Getting Around: Guide to Hong Kong transport | Hong Kong Pass

Using Hong Kong transport needn’t be a worry with our handy guide to getting around, from the MTR and trams to buses, taxis and the indispensable Octopus card.

Getting around Hong Kong, one of the most exciting and vibrant cities in South East Asia, may seem like a tricky task but it’s actually an incredibly simple thing to do and we will show you the many different ways you can get from A to B on the archipelago of Hong Kong.

The city is built around its public transport, with 90% of the recorded 7.4 million people who call the territory home, using it to get around.

Hong Kong Transport: The MTR

The Hong Kong equivalent to the metro or the subway, the MTR is the city’s answer to simple and cheap urban transport. Being an group of islands, peninsulas and fragmented spits of land, the MTR is one of the few modes of transports that will get you around.

Hong Kong is formed of three particular areas, Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula and the surrounding New Territories and the MTR is scheduled to have new lines populating all these meaning you won’t have to think too hard when planning where to go.

To best utilise the MTR you can opt to get yourself an Octopus Card. These contactless style cards allow you to forego the huge lines of people waiting for the ticket machine when you connect your bank card to them, meaning you can automatically top up your allowance if it gets too low.

When waiting for MTR trains you can rest assured that one won’t be far away with trains pulling into station every 1 to 3 minutes. If you want to get somewhere fast, the MTR will have you escaping the hectic streets and for a lesser price too.

Hong Kong Transport: Buses

Like its previous colonial inhabitants in the UK, Hong Kong has an affinity with double decker buses boasting many of them on routes around the city. You’ll see enough of them as they cover the majority of the region with multiple company’s running routes in different parts.

For example, the Kowloon Motor Bus, New World First Bus and Citybus all run routes covering Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. Other companies like New Lantao Bus primarily run services on Lantau Island, while Long Win Bus operate routes to north of Lantau Island and the airport.

If you bought yourself an Octopus Card you’ll be happy to know that you can use this on the buses too. If you don’t you’ll need to have the correct change for the distance you want to travel so be sure to carry cash.

Hong Kong Transport: Mini-buses

Unlike their double decker cousins, the mini-buses that populate Hong Kong can only carry a maximum of 19 people and there are a multitude of different routes and types of mini-buses. Colour coded so you know which one to go for, mini-buses can operate along fixed routes with designated stops and fixed prices or they can stop when asked to any place and with varying prices.

Red minibuses are used on routes that are not always populated with pre-determined stops so knowing when to get off is a must. On these you can ask the driver to stop whenever and must pay for the distance you travelled accordingly. In comparison, Green minibuses have a fixed fee and specific route that stops along a structured route.

If you have an Octopus Card you may use that to pay, otherwise it is a similar situation to normal buses where you must pay exact change. Once filled these minibuses do not stop until someone gets off and a space is free to fill.

It is important to note that it is the law to wear a seatbelt in these vehicles when you can and that they do not have stop buttons. This means knowing how to ask the bus driver to stop is quite helpful. Simply shouting “yau lok” will tell the driver that you’d like to get off.

Hong Kong Transport: The Tram

While not its most efficient, the tram is one of the most characterful ways of getting around town. First implemented in 1904, the tram is one of the few things that hark back to the city’s past as it continues to grow and modernise.

Meandering through the city along six main routes, the tram isn’t fast but it is a great way to see the sights at a leisurely pace. Costing just $2.3 per person it’s a cheap way to get around too. Octopus card holders can also touch their card as they leave to pay.

Learn more with our guide to the Hong Kong tram.

Hong Kong Transport: Taxis

One of the more expensive options, Taxis generally have a starting fare of $24 with this going up every 200m (218 yards). Usually a task trying to find one, taxis drivers are quite accommodating in Hong Kong when it comes to carrying pets and other fancy passengers but prepare to pay an extra fee. Also be wary of the daily "shift-change", around 3-5pm and 3-5am, when it can be difficult to flag a taxi due to drivers returning to the depot to end their shift. 

Most taxis can be hailed on the street or pre-booked but you must be aware of the colour of the taxis when hunting one. Red taxis will take you mostly anywhere you want to go while green taxis soley deal with the outer New Territories. Then there are blue taxis that will only operate, mostly, in Lantau.

For the most part, taxi drivers known enough English to get by with your requests but some may ask you to tell their controller where you are going over the radio before it is translated.

Do note though that if you are going across toll bridges or tunnels you will be expected to foot the bill.

Hong Kong Transport: Octopus Card

Originally introduced in 1997 as the world’s second ever contactless travel card, the Octopus Card is imperative to getting around Hong Kong. The card which you can top up and use on the MTR, ferry, bus an trams around  the city, can be bought at the airport, MTR customer desk and other transport companies service desk.

If you’re looking to buy one, as an adult it will set you back $150 which includes a $50 refundable deposit. The rate is dropped to $70 for both children cards (ages 3-11) and elderly cards, both of which have the same $50 deposit.

The card can then be linked to your bank card so you don’t have to manually top up. However, if you want to you can go to any MTR or other transport ticket terminal and top it up manually.