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Hong Kong Transportation: Travel Hong Kong Public Transport Like a Local

Written by Senior Expert Celine Schneider|Updated: 2023-10-31

How is transportation in Hong Kong? How can you visit the destinations on your list using public transport in Hong Kong? As an international metropolis, Hong Kong is known for its well-connected transportation system. The developed public transportation network allows you to quickly and affordably travel to various corners of the city, making it easy to explore this vibrant metropolis.

1) For most people, the MTR is the best mode of transportation, as it can take you to most of the popular destinations on your list.

2) Buses in Hong Kong provide an ideal complement to the MTR and can reach more remote areas like beaches and districts.

3) The iconic trams, known as "ding dings," offer convenience and a unique experience for short trips in the northern part of Hong Kong Island.

4) The Star Ferry provides a unique perspective of Victoria Harbour, while other ferries are ideal for visiting the outlying islands.

5) If you prefer comfort and direct routes, taxis in Hong Kong will provide convenience.

This detailed public transportation in Hong Kong guide provides useful tips on the MTR, buses, ferries, and taxis, as well as important information about the Octopus card and transportation from Hong Kong Airport, helping you plan an ideal trip to Hong Kong.

Content Preview

  • triangleMTR: Best Way to Get Around Hong Kong
  • triangleTraveling by Bus/Minibus in Hong Kong
  • triangleHong Kong Ferries: A Unique Perspective
  • triangleRiding the Trams around Hong Kong Centre
  • triangleHong Kong Taxis
  • triangleWhat is Octopus Card?
  • triangleTransportation From Hong Kong Airport to the City
  • triangleTraveling to Outlying Islands from Hong Kong
  • triangleHong Kong to Macau Transportation
  • triangleHow to Plan Your Hong Kong Tour
  • triangleExplore Hong Kong and Greater Bay Area With Asia Odyssey Travel (AOT)

MTR: Best Way to Get Around Hong Kong

It's safe to say that taking the MTR can get you almost anywhere in Hong Kong, especially many of Hong Kong's attractions on your travel list. The MTR operates 11 lines and covers 98 stations, connecting all major areas of Hong Kong, including the border with mainland China in Shenzhen. With the advantages of no traffic congestion, affordability, and efficiency, the MTR should be your preferred mode of transportation for exploring Hong Kong.

MTR stations are easy to find, with signs indicating the nearest station visible on streets and in shopping malls. Look for the letters "MTR" or a symbol consisting of two opposite semicircles connected by a line to locate the subway station easily. The MTR charges different fares based on the distance traveled, ranging from HK$3.5 to HK$27. You can purchase subway tickets at the stations or use an Octopus card to save some costs.

You can take the appropriate subway line between 5:30 AM and 1:30 AM (specific operating hours may vary, please check for details) to reach your destination. The Tsuen Wan Line (red line), Island Line (blue line), and Tung Chung Line (orange line) are the subway lines you are most likely to use.

Here are the three most popular MTR lines:

Tsuen Wan Line 荃湾线 (red line):

For tourists who want to explore mesmerizing night views of Hong Kong, the MTR Tsuen Wan Line (red line) can take you from Victoria Peak, offering a panoramic view of the city at night, to the vibrant nightlife of Lan Kwai Fong, the stunning Victoria Harbour view from the Avenue of Stars, and the lively Temple Street Night Market and Goldfish Street in Mong Kok (旺角). Immerse yourself in the infinite charm of Hong Kong's nightlife.

Island Line 港岛线 (blue line):

The MTR Island Line (blue line) runs through the bustling city center, providing easy access to popular attractions such as Victoria Peak, Star Ferry Pier, Central Ferris Wheel, Times Square, and Wan Chai. Experience a glimpse of the prosperity of an international metropolis.

Tung Chung Line 东涌线 (orange line):

For Disney and outdoor enthusiasts, the MTR Tung Chung Line (orange line) can take you to Hong Kong Disneyland, Ngong Ping 360, and Tian Tan Buddha. If your destination is Hong Kong Disneyland, you must transfer to the Disneyland Resort Line at Sunny Bay (欣澳).

