Trams, taxis, trains, planes, buses, boats, and cable cars. In one week we managed to utilize each of these methods of getting from point A to point B. The only thing we didn’t try was renting a car and trying to drive ourselves around. Since English and Cantonese are the two official languages of Hong Kong, we were able to get around Hong Kong very easily with English. Public transportation was very easy and enjoyable to use.
We were quite fond of the Tram that runs across the top part of most of Hong Kong Island. A stop for the Westbound Tram was located directly across the street from our hotel. The street was large, but easy to cross even without a crosswalk. The Tram was super cheap as well; only HK$2.30 per trip. The Tram was slower and limited in where it could go, but it worked perfect for some trips.
At each bus stop signs were posted for each bus that would stop there and where there next stops would be. Hong Kong uses many double-decker buses because of the large number of people living in such a small area. We used the buses with relative ease. It would have been nice to find a better website for the buses but there are several different companies that provide bus services. However, we did not use enough buses for it to make a huge difference. Hong Kong also uses many “minibuses” to take people to smaller places. We used a minibus from Chai Wan subway station out to Sai Kung.
Probably the biggest hassle with the Tram and buses came from them not giving change. We always had to make sure we had small bills and coins if we were to take one of those. If a ride was $8 per person then we would have to put in a $20 most of the time and not get change back. We could have purchased an Octopus Card, but they were expensive and did not seem like they were designed for tourist. And unfortunately, buying a one-day pass for the subway did not work on the buses. I am sure they will work that out eventually.
The taxis in Hong Kong made me laugh. They all pretty much looked identical. The taxi cars looked like they were all the same model and the same year. And they all looked like they came from the ‘90s. The base fee for taxis was set at HK$20 (US$2.50) for 2 km. From there it cost HK$1.50 for every minute or 200 meters. Taxis were convenient, abundant, and nice for some purposes. We did use a few taxis because they were about the same price as some buses and they got us to where we needed to go. The taxi drivers we had seemed nice and they all had signs posted inside their car about the fares, so we did not feel that we got ripped off.
We never ended up doing a cruise in Victoria Harbor, but we did take a boat at Sai Kung. We thought about renting a sampan, but decided it was too slow and we didn’t want to roast crossing the water. They do have a few large ferries that take people back and forth across the harbor as well. Living on islands, I am sure that many of the locals use boats more often, but we only took the one boat ride.
The subway in Hong Kong is great. Their subway is not nearly as elaborate as New York City’s subway, but that made it nicer. They only had 7 different lines and I think the longest line only had 15 stops. The subway did cover a large area, but it did not take too awful long to get from one place to another. It seemed like their fares were higher than most other subways, but their trains and stations seemed newer. The Wan Chai station was only a 4-minute walk from our hotel, so we did get some good use out of the subway. Hong Kong had really fast escalators, especially in their subway stations! You really had to be careful to not get run over by any Asians.
Unless you plan to spend most of the day on the subway and visit many different places, than I would skip the One-Day Tourist Pass. It is annoying to have to buy one-way fares for each trip, but they have many automated ticket machines and it is pretty quick. We only bought the One-Day pass once and we traveled to a few extra places just to get our money’s worth.
I would give Hong Kong’s public transportation a 4.2 out of 5, or a B+. I know that is picky but I couldn’t go much higher for a couple reasons. As a tourist, I would have liked to have found a better website and better apps for their buses. Also many of the bus stop and Tram stop names were hard to read until you were right on top of them so we had to jump off last minute a time or two.
With that being said, do not be afraid of using public transportation in Hong Kong. In fact, I would encourage you to use multiple methods because you can experience things and see things with one method that you would miss with another method. Most people understand English, and there are many signs in English. They even have road signs that are almost as readable as in the US. Hong Kong is very well connected, and you can use public transportation to help explore the city.