Understanding Hong Kong Taxis

Even though it is the most expensive among all public transport options in Hong Kong, taxis are generally affordable compared to other big cities worldwide.

Taxis are worthy options in many occasions: traveling with grumpy or sleepy kids, getting late going to the airport or meeting, and so on. They come handy when the uber-efficient transport system consisting of the extended railway network, buses and minibuses are not the best options.

Taxicabs in Hong Kong almost comes in homogeneous car make but are distinguished by body colors and fare structure, among others. Each cab typically allows 4 or five passengers.

Red Taxis (Urban Taxis)
Red taxis are most widespread across the city, as they operate in Kowloon and Hong Kong Island and covers most of the territory.

  • Since 2014, fare for the first 2 kilometers or any part thereof is pegged at HK$22.
  • Afterwards, every 200 meters or part thereof is charged HK$1.6.
  • Every one minute or fraction thereof of waiting time while taxi meter is below HK$78 is charged HK$1.6. But once meter reads HK$78 or above, the rate becomes HK$1 for every one minute or part thereof.
  • Toll fees, if applicable, are charged to passenger, along with return toll (HK$10 for Cross-harbor Tunnel and HK$15 for Eastern harbor Crossing and Western harbor Crossing) and are often added in fare calculation as it appears in the meter. Note that return toll is not charged when journey starts on a designated cross-harbor taxi stand or the final destination is not on the opposite side of the harbor.
  • Each luggage — placed in the trunk — is charged HK$5 each regardless of size. Wheelchairs and crutches carried by disabled passengers are not charged. Pets like bird or dogs are also charged HK$5 each.
  • Telephone booking fee is HK$5.

Green Taxis (New Territories Taxis)
Taxis painted greens operate only in certain areas of New Territories, but does not cover Shatin, Tsuen Wan, Tseung Kwan O and Lantau Island, all of which are part of the geographic region.

  • Since 2014, fare for the first 2 kilometers or any part thereof is pegged at HK$18.5.
  • Afterwards, every 200 meters or part thereof is charged HK$1.4.
  • Every one minute or fraction thereof of waiting time while taxi meter is below HK$60.5 is charged HK$1.4. But once meter reads HK$60.5 or above, the rate becomes HK$1 for every one minute or part thereof.
  • Toll fees, if applicable, are charged to passenger and are often added in fare calculation as it appears in the meter.
  • Each luggage — placed in the trunk — is charged HK$5 each regardless of size.

Blue Taxis (Lantau Taxis)
Pale blue taxis only operate through Lantau Island and is the cheapest flag-down rate among the three taxi fare structures.

  • Since 2014, fare for the first 2 kilometers or any part thereof is pegged at HK$17.
  • Afterwards, every 200 meters or part thereof is charged HK$1.4.
  • Every one minute or fraction thereof of waiting time while taxi meter is below HK$143 is charged HK$1.4. But once meter reads HK$143 or above, the rate becomes HK$1.2 for every one minute or part thereof.
  • Toll fees, if applicable, are charged to passenger and are often added in fare calculation as it appears in the meter.
  • Each luggage — placed in the trunk — is charged HK$5 each regardless of size.

Tips on Riding Taxi in Hong Kong

  1. It is generally not allowed to hail a taxi on streets with single or double white or yellow lines painted next to the pavement. It is easier to hail taxis generally anywhere, though, past midnight. Taxis have their signs lit when available for hire but sometimes a “no-service” sign barely visible on the front window can also appear. This indicates drivers are being booked, out for break or on their way off from shift and are therefore unable to fetch passengers.
  2. As much as possible, never take the taxi to cross between Hong Kong island and Kowloon or vice versa through Cross-harbor Tunnel between 8am and 8pm where traffic jams can cost you at least double the fare.
  3. Most taxi drivers cannot or do not speak English. It helps a lot to write down destination, show business card or Google Maps address in Chinese characters. Of course, saying the Chinese address in a properly pronounced Cantonese version helps too.
  4. In case you forgot something in the cab, call the Hong Kong Taxi Union hotline at 2358 8288. To avoid complications, it helps to recall the taxi plate which is also displayed on the front dashboard and taxi door inside.
  5. Passengers are required to strap on seat belts provided inside taxis. Drivers have the right to refuse a passenger if he or she does not abide by this law.
  6. If your destination requires crossing one of the three tunnels linking Hong Kong island and Kowloon, there are designated cross-harbor taxis so don’t be mad if some drivers decide not to take you there; some are courteous enough to point the nearby cross-harbor taxi stand where taxis willing to cross the tunnel are conspicuously located. You should go there and fall in line. One advantage of taking this is, besides boarding the taxi for sure, you’ll not be charged with the return toll charge.
  7. It is easier to find vacant taxis on less busy roads as this helps their mobility, rather than on congested thoroughfares. Also go to designated taxi stands near MTR stations, shopping malls or bus terminals for better chances of getting a ride. Lines may be long, but it’s certain you’ll be on board soon.
  8. Before boarding the taxi, you may check the approximate fare you will be paying by using this online tool.Typical rates from Central:
    a. To airport: HK$295
    b. To HK Disneyland: HK$245
    c. To Ocean Park: HK$70
    d. Ocean Terminal (for Cruise Ships): HK$100

    Typical rates from Tsim Sha Tsui:
    a. To airport: HK$240
    b. To HK Disneyland: HK$190
    c. To Ocean Park: HK$120
    d. Ocean Terminal (for Cruise Ships): HK$30

  9. Payment standard is by cash. While some may accept Octopus cards or credit cards, your next ride could be highly unlikely to accept these payment methods so prepare cash in local currency.
  10. If you wish to get a receipt for reimbursement, taxicabs offer this for free. Just ask them as you pay your fare and a small printout containing the time and date of boarding, distance traveled and fare and charges, provided to you.
  11. Tipping is not a norm in Hong Kong so one is not expected by taxi drivers from passengers. But giving them a tip is certainly appreciated especially when they are extra helpful and made your journey pleasant.

Sources: Transport Department

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