Hong Kong MTR
The Hong Kong MTR can get you to almost any attraction in Hong Kong
Hong Kong MTR logo
Unique Hong Kong MTR logo

Traveling by Bus/Minibus in Hong Kong

Operating Hours: 24 hours

Operating Areas: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the New Territories

Price: HK$ 3.8-48

Payment: Octopus Card/Cash

Hong Kong's extensive bus and minibus network fills in the gaps left by the MTR and provides routes to some of the city's more remote or scenic locations, such as Repulse Bay and Stanley Market. The iconic double-decker buses also offer a unique perspective on the city, allowing you to get a closer look at the daily life of Hong Kong.

You can catch buses on Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the New Territories. Bus stops are clearly marked with route numbers and maps, making it easy to identify the bus you need to take. Announcements on the buses are made in Mandarin, English, and Cantonese, ensuring convenience for passengers. Bus fares range from HK$3.8 to HK$48 and can be paid with an Octopus card or cash. Don't forget to grab a seat on the bus's upper deck to enjoy the excellent street views. Night buses are identified with an "N" and provide convenient transportation for your nighttime exploration.

In Hong Kong, you'll also come across red and green minibusses navigating the streets. Green minibusses have fixed routes and fares, while red minibusses are more flexible regarding fares and routes. However, taking a minibus can be an adventurous experience for tourists as you may not know exactly where you're going. The drivers may also not speak English fluently.

Hong Kong Bus
Hong Kong buses can take you to remote places
Hong Kong Bus
Hong Kong double-decker buses

Hong Kong Ferries: A Unique Perspective

When exploring Hong Kong, the classic ferry system offers more than just a tourist experience. In just around 8-10 minutes, you can travel from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island, and the iconic Star Ferry provides convenient transportation. What's more, the city's ferries offer a unique perspective to admire the stunning skyline and harbor.

The Star Ferry operates from approximately 6:30 am until late at night, around 11:30 pm. It offers a convenient and scenic journey between Tsim Sha Tsui (尖沙咀) in Kowloon and Central (中环) or Wan Chai (湾仔) on Hong Kong Island. The fares range from as low as HK$2.7 to HK$3.7.

Apart from the Star Ferry, there are numerous other ferries connecting Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the outlying islands. These ferries serve as a lifeline for residents of islands such as Lamma Island (南丫岛), Cheung Chau (长洲), and Peng Chau (坪洲) while providing excellent opportunities for tourists to explore these captivating destinations.

Boarding points for the Star Ferry

Central Ferry Pier: Central Pier No.7, Central, Hong Kong (香港中环中央码头7号)

Wan Chai Ferry Pier: 9 Electric Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong (湾仔电气道9号)

Tsim Sha Tsui: 7 Man Kwong Street, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong (香港尖沙咀文光街7号)

Hong Kong Ferries
The Star Ferry is another iconic symbol of Hong Kong
Hong Kong Ferries
The Star Ferry has been around for over 100 years

Riding the Trams around Hong Kong Centre

Operating Hours: 5:00-00:30

Price: HK$3

Operating Routes: Shau Kei Wan - Western Market, Shau Kei Wan - Happy Valley, North Point - Shek Tong Tsui, Causeway Bay - Shek Tong Tsui, Happy Valley - Kennedy Town, Shau Kei Wan - Kennedy Town

The famous Tram, also known as "Ding Ding," is primarily operated in the northern part of Hong Kong Island, making it ideal for short-distance travel for passengers whose focus is on areas such as Central (中环), Wan Chai (湾仔), and Causeway Bay (铜锣湾).

For many tourists, riding the Tram itself is a unique experience. The full journey from Kennedy Town (坚尼地城) to Shau Kei Wan (筲箕湾) takes about 2 hours, with a frequency of 2 trams per hour.

