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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 your own two feet to get places quickly and cheaply. If you take a bus or minibus, you run the risk of missing your intended destination as these two options are difficult for visitors who do not speak Cantonese, especially if you take a minibus. 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 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 courses 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 HK $4.50 (about $0.58) 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 HK$50 (about $6.40), which covers the cost of the card and allows travel until visitors reach a value of HK-$35. You can be refunded the initial HK$50 if you return the card before you leave in good condition and its remaining value does not exceed HK$500. The base fare for a ride with an Octopus card is HK$4.40 (about $0.57) but increases the farther you travel. The tourist day pass costs HK$55 (about $7) per day and permits unlimited travel on all modes of the MTR. Trains start running at 6 a.m. and terminate between midnight and 1 a.m. depending on the line.

TaxiThree 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. 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 on board. Fares vary depending on the route, so you can sometimes spend as little as HK$2 (about $0.26) and other times more than HK$20 (about $2.58). 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 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 and the outlying islands. The standard Star Ferry trip across Victoria Harbour costs between HK$2 and $3 (less than $0.45), depending on the day as well as the departure and arrival piers. 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 take you along scenic routes. 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 HK$2.30 (about $0.30), and you must either have exact change or use your MTR Octopus card. Also, remember to board at the rear of the tram.

On FootWhile 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, 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 and run along pre-determined routes. Red minibuses operate on routes as well but passengers can get off at any time. Fares on red minibuses are not fixed, so you'll have to determine the price with the driver. Travelers familiar with Hong Kong's layout who 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.

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