The Hong Kong MTR (Mass Transit Railway, a.k.a. subway in the US) is very clean and convenient. It is even connected to the train line that travels in the New Territories and goes all the way to the Chinese border.
The inside of the MTR train. It's very clean. Pay attention to the seat on your right hand side. Without the rail in the old train, you could slide from one end to another. It used to be a joke in one of the Hong Kong TV commercials.
The Hong Kong MTR train
Due to accidents in the past, all of the HK MTR stations have a gate which opens together with the train doors. The first picture below shows the old passenger boarding area without the gates. When we went back to Hong Kong in 2007, some train stations had already installed the gates. Some were still being worked on.
MTR station without boarding gate
MTR station with gates in the boarding area. It is very safe except some passengers try
to squeeze into the crowded train where they may be trapped between the
gates.Be careful when you have kids with you.
When you travel on the MTR, you are in the tunnels most of the time. But if you want to quick browse some of the "Old Hong Kong" areas and also check out the old industrial buildings, you should take the Kwun Tong Line. Then, you can see some of the places that you may not want to go into, while riding safely in an air-conditioned train.
Also, the MTR has a special ticket for tourists that you pay one fee for unlimited usage throughout the day. Check with their customer service desk.
If you think that you will travel in the city for several days, get an "octopus" card. It is a rechargeable smart card used to transfer electronic payments online or offline in Hong Kong. This ticket is very convenient, every Hong Kongnese has one. When you get on any transportation means or even stores, like the supermarket, you can use it. The amount will be deducted from the card. This invention was the first contact-less smart card system in the world.
If you want to charge it, you can go to any convenient store (there's at least one in a MTR station) and pay the amount to recharge it. Or, use the machine in the Hong Kong MTR station to do it. Some people don't like to use that machine because the buttons and the screen don't align perfectly. To me, it's not as bad as what people complain about.
Below is my octopus card which is the first generation design. When you get yours, you will notice with the new cards the color will look different.
about the octopus card, by 2012, Hong Kong citizens can use octopus
card to go to 6 different cities in the Guangdong province in Mainland
China. Shenzhen will not accept it though. With the special setting, a
new card will be required for going into the Mainland China border.
Click here for more information about Mainland China travel documents requirement.
First generation Hong Kong MTR Octopus (Smart) Card
While you are at the MTR customer service desk, check out some of their collectibles, too.They have watches that you can use as an Octopus card instead of only for telling time. This is just one of the examples.
If you take the MTR train from Hong Kong Station to go to the airport, you may buy a ticket which will allow you to keep it as a souvenir. I saved this one when I left in 2005.
Hong Kong MTR (Airport Express) Disposable Ticket to Hong Kong Airport. The ticket is just the size of a regular credit card. I thought blowing it up to let you see the details.
There are a few Hong Kong MTR stations worth mentioning:
North Point - It has the longest escalators. The total length is as high as the Jardine House Hong Kong (a.k.a. Connaught Place Building) in Central, capital of Hong Kong.
As of October 2012, you can pick up a Hong Kong English newspaper, the Standard, for FREE along the stations of the Airport Express.
You can find out more information including the fare prices of the Hong Kong MTR.
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