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Public Transport in Hong Kong: Ultimate Guide to MTR, Tram, Ferry, Bus, Mini-bus, Taxi & more

Hong Kong has a very well-developed public transport system. You can get everywhere easily with the metro, bus, taxi, ferry, tram and more. In this article, I'll give you a preview of 6 of the most common public transports that you are likely to make use of, so you can get ready to explore the city like a local!

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Neighbourhoods: Tsim Sha Tsui . Yau Ma Tei . Kowloon City

Important Tip: Get an Octopus Card!

Before you start exploring the city, get an octopus card! With this refundable top-up card, you can travel cash-free on most public transport and even make payment at some restaurants and stores.

Where to buy it? How much is it? You can get it at any metro station, including the Airport Express station. There are Octopus cards for adult, child (aged 3-11) and elder (aged 65 or above). The standard one you buy from metro station costs you HK$100, with $50 being the initial stored value and $50 being a refundable deposit. How to top up? You can reload your card with cash at selected locations, including all metro stations and convenience stores. The maximum value you can store in your card is HK$3,000. How to refund and take back the remaining value? You can do it at the customer service counter at any metro station. Note that handling fee applies if the card is less than 90 days old or if the remaining value exceeds HK$1,000.

6 Major Public Transport You Will Come Across:

1. MTR

Hong Kong's metro system covers most of the urbanized areas. It's probably the most hassle-free way for you to get around, especially if you choose to stay near a metro station. There are a lot to explore right at the immediate surroundings of most metro stations, and you can also reach the airport, as well as attractions like Ocean Park and Disneyland with it. (▹ System Map )

How much does it cost? The fare is calculated based on the distance travelled, i.e. the farer you travel, the more costly it'll get. How to pay? If you have an Octopus card, simply tap it as you enter and exit the gate. You can also choose to buy a ticket from the ticket machine with cash, which you need to specify your destination.

2. Tram

Hong Kong's iconic double-decker tram runs on the northern side of Hong Kong Island, and it's the cheapest way (though a little bit slower) to travel between major areas on Hong Kong Island, including Central, Causeway Bay and Wan Chai.

▸ What tram to take? Though there are 6 different routes with different terminal, the middle stops are mostly overlapping. If you're just traveling within the city centre area between Sheung Wan and Causeway Bay, all you need to do is to determine whether you're going with an east or westbound tram. (▹ System Map ) How much does it cost? Adult: HK$3.00 / Child: HK$1.50 / Elder: HK$1.30 The fare charged is uniform regardless of the distance you travelled. How to pay? Simply pay with Octopus Card or in cash while alighting from the front exit. Note that no change will be given.

3. Ferry

There are a few ferries running between the two sides of Victoria Harbour, and the historic Star Ferry is undoubtedly the most prominent one. It travels between Tsim Sha Tsui and Central/Wan Chai. I wouldn't say it's the fastest way for you to get around as the piers aren't super close to the centre on both sides, but it's great as an attraction as the ferry itself is very vintage, and you'll be able to admire the skyline from a whole new perspective!

How much does it cost? As of July 2022, the fare is around HK$2.60-4.20. Note that the lower deck is slightly cheaper than the upper deck, and it costs less to travel on weekdays. (▹ Fare Table) How to pay? Simply pay with Octopus Card at the entrance gate of the pier, or you can purchase a ticket from the ticket vending machine.

4. Bus

Hong Kong has an extensive bus network with almost 700 routes. While it might sound overwhelming for any first-timer to the city, it's actually not that hard to navigate especially with technologies like Google Map nowadays. Even if you are in metro-covered area, the bus is a better choice if you want something more of a point to point service and to save some walking.

▸ What bus to take? For a more accurate trip-planning, you might consider downloading the free KMB app, which allows you to search for buses and check the estimated arrival time. How to catch a bus? Wait at the proper bus stop and wave at the bus driver to stop the bus. How much does it cost? Each route has a different fare, the fare is fixed regardless of where you get off. How to pay? Simply pay with Octopus Card or in cash when boarding. Note that no change will be given. How to get off? Announcement for stops in English are available throughout the journey, and all you need to do is to press the stop button to let the bus driver know you need to get off.

5. Mini-bus

The 16 or 19-seat mini-buses are either with green or red roof. Since they accommodate fewer passengers at once, they usually travel much faster than the bus. However, this form of transport can be quite confusing even for locals as there is no announcement for stops, but if you're up for a unique experience, don't hesitate, go for it!

How to catch a mini-bus? Wait at the proper mini-bus stop and wave at the driver to stop the mini-bus. How much does it cost? Some routes have a fixed fare regardless of how far you travel, while some routes have sectional fare, and in this case, you need to inform the driver where you're going before paying. How to pay? Green minibus: Pay with Octopus Card or in cash when boarding. Note that no change will be given. Red minibus: Pay only in cash when boarding in most cases, change will be given. How to get off? Since there is no announcement for stops, my recommendation for you is to locate your destination on Google Map, and when the minibus is almost there, just yell '有落唔該' (yau-lok-mm-goi) to inform the driver to drop you off. Some minibuses are equipped with stop button nowadays so things could be easier (if they are working at all... lol).

6. Taxi

Of course, you can always choose to take a taxi, and it's actually not that expensive comparing to other countries. There are three types of taxi in Hong Kong: Red, Green and Blue, and each of them have different designated operating areas. The red taxi serves all part of the city except for south Lantau Island, while the green and blue taxi only serve selected areas in the New Territories and Lantau Island.

How to catch a taxi? Pay attention to small round sign next to the driver or the light on the roof. If the taxi is available for hire, the round sign will be up and the light will be on. Simply wave your hand at the driver. How much does it cost? For the first 2km, there's a flag fall rate of HK$22-$27 depending on the taxi type. An extra $1.7-$1.9 will be charged for every subsequent 200m or 1 minute waiting time. On top of the fare displayed on the meter, there’re also surcharges for toll and luggage storage. You may refer to the most updated fare here. How to pay? Only cash is accepted in most cases, and most drivers prefer notes smaller than 500 HKDs. If you wish to pay by credit card, consider hiring an Uber Taxi. Are there any taxi scam in Hong Kong? As a local, I would say that taxi drivers in Hong Kong are generally very honest, even though there are always some greedy people out there. If you prefer to be clear about how much you need to pay in advance, I recommend you to hire an Uber Taxi.

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Neighbourhoods: Tsim Sha Tsui . Yau Ma Tei . Kowloon City


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