A Traveler’s Guide to Getting Around Hong Kong (Public Transport)

Hong Kong has an extensive, efficient, and inexpensive public transit network, which includes buses, mini-buses, trams, ferries, a funicular railway, and a mass transit railway, which includes an Airport Express, with frequent trains to and from Hong Kong International Airport.

Photo Credit: Diego Delso visa Wikimedia Commons.

Hong Kong is well served by public transit, which accounts for about 90% of travel within the territory.

There is the Mass Transit Railway, which is usually called by its acronym, the MTR.

In addition are several bus companies, trams, two types of public light buses (usually called minibuses), ferries, and the Peak Tram, a funicular railway that is a must for every first-time visitor to Hong Kong.

Mass  Transit Railway

As a visitor to Hong Kong, you will find it easiest to get around by MTR. Most of the places you are likely to visit are located within walking distance of MTR stations. The same goes for the hotels you are likely to stay at.

Often there is direct access with either pedestrian bridges or tunnels. Another advantage: there are change-making facilities as well as maps and information booths if you get lost.

The MTR has more than 80 stations on 10 lines across Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula, and the New Territories.

There is also a light railway network in the Northwestern New Territories. An Airport Express links Hong Kong International Airport with stations in Kowloon and Hong Kong.


There are three types of taxis in Hong Kong: red, green, and blue.

Red taxis serve mostly serve the urban areas, but they are allowed to travel anywhere except for a few parts of Lantau Island.

Green taxis can only serve the New Territories, which includes Hong Kong International Airport.

Blue taxis can only serve Lantau Island and Hong Kong International Airport.

Taxis are ubiquitous in Hong Kong, and they are inexpensive by international standards. Drivers do not expect tips, but don’t expect small change. Fares are usually rounded up to the nearest dollar or even figure.

Drivers are entitled to charge extra for large bags. If they have to pay road pay tolls, they will add them to the fare on the meter at the end of the trip.

For cross harbour trips between Hong Kong and Kowloon, drivers are entitled to charge double the toll to compensate them for returning to the other side of the harbour after you get out..

If you board a taxi at a designated cross-harbour taxi stand, however, you should only pay a single toll.

While taxi drivers are supposed to travel anywhere they are allowed to drive, many drivers in Hong Kong and Kowloon prefer to stay on their own side of Victoria Harbour.

If you want to travel across the harbour, it’s better to ask to make sure they don’t mind.

If you see a taxi with an “Out of Service” sign displayed behind the windshield, it could mean he wants to return to the other side of the harbour.

You can make a dipping sign with your hand to indicate “under the harbour”. If he wants to cross the harbour, he will stop for you. If he is genuinely off duty, he will not stop.


There are five privately owned bus operators in Hong Kong with a vast network of 400 routes across the Kowloon Peninsula, Hong Kong Island, the New Territories, and Lantau Island.

Buses drivers to not make change. You should either have the exact fare or use an Octopus card with sufficient value on it.

Public Light Buses

There are two types of public light buses in Hong Kong: red and green. Usually referred to as mini-buses, public light buses carry up to 16 passengers.

Green mini-buses operate along mixed routes, stopping to pick up and let off passengers anywhere it is legal for them to stop along the way. They have set fares and sometimes have fixed frequencies.

Red mini-buses are given more license. They do not have to operate along fixed routes or stick to fixed schedules. They can also charge whatever the market will bear.

Green minibus drivers do not make change. You should either have the exact fare or use an Octopus card with sufficient value on it. Red minibus drivers, however, do make change.


For short trips on Hong Kong Island, trams are quick, frequent, and fun. Running from Kennedy Town on in Northwestern Hong Kong to Shau Kei Wan in Northeastern Hong Kong, trams run at frequent intervals.

There are also spur lines to Happy Valley, which is home to one of Hong Kong’s two racetracks.

Tram drivers do not make change. You should either have the exact fare or pay by Octopus card with sufficient value on it.


Three companies operate ferries in Hong Kong. The most popular route is the Star Ferry, which links Central on Hong Kong Island to Tsim Sha Tsui on the Kowloon Peninsula.

Ferries on this route operate at frequent intervals.

There are several other cross-harbour routes, which operate less frequently,  as well as routes to and between some of Hong Kong’s Outlying Island.

The Peak Tram

No trip to Hong Kong is complete without at least one journey up to or down from The Peak on The Peak Tram.

A funicular railway on Hong Kong Island, the Peak Tram runs from a terminus on Garden Road, between Central and Admiralty,  to a terminus near the top of the island’s highest peak.

The Peak Tram affords breathtaking views as it climbs slowly, making four stops along its 1.4 kilometre (0.87 mile) route.

There are two trams, with each one traveling in the opposite direction. They make a passing loop at the half way point.







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