From Red to Blue: A Colourful Guide to taking a Hong Kong Taxi

You can’t miss Hong Kong’s taxis. They are colourful, inexpensive and iconic. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, taking a taxi in Hong Kong can be a fun and convenient experience.

London has its bulky black cabs, New York has zingy yellow ones, but Hong Kong’s taxis come in three bright shades: red, green and pale blue. It’s important to know the difference between the three.

Red Urban Taxis

Hong Kong taxi classic red

Ready to hit the streets of Hong Kong? You’ll likely spot plenty of these taxis whizzing by. They’re the most common type you’ll see, and they’ll take you anywhere within the urban areas of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and parts of the New Territories.

To get started, just hail one down and hop in! Keep in mind that the flag fall rate is HK $27.00 (US $3.44), followed by HK $1.90 for every 200 meters thereafter (US $0.24). And if you’re traveling with luggage or a stroller, expect to pay an additional HK $6.00 per piece (US $0.76).

But what about your furry friends? Good news! Pets are welcome in these taxis for just HK $5.00 each (US $0.64). So go ahead and bring your furry companion along for the ride!

Green New Territories Taxis

Hong Kong taxi green

Looking to save a bit of cash on your Hong Kong taxi ride? Consider hopping in a green taxi instead! They only operate in certain parts of the New Territories, including Tuen Mun, Yuen Long, Tai Po, and Sai Kung.

The flag fall rate for green taxis is HK $23.50 (US $2.99), followed by HK $1.70 for every 200 meters thereafter (US $0.22). So while you might not be able to take a green taxi everywhere, it’s worth keeping in mind if you’re headed to one of the areas they serve.

Blue Lantau Taxis

Hong Kong taxi blue

These rare cabs are the least expensive option, but they also have the most limited range. In fact, there are only 75 blue taxis in operation, so you might have to keep an eye out for one!

If you do happen to spot a blue taxi, keep in mind that the flag fall rate is HK $22.00 (US $2.80), followed by HK $1.70 for every 200 meters thereafter (US $0.22). While they may not take you everywhere, a blue taxi ride can be a fun and unique way to explore the hidden corners of Lantau Island.

Just be aware that on busy weekends, it’s important to plan ahead and check bus timetables on Lantau Island in case you can’t find a blue taxi. And remember, if you do manage to snag a ride in one of these rare cabs, enjoy the experience! Speaking of which, if you would like to jump into one of these rare blue cabs, you are most likely to get the experience on a short hop between the Big Buddha and Tai O fishing village on our Lantau Island full day tour.

The inside track on Hong Kong’s Taxis

Hong Kong dollars 100

Hong Kong taxis are a unique experience, and you can expect to see some interesting things inside! Many drivers decorate their dashboard with trinkets like nodding cats, anime figurines, and disco lights. Some older models can even seat up to five passengers, but those are becoming harder to find.

When it comes to payment, cash is still the best option, but some taxis may accept electronic payment like Octopus or PayMe. Just be aware that larger bills can be difficult for drivers to give change for.

If you’re trying to hail a taxi at 4:00pm, good luck! This is the busiest time of day as it is a shift change for the drivers – they will often share one vehicle, with two to three shift changes in order to maximise earnings. Therefore between 3:45pm and 4:15pm, especially in the rain, it can be really tough to flag one down. Consider taking the MTR or using Uber instead (Uber is technically illegal in Hong Kong, but tolerated).

While some taxi drivers can be a bit grumpy, don’t take it personally. As long as they take you where you need to go, that’s all that matters. And speaking of taking a taxi in Hong Kong, always insist on using the meter and never negotiate off-meter, as that’s illegal.

We’ve also included some useful Cantonese phrases to help you communicate with your driver and ensure you get to your destination smoothly.

How to take a Hong Kong Taxi

  1. Look for a taxi stand: There are taxi stands located throughout the city, and are easy to find. If you see a taxi stand, simply approach the queue and wait for the next available taxi.
  2. Raise your arm: If there is no taxi stand nearby, you can flag down a taxi on the street. Stand near the curb and raise your arm to signal to the driver that you need a ride. Make sure you’re visible to approaching taxis and it is a safe place to stop.
  3. Use a mobile app: The one we recommend is the Hong Kong Taxi App Simply download the app and follow the instructions to request a ride.
  4. Look for the taxi light: Hong Kong taxis have a rooftop light that indicates their availability. When the light is on, the taxi is available for hire. This can be a bit hard to see during the daytime. Also check that they don’t have a label covering their red “for hire’ light in the windscreen – this means they have been booked.
  5. Know your destination: When you get into a taxi, tell the driver your destination and make sure they understand where you want to go. It’s helpful to have the address or name of the destination written down in Chinese characters to avoid any confusion – your hotel can help, or there is another app which will translate any Hong Kong address! Take Taxi App.

Useful Taxi Cantonese

Turn left Jun jo
Turn rightJun yau
Keep goingChek hui
Stop hereLi dou
Stop here thanksHai li dou ting mm goi
Faster pleaseFi di mm goi
Slow down please Maan di mm goi
Follow that cab!Gun gor ga dixie!

The Different Taxi Models

Did you know that any car can be used as a taxi as long as it passes the Transport Department guidelines? However it is around HK $200,000 for a ruling on a new car model and so rules out any fancy Ferraris / Lamborghinis / Porsches unfortunately!!

The Toyota Crown Comfort car model is not only favoured here as a taxi, but also in Japan as well. It is known to be the reliable, boxy workhorse of the private car hire industry. Whilst you will see this model everywhere on the streets of Hong Kong (and may be forgiven for thinking that these are really old cars – they’re not (!) they are all mostly brand new) – we have had a few additional models added by the Department of Transportation….. Look out for some of the following:

Thanks as always to our great friend J3 Tours Hong Kong for his input and every single car photo used on this page!

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