MTR (Mass Transit Railway)
Hong Kong's MTR, or Mass Transit Railway, is a modern, efficient, clean, and safe subway/metro/underground that lets you get around the city quickly and at a very reasonable cost. Each station has multiple entrances cleary denoted by the MTR logo while the exit you choose depends upon your destination at street level. Fares range between HK$4.00 - 26.00, to be determined by distance traveled.
You can buy your tickets at automated machines in every station for each individual journey or you can purchase what is called an "Tourist" Octopus Card. For Hong Kong residents, the regular Octopus Card is essentially a debit card which you can use to pay for many transportation services, including the MTR. As there's a (not large) minimum fee and a deposit, it's impractical for visitors, thus the Tourist version was created. This allows you one Airport Express Line journey plus 3 days of unlimited MTR rides (except for the Airport Express Line) for HK$200. To see if it's worth it for you, the fare between Tsim Sha Tsui and Wanchai, for example, is HK$9 one/way, or HK$18 round/trip. Assuming you would have bought a round/trip AEL ticket upon arrival, that would make the value of a trip to the airport HK$80 (half of HK$160). So, you'd have to spend HK$120 worth of Tourist Octopus Card (there's no refund on any unused portion) on the MTR over a 3 day period to make it worth your money. That's a lot of trips across the harbor, plus, you're sure to spend one trip across the harbor on the Star Ferry. Up to you if you think it's a good bargain.
Across Victoria Harbour
The most famous is, of course, the "Star" Ferry but the same company runs other routes across the harbor (shown below). The "Star" Ferry is just the ferry service between Tsim Sha Tsui and Central. It began in 1898 and took 40 minutes to one hour. Now, the journey takes less than seven minutes with ferries running every ten minutes or less (during peak hours). A ticket is inexpensive at HK$1.70 for an adult and HK$1.20 for a child (3 to 12 years old). Add 10 cents for kids and 50 cents for adults if you want to ride in the air-conditioned upper deck. If you are over 65 (or under three) and have a Hong Kong ID or a senior citizen card, you can ride for free. Hours of operation are 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. The cigar-shaped boats look a bit different, but they're extremely safe and handle the often choppy harbor quite well. If it's going to be your first time on the ferry, stay out of the air-conditioning and take in the fresh breeze and magnificent views. A must-do in Hong Kong. The company -- The Star Ferry Co., Ltd. -- runs the following routes:
Tsim Sha Tsui - Central (the "Star" Ferry)
Tsim Sha Tsui - Wanchai
Hung Hom* - Central
Hung Hom* - Wanchai
There are other ferry services across the harbor. For more information, please call the Hong Kong Tourist Association's visitors hotline (multi-lingual) at (852) 2508 1234.
To the Outlying Islands
The ferry piers for the outlying islands are just west of the Star Ferry pier in Central, behind the Airport Express Line's new station. Ferries run from/to:
Central Pier - Discovery Bay
- Pier 4 - Tuen Mun, Sha Lo Wan, and Tai O (Shun Tak Ferries at 2859-3333)
- Pier 5 - Tsing Yi, Tsuen Wan, and Lamma (HK & Kowloon Ferry at 2815-6063)
- Pier 6/7 - Peng Chau, Cheung Chau, and Lantau (HK & Yaumatei Ferry at 2525-1108)
Fares are roughly HK$10.00-20.00 from piers 5, 6, and 7 (higher on Sundays and holidays) and HK$25.00-35.00 from Pier 4. High-speed ferries to Discovery Bay cost HK$25.00 and take 25 minutes. Please call first to double-check the rates are they are subject to change without notice.
There are three different colors for Hong Kong taxis, depending on which area they are serving. Red taxis operate on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon, green taxis are found in the New Territories, and blue taxis work Lantau. All three of them can go to the airport, however, so it pays to be careful getting in the right line if you're taking a taxi from the airport.
All taxis are metered. The "flagfall" charge is HK$15.00 for the first two kilometers and HK$1.40 for each 200 meters afterwards. Additionally, you must pay all tunnel fees and bridge tolls, plus HK$5.00 for each bag or suitcase put in the trunk. If you are crossing the harbor, note that you will be charged the two-way tunnel fare (HK$20) as it is assumed that the driver would need to return to where he/she came from, at some point. Fees for other tunnels are one-way: Lion Rock - HK$6.00, Junk Bay - HK$3.00, and Aberdeen - HK$5.00. Remembering this could prevent a misunderstanding.
Two important tips when you are hailing a cab: 1.) Outside many of the larger shopping areas and tourist attractions there will be an organized line waiting for a cab. If you leap into the street, throw your hand into the air, and shout "Taxi!", you may be cutting in front of people. Have a look around, first., 2.) If you are trying to get a cab to stop but they just keep cruising on by, you may be in a "no-stopping" zone. These are marked by a yellow line running along the curb and they are surprisingly numerous. Go to where there's no line and give it another try.
One final note. Though many of the Chinese residents will speak some English, your taxi driver may not. Be sure to bring a fold-up map with you (with Chinese markings as well as English! - easily obtainable at the airport or your hotel) or, if things get comical, ask someone to help you out. If all else fails, the driver's dispatcher can usually help out over the radio.
Double-decker buses, which run from 6.00 a.m. until midnight, cover most parts of the territory. Fares range from HK$1.00 to HK$30.00. Exact change is required. In general, the drivers may not speak much English.
The street tram line opened in 1904. The double-decker cars have no air-conditioning and are often crowded but they're dirt cheap at HK$2.00 a ride. The line runs from west of Central to east of Causeway Bay. In Central, heading east, the tram runs along Queen's Road, through Admiralty and past Pacific Place. It dips down in Wanchai a bit onto Johnston Road until it rejoins Hennessy Road just before Causeway Bay. In Causeway Bay, it follows Hennessy as it turns into Yee Woo Street and then back into Causeway Road just below Victoria Park. In other words, it follows on the surface almost the same route as the MTR below. There is also a spur that loops around Happy Valley Race Track. Very convenient for short to medium hops.