Syfa & Ganjar

How to Use the MTR in Hong Kong for First-Time Visitors

Written by Ganjar 

In Hong Kong, one of the primary modes of public transportation is the MTR, short for Mass Transit Railway. The MTR operates much like subway or MRT systems in other countries. The only difference you'll notice is the reversed arrangement of the letters, but don't let that puzzle you, though.

If you've used similar modes of transportation elsewhere, the MTR system might feel familiar. However, for those who are new to Hong Kong or have just arrived, it can be a bit perplexing.

That's why this article aims to walk you through the steps of riding the MTR in Hong Kong, so you can feel confident during your first experience. Let's get started!

1. Go to the MTR Station

pintu masuk stasiun mtr
MTR station entrance

To start your journey, head to the nearest MTR station. These stations usually have multiple entrances, each labeled with letters and numbers. You can use any entrance, as they all lead to the same area.

Keep in mind that most MTR entrances lack escalators, and if there is one, it usually goes only in the upward direction. If you're carrying luggage, trolleys, or bulky items, I'd recommend you to locate an entrance with elevator access.

2. Get Your Payment Method Ready

Once you're inside the station, prepare your payment method. Hong Kong's MTR accepts various payment tools, but for tourists, I recommend considering one of these three options:

  1. Octopus Card
octopus card

The Octopus card reigns as the most popular electronic payment card in Hong Kong. It's versatile and can be used for a wide range of expenses, including MTR rides, buses, trams, ferries, convenience stores, restaurants, and vending machines.

You can purchase Octopus cards at customer service centers within MTR stations or at convenience stores like 7-Eleven. For detailed steps on acquiring an Octopus card, refer to the following article:

Tourists have two Octopus card options: the On-Loan Octopus and the Octopus for Tourists, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. You can find a more thorough explanation in the following article:

  1. VISA Contactless
Visa Contacless

If you have a VISA credit or debit card equipped with contactless feature, you can use it as a payment method on the MTR. VISA cardholders are provided with a dedicated gate for MTR access.

  1. Single Journey Ticket
vending mesin tiket mtr
Vending Machine for buying MTR ticket

Alternatively, you can opt for a Single Journey Ticket. This ticket is valid for a single trip on the MTR and can be purchased at customer service centers or vending machines located at each MTR station.

The Single Journey Ticket comes in handy if you prefer to pay with cash. However, keep in mind that you'll need to buy a ticket for each MTR ride, which might be less convenient if you plan to use the MTR frequently.

While there are other payment options like Alipay and UnionPay, I recommend the above three methods for travelers for the most practical way.

3. Proceed through the MTR Gate

gate mtr
MTR Gate
gate kartu visa
Gate for those using VISA card

Next, it's time to enter the MTR gate. In Hong Kong, entry and exit gates for the MTR are typically separated, so you may need to take a little walk to find the entrance gate.

Look for a gate displaying a green arrow symbol, signaling it's open for entry. Then, position your payment card on the card reader above the gate until it emits a beep.

Afterward, you can smoothly pass through the gate and access the station platform area. Most MTR gates still utilize tripod turnstile gates that require a gentle push to enter. However, some stations employ more modern open-and-close gates.

If you plan to use a contactless VISA card, make sure to enter through the blue gate, where you'll need to tap your VISA card on the card reader situated at the gate's front.

4. Head to the Platform

petunjuk platform mtr
Directions on the MTR platform
pintu mtr
Train entrance

Proceed directly to the platform to await the arrival of the MTR train. Most stations boast two or more MTR train platforms. Refer to the signboard or wall map to determine the platform where your train is scheduled to arrive.

Upon reaching the platform, stand in line next to the entrance while waiting for the train. Please remember not to position yourself right in front of the door, as it can inconvenience passengers exiting the train.

5. Board the Train

kursi prioritas mtr
Priority seats
simbol quiet area
Quiet section

When the train arrives, it's time to prepare to board. Allow passengers who want to exit to do so before you enter. Watch your step as you step onto the train, as there's often a gap between the platform and the train floor.

Once inside the train, take a seat if there are empty ones available. If the seats are all occupied, you can stand in the aisle. Make sure to hold onto a handrail or pole to prevent accidents during the train's movements.

Please remember that eating, drinking, or smoking is not permitted during the journey. Some areas may also have a "Quiet Section" sticker, where you should avoid speaking loudly.

Each train carriage includes seats reserved for individuals with disabilities, elderly passengers, and pregnant women. If you don't fall into these categories, please refrain from occupying these designated seats.

6. Exit the Train

suasana mtr
Inside the MTR

As the train approaches a station, an announcement will inform you of the station's name. These announcements are typically made in both the local language and English.

If you can't hear the announcement, you can check the map above the exit for information about the next station. In some newer trains, this map is replaced by an LED screen.

If your destination station is nearby, you can move closer to the exit to expedite the process of boarding and alighting. Once the train stops, exit the train calmly and in an orderly manner.

After leaving the train, follow the signs that indicate "Exit" to reach the exit gate. If you need to transfer to another MTR line, follow the instructions guiding you to your desired MTR line.

7. Leave the Station

tap kartu visa
Tap out at the exit gate
petunjuk pintu keluar mtr
MTR station exit directions

When it's time to leave the platform, you can exit by tapping your Octopus card on the exit gate, just as you did when entering. For those using a contactless VISA card, remember to exit through the blue gate.

However, if you've chosen the Single Ticket Journey option, you'll need to insert the card into the gate's slot at this exit point. After inserting the card, you can proceed through the gate directly.

Afterward, locate the station exit nearest to your destination. You'll find information about the exits on the wall's information board. Select the correct exit to avoid unnecessary walking to reach your destination.

These are the straightforward steps for using the MTR train in Hong Kong. Hopefully, they prove useful to those embarking on their first trip to Hong Kong. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask us.

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We are a newlywed couple who loves to eat and travel from one place to another. In this blog, we will share our favorite experiences when visiting various tourist attractions and tasting the delights of good food!

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We are a newlywed couple who loves to eat and travel from one place to another. In this blog, we will share our favorite experiences when visiting various tourist attractions and tasting the delights of good food!

More about Syfa & Ganjar →
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