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Last updated : Nov 2009
 
Hong Kong Getting Around
Getting Around Hong Kong - TravelPuppy.com
Public Transport

Hong Kong enjoys one of the most proficient and diverse public transport systems in the world, encompassing an underground railway, light urban railways, buses, minibuses, ferries, boats, and trams. Notwithstanding, the diversity of operators hinders full integration and it is not possible, for example, to transfer from train to minibus on the same ticket, however the Octopus Card is widely accepted.

The Mass Transit Railway – MTR (tel: 2881-8888; fax: 2795-9991) operates five underground metro lines including two cross-harbour lines, and the Airport Express link. It is more costly than the ferry but faster, especially for those travelling further into Kowloon than Tsim Sha Tsui. The MTR runs daily 05:55–24:35. The only additional railway line is the Kowloon–Canton Railway – KCR, with 13 stations within Hong Kong. Fares are metered according to the number of stations, with only limited zoning. The cheapest fare (good for one to two stations) is KH$4 (concessions are available).

Buses operate throughout the territory, with cross-harbour routes via the tunnel. Unfortunately, these are often very crowded. Exact change is needed for those passengers who do not have an Octopus Card. Air-conditioned coaches run along certain Hong Kong and Kowloon routes. Citybus (tel: 2873-0818; fax: 2857-6179) and New World First Bus (tel: 2136-8888; fax: 2136-2136) are the two licensed bus companies on Hong Kong Island. Kowloon Motor Bus (tel: 2745-5566) operates on Kowloon Side. Buses operate daily from around 0600–2430. An evening bus service runs all night long. Bus fare is usually around HK$5.

Minibuses operate on regularly scheduled routes. These stop for passengers who wave them down like taxis and stop on request – the process is for passengers to stand up and yell – except at regular bus stops and restricted areas. Payment is almost always by cash and the kamikaze dash through frantic traffic favoured by the majority of drivers is a uniquely Hong Kong experience. Drivers are not required to move without a full bus, however, so they often linger at traffic lights, waiting for more passengers. Fares vary according to the distance and are usually incomprehensible to non-locals; most are about HK$5–7 – many minibuses now accept Octopus Card payment. Minibuses run daily from around 0600–2430 and an evening service runs on specific routes – between Central Hong Kong and Mongkok or between eastern Hong Kong Island and Kennedy Town in the west.

Trams only run on Hong Kong Island. They are frequent and inexpensive, with a standard fare of HK$2 for the whole journey – temporary visitors are not likely to encounter the much more advanced supertrams in suburban Kowloon. On the island the Peak Tram, is a funicular tramway to the upper terminus on Victoria Peak (see Key Attractions).

The Star Ferry (tel: 2367-7065; fax: 2118-6028; email: sf@starferry.com.hk) ride across Hong Kong harbour is a staple for tourists, as well as the cheapest way to cross at HK$1.70, or HK$2.20 for the air-conditioned upper deck. Star Ferry terminals are in Tsim Sha Tsui and Central. Services run daily 06:30–23:30. Other ferry services also link with the outlying islands of the territory and other destinations.

An MTR Tourist Ticket, good for a whole day of unlimited rides, is available for HK$50. A map and souvenir ticket are included with the price of the pass. A three-day Hong Kong Transport Pass is also offered for HK$220 for one Airport Express journey and three days of unlimited MTR journeys, or for two Airport Express rides and three days of MTR rides. Both can be upgraded for an extra HK$20 for use on all buses, trams and other transport services. The price includes a refundable deposit of HK$50; the value of unused travel may be refunded upon completion of usage.

However, for visitors staying for one week or more, it is well worth buying the Octopus Card – a smart card that automatically deducts the price of the trip when it is placed on a sensor. The card costs HK$150, and includes a refundable deposit of HK$50. Additional credit left over is also refunded when the card is returned. Currently, the card may be used on MTR services, and also as on the Kowloon–Canton Railway, major bus routes, a few minibuses and some ferries. There are plans to extend its use to additional routes and means of transport, as Hong Kong’s transport system becomes more integrated. It can already be used in convenience stores and Starbucks. The MTR Tourist Ticket and Octopus Cards are can be purchased at the ticket kiosk of all MTR stations.

