How to get around in Hong Kong? Well, get an Octopus Card, just like Singapore “EZlink” card or UK Oyster card. This Octopus card will allow you to use MTR, ferry, bus, minibus, tram (also known as Ding Ding) and yes to buy food in McDonald’s. You can get the Octopus card in the airport once you touch down in Hong Kong Airport or get it in the MTR station at the customer service desk.
The Octopus card cost HKD 150 (USD 19.10) which includes an initial HKD 100 (USD 12.70) of credit and a refundable HKD 50 (USD 6.40) deposit, that is for an adult. If you are only visiting Hong Kong for few days, you may want to consider the Airport Express Travel Pass, cost HKD 300 (USD 38.20) include a return Airport Express journey plus three days of unlimited travel on the MTR and bus services. Side note, one way to Hong Kong airport cost HKD 100 (USD 12.70) by the MTR Airport express. We do not get the Airport Travel Pass because we came to Hong Kong from Macau via ferry so it isn’t worth to get one.
Have you wondered why the card is named Octopus card? In Cantonese, it is called Baat Daath Tung 八達通 which mean reaching everywhere. And the Baat 八 in English is Eight, an auspicious number for Chinese. 達 meaning getting wealthy. Look carefully, there is a logo “eight” printed on the card. Hence they use Octopus for the English name as octopus has 8 tentacles.
One of the most common scenes in Hong Kong busy street is the double-decker buses. Well, we do have a lot in Singapore too. Sitting near the front on the top deck would be one of the nicest things to do when you board on the double-decker bus. Beware and hold tight if the double-decker bus goes up winding roads (to the Peak)
Minibus 小巴 or Public Light Bus
Minibusses are another icon in Hong Kong, they called it “siuba” in Cantonese. “Siuba” often appeared in Hong Kong drama back in the 80s and 90s, that is how I first knew about this minibusses because of their foul-mouthed drivers who made a strong impression to me. I find the minibus very interesting as it stops anywhere and there is no bell for you to ring when you want to stop. You need to yell out “Stop please” in Cantonese. The number of seats is limited, only up to 16 passengers. You can use the Octopus card as there is a reader in the minibus near the door. The minibus will make an authentic Hong Kong experience for daring travelers.
Have you wondered why Hong Kong has these small minibusses? Well, they were established because of the 1967 Hong Kong riots. Trams were not able to function so the government uses minibusses to transport people daily in vans and with little cost. The idea of minibusses works well in Hong Kong as it is also cheaper as compared to a taxi, so they get to stay till now. There are two type os minibusses, the green, and the red. The red seems rowdier and too flexible. Tons of minibusses can be found in Mongkok.
Taxi is everywhere and easy to hail on the street, at the ferry terminal or outside your hotel. All are metered with air-conditioned and pretty clean. There are three types of color taxi, the red taxis operate in Hong Kong, Green taxis operate in New Territories and the blue taxis operate in Lantau Island.
It is cheaper to get a taxi to the airport if you have 4 passengers. The single ticket via MTR Airport Express cost HKD 100 (USD12.70) per person. We stayed in Jordon Hong Kong island and we used a taxi to the Hong Kong airport, cost us HKD 264 (USD 33.60). The taxi saves us trouble from pulling our luggage to the MTR station and costs cheaper if you have 3-4 persons. You cannot use Octopus card for the taxi ride.
Hong Kong public transport such as the MTR is still the most convenient choice to travel around. The historical Ding Ding tram and minibus are something you may want to consider trying them out, get a taste of the local style experience. You may or may not like it especially the minibus’s driver attitude. LOL.