I always like travelling by public transport in Hong Kong – the star ferry and doubledecker tram are my favourite modes of transportation, but the MTR is great too. That’s the metro, subway or tube of Hong Kong and it’s amazing how punctual and clean it is.
What I like about the MTR:
- It runs on time – not like the tube in London, which should be coming every few minutes but could take 20 minutes to finally turn up
- The fare system is straight forward – not like in Munich where you need to study for a degree with the local transport authority to figure out how much it will cost to get from the airport to the city centre. Plus travelling on public transport is really affordable, it’s around 4 HKD for a few stops on Hong Kong Island, around 20 HKD if you go from Hong Kong Island to Lantau and up to 40 HKD if you travel long distances to the border (fare information here)
- The signage is so clear. You can see the MTR sign everywhere and find the entrances easily – and at the same time the exits are straightforward, they even tell you exactly which exit you have to take, so if you want to get to Citygate shopping centre at Tai Koo, you need to take exit D. In the trains, the maps show your current location, highlight where to change and even announce on which side of the train the doors open. Easy!
- The trains are spacious. It is easy to get on and off with luggage and there are escalators and lifts that work (anyone in London reading this? You can actually travel to/from the airport or train stations easily – even with luggage). Also you can stand upright, no need to bend your head as you sometimes have to do in the London underground
- The MTR takes you to Lantau island, Hong Kong island, Kowloon and New Territories – it’s really easy to get around, here is an interactive map that you can look at – see, the distances are small and the trains are quick!
What’s not so great:
- It is often very full, especially in rush hour. There must be thousands already on the train and another thousand trying to get on
- The trains are very cold – so cold that you always have to wear long-sleeves. The temperature difference can be up to 20 degrees on crazy hot days
- The seats are all made out of a metal and it is so easy to slide, there are no humps or barriers – if the train speeds up, you get pushed to your left (hoping that there’s no person sitting too close next to you). Then the train slows down and again you move to the right, trying to avoid bumping into the person on your other side. You really have to pay attention so you don’t slide from left to right all the time!