Hong Kong Public Transport system is sophisticated and well developed, linking up Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. There are various types of public transport Hong Kong, including railways, trams, buses, minibuses, taxis and ferries. As Hong Kong public transportation is convenient, frequent and safe, the majority of people in Hong Kong prefer using it to commute.
Hong Kong Public Transport – Rail
There are three major kinds of railway systems in Hong Kong: The Mass Transit Railway (MTR), the Hong Kong Tramways and the Peak Tram.
- MTR and Airport Express
Hong Kong main rail system, MTR, covers Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories, including the Airport Express connecting the Hong Kong International Airport, the Ngong Ping Cable Car on Lantau Island, and also the Light Rail Transit (LRT) operating only in New Territories West. Although it may be quite crowded during the peak hours at some interchanges and popular stations, as it is extensive while inexpensive, fast, reliable and easy to use, it is one of the best choices for commuters and tourists.
Tips: You can buy a single ticket, a tourist ticket or an Octopus card (a pre-paid smart card) before you get through the gate. Swipe the Octopus at the gate or put the ticket into the gate before you leave the paid area of a station. LRT is open gate, but the payment method is more or less the same.
- To buy a tourist Octopus card for picking up at Hong Kong International Airport, click here.
- Hong Kong Airport Express Train Ticket, click here.
- Hong Kong Airport Express plus 3-day MTR Travel Pass, click here.
- Hong Kong Tramways
The Hong Kong Tramways provide services to the northern coast of Hong Kong Island between Kennedy Town and Shau Kei Wan, and also around Happy Valley. All the trams are double-deck and commonly known as “Ding Ding.
Put into service in 1904, the tram is one of the oldest public transport in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Tram is not only an important transportation for residents of Hong Kong Island, it is also an attraction for foreign visitors. Its low prices and low speed allow passengers to enjoy the views of Hong Kong at ease.
Tips: You can pay by coins, tourist ticket or Octopus. Passengers get on the tram at the back door, get off and pay at the front door, which is quite exceptional in Hong Kong.
Official Website: https://www.hktramways.com/en/
- The Peak Tram
The Peak Tram runs from Garden Road, Central to the Victoria Peak via the Mid-Levels. This public transport Hong Kong also has a long history, it was inaugurated in 1888. The Peak Tram is a funicular railway that offers good views over both sides of the Victoria Harbour. Both locals and tourists love to take a ride on the Peak Tram. It is affordable and busy.
Tips: You can buy tickets at the terminuses (single, return or special pass). Put the ticket into the gate at the entrance, do the same at the exit. Get the Peak Tram Fast-Track Combo here. (Peak Tram is under maintenance from 23 April to July 2019)
Official Website: https://www.thepeak.com.hk/en
- High-speed railway
Newly opened in September 2018, Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) connects Hong Kong to Mainland China. Passengers can take the train directly to Beijing, the capital city of China, via Shenzhen and Guangzhou. Learn more about Hong Kong high-speed railway here. Want to book your short-haul tickets, click here; for long-haul tickets, book here.
Official Website: https://www.highspeed.mtr.com.hk/en/main/index.html
Public Transport Hong Kong – Road
There are mainly two kinds of buses: franchised buses (usually double-deck) and public light buses (minibus).
Bus is a popular mode of Hong Kong public transport. The fares are relatively low and you can get to those places not reached by MTR, like Stanley in the southern parts of Hong Kong Island and Sai Kung. Hong Kong has five franchised bus companies providing nearly 700 bus routes and services as of 2015. They are:
- Kowloon Motor Bus Company (1933) Limited (KMB) – the main provider of bus services in Kowloon and the New Territories. It also operates cross-harbor routes.
- Citybus Limited (Citybus) – one of services providers on Hong Kong Island. It also has cross-harbor lines and Tung Chung / Airport lines.
- New World First Bus Services Limited (NWFB) – another bus operator on Hong Kong Island. It operates cross-harbor routes and some Kowloon / Tseung Kwan O routes.
- Long Win Bus Company Limited (LW) – connects North Lantau and Chek Lap Kok Airport with the New Territories.
