Getting Around in Hong Kong

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Hong Kong is small and crowded which makes public transport the best way to get around. Public transport is cheap, fast, it is widely used and generally efficient. The bus system is extensive and bewildering, but you will have to use it to explore the south side of Hong Kong Island and the New Territories, though to make things easier, all routes and stops can be searched online; the major bus companies in Hong Kong are the Kowloon Motor Bus Company (http://www.kmb.hk/english.php), First Bus (http://www.nwfb.com.hk/eng/index.htm), and Citybus (http://www.citybus.com.hk/eng/main.asp). The north side of Hong Kong Island and most of Kowloon are well-served by Hong Kong's ultra-modern underground subway, the Mass Transit Railway (MTR). Three tunnels link Hong Kong with Kowloon and Lantau.

The Kowloon-Guangzhou (Canton) Railway (KCR) runs from Kowloon to the Chinese border at Lo Wu  (Luohu). Light Rail Transit (fast modern air-con trams) run in the New Territories connecting the city of Tuen Mun with Yuen Long. Double-decker trams trundle along the northern side of Hong Kong Island, which are efficient and cheap, costing $2 HK per adult and $1 per child or senior citizen.

The Star Ferry's cross harbour trip between Kowloon's Tsim Sa Tsui and HK's Central is a quick 8 minute and inexpensive ride (around $2 for adults) that gives you great views of the harbor and both Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. The Tsim Sa Tsui pier is next to the Ocean Terminal mall, and the Central pier is near Jardine's House.

For connection to the surrounding islands, outlying area, and points up into the Pearl River Delta, Hong Kong's ferries are usually faster and sometimes cheaper than buses or trams. They are comfortable, fun and harbour views can be stunning especially if the weather cooperates. For short trips to nearby islands, medium capacity ferries are available. For longer trips (Macau, and destinations in the PRC) two basic types of small ferry craft seem to be the norm; the double hulled "jet" catamaran, and the faster hydrofoil (aka "jet-foil"). These ferry services are set up like airlines, with hostesses  on board to sell you everything from beer to cognac. All ferries out of HK are airconditioned except for the soon to be obsolete Star Ferry. Altenatively, if you're really in a hurry, there are also private helicopter services out of HK. Remember, if you're crossing a border from HK SAR to the PRC or Macau, you must have your travel documents.

Metered taxis are red with silver tops (green with white tops in the New Territories, blue on Lantau, and black in Macau) will not pick up or drop passengers at bus stops. Starting fares begin at $15 HK for the first 2 km and meters jump $1.40 HK for every additional 0.2 km thereafter. If you take a taxi to another section (like from New Territories to Lantau) you also have to pay a return fare. Cross harbour taxi rides also require payment of the return toll (with toll prices varying between 20-50 HK$, depending on the tunnel). Cycling in Kowloon or Central would be suicidal but in quiet areas of the islands or the New Territories a bike can be quite a nice way of getting around.

An army of minibuses take up the slack in the labyrinthine streets that are too small for the large doubledeckers. Each usually runs a dedicated route that is generally a short loop through a local area but some will be wider ranging. Fares and general stops are denoted (in traditional Chinese and English) by a green placard in the front windshield or on the top of the roof. Stops can be made by calling out to the driver when you want to get off; be loud enough to be heard, and you can either request to stop in English or give it a shot in Cantonese, which is "yau lok".

 

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