Hong Kong at Night

Hong Kong is the most efficient city I’ve ever been to. For sure, there are other cities (San Francisco, New York, etc.) where the moment you get off the plane, you can just about get to any location in that city without getting into a car. However, Hong Kong just takes it to another level in my opinion because there are more than 1 option of public transportation to get to all the places you want to go.

MTR Map

1. By Rail – there are 2 main rail systems, which are actually connected into 1, the MTR. If you click on that map to enlarge it, you can see that a visitor can leave the airport on the MTR system and go just about anywhere in Hong Kong, including the doorsteps of Shenzhen, China, where you can board trains that will take you as far as Beijing! The trains are very clean (no bums) and were never late when I was there for over 2 weeks. It’s one of only 2 rail systems in the world that is profitable and does not require government subsidies in order to operate, and there are trains that leave each station in a matter of a few minutes. On top of all that, the more suburban parts of Hong Kong were actually built in and around these stations in a cluster of high rise apartments and shops in ways in which you can leave the station and walk to your home while being covered from the elements at all times. Efficiency at its finest.

2. By Ferry/Hovercraft – Because Hong Kong is an island surrounded by other islands and ports, traveling on water makes a lot of sense. But it’s really amazing how easily accessible everything is, and yes, there are many ferry operators. Companies like TurboJet and New World operate out of multiple ports around Hong Kong and take passengers in and around Hong Kong/Kowloon, Shenzhen, Shekou, and of course, Macau, the Las Vegas of Asia. You can hop on the MTR to a stop with a ferry terminal, such as the one at the Shun Tak Centre, with luggage in hand, walk into the building, buy a round trip ticket and take the 1-hour ferry ride to Macau. Imagine a Saturday morning where you get up and feel like going to Vegas; if you were in the US, you are basically assed out, unless you live near Vegas, or settle for the local Indian casino. If you were in Hong Kong, however, you could be in Macau in a couple of hours and be back the same night to take your friends out to dinner with what you won (or ask them to take you out because you lost).

3. By Bus – This of course is the stable of public transportation in most cities around the world and Hong Kong is no exception. What I found amazing is the different variety of buses they have available. There are many profitable bus operators such as: The Kowloon Motor Bus Co., Citybus and New Lantao Bus, which were all fine and got me back to my friend’s place at 5am in the morning after a long night out. They go basically anywhere you need to go, even to places not very close by the MTR stations. To keep efficient, they will not stop at a designated spot unless someone requests the driver to do so. What I find amazing is that there are also these ‘mini buses’ that run around the city. They fit about 10 people, and it’s just first come, first serve. Where there are bus stops, there will probably be a mini bus stop as well, so if your normal bus hasn’t arrived, you can just jump on the mini bus and go where you need to go for cheap. Amazing…

There are also taxis readily available so if you really need to get somewhere fast, that option is still there. Hong Kong also caters to the rich by offering helicopter rides. There are even those cabled lifts like the ones you see at ski resorts (except it’s enclosed) and the peak tramway, which takes you to the top of Hong Kong. The only thing I didn’t see were rickshaws, probably because they’re not efficient enough.

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