- New Lantau Bus Company (1973) Limited (NLB) – mainly serve Lantau routes and link up the island with other areas
Tips: You can pay by cash (exact change only) or Octopus when you get on the bus at the front door. Buses usually have monitors and announcement indicating the place of the next stop in English and Chinese. Just press the bell when you prepare to get off. Though some of the routes require longer waiting time, they are still easy and convenient. Interested in Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off Day Pass, click here.
- Public Light Bus
Public light bus, also known as minibus and van, completes the routes which are not well-covered by the MTR and buses. They run in all the regions by various companies. There are two kinds of minibuses: red minibus and green minibus. Both of them have 16 seats. They are quicker but usually slightly more expensive than buses.
Tips: For the red ones, passengers usually pay the drivers when they get off, only few of them accept the Octopus card. Banknote over HK $ 100 is not welcomed especially in the early morning as drivers may not have enough changes. It is better to prepare exact change.
For the green ones, you can drop the coins and notes into the cash box or pay by the Octopus when getting on.
For both red and green ones, when you need to get off, you have to give the driver a shout and call the get off place/point loudly. The driver usually wave hand to confirm. Accompanied by someone who knows the route well is recommended if you ride on it for the first time. It’d be even better if you can speak some Cantonese.
Governmental website: https://www.td.gov.hk/en/transport_in_hong_kong/public_transport/minibuses/index.html
Taxis in Hong Kong carry about one million passengers daily. They are divided into 3 colours, each colour represent one region. They are Urban taxis (red), New Territories taxis (green) and Lantau taxis (blue). Although red taxis are called urban taxis, they can travel on the whole Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories including the northern parts of Lautau Island. This can explain why more than 80% of taxis in Hong Kong are red taxis.
Tips: You can get a taxi at stations, wave your hand at non-restricted areas or call it in advance. Bear in mind that they do not stop at bus stops, on double yellow lines, or single yellow line during peak hours.
Meters are used. As of 29 Dec 2018, for the first 2 kilometers, the prices range from HK $ 19 to $ 24; for every subsequent 200 meters or waiting time per minute, it charges HK $ 1.2 to $ 1.7 accordingly. Each baggage cost you HK $ 5 on top. There are surcharges using toll tunnels and toll roads. You have to pay by cash, small tips are welcomed. Most drivers know the names of locations in English, but they do not speak much.
Public Transport in Hong Kong – Maritime
Most of the passengers ferries in Hong Kong run between urban areas and outlying islands, namely Lantau Island, Cheung Chau, Lamma Island, Peng Chau and other smaller islands. Some of them run across the Victoria Harbour, between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. In addition, there are various types of smaller ferries called Kaito, which serve remote small coastal villages. The main ferry routes are listed below:
- Central or Wan Chai to Tsim Sha Tsui
Tips: The cheapest way to ride across the Victoria and enjoy the spectacular views. One of the most popular tourist attractions. You can pay by coins, tokens, tourist ticket or Octopus at the gate. Interested in Star Ferry Harbour Tour, click here.
New World First Ferry:
- Central to Cheung Chau or Mui Wo (Lantau Island)
- North Point to Hung Hom or Kowloon City
Hong Kong & Kowloon Ferry:
- Central to Peng Chau or Lamma Island (Yung Shue Wan/Banyan Bay or Sok Kwu Wan)
Tips: For all of the above, you can pay by Octopus, coins and notes as staff members are selling tickets at the gate.
Additionally, there are routes from Central to Discovery Bay and Ma Wan. Other busy piers can be found in Aberdeen, Sai Wan Ho and Sai Kung etc.
Governmental website: https://www.td.gov.hk/en/transport_in_hong_kong/public_transport/ferries/service_details/
Hong Kong Public Transportation – Air
Hong Kong air transport is extremely busy. If you have visited Hong Kong by air before 1998, you should have been to the Kai Tak Airport located in Kowloon City. Now, Hong Kong International Airport is located at Chek Lap Kok on Lantau Island. There are some Hong Kong based airlines: Cathay Pacific Airways, Dragonair, Hong Kong Airlines and Hong Kong Express Airways. As Hong Kong is tiny, there is no domestic flight in the city.
In short, getting around Hong Kong using Hong Kong public transport is no doubt one of the best ways. What do you think? Feel free to contact us if you have questions or need more recommendation.
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