Getting Around Hong Kong

Hong Kong Tram

Hong Kong is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. If you are going to visit Hong Kong, you need to know how to get around the city. It is a very modern city of more than 6 million people, with different islands to visit, and heights of 554 meters. Hong Kong has thought of every way imaginable to get to these places in the most efficient ways.

Walking
It is said that you could travel anywhere in Hong Kong simply by walking because it is "surprisingly compact". There are several recommended places to walk. Examples are the Central District, Causeway Bay with all its side walk markets, the Western District with its traditional Chinese shops, and Victoria Peak with its beautiful scenery. Walking in Hong Kong can give you a special experience by giving you an intimate relationship with the people and the places. There are many websites that can give you more information on walking tours or just tell you where to walk for the best experiences. One of the websites is: http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/local-tours/culture-old-new-walking.html.

On a related note, Hong Kong also has the Central-Mid-Levels escalator, which is 800 meters long and climbs a height of 135 meters. In the morning from 6 am to 10 am, the escalator is running downhill, and from 10:30 am to midnight, it runs uphill. This helps the people going to work. It only takes 20 minutes to travel from one tip to the other, and comes in very handy if you want to walk around Hong Kong to see the sights.

Cycling
There are many scenic places to bike around Hong Kong. There are only a few bike paths in the main city centre right now, but the Government is planning to create more bicycle paths in the future. There are not many places to rent a bicycle unless you get out of the big cities such as in the New Territories, Lantau Island, and so on.

The New Territories has more bike parking and a plan for connecting all the bike paths in the future. Renting a bike is fairly economical. For a day on the weekend it will probably cost HKD$40, but on a weekday only HKD$20. A good guide to find out more about bicycle rental in Hong Kong is http://www.hkoutdoors.com/hiking-and-biking-in-hong-kong/renting-bikes.html.

Trains
The public transport system in Hong Kong is operated by two companies, the MTR and the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corp. (KCR). The KCR connects the north-eastern and north-western parts of the New Territories with the city of Hong Kong. There are four systems under the KCR, East Rail, West Rail, KCR Ma on Shan Rail and Light Rail. They provide local train travel in Hong Kong and the Mainland.

Hong Kong Taxi

Mass Transit Railway
The Mass Transit Railway (MTR) or subway in Hong Kong (http://www.mtr.com.hk/eng/homepage/cust_index.html) is the most popular way to travel around the city. There are 10 different lines with the urban lines running trains every 2-3 minutes and the Tung Chung line every 4-5 minutes. It is very reliable and very fast.

All train lines have a different colour. There are 84 railway stations in all and 68 light rail stops.

 The East Rail Line (light blue) runs between Lo Wu and Hung Hom.
 The Kwung Tong line (green) runs between Tiu Keng Leng and Yau Ma Tei.
 The Tsuen Wan Line (red) runs between Central and Tsuen Wan
 The Island Line (blue) runs from Sheung Wan to Chai Wan
 The Tung Chung Line (orange) runs from Tung Chung to Hong Kong
 The Tseung Kwan O Line (dark purple) runs between Po Lam and LOHAS Park until North Point
 In order to get to Disneyland Resort, take the Disneyland Resort Line (pink)
 The West Rail Line (purple) runs between Hung Hom and Tuen Mun
 The Ma On Shan Line (brown) runs between Tai Wai and Wu Kai Sha
 The Airport Express (teal) runs between the Airport and the AsiaWorld-Expo and Hong Kong
 There are 68 light railway stations which serve the New Territories in the north-west. This is represented by the colour, beige.

Although single way subway tickets can be purchased at any MTR Customer Service Centre, you may consider purchasing an Octopus Card. When you first purchase this card, the cost of the card is HKD$50. This includes a refundable deposit, and the remaining value will be stored in the card for train payments. There are also two different types of Airport Express Tourist Octopus Cards – Airport Express One Free Single Journey and Airport Express Two Free Single Journey cards. More information about ticketing and fares can be found at http://www.mtr.com.hk/eng/fares_tickets/index.html.

Tourists can also purchase a MTR Tourist Value Pack. When you buy a Tourist Day Pass, Airport Express Travel Pass, or a Tourist Cross-Boundary Travel Pass, it allows you to enjoy tourist-related special offers. This includes 25% discount on Wi-Fi, HKD$10 off a mobile phone SIM card, $30 off an adult ticket to Hong Kong Disneyland, 10% off a ticket to the Hong Kong Ocean Park, and many more. As a result, this may be a good package to buy if you intend to do many touristy things in Hong Kong. More information about this package can be found at http://www.mtr.com.hk/eng/whatsnew/valuepack2011.html.

