Getting Around Hong Kong by MTR (Subway)

Taking the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) is one of the most convenient ways to travel in Hong Kong. It is efficient and reasonably cheap. Depending on the distance, single journey fares range from 4 HKD to 26 HKD.

Buying Tickets

There are three options for buying tickets, which are

  • buy tickets from automatic vending machines located in the station
  • buy tickets from the customer service desk in major stations
  • use a preloaded touch card, called the Octopus Card
  • use a preloaded card called the Tourist Octopus (recommended)
  • use a preloaded touch card, called the Tourist Pass

Single Journey Ticket – If you are on a one-day trip, short visit, or have little need to use the MTR or public bus, then pay as go via purchasing a Single Journey Ticket at the automated machines in the station. You will need to have local currency in the form of coins such as 50 cents, HK$1, HK$2, HK$5, and HK$10 while some machines also accept small notes. 

Octopus Card – a plastic card that you preload and swipe to enter and exit the station. Highly recommended if you will be using the MTR over a few days and it can also be used on buses, taxis, and even in some stores. You can purchase this card at any MTR Customer Service Centre at the stations.

Tourist Octopus – also known as the “sold octopus card” which is available at any MTR Customer Service desk and convenience stores, such as 7-11 and Circle K. This is the one I recommend to anyone visiting for more than one day. Basically, you purchase the card for $39 HKD and top it up in-store then use the network as you need. At the end of time, you can return the card to receive a refund of any unused value.

How much should you add to the card? If you are planning a few day’s travel I’d add HK $150. You can always top it up if needed at 7-11, Circle K, Wellcome, ParknShop, McDonald’s, Starbucks, and the MTR Customer Service desks. Noting the card can also be used as a payment method at those stores. For more details and all the benefits see:

Tourist Pass – You can also buy a Tourist Pass which gives you unlimited travel for a certain period. In the past there were five options for using the Airport Express and MTR network over multiple days, presently as of Feb 2024, there is one offer

  • Adult Tourist Day Pass: 65 HKD for one day of unlimited MTR use this includes, unlimited travel on the MTR, Light Rail, and MTR Bus (except Airport Express, East Rail Line First Class and travel to/from Lo Wu or Lok Ma Chau Station)
  • Child Tourist Day Pass: 30 HKD, as per the above, available for children 3-11 years of age.

The Tourist Pass can be purchased at the MTR Customer Service Centre at the station or online at the MTR website

2024 HK MTR System map

HK MTR route map 2024

Know Your MTR Lines and Stations

Here is an overview of each MTR line highlighting the attractions and points of interest you can find on each one.

