How to Get Around Hong Kong Using Public Transportation
Hong Kong/ Nomads/ Explore

How to Get Around Hong Kong Using Public Transportation: Bus, Taxi, MTR

How to Get Around Hong Kong Using Public Transportation Bus Taxi MTR 2

Hong Kong is a vibrant city that offers many options for getting around for all budgets and experiences. One of the most convenient and affordable ways to explore the city is by taking public transportation.

This guide provides a comprehensive overview of the different types of public transportation available for you to get around in Hong Kong; including buses, the MTR subway, taxis, tramways, and ferries.

Use Octopus cards to pay for Hong Kong public transportation

How to Get Around Hong Kong Using Public Transportation Bus, Taxi, MTR

The Octopus card is Hong Kong’s contactless smart card. It can be used on MTR, buses, minibuses, ferries, trams, as well as on a few taxis equipped with Octopus readers. It was first introduced in Hong Kong in 1997 as a payment method for the MTR system.  

The benefits of using Octopus card are that you won’t have to spend time buying a single journey ticket at Ticket Issuing Machines or counting the exact number of coins on buses and trams. The MTR fares using Octopus are usually cheaper than single journey tickets.

The On-Loan Octopus card can be purchased at any Airport Express Customer Service Centre, any MTR Customer Service Centre (except at Racecourse Station), other Customer Service Centres of public transportation companies, and many convenience stores. The Octopus can also be used as a cashless form of payment at select shops equipped with Octopus card readers.

An adult Octopus costs a total of HK$150, including HK$50 for deposit and HK$100 as initial stored credit value. A child Octopus costs HK$70, including HK$50 for deposit and HK$20 to spend instantly for child passengers (3 to 11 years old) and elder passengers (60 years and older)

To use them, simply swipe the card at the entrance and/or exit barrier on the MTR, ferry, bus, or tram.

You can add spending credit to your Octopus card using an Add Value Machine at all MTR stations or ask staff at customer service centres of the MTR, convenience stores, supermarkets or some mini stores in Hong Kong to help you add the value.

When you leave Hong Kong, you can return your Octopus card to any MTR station customer service centre to return your refundable initial deposit of HK$50 in addition to the remaining value left on the card.


How to Get Around Hong Kong Using Public Transportation Bus, Taxi, MTR

The MTR subway system is one of the most popular and cheapest transit options in Hong Kong. It is known for its fast and efficient service, allowing people to get around the city quickly and easily. Passengers can purchase single trip or stored value tickets at the station vending machines.

On the MTR, you can travel to Hong Kong Island, Lantau Island, Kowloon and New Territories using your Octopus card or single journey tickets starting from HK$4.7 per journey. Special lines travel from the city centre to the airport via the Airport Express, and to Disneyland using the Disneyland Resort Line.

Trains on all lines start between 5:30AM. to 6:10AM and stop between 12:50AM to 1:30AM, and run as quick as one train every minute. Plan your trips on the MTR here.


How to Get Around Hong Kong Using Public Transportation Bus, Taxi, MTR

Buses are an affordable and reliable way to get around Hong Kong. There are several bus companies that offer routes across the city. Kowloon Motor Bus, New World First Bus, and Citybus provide services across Hong Kong, Kowloon and New Territories. TheNew Lantau Bus operators on Lantau Island, and the Long Win Bus operates around the Airport.

All buses are air-conditioned and provide a comfortable ride. Fares are paid upon boarding and vary depending on distance travelled and location. All buses now accept both Octopus cards, and Apple or Samsung pay for major credit cards. A few bus routes operate throughout night.


How to Get Around Hong Kong Using Public Transportation Bus, Taxi, MTR

To get somewhere quick in Hong Kong, use the green or red minibuses speeding around the city. Green minibuses run on specific routes at fixed prices, and fares must be paid upon boarding, with cash payments requiring exact change. Octopus cards are accepted for green minibus fares.

Red minibuses run on routes that are not always fixed, and passengers can get on and off anywhere along the route, except when special parking or transport prohibitions apply. Fares are paid as you alight from the red minibus, and the driver can usually provide change for small notes. Some may not accept Octopus cards, so remember your cash.

Passengers travelling on minibuses should be aware that speaking some Cantonese and familiarity with Hong Kong will be beneficial. By law, passengers must wear seatbelts when they are available.


How to Get Around Hong Kong Using Public Transportation Bus, Taxi, MTR

Hong Kong’s 100-year-old tram system is one of the best ways to travel around the city. More than 160 trams operate on a single 13-kilometre cutting horizontally along Hong Kong Island, from Kennedy Town to Shau Kei Wan.

A ride on the tram system costs only HK$3 for adults, and you can get on whenever and disembark where you want. The trams run at a max cruising speed of no more than 25 miles per hour, so it’s a slow way to travel around. With no air-conditioning and wooden benches, it’s best to keep rides short. There are six routes you can pick, stopping along different paths on the island.


How to Get Around Hong Kong Using Public Transportation Bus, Taxi, MTR

Taxis are plentiful and easy to summon with your hand on the street or by the phone, with all taxi rides metered, cheap, air-conditioned, clean, and fast.

Taxis in Hong Kong are categorised by three colours, indicating their specific use in each area of the city, with all types of taxis able to travel to and from Hong Kong International Airport and Hong Kong Disneyland.

Red taxis operate throughout most of Hong Kong, except Tung Chung Road on Lantau Island and the entire south side of Lantau Island. Green taxis are only available in New Territories. Blue taxis only operate on Lantau Island.


How to Get Around Hong Kong Using Public Transportation Bus, Taxi, MTR

With more than 260 islands in Hong Kong, many are well-connected, with official ferries transporting visitors and Hong Kongers ton sailings to Lamma Island, Peng Chau, Discovery Bay, Mui Wo on Lantau Island, Cheung Chau and more.

From the Central Ferry Pier in Central, you can take the iconic Star Ferry to Tsim Sha Tsui, or one of the other ferry services, to travel to Hong Kong's outlying islands. The Star Ferry runs every 6-12 minutes and makes the 10-minute journey across the harbour in either direction. Passengers can pay with their Octopus cards.

Other ferries from Central connect the city to the outlying islands, such as Discovery Bay Transportation Services Ltd. to Discovery Bay and Lantau Island, New World First Ferry Services to Cheung Chau and Lantau Island (Mui Wo), Hong Kong & Kowloon Ferry Ltd. to Lamma Island and Peng Chau, and Park Island Transport Company Ltd. to Ma Wan Island.

How to Get Around Hong Kong Using Public Transportation Bus, Taxi, MTR

The Beat Asia tips for using Hong Kong public transportation

  • Remember to top up your Octopus before you embark on your travels
  • Most taxis do not accept Octopus payments, so remember to bring cash!
  • If you’re low on budget, take the tram for a longer but cheaper journey
  • Check timings for night buses in Hong Kong, as they are slow
  • Taxis will charge extra to take tunnels from across Hong Kong to Kowloon and vice versa, so be aware of extra costs
  • The MTR is super busy at rush hour from 7:30AM to 9:30AM and 5:00PM to 7:00PM, so leave extra time to get somewhere

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