If your travel plans in Hong Kong revolve solely around Disneyland, you may consider purchasing a Disneyland Resort Line Day Pass. This is only valid for a limited time only, and is valid for up to 6 months from the initial issue. It provides the user unlimited train travel to and from the Disneyland Resort Station. This pass also provides for a cute memento to remember all the fun times you have had at Hong Kong Disneyland. More information about this pass can be found at http://www.mtr.com.hk/eng/whatsnew/disneylandpass.html.

Hong Kong Bus

Tram
One of the earliest public transportation systems in Hong Kong are the trams. Existing for over 100 years, these trams only run between Kennedy Town and Shau Kei Wang on Hong Kong Island. There is also a branch tram that has a stop at Happy Valley Racecourse. A unique feature of the Hong Kong Tramways (http://www.hktramways.com/en/service/index.html) are that they only operate double-decker trams.

Opened in 1904, there are 6 overlapping routes over a 13 km track. The trams runs between 5:30 am and 12:30 am. During peak hours, trams run about every 1.5 minutes and have a maximum speed of 50 to 60 km/h. Each streetcar can fit 115 individuals. Fares are HKD$2 for adults, and HKD$1 for children below 12 years old and senior citizens who are over 65 years old. Monthly tickets are also available for HKD$170, and these tickets can be purchased at the terminals at Whitty Street, North Point, and Causeway Bay at the end of every month.

Peak Tram
Completely unrelated to the Hong Kong Tramways, the Peak Tram started operating in 1888. It is the most popular way to get to Victoria Peak on Hong Kong Island. It is a cute little red double-decker cable car pulled by steel cables and it climbs 373 meters. The Tram starts at 7 am and runs every 15 minutes until midnight. You can get to the Peak Tram Lower Terminus by walking from MTR Central station, or you can take the 15c shuttle bus from Central Star Ferry. More information can be found at their website at http://www.thepeak.com.hk/en/2_1.asp.

Bus
Unfortunately, the bus services in Hong Kong are not as integrated. There are three different types of bus services in Hong Kong – franchised, non-franchised, and the Public Light Bus. There are no public bus systems in Hong Kong at all, which may be confusing for tourists.

Hong Kong Minibus

Franchised Buses
There are currently 5 bus companies which are privately owned. They operate over 700 routes. These private bus companies are:
 Kowloon Motor Bus Company (1933) Limited – provides bus services in Kowloon and the New Territories. This company operates 402 routes. More information can be found at http://www.kmb.hk/en/
 Citybus Limited – http://www.nwstbus.com.hk/home/default.aspx?intLangID=2 - operates 154 routes in various areas of Hong Kong. These include 72 routes on Hong Kong Island, 32 between North-Lantau and the Airport, and 50 routes which run between the harbours. There are also shuttle buses (B3, B3A, and B3X) between Shenzhen Bay Port and Tuen Mun.
 The Long Win Bus Company (http://www.kmb.hk/en/about/organisation/longwin.html) runs shuttles mainly between the Disneyland Resort and Tung Chung to the New Territories and the Airport.
 The New World First Bus Services (https://www.nwstbus.com.hk) only operate on Hong Kong Island. This bus service has a cooperation agreement with Citybus Limited.
 Operating only on Lantau Island, the New Lantao Bus Company (1973) Limited (http://www.newlantaobus.com) operates 20 bus routes.

The above franchised bus operators have a fixed fare, route, schedule, and service hours. Double-decker buses are usually used for urban routes. Passengers can either pay by cash or use their Octopus Card. However, make sure you have the correct change as no change will be given. The cost of fares depends on where the passenger boards the train. Those who wish to get off before the bus crosses a harbour on a cross-harbour route will pay about HKD$10.

Non-Franchised Buses
Non-Franchised buses are run by different privately-operated bus companies to the ones above. These were implemented to relieve the private bus and public light bus systems during peak hour traffic. Some of these buses serve remote areas. There are over 7000 non-franchised bus operators in Hong Kong alone. Fortunately, they can be split in various types of buses:
 A01 is a tourist bus, also known as a “travel bus”. As the name suggests, this bus ferries tourists to different attractions.
 A02 is a hotel bus service which is operated either by specialist-bus companies or by hotels. They provide transportation for those staying in hotels.
 A03 is a school bus service
 A04 are employee service buses
 A06 is an “estate bus” which basically is a feeder bus between major transportation interchanges to residential areas
 A08 is a bus that is hired by a group or an individual for their own transportation

Hong Kong Ferry

Public Light Bus
Also known as a minivan or a minibus, there are public light buses available all over Hong Kong. You will see only two types: vans with red roofs, and vans with green roofs. The red roofed minibus has a flexible route and the drivers always take the fastest way to a place. Payment for the red minibuses is paid as you board the minibus. Octopus is not accepted on the red minibuses, and after midnight, the driver will drive at full speed. Fortunately, passengers are legally required to wear seat belts on board.

