Hong Kong is a city, and former British colony, in southeastern China. Vibrant and densely populated, it’s a major port and global financial center famed for its tower-studded skyline.
It’s also known for its lively food scene – from Cantonese dim sum to extravagant high tea – and its shopping, with options spanning chaotic Temple Street Night Market to the city’s innumerable bespoke tailors. Hong Kong consists of three regions: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the New Territories.
Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy, as its political and judicial systems operate independently from those of mainland China. Hong Kong’s legal system is completely independent from the legal system of mainland China. In contrast to mainland China’s civil law system, Hong Kong continues to follow the English Common Law tradition established under British rule.
As one of the world’s leading international financial centres, Hong Kong has a major capitalist service economy characterized by low taxation and free trade. The currency, Hong Kong dollar, is the eighth most traded currency in the world.
Hong Kong Transport
Hong Kong’s transportation network is highly developed. Over 90% of daily travels (11 million) are on public transport, the highest such percentage in the world.
The main forms of transportation on Hong Kong are:
- Subway – the MTR has 4 lines that run through most of Hong Kong and Kowloon. MTR has a zone based fare system (like that of Washington DC’s Metro) so you pay according to how far you are going. Fares tend to run about HK$5-HK$20, none of which are more than $5 US. Best choice for those who don’t know their way around, as all stops are clearly marked.
- Bus -there are several different bus companies in Hong Kong and several types of buses. On Hong Kong island there’s Citybus (which runs a fleet of mostly airconditioned doubledecker buses) and probably a few smaller operators. In Kowloon there’s Kowloon City Bus (much like Citybus) and several light bus operators. Fares for the bus are also zone based, and tend to be fairly cheap-Usually less than $2 US. Express buses are always more expensive than non-express. Choice of destinations can be slightly bewildering so if you need help, ask someone on the bus. For a hair-raising ride, ride a double decker bus through the mountains on Hong Kong Island…all the fun of a roller coaster at a bargain price.
- Tram – there’s a double decker electric tram (trolley car) that serves almost all of Hong Kong island. While slow and unairconditioned, it’s very cheap HK$2 for adults, and a great way to see almost all of Hong Kong island while sitting down and rolling along 2 stories above the street. Avoid during rush hour as there will be nowhere to sit.
- Ferries – Will take you across the harbor between Hong Kong and Kowloon. Between Hong Kong and Kowloon are the Star Ferry (which is HK$2.20 on the upper deck, and $1.20 on the commuter’s deck), and a few Hoverferry services which are faster, and cost about HK$4. Ferry services to the islands and Macau can be found in Kowloon and Hong Kong. In Hong Kong go to Sheung Wan (Shun Tak Center-for the jetfoils to Macau) and the ferry piers to outlying islands. Here you can get a ferry to almost anywhere for about HK$10 on weekdays, HK$14 on weekends. Helpful hint – don’t go on weekends as both the ferries and the islands will be crowded.
- Electric train – The KCR railroad goes from Kowloon to Mainland China and the New Territories. It works a lot like MTR and fares are similar although a bit higher since you are traveling much further in general. To get to the KCR, take the MTR to Kowloon Tong where the MTR intersects with the KCR line.
- Lightrail – there is a lightrail service between New Cities, and various parts of the New Territories.
- Taxi – if you absolutely don’t know your way around, or are carrying around a lot of luggage, you may find yourself needing a taxi. Taxis are widely available and relatively cheap compared to most of the rest of the world. They are metered and flagfall starts at HK$15. Be warned though, most taxi drivers speak almost no English so have your destination written in Chinese by a concierge or a friend or you might be taken somewhere other than where you had in mind.
- Water Taxi – these can be found in areas with Harbors. Most are intended to ferry people living in sampans to shore. Some will take you out to the floating restaurants in Aberdeen, on harbor tours, and some even go to small outlying islands. These in general are only recommended for people who speak Cantonese as it is relatively unlikely you will be able to communicate to the operator where exactly you want to go if you can’t.
This is just an introductory guide to public transportation in Hong Kong. To find more info you can go to the MTR, KCR, KMB (Kowloon Motor Bus), CMB (China Motor Bus) and Star Ferry websites which will give you fares and precise route maps.