Hong Kong is one of the most popular cities in Asia. It’s a bustling financial center that holds its own against larger rivals like Tokyo and New York City. If you’re travelling to Hong Kong, chances are you’ll stay in a hotel or apartment. But if you want to experience the local life, then getting around by public transportation is the best way to do it. The trains and buses are cheap and efficient, but there’s also an option of taking a ferry across the water from Tsim Sha Tsui — where most tourists stay — up to the Central district.
Hong Kong is a city that loves its public transportation. The metro system, buses and ferries all provide public transportation around the city. Hong Kong’s tram system is also an important mode of transport for residents who live in the suburbs or want to visit one of the many attractions along the tram line.
The history of Hong Kong’s tram system begins with the British colonizers. This was a form of transportation that they brought with them from their native land and it quickly became a common mode of transport in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong tram system has been operating since 1904 and currently serves more than 30 routes throughout the island. The trams themselves are colourful, air-conditioned vehicles that seat between 12 and 24 passengers depending on their model type (the newest model holds up to 35). You can get anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours’ worth of travel time out of each ride depending on where you start and end your trip.
In Hong Kong, trams are called “ding dings”. The tram system is very efficient. A single fare takes you anywhere in the city and back again for only HK$2.60 (US$0.33); there are no transfers or round-trip fares. You can also get on or off at any stop along the way without anything extra! The ding dings run every 15 minutes during rush hour and every 30 minutes at other times of the day. The tram is a popular way to get around Hong Kong. It’s the easiest way to travel in the city and one of the fastest ways as well.
The Star Ferry is a historic ferry service that crosses the bay between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. It’s one of the best ways to see Hong Kong from the water, with views of both sides of the harbour and some truly breathtaking skyscrapers. The star ferry got its name because it resembles the traditional European Christmas star, which consists of five points arranged around a central point and is commonly made out of paper or cardboard (like gift wrapping). It also reminds people of the stars on the American flag — both symbolize freedom and independence from other nations.
The Star Ferry is one of the oldest ferries in existence; it started in 1888 as a wooden boat that travelled between Victoria Harbour and Wan Chai (then known as “Whampoa”) on Hong Kong Island. There are two types of Star Ferry: one with an open-top deck, which allows you to see over the skyscrapers; and another with a closed deck, which shields you from rain or sun.
Currently, eight ferries are operating along two routes: Central — Tsim Sha Tsui (TST), Quarry Bay — Yung Shue Wan, and TST — Hung Hom (HH). The boats run every 15 minutes from 6 am–10 pm Monday through Thursday, 6 am–11 pm Friday through Sunday; during holidays they run hourly from 9 am–9 pm Monday through Thursday and 9 am–10 pm Friday through Sunday.
Tickets can be purchased at any pier or online before you arrive in town; most shops will accept credit cards but don’t count on them taking American Express or Visa Electron cards since these aren’t accepted everywhere in HK either!
During my many different visits to Hong Kong, I stayed on both Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon side of the city and I must say that Star Ferry quickly became my favourite way of crossing Victoria Harbour. The surprisingly fast service allows you to take a bit of timeout from hectic city streets and simply gaze around the harbour and enjoy the city’s ever-changing views. So if you are planning your trip, take advantage of the public transport in Hong Kong, you will love it. Plus you will save a lot of money.
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PS. There are a lot more photographs from Hong Kong, so if you are interested I put together a little silent photo slideshow below:
Here are 10 lesser-known facts about Hong Kong’s Ding Dings and Star Ferry:
- Ding Dings, the iconic trams in Hong Kong, has been in service since 1904, making them one of the city’s oldest forms of public transportation.
- The nickname “Ding Ding” comes from the sound the trams make when their bells ring, alerting pedestrians and other vehicles of their presence.
- Ding Dings is one of the cheapest ways to get around Hong Kong, with fares starting at just HK$2.60 (US$0.33).
- There are only two remaining double-decker trams in the world, and both of them are in Hong Kong.
- The Star Ferry has been in operation since 1888 and is one of the most famous ferry services in the world.
- The Star Ferry’s fleet of ferries has been modernized over the years, but the design of the boats has mainly remained the same since the 1950s.
- The Star Ferry has been featured in several movies, including “The World of Suzie Wong” and “The Dark Knight”.
- The Star Ferry used to offer a free shuttle bus service for passengers between Tsim Sha Tsui and Central piers, but this service was discontinued in 2019.
- The Star Ferry has won several awards for its safety and environmental practices, including the Green Award from the Hong Kong Awards for Environmental Excellence.
- The Ding Dings and Star Ferry are essential symbols of Hong Kong’s history and culture and have become popular tourist attractions in their own right.