With more than 18,000 taxis cruising the streets of Hong Kong, they are usually in plentiful supply and easy to flag down, except at restricted areas marked with double yellow lines. Additionally, Hong Kong is equipped with 230 designated drop off/pick up points.
Taxis come in three different colors: red taxis, which are the most expensive and typically serve Hong Kong Island and Kowloon; green taxis which serve the rural areas of the New Territories; and blue taxis which only operate on Lantau Island. Most drivers speak very limited English so unless you speak Cantonese it is a good idea, when possible, to get a local to write down your destination in Chinese. Taxis in Hong Kong are either five or four seater Toyota Crown vehicles though the five seater taxis are currently being phased out.
Taxi fares in Hong Kong are relatively low compared to most other major cities in the world. Taxi fare scales are stipulated in the law. The fares as of June 2014 are as follows:
- Urban taxis charge $22 for the first two kilometres or any part thereof. The incremental charge for every subsequent 200 metres or part thereof and for every waiting period of 1 minute or part thereof is $1.6 until the amount reaches $78, and $1 after the amount has reached $78.
- New Territories taxis charge $18.5 for the first two kilometres or any part thereof. The incremental charge for every subsequent 200 metres or part thereof and for every waiting period of 1 minute or part thereof is $1.4 until the amount reaches $60.5, and $1 after.
- Lantau taxis charge $17 for the first two kilometres or any part thereof. The incremental charge for every subsequent 200 metres or part thereof and for every waiting period of 1 minute or part thereof is $1.4 until the amount reaches $143, and $1.2 after the amount has reached $143.
Baggage carried in the trunk costs HK$5 per piece, although some drivers are willing to waive the charge. Tipping is not expected but nevertheless welcome, and drivers often round up the fare to the nearest dollar when giving change. Most taxis do carry pets but will charge HK$5 for carriage.
All taxi drivers are required to display a sign on the dashboard of their vehicle stating the license plate number and their name in both Chinese and English. Unless a taxi has an “out of service” sign displayed, they are legally required to take you to your destination. This sometimes becomes a problem when you need to go to Kowloon from Hong Kong or vice-versa. If for some reason your taxi driver refuses to take you to your destination, you can call the police by dialing 999 and lodge a complaint.
Taxi drivers are also required to provide you a receipt upon request. All taxis are radio-equipped and can be booked via an operator at a charge of HK$5, payable to the driver. You are expected to wear a seat belt while riding in a Hong Kong taxi and both the front seat beside the driver and the back seats are equipped with seat belts. In reality, passengers riding in the back seats rarely wear the seat belts even though they are required by law to do so.
Taxi booking hotlines are available on the following numbers. The operators will be able to speak English.
Urban Taxi-Call Service Centre
Tel: 2383 0180
Wing Tai Radio Taxi
Tel: 2865 7398
Taxi Radio Call Centre
Tel: 2391 9366