miles) but when you look at all the track laid you are closer to 30km or 19 miles. For one of the world’s oldest actively running tram systems that’s pretty long.
  • A lot of people use it
    Across the 120 stations on Hong Kong island it is recorded that, on average,180,000 users ride the trams every day. That’s a massive total of 65.7 million people ferried along in these double decker trams every year. To put that into context, these trams transport the equivalent of the population of the entirety of the United Kingdom in a year. That’s a lot.
  • The trams are getting faster
    Prior to 2008, trams usually hit speeds of 30kmph (19mph) but that changed to get people where they needed to go faster. This saw the speed rise to 40kmph (25mph) but that’s still just a fraction of the tram’s top speed that can see them go as fast as 60kmph (37mph).
  • It’s the cheapest mode of transport
    If you’re in Hong Kong on a budget and still want to get where you need to go without walking, then the Ding Ding tram is the way to go. Since July 2018, tram users could expect to pay just $2.60 for adults (that equals roughly 33¢ US), $1.30 (17¢) for children, and $1.20 (12¢) for senior citizens.
    You won’t have to worry about paying for how far you go either with the tram’s fares being the same no matter the distance you travelled on the service.
  • You won’t have to wait for long
    With an average wait time of 1.5 minutes for a tram, you will never have to wait very long until you’re aboard one of these iconic machines. The double bell ring (ding ding) will remind you that one is always just around the corner.