Whether you arrive in Hong Kong by air, rail, or sea, you can reach downtown in no time. Hong Kong’s modern and efficient public transportation system is able to bring you to nearly every corner within the territory, from skyscrapers in central business districts to gathering points of natural hiking trails! A spotless subway system, the MTR (Mass Transit Railway) has 87 stations connecting major population centers, New Territories and even borders connecting to Mainland China; it also provides the fastest ride to and from the airport. Buses zip the length and breadth of the city, some of them for 24 hours a day.
For cheap thrills, you may go joyriding on Hong Kong Island’s unique double-decker tram system, which costs only about $2 no matter how long the journey is. If you need to get off the beaten track, public light buses (technically called maxi cabs, known to all as green or red minibuses) fly through less-serviced areas. Red ones can go anywhere as the drivers wish, green ones have set routes. Wear a seatbelt, and learn to scream “yau lok! (有落)” (stop!) in Cantonese.
Besides, if you are in a hurry, you can just get on our environmentally-friendly LPG-powered taxis, which can bring you to your destinations often within minutes. They come in three colours - red on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon, green in the New Territories, and blue on Lantau Island. The red ones can go anywhere in the territory (except for the outlying islands, of course!), while the green and blue are confined to their respective areas.
Hong Kong’s hilly terrain calls for some out-of-the-ordinary means of transport - witness the annual sedan chair race up to Victoria Peak, a masochistic reenactment of the days when ladies had to be carried to the top. So, while you can hike there, it’s much more fun to be pulled up the near-vertical hillside by the PeakTram. Haven’t had enough hauling? Step onto the world’s longest outdoor covered escalator to get to Soho’s nightlife, or take a swinging ride over the wilds of Lantau on the new Ngong Ping 360 cable car.
Ferries cruise to the main outlying islands, e.g. Cheung Chau and Lamma Island, etc., and across Victoria Harbour. A ride on the Star Ferry, which runs between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, is so popular among tourists for its stunning views of the skyline, and among locals for its wallet-friendly fares.
To get to truly remote islands, try a kaido (街渡) (ferry-like boats that may or may not run at scheduled times) or sampan (舢舨) (small, private boats that can be hired by flagging down local fisher folk).
Before you start travelling around the city, pick up a handy-dandy Octopus card. It works like a debit card, subtracting money every time you use it to pay for most public transportation. Octopus is accepted all over Hong Kong! Except for public transportation, it works at retail outlets, self-service machines, leisure facilities, schools, hospital as well as through online, etc.