Hong Kong Travel
In Hong Kong, travel using the world’s #1 integrated public transport network. It includes the International Airport, ferries, taxis, trams, a cable car, buses, mini buses and even an outside escalator.
When you arrive in Hong Kong, your first experience of the Hong Kong travel system is likely to be the Hong Kong International Airport and the Airport Express.
Hong Kong Travel – The Airport Express
This fast train takes passengers from the Asia World Expo into Central. With Hong Kong travel departures every 10-12 minutes the journey time is 24 minutes from the Airport Arrivals Hall into Central, with stops at Tsing Yi and Kowloon.
Hong Kong Travel – The Mass Transit Railway (MTR / Subway)
The Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car
The Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car runs from Tung Chung to the big bronze Buddha at Tian Tan, on Lantau Island. See our Things to Do page for more information. Avoid week-ends and public holidays, particularly those coinciding with Mainland Chinese Public holidays, when the cable car gets extremely busy with tour groups.
Hong Kong Travel – Buses
Alternatively you can catch one of the red or cream Public Light Buses (PLBs) that are cheap, but lack air conditioning. The green PLBs run scheduled services and the red run non-scheduled services. Drivers do not pull over at designated stops without being asked, so shout ‘check hoi’ if you want to alight at the next stop.
As the red PLB drivers can earn more by making more journeys and can drive aggressively. As a result, minibuses display big speedometers inside the buses allowing passengers to gauge the speed. If the minibuses exceeds 80 km/h there is an audible warning signal. Where newer minibuses are equipped with safety belts installed, they should be worn!
Hong Kong Travel – Trams
The quaintest form of Hong Kong travel has to be the historic trams which ply the north side of Hong Kong island. Regardless of distance traveled, they have a fixed adult fare of a few HK dollars.
When the trams came into service in 1904 they ran along the Hong Kong waterfront. This makes it easy to gauge the extent of subsequent harbour reclamation as the tracks are quite some distance away today.
None of the trams have air-conditioning and most of them are pretty old. However, newer trams are slowly being phased in. Hong Kong Tramways also operate ‘Party Trams’, which are available for self-catered party hire.
The six overlapping tram routes are:
- Shau Kei Wan ↔ Western Market
- Shau Kei Wan ↔ Happy Valley
- Shau Kei Wan ↔ Kennedy Town
- North Point ↔ Whitty Street
- Happy Valley ↔ Kennedy Town
- Causeway Bay ↔ Whitty Street
- Western Market ↔ Kennedy Town
Hong Kong Travel – The Peak Tram
Climbing about 400 meters over it’s 1.4 KM route, the Peak Tram has four request stops at Kennedy Road, MacDonnell Road, May Road and Baker Road. All these roads are named after colonial-era Governors or Administrators.
Since opening in 1888, sections of the tram line were washed away 1899 and in 1966 and the the engine room was damaged in an attack during the Battle of Hong Kong in WWII. Service was not resumed until after the war.
Today, more than 4 million people ride the Peak Tram a year so you can expect to queue!
Hong Kong Travel – The Mid-Levels escalator
The mid-levels escalator is the longest outdoor covered escalator the world. It runs for over 800 meters and rises over 135 meters. About 55,000 people travel down from mid-levels to Central in the mornings (6.00 am – 10.00 am) or make the reverse journey in the afternoons, when the escalator reverses (10.30 am to midnight).
As the escalator is under cover, travelers are protected from the elements. When you walk around Central itself, this theme is taken further with many enclosed and air-conditioned first floor walkways connecting the major commercial buildings. This saves pedestrians crossing numerous roads and being exposed to rain or Summer heat.
The Octopus Card
All Hong Kong travel services take the Octopus card as a form of e-cash payment. The cards can be obtained, with a HK$50 refundable deposit at the Customer Service kiosks in MTR stations. Their stored value can be topped up at convenience stores and MTR stations, or via auto top-up when linked to your bank account.
Octopus Cards are also accepted at many shops, supermarkets, fast food outlets, vending machines etc. As local public transport operators don’t give change, Octopus cards are almost essential. They are available in Adult, Child and Senior versions and each will deduct the appropriate fare for the class of travel.
Alternatives to Hong Kong Public Transport
The Hong Kong travel alternatives to public transport are to take a taxi or to buy a car.
Unless you live on the south side of Hong Kong island or in the New Territories buying a car is unlikely to be a necessity. Car ownership doesn’t just reflect need in Hong Kong, it reflects status. No matter how expensive it is to buy and run European cars, there is no shortage of local buyers. Affluent locals like their cars like their properties, new and showy! You’ll see Mercedes Benz, BMW, Rolls Royce and Bentley cars crawling through Central with their owners enjoying the envious stares of some pedestrians. Most of the expatriates tend to have a bit more of an eye on the practicalities of costs (including the prices of parking spaces in Central) and tend to opt for Japanese Automatics with air conditioning and low mileage, which can be bought relatively cheaply. To get an idea of prices, see Vin’s Motors and Vincent Motors. Information regarding owning a car and importing a car can be found on the HK Transport Department website.
If you have an overseas driving license which is valid or has not been expired for more than three years you can apply for a Direct Issue of a Hong Kong driving license. You will need to download form TD 63A from the HK Transport Department website.