How To: 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, quick and 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
  • use a preloaded touch card, called the Octopus Card
  • 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. Note: in the near future, you will be able to buy tickets using online and mobile payment systems and enter the station via QR code.

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. There is also “sold octopus card” which is available at convenience stores. For more details and all the benefits see: octopus.com.hk

Tourist Pass – You can also buy a Tourist Pass which gives you unlimited travel for a certain period of time. There are five options

  • Tourist Day Pass: 65 HKD for one day of unlimited MTR use
  • Tourist Cross-boundary Travel Pass: 100 HKD for one day of unlimited travel and two journeys on the East Rail Line to either Lo Wu or Lok Ma Chau
  • Tourist Cross-boundary Travel Pass: 200 HKD for two days unlimited travel and two journeys on the East Rail Line to either Lo Wu or Lok Ma Chau
  • Airport Express Travel Pass: $250 for 3 days of unlimited MTR use inc one ride on the Airport Express
  • Airport Express Travel Pass: $350 for 3 days of unlimited MTR use inc two rides on the Airport Express

The Tourist Pass/Airport Express Travel Pass can be purchased at the MTR Customer Service Centre at the station. More details at the MTR website mtr.com.hk

 

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Photo: MTR ticket vending machine and entry/exit turnstiles

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Photo: Tourist Day Pass and an entry turnstile ticket touchpad

 

HK MTR System map

Hong Kong MTR map

 

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 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 on a regular basis. 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.

 

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: Wan Chai – MTR Admiralty – MTR Causeway Bay – MTR Central – MTR Hong Kong – MTR Jordon – MTR Kowloon – MTR Kowloon Tong – MTR Mong Kok – MTR Mong Kok East – MTR Sham Shui Po – MTR Shatin – MTR Taikoo – MTR Teun Mun – MTR Tsim Sha Tsui – MTR Tsuen WanMTR Tsuen Wan West – MTR Tung Chung – MTR Tung Chung Line – MTR Yau Ma Tei

 

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