Seamless Travel With Octopus Card in Hong Kong
Hong Kong has one of the best, highly efficient and well connected urban transport among other countries in the world, and traveling in a vast city like Hong Kong has never been easier when using the Octopus card in Hong Kong.
I wrote this article for travelers planning their first trip to Hong Kong, and intends to make use of public transportation in Hong Kong extensively, as the first mode of transport to travel around the beautiful island.
Even myself, I can be frugal at times when it comes to transportation, and try to spend less, going on foot as much as I could (of course it’s not possible all the time).
But here in Hong Kong, public transport is rather affordable and yet it’s an easy reach to almost any place you wanted to roam.
What is an Octopus card? – and Why you should get one.
The Octopus Card is Hong Kong’s cashless travel card with the stored value for use on almost all public transport in Hong Kong (MTR/LRT/Tram/Ferry/Bus), convenience stores, bakery shops, car parking and few other places, even to recharge your prepaid SIM at Payment Kiosk Recharge Service.
Having this card almost instantly makes your travel a breeze anywhere in Hong Kong, with their reliable transport system.
There are different types of Octopus card available for purchase, but for tourist and travelers, I summarize the best card that you shall get during your stay in Hong Kong. When I was in Hong Kong, I got myself a Standard Octopus Card.
For the Sold Tourist Card, there has no deposit in it when you purchase, though there is a small pre-loaded amount of HKD$10 when bought at China Travel Service (HK) Limited.
Keep in mind to ensure that there is a sufficient amount before using Sold Tourist Card. Unlike Standard Octopus card, if balance falls below negative value, you can’t use it at all – also any balance remaining is refundable but the cost of purchasing the card is HKD$39 and it is non-refundable.
For the Standard Octopus Card, you will have a stored refundable amount of HKD$50 pre-purchased together with a stored value of HKD$100.
With the Standard Octopus Card, you can claim a refund of the deposit when you leave Hong Kong (a small fee of HKD$9 are applicable for refund made within 90 days from the date of purchase).
The Standard Octopus will cost you HKD$150 (with HKD$50 deposit) and Sold Tourist will cost you HKD$49 or HKD$39(without stored value).
Which Card to Get?
If you plan to keep the card even after leaving Hong Kong, Sold Tourist Card will be the right choice but they come with limitation.
Whereas getting a Standard Octopus has an advantage, when the stored value become negative, you will still be able to use it without interruption with stored HKD $50 deposit in it.
So getting the Standard Octopus Card is a good idea since you don’t lose your stored value and you don’t have to worry if you accidentally forgot to reload the card.
Octopus card can also be used at any retail shop, car parks, and for purchases at convenience stores, even in Macau (Sands Casino, Galaxy Macau and Broadway Macau), in Shenzen, China (Fairwood Fastwood, Cafe de Coral, Shenzhen Duty Free Group Stores that display the Octopus “8” logo.
Though it’s versatile, my advice is always to reload in moderate amount – prolly you won’t appreciate the benefit if you lost the card with a huge amount of stored value.
Where to get them?
You could easily get hold of your first Standard Octopus card right after arriving at the Hong Kong Airport, it’s available to purchase at the Airport Arrival Hall, Level 5 (from Arrival Hall A), next to the Tourist Information Centre. See below map;
Alternatively, you can get the Standard Octopus at the following places;
1. MTR Customer Service Centres: All stations (except Racecourse station)
2. Light Rail Customer Service Centres: Ferry Pier Terminus, Leung King, Town Centre, Yuen Long Terminus, Tin Yat, Siu Hong and Tin Shui Wai Stations
3. KMB Customer Service Centre: Sha Tin Central Bus Terminus
4. New World First Ferry Octopus Card Service Centre: Piers of Cheung Chau, Mui Wo, Peng Chau, Central Piers 5 and 6
5. New World First Bus Customer Service Centre: Admiralty (East) Bus Terminus
Where to reload?
Reloading is easy and can be done all over in Hong Kong and it’s the similar place where you can get a new card (refer back the map above ). Some common place to reload your Octopus card;
Other places includes (as in map);
1. MTR / Light Rail / Selected Add Value Machines
2. Airport Express Line
4. First Ferry Customer and Octopus Service Centres (Cheung Chau Pier, Mui Wo Pier, Central Pier 5 & Central Pier 6)
5. NWFB (Admiralty (East) Bus Terminus)
6. Citybus (Airport Ground Transportation Centre)
Where & How to check your Octopus Card Balance
To do this, you can approach any self-service kiosk or at any MTR station in Hong Kong and check your balance on the card.
Alternatively, if you have an NFC-enabled phone (Android), you can download one of their app (link here) and use it to check your balance on the go. This may not work on all mobiles so you may encounter some issue scanning your card and retrieving the data.
Nevertheless, it’s always easy to track your balance whenever you swap your card at the entry/exit gantry at MTR, buses, tram or ferry showing the remaining balance, which in this case, prior method is almost not necessary at all.