Hong Kong Transportation Tips by swissfondue Top 5 Page for this destination
Hong Kong Transportation: 857 reviews and 917 photos
As a rule I travel on the MTR to mostly everywhere I want to go in Hong Kong, but buses, particularly on routes up to the Peak, along Nathan Road or out to Stanley are a good alternative.
The best thing about travelling by bus is that you get to look at the streetscape on the trip. This is best seen from the front seats on the upper level but everyone has the same idea so unless you get on at the bus terminus (1st stop) its unlikely you will get those seats. But pop upstairs and have a look anyway. I've noticed that the modern double deckers (like London) have a safety bar right in my line of sight so I have to peer over that. Depending on the route buses can get quite crowded. You can stand downstairs but not on the upper level. On a recent trip through Wan Chai the bus actually pulled into a bus stop and the driver waited until standing passengers on the upper level had gone back downstairs, so be aware of this.
Most buses are airconditioned, modern and comfortable. Fares can be deducted from your Octopus card which is great as you dont need to find exact change in your wallet. Just swipe your card at the reader located at the front of the bus close to the driver. A flat fare is deducted regardless of the number of stops travelled.
Bus routes cover pretty much all of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and into the New Territories. There are five privately owned "public" bus companies each serving a different part of the city. New World First Bus, Citybus and Kowloon Motor Bus are the ones tourists will most likely use. If travelling by bus on Lantau Island it will be either a New Lantao bus or a Long Win bus. Bus numbers are displayed on the front of the bus.
Here are some popular tourist bus routes and corresponding Bus numbers:
- Between Central Pier and the Galleria Shopping Centre Terminus at the Peak - Bus 15
- Between Central Ferry Pier and the Garden Road Lower Peak Tram Terminus - Bus 15C
- Between Exchange Square Bus Terminal (Central) and Aberdeen - Bus 70
- Between Central (exchange Square) and Stanley - Bus 6 6A 6X and 260
- Between Central and Ocean Park - all 629 Buses (S & A are Express)
- Between Mui Wo Pier and Ngong Ping Village - Bus 2
- Between Tung Chung and Big Buddha - Bus 23
Using an Octopus card makes getting around Hong Kong super easy.
The convenient rechargeable smart card deducts payments for a variety of everyday purchases around Hong Kong. I purchase mine from the MTR Customer Service Centre on the station concourse but cards can be purchased from any participating public transportation company's CSC.
Adults are charged a deposit of HK$50 + stored value of HK$100 making your initial purchase $HK150. This credit is probably enough for 3 to 4 days worth of short trips around central Hong Kong. If you are staying any longer or journeying frequently outside the city then the card will need to be "topped up" a few times during your stay.
Octopus cards can be used to pay for trips on the MTR, Light Rail, Trams, Peak Tram, Star Ferry, Buses and Green Minibuses. It can also be used to pay for purchases at Convenience stores such as 7 Eleven and Circle K, some supermarkets, Watsons, Starbucks and fast food outlets including McDonalds.
*MTR: Just swipe your Octopus card against the reader at the turnstile of both your departure and arrival station. The fare (according to distance travelled) is then automatically deducted. This amount and the remaining credit on the card is displayed at your destination station. Occasionally the card may not scan correctly. If this happens you just need to go to the Customer Service counter and ask them to reset the card.
*BUS: Just swipe your card when you get ON the bus (through the front door only). You are charged a flat fare regardless of how many stops travelled.
*TRAM: Entry is through a turnstile at the back of the tram. Just swipe your Octopus Card only when you get OFF the tram. You must exit at the front only.
If you have used all the money on your card, it can be topped up at Customer Service Centres, convenience stores, or Value Add machines in station concourses (which are very easy to understand and use). Octopus cards remain valid for three years and can be topped up at any time within that period. You can also choose to hand the card back to the CSC for a refund of both the deposit and any remaining credit.
If you are a non-resident of Hong Kong and plan to use the Airport Express you can buy a special Tourist Octopus Card. This card entitles you to one free single journey plus 3 days unlimited travel on MTR, Light Rail and some buses. Cost includes HK$50 deposit + stored value of HK$20. At a total cost of HK$220 this card would only be good value if you intend to use the MTR and other public transport frequently during the three day period.
