Getting Around Hong Kong
The best way to get around Hong Kong is the Mass Transit Railway (MTR). Ideally, you'll use a combination of the MTR and walking to get places quickly and cheaply. If you dare to take a bus or minibus, you run the risk of missing your intended destination as these two options are hard for visitors who do not speak Cantonese; you need to be able to accurately communicate with the driver. The ferries and the trams offer scenic routes, which you should take when you have time to absorb Hong Kong's bustling environment.
Most visitors arrive through Hong Kong International Airport (HKG), located just off Lantau Island. While many visitors simply hop in a taxi and zoom off to downtown, you can avoid the additional cost of cab fare by using the MTR's high-speed Airport Express. This train takes only 24 minutes to reach the city, and a complimentary shuttle bus will pick up passengers at the Hong Kong and Kowloon stations and transport them to popular hotels nearby.
The Mass Transit Railway (MTR) encompasses a subway system and an above-ground light-rail network that course through downtown Hong Kong and its surrounding territories. The MTR is clean, efficient, cost-effective, and extensive. What more could you ask for? The base fare for a one-way ticket is $4 HKD (about $0.52 USD) and quickly increases depending on the distance traveled. While you can purchase a one-way ticket for each journey, you're better off getting the rechargeable Octopus card or a tourist day pass. These two alternatives will save you money. The Octopus card costs $50 HKD (about $19 USD), which includes a $100 HKD (about $13 USD) initial value. You can be refunded the initial $50 UKD (about $6 USD) if you return the card before you leave. The base fare for a ride with an Octopus card is $3.80 HKD (about $0.49 USD). The tourist day pass costs $55 HKD (about $7 USD) per day and permits unlimited travel on all modes of public transportation. Trains start running at 6 a.m. and terminate between midnight and 1 a.m. depending on the line.
|Taxi||Three types of taxis, indicated by different colors, serve the Hong Kong territory. You'll find the red in the urban regions, and they will go anywhere except for Tung Chung Road and Lantau Island's south side. Green taxis operate in rural New Territories, so you probably won't run into many of these. Lastly, blue taxis run only on Lantau Island. Each type of taxi maintains a different fare breakdown that will be posted on the taxi's window. Note that passengers are required by law to wear seatbelts when available and you can ask for a receipt at the end of each ride. If you run into traffic or need to cross a body of water, the rate can skyrocket in a hurry, and the ride can take longer than if you used the MTR. In downtown Hong Kong and the Kowloon Peninsula, taxis are easy to flag down from the street. In other areas, you should call the taxi dispatch to request one.|
You'll see tons of buses (including double-deckers) on the roads, but unless you know precisely which one to flag down (they will not automatically stop), you're better off taking the less complicated MTR. Three separate companies (listed below) operate the bus lines within the Hong Kong territory. All of the companies accept the MTR Octopus card or exact change onboard. Fares vary depending on the route, so you can sometimes spend less than $2 HKD (about $0.25 USD) and other times more than $20 HKD (about $2.50 USD). You can catch most buses between 6 a.m. and midnight. Some buses, marked "N," operate nighttime routes.
While you're in Hong Kong, you really should take a ferry ride. The Star Ferry is the most popular ferry company with tourists; however, there are numerous other companies that operate lines between the Kowloon Peninsula, Hong Kong Island, Macau, mainland China, and the outlying islands. The standard Star Ferry trip across Victoria Harbour costs between $2 and $3 HKD (less than $0.40 USD), depending on the day, the departure and arrival piers, and the deck on which you choose to ride. Consult the Hong Kong Tourism Board's website for more information about the various ferries.
It may not be the fastest means of getting around, but Hong Kong Island's trams takes you through scenic neighborhoods. Like San Francisco's cable cars, these double-decker streetcars offer an enjoyable sightseeing experience; just don't rely on them for traveling long distances. There is a flat fare of $2.30 HKD (about $0.30 USD), and you must either have exact change or use your MTR Octopus card. Also, remember to board at the rear of the tram.
|On Foot||While you should definitely get lost in Hong Kong's streets and stumble upon street markets, you should not rely solely on your feet to get around. The hilly terrain will wear out your legs quickly, and the water divisions make walking impossible. If you do plan to explore on foot, be sure to grab an up-to-date street map from a Hong Kong Tourism Board visitor center.|
There are two types of minibuses. Green minibuses cost a fixed amount (which will be posted on the bus) and run along pre-determined routes. Red minibuses can stray from their usual route and will drop passengers off along the way. Fare on red minibuses is not fixed, so you'll have to determine the price with the driver. Travelers familiar with Hong Kong's layout and know a fair bit of Cantonese are best served on minibuses. If you do not meet either of those two criteria, consider another transportation option.
Entry & Exit Requirements
Unlike other areas of China, Hong Kong does not require visitors to obtain a tourist visa. You will, however, need a passport that is valid for at least one month beyond your intended return date, sufficient proof of a later departure (a return airline ticket will do), and adequate funds to support your visit. These requirements are noticeably less strict than those at other Chinese points of entry. If you venture into one of China's more restricted areas without the proper visa or the prescribed passport expiration date, you will be in violation of Chinese immigration laws. Be sure to check the U.S. Department of State's website before leaving for Hong Kong.