Getting around Hong Kong
Hong Kong has an extremely efficient public transport system. The Mass Transit Railway (MTR) (tel: +852 2881 8888; www.mtr.com.hk) runs the city's underground metro lines and the Airport Express link. Fares are metered by the number of stations, with only limited zoning. You can buy single tickets, day passes, or use a pay-as-you-go Octopus smartcard.
Bus routes run throughout the territory, with cross-harbour routes via the tunnel. Locals use the fast and furious green and red minibuses, but unless you know Hong Kong well, the routes can be confusing. There are double decker buses too: Kowloon Motor Bus, New World First Bus and Citybus offer routes covering Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. Destinations are displayed in English and Chinese on the front of the bus. Exact change is required when paying with cash, with fares rising with distance. Octopus cards are also accepted.
Trams only operate on Hong Kong Island. They are frequent and cheap and you can pay with an Octopus card or exact change as you exit. Locally known as Ding Ding, there are six main routes running between Kennedy Town and Shau Kei Wan every day from 0600 to midnight. Sit upstairs at the front for cool breezes and the best views (tel: +852 2548 7102; www.hktramways.com/en/index.html).
The Peak Tram, on the Island, is a funicular tramway to the upper terminus on Victoria Peak.
The Star Ferry (tel: +852 2367 7065; www.starferry.com.hk) ride across Hong Kong harbour is a tourist 'must do', as well as the cheapest way to make the crossing. You can pay with an Octopus card or exact change. Star Ferry terminals are in Tsim Sha Tsui, Central, Wan Chai and Hung Hom. Other ferry services also connect with the outlying islands of the territory and other destinations.
Taxis are plentiful in Hong Kong and Kowloon and are extremely cheap. There are taxi ranks in busy locations but you can flag them down anywhere on the street, except in certain restricted zones. Red taxis serve Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, green ones serve the New Territories and blue ones Lantau Island. Taxis with a rectangular red plaque on their dashboard are generally cross-harbour taxis meaning passengers only pay a one-way toll for using the cross-harbour tunnel.
Some journeys incur extra tolls, and charges are also sometimes added when carrying luggage. It is common for passengers to round up the fare to the nearest dollar, although this is not mandatory. Many drivers speak a little English but it's a good idea to carry a map or have your destination written in Chinese characters. It is also wise to ask if the taxi is a Hong Kong or Kowloon taxi when boarding, especially late at night - drivers are happiest sticking to their own side of the water.
Driving in Hong Kong is best left to professionals. With one of the best public transport systems in the world and ubiquitous taxis, there is no need for visitors to risk going behind the wheel. Rates on cars are strong deterrents, with a 100% vehicle import tax and petrol tax, as well as hefty insurance and vehicle registration fees.
Major car parks in Central are at the City Hall, Murray Road, and the Airport Express Terminal, Man Cheung Road. In Causeway Bay, the World Trade Centre is the main parking point, while in Kowloon, you can find parking at The Sun Arcade, Kowloon Park Drive in Tsim Sha Tsui.
Car hire companies usually require drivers to be over 25 years and to pay a large refundable deposit. A valid driving licence from the country of residence or an International Driving Permit is required, as well as third-party insurance. Major operators include Avis (tel: +852 2882 2927; www.avis.com) and Hertz (tel: +852 2525 1313; www.hertz.com).
Despite the heavy traffic and appalling air quality, there are places in Hong Kong to enjoy cycling - out on the islands or in the New Territories. Explore the backstreets of Lamma, Cheung Chau or Peng Chau islands and you’re likely to find someone willing to rent a bike at a reasonable price.
There are plenty of shops offering bicycle hire around Tai Po MTR station. Bicycles are also available for hire from the Friendly Bicycle shop in Mui Wo (tel: +852 2984 2278) or Smart Bicycle Co. in Fo Tan Sha Tin (tel: +852 2690 0616). For mountain bike gear, contact Flying Ball Bicycle Company (tel: +852 2381 3661; www.flyingball.com) in Cheung Sha Wan.