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Driving & Public TransportBack to top Back to main Skip to menu
Hong Kong (City) - Driving & Public Transport
It is not necessary to drive in Hong Kong. The public transportation system in Hong Kong is good, safe and cost much less than other international cities like Tokyo or London. Despite the costs however, some expatriates, in particular those with a growing family, feel that owning a car is simply part of their lives. Other expatriates who move around more in Kowloon and the New Territories find it easier to move around with a car.
Driving in Hong Kong is on the left in right-hand drive cars. This is opposite to driving in China, which drives on the right in left-hand drive cars, similar to the US. Road signs in Hong Kong are in both Chinese and English. There are tolls to be paid on certain roads in Hong Kong (mostly tunnels).
If you are a holder of an overseas driving license, you can drive in Hong Kong for 12 months, starting from the date you first entered the city. If you stay on more than 12 months, you need to apply for a fully Hong Kong driving license. All Hong Kong residents should hold a valid Hong Kong driving license. To be on the safe side, simply apply for a driving license after you have received your Hong Kong ID card. A driving license is valid for 10 years. For more information, refer to the Transport Department website. The Transport Department's 24-hour enquiry hotline is 2804 2600 or you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also download application forms to renew your driving license, or renew online, and a list of useful FAQs.
There are several associated costs with owning a private car to take into consideration. Apart from the standard costs such as petrol and insurance, in Hong Kong, you will need to make separate arrangements for parking and garage space. Garage space can very expensive in Hong Kong. Note that if you intend to drive to work, you will need two parking lots – one for work and one for home. Second-hand cars are comparatively lower than brand new cars. Check the local listings and classifieds.
Hong Kong's public transportation system is efficient and reliable, and there is a variety of modes and choices. There are railways, buses and mini-buses, taxis, ferries and tram and peak tram services.
The Octopus Card (Baa Daaht Tung) is widely used on all modes of public transport. The Octopus Card Customer Hotline is 2266 2222. For lost cards, call 2266 2266. Click here for more details on the services offered by the Octopus Card. There is also more information about the cards under the Banking, Money and Costs section of this guide.
The MTR and the Kowloon-Canton Railway was merged to form The MTR Corporation in late 2007. The company operates the entire railway service in Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories, including outlying islands such as The Airport Express and the Disneyland Line. For train schedules, fares and maps, visit www.mtr.com.hk. Intercity passenger services (from Hong Kong to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong are possible. Many expatriates commute to work using the trains. At the train stations, the common announcement to pay attention to is "Cheng siu sam yuet toi hung kwik" – means, "Please mind the platform gap".
Buses and Mini-Buses
Buses usually operate from 6am to midnight, and night bus services are marked "N". Double-decker buses display destinations in English. As with most bus services in the world, no change is given for bus fares. Click here for a list of bus operators and their routes.
Mini-Buses, or public light buses are complementary bus services to the regular bus routes. These buses have limited seats (16 seats), and once they are full, they will not stop for any new passengers until someone alights. The fares are slightly higher than the regular buses. Some buses are scheduled with fixed routes and fares (green) and others are non-scheduled (red). There are no controls over the fares or routes on red mini-buses, so be prepared to speak some Cantonese to let the driver know you wish to alight. You can try something like "name of street or landmark or apartment number block… teng basse mggoi".
Most expatriates who move around Hong Kong without a car rely on Hong Kong's taxi (dik si) services. All taxis in Hong Kong are metered. New Territories Taxis are mainly confined to ferrying passengers in the New Territories. The Transport Department actively seeks to improve the level of taxi service, such as learning English and Mandarin. If you have left something in a taxi, call the 24-hour Free Hotline at 187 2920. For more details on taxi services, refer to the Transport Department's website.
There are ferries connecting the Hong Kong Island with Kowloon, the Outlying Islands, Macau and Mainland China. Passengers may pay fares prior to boarding using cash or an Octopus Card. Of all the routes, the most scenic (and commonly seen in Hong Kong movies) ferry route is Star Ferries. For more information on ferry routes, click here.
Trams and Peak Trams
Trams are available on Hong Kong Island only and a noisy but fun way around Hong Kong Island. The tramline runs from east to west. Fares are a standard HKD$2. Click here for service details. The separate funicular tram service up the Peak(HKD$22) is mainly used by sightseers and tourists.
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