Although a collection of islands, Hong Kong is effortless to navigate with every mode of transport from trams and taxis to ferries and helicopters. Not only is it straightforward, but the public transport is also extremely cheap, making it is simpler than ever to explore all of the incredible districts in Hong Kong. Read our guide to mastering the marvelous MTR, and triumphing the troublesome taxis.
Noticeably in Hong Kong there is an abundance of Teslas, Mercedes, Maseratis and other luxury cars, with the only dated cars of that of the humble taxi. Whilst other modes of transport such as metro and MTR may be cheaper, in the flash-flood unpredictable rain in Hong Kong, taxis are a really quick option to get you from a to b.
While there are plenty of these red cars amongst the streets, hailing one (particularly for a group) may be more difficult than you think:
- If a taxi is free and accepting new passengers their taxi light atop of the car will be illuminated, with a small red circle on the dashboard reading 'FOR HIRE'.
- Simply hail a taxi from the side of the road, there are plenty around most of the main streets so it should be easy to spot a free car. At busy tourist attractions or shopping centres there may be a taxi stand and queue.
- All drivers should have their ID on display on the dashboard.
- Fares start at $24HKD for the first 2km with each subsequent 200m at $1.70.
Some things to note:
- Being a large group of foreigners we struggled hailing taxis sometimes, with drivers avoiding us. Once in the taxi, majority of drivers will know where most tourist places are, but language is a huge barrier.
- Whilst a tip is not expected, it can be easier not waiting for change, considering rounding up can be a matter of a couple of pence.
- Taking your suitcases anywhere in these taxis are a hilariously awful episode. If you thought your bag wouldn't fit in the back of these cars, think again, as drivers will ram your suitcase in the back, and limply tie the boot closed with string. Whilst this is secure for the most part, I would keep any valuables in your hand luggage or in the car with you...
- Taxi drivers can be surly, but don't take this personally, if you do have any issues with a driver, take a note of their name and license plate and contact the transport contact hotline +852 2889 9999
The Mass Transit Railway is Hong Kong’s major railway consisting of 11 lines serving Kowloon, Hong Kong islands and the New Territories. There are stations EVERYWHERE in Hong Kong, meaning you can reach almost all of the country as well as some of the non urbanised regions of the islands. Major stations such as central are ENORMOUS, encompassing cafes, convenience stores, souvenir shops and more, but the different lines are colour co-ordinated, well sign posted and easy to navigate.
Some general tips:
- Octopus cards are the mode of currency on the MTR, so make sure to purchase one of these cards before travel.
- There are lots of different exits at these stations which may bring you out at the wrong side of a major road, check the keys to the different exits inside the station to avoid a lengthy detour.
The wireless currency of the MTR, Octopus cards are the mode of payment for trips on the underground metro which can also be used to make payments in stores such as 7-Eleven.
Buying a card: We purchased our octopus cards from the Airport terminal, using touch screen machines which dispensed our card and allowed us to ride the airport express into Hong Kong centre. If a machine is not available you can purchase this card from a help desk, but be aware that you will need to pay in cash for this, whereas card is accepted at the machines. The cards themselves cost 50HKD, a deposit which can be redeemed when you return the card. Our initial purchase of the card costing 150HKD including 100 dollar credit.
Using your card: When entering the turnstiles at a station tap your octopus card on the readers and the screens will display your remaining balance. If you don't have enough balance on your card to complete the journey, the trip will be deducted from your 50HKD deposit, alternatively you will not be allowed to pass through the turnstile.
Loading credit onto cards: At every MTR station there will be machines allowing you to check your card balance, purchase single trip tickets or load money onto your octopus. Bare in mind that whilst adding credit onto your card this can only be done with cash and not a visa/card payment.
The airport express is an MTR service running from Central station all the way to the airport terminals 1 and 2. It is cheaper and quicker option that any other transport, costing 115HKD and taking 24 minutes. Delivering you directly inside the airport terminals, the trains are clean, cool, have plenty of room for luggage, provides WiFi and charging ports. One thing it is lacking are toilets so make sure to use those in the airport/station! The service is extremely efficient, arriving on time without delays.
Stops include: AsiaWorld-Expo, Airport, Tsing Yi, Kowloon and finally Hong Kong.
Ferry to Macau
Macau is dubbed the Vegas of Asia and whilst only an hour away from Hong Kong via ferry it is a glamorous get-away from the grundgy city (read more on our blog here). The terminal is centrally located, accessible by walking or taxi and is host to a few ferry companies which serve Macau including TurboJet and CotaiJet.
Each company has a different harbour terminal in Macau:
TurboJet travels to the outer harbour ferry terminal, located near the old town, ruins of St Paul and Senado square.
Whilst return tickets are available for roughly 300HKD return, 340HKD at the weekends, the returning journey must be taken on the same day as the outward. If you plan on staying over for a night or more you will need to purchase two single tickets at around 160HKD each, 175HKD at the weekends. Don't worry if you are staying closer to the cotai strip as most hotels offer complimentary transfers from this harbour.
The ferries run every 15 minutes from 7am-12am
CoataiJet takes you to Tapai ferry terminal, closer to the Costa strip and hotels such as the Venetian and Parisian. Ferries are less frequent (every 30 minutes) and is relatively similarly priced.