The red and green Minibuses that you see rushing along Hong Kong streets (and trust me sometimes you need to get out of their way) are known as Public Light Buses.
These buses transport mainly locals to outlying residential areas of Hong Kong not fully serviced by conventional buses, or to areas where passenger numbers do not necessitate using a larger bus. There are approximately 4400 licenced PLB's and at times it seems they are all on the streets at the same time so take care when stepping off the footpath.
I have never used one myself simply because the MTR takes me close enough to everywhere I want to go and do I enjoy walking the rest of the way to my destination. Its important to know something about the area you are going to because when you get on you need to tell the driver where you want to get off. I would personally find this too difficult if I didnt know the area well.
NOTE: If you decide to use a Red Minibus be aware that because they are unregulated drivers they do not need to follow a fixed route or timetable and may even set their own fares. I heave heard that fares rise dramatically during inclement weather when demand is high. Fares are payable by cash only.
Octopus cards can be used on Green Minibuses.
Central can be a wonderful area to explore on foot but is some distance from the Star ferry terminal. Once you step off the ferry it is almost impossible to get to Des Voeux Road at street level. For this reason the Central Elevated Walkway has been built to enhance pedestrian access connecting the Star Ferry Terminal with Connaught Road and other popular locations throughout Central.
You can also access the following places via the Elevated Walkway:
The General Post Office, Landmark Shopping Centre, Prince's Building, Exchange Square Bus Terminus, Central Station, Main Branch of the Hang Seng Bank, Mid-Levels Escalator and 2 IFC Shopping Mall.
From inside the 2IFC Shopping Mall there are walkways to the Shun Tak Centre where the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal and the MTR Sheung Wan Station are located.
MTR Hong Kong Station (Airport Express) can be accessed from inside the 2IFC Shopping Mall or alternatively from Central Pier number 3.
I personally prefer the MTR as the best and most cost effective way to dash around Hong Kong but taxis are an alternative. There are thousands of them on Hong Kong Streets, day and night. Taxis can be hailed on the street or from a taxi stand and I do try this method occasionally though I must admit that I have never had much success explaining to the driver where I need to go! On the whole taxis are clean and airconditioned and the fares are surprisingly moderate, but obviously will increase considerably if major traffic congestion occurs.
The least stressful way to travel by taxi is directly from your hotel as this eleviates the language difficulties you may have with your driver. The doorman/porter gives the location to the driver, you get in and off you go. To get back to your hotel again ask for a card with the hotel name written on it to show your driver.
The majority of taxis (and the most expensive per kilometre) are RED as these serve most of urban Hong Kong and the Airport. Green taxis are used in the New Territories (and the Airport) and blue taxis on Lantau Island (and also to /from the Airport). Unless you know the distance you are travelling it is difficult to calculate fares. As an example: The first 2kms or any part thereof is HK$20.00 then every subsequent 200 metres or part thereof, or every period of 1 minute waiting time or part thereof is HK$1.50, until the chargeable amount reaches HK$72.50. After the chargeable amount has reached HK$72.50, the additional charge is HK$1.00 for every 200m travelled or 1 minute waiting time.
Every suitcase is an additional HK$5.00. Telephone pre-bookings are also an additional HK$5.00. There are also surcharges for using the Cross-Harbour Tunnel and Eastern and Western Harbour Crossings. These range from HK$10.00 to HK$15.00 on top of the toll paid by the driver. On my most recent trip my hotel porter hailed six taxis before he could find one who was prepared to take me from Mongkok to Causeway Bay. Not sure why!
I've included this striking Bridge in the transportation section as it plays a pivotal role in getting to and from Hong Hong. Whether you are travelling by bus, taxi, limousine or train you will traverse the Tsing Ma Bridge as it carries road and rail traffic between the city and Check Lap Kok Airport. Tsing Ma Bridge is over 2kms in length and is certainly an imposing sight as well as being a vital link between Lantau Island and the rest of Hong Kong
If you dont wish to queue for the Peak Tram or are looking at a different way to travel up to the Peak consider taking a bus. Its an interesting and fairly long journey depending on traffic but gives you a different perspective of the Mid Levels as you wind your way to the Peak Galleria Bus terminus.