Taxis

There are plenty of taxis in Hong Kong and Kowloon and are very cheap – most taxi journeys cost less than HK$20. Minimum fare is HK$15 in central Hong Kong (less in the New Territories). There are no taxi Companies; all taxis in Hong Kong are individually operated. There are taxi ranks in busy areas but taxis can be waved down anywhere on the street.

Red taxis
serve Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, green ones serve the New Territories and blue ones Lantau Island. Taxis that have a rectangular red plaque on their dashboard are usually cross-harbour taxis. Some journeys charge an extra toll, such as journeys through the cross-harbour tunnel (HK$20). Charges are also often added for carrying luggage. It is common to round up the fare to the nearest Dollar, however, this is not mandatory.

Many drivers speak some English however visitors should carry a map or have their destination written in Chinese characters. It is also a good idea for passengers to ask if the taxi is a Hong Kong or Kowloon taxi when boarding, particularly late at night – drivers prefer sticking to their own side of the water.

The more traditional taxis, rickshaws, have vanished from regular transport and are now purely for tourists, normally found at the Star Ferry terminal in Central. It is a good idea to agree on the fare in advance. A typical rickshaw ride lasts about five minutes and runs around the block, costing approximately HK$50. Extra charges are added for a photograph taken sitting in the rickshaw – this is usually around HK$20.

Limousines

Intercontinental Hire Cars (tel: 2336-6111) and Oriental Travel Service Ltd (tel: 2865-2618; fax: 2865-2984) both provide chauffeur-driven limousines with prices starting from approximately HK$280 per hour.

Driving in the City

It's best to leave the driving in Hong Kong to professionals. Having one of the finest public transport systems in the world and ubiquitous taxis, there is no need for visitors to risk driving. Rates on cars are great deterrents, with a 100% vehicle import tax and petrol tax, and also as hefty insurance and vehicle registration fees. This does, however, render used cars surprisingly inexpensive, even once the price of shipping one home has been figured in. The Ferraris, Maseratis and other premium vehicles lined up in Central in the evenings, show that cars are very expensive toys in Hong Kong.

Major car parks in Central include the Parking Building, Murray Road, and the Airport Express Terminal, Man Cheung Road. Located In Causeway Bay, the World Trade Centre, close to the Excelsior Hotel is the primary parking point, while in Kowloon, parking is located at the Lippo Sun Plaza, Kowloon Park Drive in Tsim Sha Tsui. Parking prices are about HK$22 per hour, with a minimum stay of two hours in most locations.

Car Hire

It is a good idea not to be in charge of a rented car in Hong Kong’s vertiginous streets, as the average HK$5000 refundable deposit on rental cars testifies. Car rental companies normally require drivers to be over 25 years. A valid driver's licence from the country of residence or an International Driving Permit is required, as is minimum third-party insurance. A standard saloon rental fees start from about HK$1000 per day. Major operators include Avis (tel: 2890-6988) and Hertz (tel: 2525-1313).

Bicycle Hire

It might be reassuring to know that if one desires to cycle in central Hong Kong, the traffic will kill one long before the dreadful air quality does. In any event, the Hong Kong authorities actually prohibit bicycle riding in Central. However, there are places for visitors to cycle– out on the islands or in the New Territories.

Bicycles are offered for hire from Hop Cheong Bicycle Shop (tel: 2896-0816) and Siu Kee Bicycle (tel: 2981-1384) in Cheung Chau. The New Territories have bicycle hire at Tai Po KCR station, where there are plenty of small stalls situated directly outside. For a standard bicycle, rental prices average HK$50 a day.
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