  1. The Airport Express Line connects Hong Kong International Airport to the city centre. It has 3 main stations: Airport, Kowloon, and Hong Kong. Hong Kong Station is located under the IFC building and connects directly to the Tung Chung Line and to Central Station via a short walk. At Kowloon Station, you will find Elements Mall, Ritz Carlton Hong Kong, and the Starwood W Hong Kong Hotel. It is also connected to Austin Station (of the West Rail Line) and the new West Kowloon Station via footbridges.
  2.  West Rail Line, connects from Hung Hom Station in Kowloon through to Tuen Mun Station in Tuen Mun. One of the most popular stations on the line is East Tsim Sha Tsui Station where you can visit the Avenue of Stars, I-Square Shopping Mall, K11 Art Mall, InterContinental Hong Kong, Sheraton Hong Kong, The Peninsula and much more. East Tsim Sha Tsui Station also connects to Tsim Sha Tsui Station via underground pedestrian walkways.
  3. East Rail Line connects Hung Hom Station in Kowloon to Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau Stations which are the border crossings into mainland China. At Sheung Shui Station you’ll find shopping malls where Mainland tourists love to shop and take goods home. At Kowloon Tong you can transfer easily to the Kwun Tong Line and head to Mong Kok Station.
  4.  Tsuen Wan Line connects from Central station on Hong Kong Island to Tsuen Wan station in the New Territories. This line effectively connects Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and runs through the main CBD and the prime shopping strip that is Nathan Road. The most popular stations on this route are Tsim Sha Tsui, Central, Admiralty, Jordan, Yau Ma Tei, and Mong Kok. Around these stations, you will find the shopping and business heart of Hong Kong including malls, markets, restaurants, cafes, attractions.
  5. Island Line is just as the name implies, connecting Kennedy Town in the Central and Western District to Chai Wan in the Eastern District on Hong Kong Island. The most popular stations are Central, Admiralty, Wan Chai, and Causeway Bay. It will connect you to many major shopping areas, malls, and luxury hotels.
  6. Tung Chung Line connects Hong Kong Station on the island to Tung Chung on Lantau Island. It almost runs parallel to the Airport Express Line and does connect to the Airport via the S1 route bus. Importantly for tourists, it connects to the Disney Line taking you to Disney World. At Tung Chung Station you will find Citygate Outlets, Ngong Ping Cable Cable Car, and buses that run to Nong Ping Piazza, The Big Buddha, and Po Lin Monastery.
  7. Kwun Tong Line connects Whampoa and Tiu Keng Len passing through Yau Mei Tei, Mong Kok, Prince Edward, Kowloon Tong (interchange to the East Rail Line), Wong Tai Sin (here you can visit the temple of the same name), and Yau Tong & Tiu Keng Len stations where you can transfer to the Tseung Kwan O Line.
  8. Tseung Kwan O Line connects North Point and Lohas Park along the line at Tseung Kwan O Station you can find this locality’s major shopping area inc. Park Central, Wings, Tseung Kwan O Plaza, and Corinthia by the Sea Mall.
  9. Ma On Shan Line connects Tai Wai and Wu Kai Sha on this line you can visit Che Kung Temple and Ma On Shan Country Park and even Sai Kung East Country Park.
  10. South Island Line connects Admiralty and South Horizons. On this line, you can visit Ap Lei Chau island and the popular Ocean Park theme park.
  11. Disneyland Resort Line: between Sunny Bay Station on the Tung Chung Line and Disneyland Resort

Tips for Using Hong Kong’s MTR System

Here is one of the most important tips you can get for enjoying your time in Hong Kong, and that is to understand the dynamics of one of the most densely populated places on the planet.

Not only is it densely populated but it also receives thousands of visitors daily from Mainland China. It can be crowded, busy, hectic and more, but, that’s part of what makes Hong Kong special. Transport systems such as the MTR can be packed to the brim during peak times, so much so, in some cases, many people may not squeeze in and have to wait for the next train. That’s the daily life. For a holidaymaker, it’s probably not the experience you’re chasing so do note the peak travel times.

Tip #1 Avoid peak times. That includes morning and afternoon rush hours being 7.30 am to 9.30 am and 5 pm to 7 pm on weekdays.

Tip #2 Use the right MTR exit. Most stations have several exits, be sure to use the right one that matches the direction you want to go. Use the wrong one and you’ll be doing a lot of walking, or worse strike a dead-end and have to go back through the station again.

Tip #3 Be mindful of the transfer distances. For example, if you need to go from MTR Tsim Sha Tsui to MTR Tsim Sha Tsui East; it’s a 15-minute walk via the underground pedestrian tunnel.

Tip #4 Avoid Large Luggage. There are lots of stairs and escalators, plus lots of people, it’s not much fun battling through that with a suitcase and bags of shopping regularly. Official luggage limits are one piece of luggage per person which cannot exceed 170 cm in total (length plus width plus height) or be measure more than 130 cm on any side.

Tip #5 Operating hours – in general from 6 AM to 1 AM. But service hours vary for each line so check the line you’re traveling on, see Service Hours at the MTR website.

Tip #6 Getting to and from the airport check out our Guide to getting to and from the Airport and more about the Airport Express.

Attractions and Shopping By MTR Station

View posts and reviews of stores and shopping areas according to their closest MTR (subway) Station. Also see our shopping by MTR guide.

MTR Station Maps

Key station and street maps showing exits, nearby attractions, and major buildings.

Lo Wu Station Map

Hotels near MTR Stations

Being within walking distance of an MTR station makes light work of exploring all that Hong Kong has to offer. My favorite picks are

  • Metropark Hotel Mongkok – 4-star and located steps away from Prince Edward Station in Kowloon, and the E21 Airport bus stop, and you can also catch mainland cross-border coaches from near here.
  • Brighton Hotel Hong Kong – 4-star hotel located steps away from Wan Chai Station, Hong Kong Island.

See here for 13 more hotel picks near the MTR including some incredible value for money options.

HK Regional Map showing Rail Lines and MTR Routes