Route No. 15 - First Bus
Central Ferry Pier to The Peak
Daily: 6:15 am - 00:15 am (from Central)
Mondays to Saturdays: 6:30 am - 1:00 am
(from The Peak)
Sundays & Public Holidays: 6:15 am - 00:15 am (from The Peak)
Frequency: (Mondays - Saturdays) 11-30 minutes
(Sundays and Public Holidays) 13-30 minutes
Route No. 15B - First Bus
Tin Hau to The Peak
Sundays & Public Holidays: 12:00 pm - 7:00 pm (from Tin Hau)
Sundays & Public Holidays: 12:40 pm - 7:40 pm (from The Peak)
Frequency: 10-20 minutes
Remarks: Serve on Sundays & Public Holidays ONLY
I have included this review in the Transportation section however the iconic Star Ferries that ply Victoria Harbour are a massive tourist attraction in their own right.
Ferries run continuously from Tsim Sha Tsui to either Central or Wan Chai giving tourists and locals a more scenic alternative to the often crowded MTR. The travel time is short especially between TST and Central. In fact the walking distance to the ferry pier especially on the Hong Kong Island side seems longer than the trip itself.
If you love ferries or would like more photo opportunities there is a longer tour available. The Star Ferry Harbour tour runs for an hour around a circular route on the Harbour stopping at Central, Wanchai and TST piers. If you would like to alight, do some sightseeing and then rejoin the tour later you can do so by purchasing a Hopping Pass, which is a cute name dont you think!
Ticket prices for a one way crossing are amazingly cheap (HK$2.00) and you can use your Octopus card to deduct the fare. The upper deck of the ferry costs slightly more (HK$2.50) but offers better access to the views. A day Hopping Pass costs HK$200.
The Hong Kong Mass Transportation System or MTR is without question one of the most efficient people carriers in the world and for the tourist makes seeing a lot in a short time very doable.
The MTR consists of ten lines with the Island and Tsuen Wan lines being probably the most utilised. They is also an Express line running from the airport to Kowloon and Hong Kong Stations and a Light Rail system which runs to the New Territories.
For short term visitors to Hong Kong there are Airport Express three day Travel Passes and a Day Tourist Pass available but if you intend to be in Hong Kong for a few days or more purchasing an Octopus Card is a good idea.
A Standard Octopus Card is a travel smart card which is perfect for visitors and tourists. The cards can be purchased at the Airport or the customer service counter of any MTR station. They come with an initial stored value of HK$100 which is made up of a HK$50 refundable deposit and HK$50 travel credit. To use the card just swipe it at the turnstiles at entrance and exit of each station you arrive and depart from. The smart card automatically deducts your fare depending on the distance travelled. Cards can be reloaded at Add Value Machines along the MTR station concourses. Using an Octopus card allows for slightly discounted travel.
Depending on the line, trains run from around 05.30 to 01.00 365 days of the year. MTR stations are incredibly well signposted (in English) and concourses are air conditioned and offer a variety of shops, takeaway food and 7/11 style kiosks, banks and newsagents.
Train platforms are accessed by escalators but there is quite often only stair access from the concourse to street level. In widely spread out stations such as Tsim Sha Tsui and Central there are several exits so be prepared to walk some distance underground before reaching your exit to street level. Moving walkways are also used at these stations as a quick way to transit to other stations.
Many MTR stations are connected directly to shopping malls which is very convenient.
Transfering from one line to another is easy involving either a few steps to the opposite site of the platform or an escalator to a platform above or below. The trains themselves and platforms are spotlessly clean and tidy (no graffitti to be seen anywhere) and although they can get very crowded at times, in my experience travellers seem to treat each other with respect. Trains, with only the odd exception run exactly on time and commuters queue and exit crowded platforms in an organised fashion.
It really is an exceptionally efficient way to get around Hong Kong in a speedy, comfortable and affordable fashion.
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