The green minibus has a fixed route that is usually paid with an Octopus card. However, cash is accepted. Prices are $2.40, $3.70, $5.40, etc., and you pay before you exit the minibus. To find out more about this transportation, go to: http://www.trans-island.com.hk/eng/limo.html.

Once minibuses are filled, they will not stop unless someone requests the bus driver to stop. As a result, it is best that Cantonese-speaking visitors and those who know Hong Kong well board these minibuses.

Sightseeing Bus Tours
There are two main sightseeing bus tours available in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has an open-top bus tours that travel to all of this territory's famous landmarks. This bus is operated by Big Bus Tours, will even tour Kowloon on a Night tour for you to see the vibrant nightlife and the neon show of Nathan Road and the Symphony of Lights display. You can buy tickets online or find out the schedule and prices at: http://www.bigbustours.com/eng/hongkong/custompage.aspx?id=hong_kong_sightseeing_tour&gclid=. Tickets are payable in US Dollars, and start from $23 for adults, $16 for children, and $62 for families.

The other main sightseeing bus is the Rickshaw Sightseeing Bus. Although it has a rickshaw theme, it is actually an open-top bus painted purple that goes to different attractions around town. This is a one day hop on, hop off tour that costs $50. There are two routes which cover 18 monuments and 9 historic buildings such as the Sun Yat Sen Monument, Man Mo Temple, Government House, and many more. There is also commentary available.

Ferry
The ferries in Hong Kong are popular because of the wonderful views you can see while riding one, especially at night when you can see the lights of Hong Kong. They have been around for decades and transport people and their vehicles from island to island. There are many ferry companies, but the most popular are the Star Ferries, which are a colourful green and white. There are a fleet of 12 boats that operate four routes across the harbour. All the hotels off free shuttle to the ferry docks. To find out the schedule and fees, go to: www.starferry.com.hk. More information about other ferry services can be found at http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/trip-planner/transport-ferries.html.

Turbojet
These are very fast hydrofoil ferries. You can buy tickets at the airport terminals. It gives you a quicker ride to some of the islands, especially to Macau. For schedules and prices go to http://www.nwff.com.hk.

Taxi
Hong Kong provides excellent taxi service in and around the city. The Hong Kong Taxi Service has reasonable fares, but they only accept Hong Kong dollars, so be prepared. Be sure to know how to say your destination in Chinese. The taxis are coloured in red, blue and green according to the places where they operate. The red taxis travel the city of Hong Kong. The blue ones serve the Lantau Island, and the green taxis travel to the rural areas of the New Territories. All of them go to the Airport. For the phone number and fares for this taxi service, view http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/trip-planner/transport-taxis.html.

Hiring a Car
Sometimes you would like to be on your own for travelling. If you do, the best way to travel would be by a rental car. There are many places to call for renting a car in Hong Kong. These include Avis (www.avis.com.hk), Rhino (http://www.rhinocarhire.com/Car-Hire/Hong-Kong-Car-Hire.aspx), and Hawk Rent-A-Car (www.hawkrentacar.com.hk).

Airport
Getting back and forth from the airport is the most nerve-racking accomplishment. In Hong Kong, you have several options for doing this. To get from the airport to your accommodations you can take the hotel shuttle. If they know in advance when you are arriving, they will have it there waiting for you. If you were staying at the hotel, there would be no charge for this service.

The Airport Express is a train that runs every 12 minutes into Central Hong Kong and Kowloon. You have to buy the tickets before you get on the train. Vendors selling the tickets are stationed at the entrances. Passengers on this express can also take a free Shuttle Bus Service from either the Hong Kong or Kowloon stations to selected hotels.

There is an Airbus Services from the Airport to anywhere in Hong Kong. It will costs about $10 - $45, depending on where you are going, and is a better buy than anything else you can take from the airport. Once you land at the airport, just follow the signs for the bus. They will drop people off at your hotel or city centre. When you return to the airport, you can buy your ticket right on the bus. Have the correct change or your bus driver will not be happy.

Taxis come in three colours, remember, so you will have to figure out which one you should take. The Red Taxis go to the urban areas including all of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. The Green Taxis go to the New Territories, which is the area of land above Kowloon, and the Blue Taxis go only to Lantau Island. There will be many taxis waiting outside the airport, and your hotel will call a taxi for you when you return to the airport. Taxis cannot take you anywhere off their route. It will cost you $2 per piece of luggage you place in the taxi and you will have to pay for any toll that is on the way to your destination.

More information about how to get to and from Hong Kong Airport can be found at http://www.hongkongairport.com/eng/transport/to-from-airport.