daniel flores

Travelled to 14 countries / regions

Written 10 briefs
Lived in Hong Kong on work secondment in 2018-2019



Asia > Hong Kong S.A.R. > Hong Kong > Useful Info
Submitted on Jan 19, 2020 Useful Info

How to take the MTR in Hong Kong (the metro/subway system)

  • During my time in Hong Kong I used the city's excellent public transportation system on a daily basis. It's probably one of the most extensive in the world and certainly better than in Houston where I came from
  • For travelers I recommend using the subway system called MTR to get around town. It's the fastest way to get from point A to B in Hong Kong and very easy to understand
  • Here's how to use the MTR system:
  1. Use Google Maps, MTR's website, or CityMapper app to help you figure out which MTR line you need to take. I personally used CityMapper a lot because it can also help you with bus and ferry routes, and gives you a lot of flexibility if you want to use MTR-only routing or bus-only routing
  2. Go to the closest MTR station and follow signs for "Tickets" or "Customer Service Centre":User submitted photo of Hong KongUser submitted photo of Hong KongYou can either buy single ride tickets or Octopus Card for the MTR, which is a reloadable smart card that lets you pay for MTR, buses, ferries, even taxis and convenience store purchases quickly. I highly recommend getting the Octopus Card even if you're visiting Hong Kong for just a day or two, simply because you'll be relying on the public transit so much while you're there
  3. If you opt to get a single journey ticket, you can do so at the automated machines (when you follow the signs for "Tickets"):User submitted photo of Hong KongOn these machines, first press the station you're going to on the map displayed on the machine surface:User submitted photo of Hong KongThen insert the required amount of money, which will be displayed on the screen, into the slot above the map and your ticket will be dispensed immediately (only cash or AliPay and WeChat Pay are accepted for payment, no credit card):User submitted photo of Hong Kong
  4. If you opt for the Octopus Card (which I highly recommend), you can only buy one at customer service at any MTR station, including the one at the airport. There are no machines that can sell you these cards so you need to follow the "Customer Service Centre" signs to get to an office that looks like this:User submitted photo of Hong KongThe Octopus card costs a minimum of HKD$150 (about $19.3USD), made up of HKD$50 in deposit and HKD$100 in usable value. You can choose to load more, just tell the staff at the service center how much you want to load. Payment is by cash only, no credit card accepted. You don't need to show passport/ID or anything like that to get one of these. When you leave Hong Kong, you can go to one of these offices again and get a refund for the HKD$50 deposit as well as any unused values on the card. So as long as you don't lose the card, it costs you nothing to use
  5. Once you have your ticket, go to the turnstiles with green arrows on them (rather than red crosses) to enter the station. Tap your single journey ticket or Octopus card on it to get through:User submitted photo of Hong Kong
  6. Once you're through, make sure you go to correct platform. There are overhead signs in the stations indicating the direction of the train by the name of the final station that the train goes to. For example, the Island Line trains going westbound will be labeled "Kennedy Town" because that's the name of the final station for westbound trains, and the eastbound trains will be labeled "Chai Wan" because that's the final station in the east. So if you need to go west, follow the signs for "Kennedy Town" to get to the correct platform
  7. Board the train and track your progress with the announcements they make at each stop. The announcements are made in Cantonese, Mandarin and English
  8. At your destination station, when you exit, insert you single journey ticket into the turnstile or tap your Octopus card on the turnstile to exitUser submitted photo of Hong Kong
  • So that's how you use the MTR. Pretty straightforward, right? It becomes really easy to use once you get the Octopus Card so you don't have to buy tickets every single time. By the way, just as an FYI, besides the single ticket and the Octopus Card, there are other ticket types:User submitted photo of Hong KongMost other ticket types aren't really used all that much by anyone. Maybe the only one you might consider is the HKD$65 (USD$8.37) tourist day pass that lets you take unlimited MTR rides in a day. I don't recommend it because most MTR rides doesn't cost more than HKD$7, so you'll have to take the metro a LOT to justify the cost. More details on the tourist day pass can be found on MTR's website