The Hong Kong Unofficial Guide

Budget hotel choices
Bigger room vs. convenience - Read our comments on Hong Kong budget hotels

> advertise here <

Follow us on Twitter
HOME | A - Z index | Q & A | mobile |

getting around
translate to Chinese Japanese Spanish French

Getting Around in Hong Kong

all about transportation


Above: rickshaws
Hong Kong is very convenient when it comes to getting around. You will love the subway (known as the MTR) because it is efficient, clean, and safe (with the only common crimes being groping and pickpocketing here and there). Then there are the ever-present buses, usually air-conditioned double-deckers. In addition, with Hong Kong being so small (about 400 square miles/1000 sq km), everything is all packed in there. It takes at most 2 hours to get somewhere, and if it is near the MTR, usually half an hour or 45 minutes - unless it is in the New Territories.


Airport Transportation

Check the airport transportation page.


Hong Kong tram Hong Kong tram Hong Kong trams run on tracks and operate only on the northern part of Hong Kong IslandHong Kong Island skyline
Hong Kong Island skyline viewed from Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) waterfront.
. It is a leisurely and inexpensive ride to see the Hong Kong Island. The route is pretty much a line along the curves of the island with just one extra loop to go into the Happy Valley area. The tram fare for adults is HK$2.3 (~US 30 cents). Half price for children and elderly. They've been running for over a century. (2011.8.12) more about trams

Peak Tram

The Peak Tram is a cable tram going up to Victoria Peak
Victoria Peak, one of the most beautiful city skyline view in the world.
from Central district. (Check out the open top bus to and from the lower Peak Tram terminus.)


MTR (Mass Transit Railway)

MTR train, off-peak hoursMTR train, off-peak hours
Above: an MTR train in Hong Kong during off-peak hours
MTR is the subway and train system in Hong Kong. It's the most convenient way of traveling in Hong Kong. The greatest thing is that you won't get lost as long as you can find your way back to one of its stations.

It reaches many parts of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. And the contactless "Octopus" electronic cash-card is probably the most advanced in the world - even if it isn't, it has to be the most widely used since a few million people have it and use it regularly. It's great electronic-cash for tourists when it comes to transportation. No fumbling with coins and banknotes you're not familiar with. It can also be used in major convenience chainstores and supermarkets to pay for purchases.

Unfortunately, they're now charging a fee for returning it within 3 months. But even with that, saving the hassle of figuring out the coins is well worth the small fee. Or you can also buy one to use for about US$10. It's small and cute - about the size of a large stamp.

To experience the crowds of Hong Kong, you should ride the MTR during rush hours going toward "Central", for instance, from anywhere in Kowloon or from Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island. One stop would do it!

(As of Dec 1, 2007, The MTR system now encompasses the former KCR train system and the light rail.)

See the MTR system map here, and click here for more info about the MTR system.


Above: the train platform in a West Rail station


KCR Train KCR is the old name of the train that goes north into the New Territories and ultimately stops at Lo Wu - which is the border where you can cross into China mainland, with the right visa. Now KCR has been merged with the MTR system to become one. For those who are used to the old KCR, note that the former Mong Kok station is now "Mong Kok East", and "Kowloon" station is now "Hung Hom". Above left: KCR Train

To go to Shenzhen (the city in China just north of Hong Kong), you can take the MTR and get to the "Kowloon Tong" station. Switch there to the "East Rail" line heading for Lo Wu or Lok Ma Chau.

At the time of writing, switching from Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station to Tsim Sha Tsui East Station, one still has to exit the turnstiles and re-enter.(2010.9.4)

Pedestrian tunnels connect the Tsim Sha Tsui station and the East Tsim Sha Tsui station, The tunnels also take you to various attractions in Tsim Sha Tsui like the Avenue of Stars on the waterfront.

In the old KCR system was also the West Rail, the railroad link between Kowloon and western part of New Territories. It is also part of MTR now.


Light Rail

Light Rail is the tram that runs mainly between Yuen Long and Tuen Mun in the New Territories.

One thing interesting would be that it's the only public transportation where payment is based on an honor system: there's no gate nor conductor to collect your money. But violators caught are fined.



Double-decker busDouble-decker bus
Double-decker buses in Wan Chai

Double-decker buses in Wan Chai
Hong Kong may not be London, but big double-decker buses with many different routes go just about everywhere, on roads and streets that would seem too narrow for them. And most of them are air-conditioned, the buses, that is - but there is no heater, and even in the winter, the air-conditioners pump out cold air!

To experience vertigo, ride bus number 7 on the top deck in the front seat from the Star Ferry terminus in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, all the way to the end (Lok Fu).

Buses route numbering system - many of those with 3 digits go through one of the cross harbor tunnels. For example, the 100s go through the tunnel between Wanchai and Hung Hom, the 600s go through the Eastern Cross Harbor Tunnel (Quarry Bay - Lam Tin), the 900s go through the Western Cross Harbor Tunnel (Sai Ying Pun - Yau Ma Tei).

Supposedly you cannot take luggage larger than 0.1 cubic meter on board. links to bus companies


Airport Buses

Branded as "AirBus" and "Cityflyer", these buses take you from and to the airport. They have some luggage space on board (not quite enough for everyone on board though). Their route numbers always start with an A, E, N, or S, e.g. A11, A21. (Right: airport buses)

  • The A buses are the fastest among these buses because they don't loop among as much in the city.
  • The E buses get you there - ultimately.
  • The N buses only run in the small hours of the morning (there're also other N buses that don't go to the airport).
  • The S buses only go between "Tung Chung" (the town closest to the airport) and the airport.

