How To Take Public Transportation in Hong Kong — An Easy Way To Get Around

peak tram hong kong
copyright Jon Parise, Creative Commons License

You may be surprised how easy it is to take public transportation in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has an excellent public transportation system. Underground trains, buses, ferries, minibuses and trams all are available in Hong Kong, and they are a great way to see the city, as fares are cheap. I’ve used several forms of public transportation and loved all of them. Here are my tips for how to take public transportation in Hong Kong, so you can try them too.

1. Hong Kong Airport Express – Most likely, the first form of public transportation in Hong Kong that you will experience is the Airport Express. This is a high-speed train that will take you from Hong Kong International Airport to Central Station on Hong Kong Island. It takes around 25 minutes and only stops at two stations on the way – Kowloon and Tsing Yi stations.

Cost of travelling on the Airport Express is reasonable, between HK$60 and HK$100, depending on where you are going. The trains start running at 5:50 am and stop at 12:45am every day. The times are quite convenient, although the first time I arrived in Hong Kong was at 1am and I had just missed the last train. This meant taking a taxi from the airport and these are quite expensive, especially after midnight.

2. Mass Transit Railway (MTR) My favorite public transportation in Hong Kong is the MTR. It has six lines that go from Hong Kong Island to different destinations – Kowloon, Tung Chung, Lantau Island and on into the New Territories.

What I love about the MTR is it’s incredibly fast and always on time. Plus, unlike Bangkok, the MTR stations are properly air-conditioned (Bangkok’s MRT stations are always really hot!). The MTR also has lots of underground shops and cafes at most of the main stations, which are great places to grab a snack, a newspaper or a drink.

Fares are cheap starting at around HK$5, or you can get a Tourist Day Pass for HK$55, which will allow you unlimited transportation on the MTR for 24 hours.

3. Buses – Hong Kong buses are double-decker (awesome, because this reminds me of being home in the UK). The bus routes go all over Hong Kong (get a bus schedule from the Hong Kong tourist office if you’re interested in taking a HK bus, as it can be confusing to figure out if you’re standing at a bus stop).

Hong Kong buses are cheap, but the drawback is you do have to have exact change. This is a bit irritating for a tourist as it’s difficult enough to figure out the money without having to worry about having the exact fare when you get on a bus. For this reason alone, I tend to stay away from the buses.

4. Minibuses – You can take a minibus in Hong Kong and they do go everywhere. Problem with these is you do have to be familiar with HK to figure out how to get there on a minibus. They’re cheap though and, when you want to get out, you just tell the driver to stop.

There are two different minibus companies – one you require exact change and one you don’t. The yellow and red minibuses will give you change, so if you do decide to experiment and try a Hong Kong minibus, this is the one to take.

5. Ferries – My favorite ferry is the ‘Star Ferry’. The ‘Star Ferry’ goes from Kowloon to Hong Kong across the Victoria Harbour. It runs pretty much all day, from around 6:30am to 11:30pm.

There are two decks on the ferry and fares are different on both. On the top deck, which is where most tourists go, the fare is slightly higher (but only about 20 cents). Below decks, it’s cheaper. Weird thing is, I suppose it’s because the top deck has a ‘better view’ but views from both decks seemed the same to me.

The ‘Star Ferry’ is large, so it holds a few hundred people. The trip across Victoria Harbour takes about 7 minutes. I took it daily just because it was such a great way to see the city skyline. There are also other ferries in Hong Kong that go to the New Territories, and even Macau and China. Fares are cheap.

6. Peak Tram – The Peak Tram is one of the most popular forms of public transportation in Hong Kong. It goes up to the top of Victoria Peak (the mountain you can see from all over Hong Kong). The Peak Tram takes only 7 minutes to get all the way to the top.

It’s pretty cheap at HK$40 return for adults (just over US$5), and well worth riding. What I loved was when it stops halfway up. You’re on an amazingly steep incline and you feel like you’re going to fall backwards any second. Very scary but so much fun.

The Peak Tram runs from 7am to midnight every day. When you get to the top, don’t forget to take photos as the view is stunning. There is also a nice shopping center, coffee shops and restaurants with lovely views over Victoria Harbor.

These are some of the forms of public transportation in Hong Kong. There are also street trams and the Kowloon-Canton Railway.

If you need more information on any of these forms of transportation, go to any Hong Kong tourist information office. They’ll be more than happy to help you.