Hong Kong has an excellent public transport system, with a wide variety of methods of getting around, these include:
MTR underground trains, buses and mini-buses
Hong Kong’s transportation network is highly developed and over 90% of daily travels (11 million) are on public transport, the highest such percentage in the world. Payment can be made using the Octopus Card, a stored value system introduced by the MTR and which is widely accepted on railways, buses and ferries, and accepted like cash at other outlets such as 7/11 convenience stores.
The MTR has some 152 stations, which serve 3.4 million people a day; then there is the Hong Kong Tramways which covers the northern part of Hong Kong Island, and a light rail system in part of the New Territories.
There are five privately owned companies that provide franchised bus service across the territory, altogether operating more than 700 routes. The two largest, Kowloon Motor Bus Company (KMB) runs 402 routes in Kowloon and the New Territories whilst Citybus operates 154 routes on Hong Kong Island; both run cross-harbour services.
Public Light buses (there are two types: the one with the green stripe which follow set routes and the ones with red stripes which have set start and destination points but which can vary their routes) serve most parts of Hong Kong, particularly areas where standard bus lines cannot reach or do not reach as frequently, quickly, or directly.
Numerous taxis are available throughout the day and night in Hong Kong with only a slight disruption to services around 4.00pm every day when drivers change shifts and, of course, during the onset of a typhoon.
Hong Kong and most of Kowloon have red and silver taxis whereas in the New Territories they are green, whilst on outlying island, including Lantau where the airport is located, they are sky blue.
The most famous of them all, the iconic Star Ferry service operates four lines across Victoria Harbour and provides scenic views of Hong Kong’s skyline for its 53,000 daily passengers. Other ferry services are provided by operators such as Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry Co, then there are other serving outlying islands such as Lantau, Cheung Chau, Lamma Island and so on. Others directly go to some of the new towns or residential developments like Discovery Bay; others go to Macau, and various locations and cities in mainland China.
Trams, trams and escalators
Starting with The Peak Tram, again the most famous of them all, the funicular tram rides up and down the steep slopes of the Peak all day, every day, carrying both tourists and office workers alike to see the stunning views from atop the mountain or down to their place of toil.
Not far behind in terms of being famous are the iconic Hong Kong Trams which run from early morning until midnight and travel for some across almost the full width of the north side of the main island for an amazingly low price of HK$2.30, no matter how many or how few stops you chose to ride.
In Central and Western district there is an extensive system of escalators and moving pavements, which includes the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world, taking people up and down to their point of work. Conceived to help reduce rush hour traffic the Mid Levels escalator has also opened up and re-energised certain areas in the slopes of the main island which hitherto had been left behind Hong Kong’s rush to modernisation.
Hong Kong International Airports a leading air passenger gateway and logistics hub in Asia and one of the world’s busiest airports in terms of international passenger and cargo movement, serving more than 47 million passengers and handling 3.74 million tonnes (4.12 million tons). It has been rated as the world’s best airport in a number of surveys and over 85 airlines operate from the two-terminal airport; Hong Kong is the home of Cathay Pacific and Dragonair two of the region’s best airlines plus others such as Hong Kong Airlines and Hong Kong Express.
If you have a licence which can be converted to a Hong Kong licence you will also need to be a passport holder of the same nationality as the licence. In addition, you will need to have been resident in the country of the licence for at least six months after its issue and have held a licence for at least five years. If you licence is not in English, you will need to have it officially translated. If you cannot convert your existing licence or do not have a licence you will need to take a test; enquiries can be made to the Hong Kong Transport Department.
To take a driving test, an application form should be filled out and submitted to a Transport Department licensing office. There are three parts to the driving test: a written exam, an exam on driving techniques and a practical road test. You can take a test in a manual or automatic car but, if you pass the test in an automatic car, you cannot drive a manual car.
In Hong Kong people drive on the left hand side of the road and unless you have a diplomatic exemption it is not possible to import left hand drive cars.
Motorcycle riding test
To get a motorcycle licence, you will need to pass two compulsory motorcycle training courses through the HK School of Motoring, a government-recognised school. The first is an oral course on understanding the skills of manoeuvring a motorcycle and the second is to learn techniques to ride in the city. In order to gain practical experience, you will need a learner’s driving licence which costs HK$548, plus another HK$260 for renting a motorcycle for a road test. Wearing a helmet is compulsory for all motorcyclists.
International Driving Permit
If you are planning to drive overseas, some countries require an International Driving Permit and this can be obtained from the Transport Department as long as you have a Hong Kong driver’s licence.