Refer to the bus company websites listed in links section to get more info on routes.

Check the airport transportation page for full details on different choices of getting from the airport to the city.



Star FerryStar FerryFerries can take you across the Victoria Harbor. There are also ones that run between the main parts of Hong Kong (i.e. Hong Kong Island/Kowloon) to the "outlying islands" (e.g. Lantau Island, Cheung Chau, Lamma Island, Peng Chau). The piers to the outlying islands are concentrated in Central on Hong Kong Island near the MTR Hong Kong Station, and west of the Central Post Office, a short walk outside the IFC 2. As of Nov 12, 2006, the Star Ferry pier in Central district has also been moved there. Above left: Star Ferry

Hong Kong Outlying Island Ferry Pier No reservation is necessary for the ferries. They usually run every half hour or so, but it also depends on the time and day of week. Check our transportation links section for ferry operators. Left: An outlying island ferry pier

Star Ferry

The Star Ferry is a must for tourists. It is just a short 5-minute ride between Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon and Central on Hong Kong Island. Left: a Star Ferry with a cruise liner in the background


Above right: Star Ferry Pier and TST clock tower at Tsim Sha Tsui with Hong Kong Island skyline in the background.



Even though you can fly to the nearby former Portugese colony Macau by helicopter, hydrofoil is the more common form of transportation to go. You can board one at Sun Tak Center in Sheung Wan. Check the transportation links page for the websites of the hydrofoil companies


Cruise Liners

Victoria Harbor with cruise liners Victoria Harbor with cruise liners Being an international port centrally located in Asia, Hong Kong has plenty of cruise lines servicing many cities. Regardless of whether you go on one or not, they sure make the Victoria Harbor look even more beautiful when they sail through.


Officially known as the "maxicabs", there are two kinds of them - red top, and green top. They are both 16-seat public vans. Most of them serve as short connecting shuttles between MTR stations, train terminals, shopping areas and residential areas.

You can check the minibus web page in our transportation section of the government web site. (Click here for the link)

As to where they all go, good luck! Even the locals don't know except the routes they frequent. But you can find out from HK Government's Transport Dept website - see our links page.



urban taxi in Hong Kong There are 3 kinds of taxis: red, green, and blue.

The blue ones can only operate on the Lantau Island (where the airport is located, but most likely your hotel is not there).

The green ones can only operate in the New Territories.

The red ones can go anywhere except for outlying islands not connected with a bridge - HK doesn't have amphibious taxis yet.

All three kinds can go to and from the airport. So at the airport, get in the right queue! And when in doubt, ask! If you don't want to ask, just get in a red one!

But beware of taxi drivers in sheep's clothing!


Private Car

red Ferrari red Ferrari
A red Ferrari spotted in Tsim Sha Tsui
From what I understand, the import tax is 100% or something very high! And you pay more for high performance cars. But then the prices at the moment are still not that bad, so it seems. If you're into cars, check out the sports car showroom strip in Wan Chai displaying just about any luxury sports cars you can name.

(Click here for link to info about driver's license and vehicle registration.)


Rental Cars

Rental cars are not as common as in North America. (They are available though. Check to our HK transportation links page - chauffeured vehicles are available too.) You can easily rent a van to move things for a few hundred HK dollars for a couple of hours, driver included, but doing the lifting often is not included. If it takes just one trip, there seems to be a standard price, usually under HK$100. But then they may charge you a premium for being English-speakers!


Late Night Travel

Since the MTR runs till around 00:30 a.m. (varying from station to station), you might have need for getting around after that. Other than taxis, which are easily found, there are also public buses (N-lines) and mini-buses. But then beware: the mini-buses don't just run, they fly! So make sure you have life insurance, then hang on and say a prayer!



Rickshaws were just for the tourists - the locals hadn't taken them for a few decades. After all HK$50 (~US$6.50) would be a little steep for a five-minute ride! Then of course that's a matter of perspective. How would you like to pull a cart around in busy traffic loaded with a 200 pound person on a hot day?

Rickshaws can hardly be found nowadays, and I haven't seen any operators running them for a long time. (2011.7.9)

But if you do see one, watch out for rickshaws taking you for a ride!

If you just want to have a picture taken, there is one sitting outside a restaurant on the second floor of the Hong Kong airport (not sure if it is still there). There is also one at the Fleet Club Arcade in Admiralty, (Mar 2006). (Left: rickshaw on display at Fleet Club Arcade) Or you could try the History Musuem, they had a luxury model on display.



Above: helicopter near the Peninsula Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui where a helipad is located on the roof.

If you want get to Macau quick, you can hop into a chopper. Or if you just have half an hour to see all of Hong Kong, this is the way to go! You can get a 15-minute helicopter ride for the price of a couple of bills (not any small bills, of course!) link to helicopter tour operator

Number 11 Bus

That's the old locals' term for walking! You will be doing a lot of that shopping!


Related pages
MTR | KCR | bus | airbus | ferry | minibus | taxi | tram | peak tram | private car | rental car | rickshaw | helicopter | bus #11 | airport transport | hydrofoil | harbor cruises  
  All rights reserved, © 2004-2012, Ktizo Technologies.  

top 10 sights
top 5 things to dorestaurant reviewsDIY tours
festivals & local colorsphoto gallerymoving to HKproducts
Tsim Sha TsuiCauseway BayMong KokStanley Market

see background