Throughout the journey, you can immerse yourself in the fascinating culture of Hong Kong. The highlight of the route is the stretch between Causeway Bay (铜锣湾) and Shek Tong Tsui (石塘咀), where you can witness the bustling streets of Central and the well-preserved scenes of decades-old Hong Kong. It showcases the blend of old and new faces of Hong Kong.

If you prioritize the convenience of the Tram as a mode of transportation, it is a good option for a journey of about 4 MTR stations. However, if your route is longer, exceeding 6 MTR stations, using the MTR will be more convenient and time-saving.

Hong Kong Tram
The Hong Kong Tram is also known as Ting Ting
Hong Kong Tram
Ride the Hong Kong Tram to get up close and personal with local life

Hong Kong Taxis

Taxis in Hong Kong are a comfortable and direct way to reach your destination, and they come in three colors: red, green, and blue. Red taxis serve the Hong Kong city area, green taxis serve the New Territories, the airport, and Hong Kong Disneyland, while blue taxis operate exclusively on Lantau Island. The initial fare for red and green taxis is HK$24, and for blue taxis, it is HK$18.5, with additional charges based on the distance traveled.

While taxis are convenient, it's important to note that traffic in Hong Kong can be congested, especially during peak hours. Alternatively, you can opt for the Asia Odyssey Travel Service, where we can arrange a comfortable private car for you, along with hotel accommodations, tour guides, and itinerary planning, ensuring you have a truly enjoyable journey. Simply contact us for more details!

What is Octopus Card?

When using public transportation in Hong Kong, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the "Octopus Card." It is an almost universal payment system for all Hong Kong public transport services and can even be used at convenience stores, supermarkets, fast-food outlets, and vending machines.

For most tourists, the Standard Adult Card is the best option. It has an initial cost of HK$150, which includes a refundable deposit of HK$50 and an initial stored value of HK$100. If you plan to stay in Hong Kong for a longer period and use public transportation frequently, you may also consider purchasing the Tourist Octopus Card.

Keep your Octopus Card adequately topped up. You can recharge your card at any MTR station, many convenience stores, or self-service add-value machines located throughout the city. When you leave Hong Kong, remember to return your Octopus Card. You can do this at any MTR Customer Service Centre and get back your HK$50 deposit.

Transportation From Hong Kong Airport to the City

You can travel from Hong Kong International Airport, located ca. 34 kilometers from the city center, to downtown Hong Kong via the Airport Express, Airport Express Bus, or taxis.

Taking the Airport Express train is the best option, allowing you to reach Central Hong Kong Station directly from the airport in about 50 minutes. The fare is HK$115, and it provides a convenient and efficient way to reach your destination.

Alternatively, you can choose the Airport Express Bus service, such as H1, H2, H3, H4, which will take you to various locations in Hong Kong Island, including Central. If your hotel is in Tsim Sha Tsui, you can take buses like K1, K2, K3, K4, K5 to reach your destination.

If you prefer to take a taxi, you can expect the journey to take around 1 hour, with a cost of approximately HK$200-300.

Hong Kong International Airport
Hong Kong International Airport
Octopus Card
Octopus Card

Traveling to Outlying Islands from Hong Kong

If you're looking for public transportation from downtown Hong Kong to the beautiful outlying islands, your best options are likely to be ferries, the MTR (subway), and public buses.

Lantau Island, known for Hong Kong Disneyland, Ngong Ping 360, and the Tian Tan Buddha, is a popular outlying island that can be reached by taking the MTR Tung Chung Line (orange) or public buses.

Ferries are the preferred mode of transportation to islands such as Lamma Island and Cheung Chau. The Central Pier and Wan Chai Pier in the city center are the main departure points for various outlying islands.

Hong Kong to Macau Transportation

Ferries are a popular choice for this journey, with services operating from the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan and the China Ferry Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui. These high-speed ferries can whisk you across the Pearl River Delta to Macau in about 1 hour.

Alternatively, you can make use of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, the world's longest sea-crossing bridge. Shuttle buses run regularly from the Hong Kong Port, providing a direct and speedy connection to Macau within 30-40 minutes.

