At 1100 sq. km, Hong Kong is pretty modest in size, but it still has a lot to say for itself. One of the world’s largest financial hubs, a culinary capital, colonial connections, ancient Chinese routes… its identities are endless. The best way to get under its skin is to travel the length and breadth of it, but what’s the best way to travel around Hong Kong?
How to travel around Hong Kong
1. Taking ferries in Hong Kong
More than 250 islands make up Hong Kong and, while many of them are uninhabited, you’ll likely want to travel to a few of them. For the most part, getting to these islands requires a short ferry ride. You can pick up ferries from the Central Ferry Pier in Central Tsim Sha Tsui and other islands. The Star Ferry is Hong Kong’s most iconic cross-harbour ferry and has been in operation since 1888. Journeys between Central and Tsim Sha Tsui take between six and 12 minutes.
2. Taking taxis in Hong Kong
There are some 20,000 taxis roaming the streets of Hong Kong, and for the most part, they’re cheaper than in other major cities. There are three types of taxis: Red, Green and Blue. Red taxis cover most destinations within the city, except for Tung Chung Road and roads in south Lantau Island. Green taxis serve the northeastern parts of the city, while Blue taxis run on Lantau island. You can usually hail a taxi in the street. Uber is available in Hong Kong too and recently celebrated its seventh year in the city.
3. Using Hong Kong’s railway network
Hong Kong’s expansive Mass Transit Railway (MTR) is fast, reliable and easy to work out. Its 11 lines and 98 stations cover all of Hong Kong’s districts and neighbourhoods, even venturing into Kowloon and the New Territories to the border with Shenzhen. Tourists can purchase an Octopus Card at the start of their trip, top up and pay for their trips. Single journey tickets and tourist day passes are also available, though the Octopus card offers the best value for money. Fares start at around HK $3.50.
4. Getting the bus in Hong Kong
Areas not covered by Hong Kong’s extensive MTR network are usually accessible by bus. Most of the Hong Kong bus network overlaps with the MTR’s main stops, but many beaches are only accessible by bus. These busses are modern, air-conditions and accessible for all types of traveller. They feature electronic information screens, with stops announced in both Chinese and in English. You can use your Octopus Card, or pay the exact fare to the driver via the automated payment box. Busses usually run between 06:00 and 01:00.
As well as standard double-decker busses, there are shorter routes on minibuses. These seat around 19 passengers. Green minibuses operate on fixed routes with set fares, while red minibuses have a start and end point. These are much faster than the alternative but are less popular with tourists.
5. Cycling in Hong Kong
Hong Kong might not immediately strike you as bicycle-friendly given the traffic and narrow roads, but there’s a whole string of superb bike paths across the New Territories and outlying islands. The New Territories Cycle Network, opened in 2020, is a 60-km cycle lane that stretches all the way across Tuen Mun and Ma On Shan. The shorter 1.5-hour route from Tai Po waterfront is an excellent starting point from which to escape the city too.
6. Driving in Hong Kong
Car hire isn’t very popular in Hong Kong given the congested roads and brilliant public transport, but it is possible. Click here to find the best deals for your trip. It’s worth noting that many of the outlying areas are completely car-free too. A more popular option sees people hire a private chauffeur for a specific amount of time.
7. Getting to and from the airport in Hong Kong
The easiest way to travel between Hong Kong Airport and the city centre is to use the Airport Express. The journey takes just 24 minutes and departs at 15-30 minute intervals between 05:54 and 00:48. You can find a link to the timetable here.