Ngong Ping 360
Lantau Island
Ruins of St. Paul's
Macau Ruins of St. Paul's

How to Plan Your Hong Kong Tour

Hong Kong attracts numerous tourists with its unparalleled charm. Typically, it takes around 1-2 days to explore the classic attractions of Hong Kong, including Victoria Peak, Victoria Harbour, Tian Tan Buddha, Aberdeen Fishing Village, and Repulse Bay. Additionally, you can combine your Hong Kong trip with a visit to Macau, spending around 3-4 days to experience the distinct vibes of these two international metropolises.

1-Day Hong Kong Tour

Attractions include: Star Ferry, Victoria Peak, Aberdeen Fishing Village, Repulse Bay

On this classic Hong Kong itinerary, you can start your journey by taking the iconic Star Ferry and enjoy the panoramic view of the skyline and Victoria Harbour from the upper deck. Hop on the Peak Tram to reach the highest point in Hong Kong, Victoria Peak, and capture breathtaking views of the skyline and beautiful harbor from the Sky Terrace 428. Experience the traditional way of life in the ancient Aberdeen Fishing Village and relax in the serene atmosphere of Repulse Bay or get lost in the maze-like stalls of Stanley Market.

2-Days Hong Kong Tour

Attractions include: Star Ferry, Victoria Peak, Aberdeen Fishing Village, Repulse Bay, Ngong Ping 360, Tian Tan Buddha, Tai O

On the first day, you can follow the classic exploration, taking the iconic Star Ferry, enjoying the panoramic view from Victoria Peak, experiencing the traditional fishing village life in Aberdeen, and relaxing at Repulse Bay.

On the second day, embark on an excursion to Lantau Island, taking the Ngong Ping 360 cable car to reach Tian Tan Buddha and climbing the 268 steps to reach the pedestal of the statue. Immerse yourself in the charming fishing village culture of Tai O on the western coast of Lantau Island.

4-Days Hong Kong and Macau Tour

Attractions: Star Ferry, Victoria Peak, Repulse Bay, Aberdeen Fishing Village, Ruins of St. Paul's, Senado Square, A-Ma Temple, The Venetian Macao

On the first day, arrive in Hong Kong and prepare for the itinerary of the second day. In the evening, you can visit the Avenue of Stars to enjoy the Symphony of Lights, a spectacular light show over Victoria Harbour.

On the second day, begin your exploration of Hong Kong, starting with the iconic Star Ferry, panoramic views from Victoria Peak, traditional fishing village life in Aberdeen, and the serene atmosphere of Repulse Bay. This day allows you to experience various facets of Hong Kong and get a brief impression of the city.

On the third day, head to the nearby Macau and visit its iconic attractions. Marvel at the grandeur of the Ruins of St. Paul's, climb the hill to Fortaleza do Monte for a panoramic view of Macau, visit the oldest temple in Macau, A-Ma Temple, and try your luck at the world's largest casino, The Venetian Macao, or simply immerse yourself in its luxurious ambiance.

On the fourth day, depart from Hong Kong.

Victoria Peak
Victoria Peak
The Venetian Macao
The Venetian Macao

Explore Hong Kong and Greater Bay Area With Asia Odyssey Travel (AOT)

Asia Odyssey Travel operates with a local office and a team of experts based in Hong Kong, providing unparalleled insights into the city and its neighboring regions. Our diverse range of tours includes classic Hong Kong tours, layover tours, Lantau Island tours, family tours, and captivating Greater Bay Area joint tours that encompass Hong Kong, Macau, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou.

Moreover, we offer seamless itineraries for long-term holidaymakers departing from Hong Kong, connecting you to awe-inspiring destinations like Guilin, Chengdu, Xi'an, Shanghai, Beijing, the Yangtze River, and even Tibet. Immerse yourself in the wonders of a remarkable journey across China.

Regardless of your preferences, our professional travel consultants are dedicated to tailoring your travel plan with the best local prices, ensuring personalized arrangements in every aspect of your trip. Contact us now to embark on your dream adventure!

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