While there are some 18,000 taxis in Hong Kong, heavy daytime traffic in Central, Causeway Bay, and Tsim Sha Tsui means they aren't the best option for getting around the city quickly. They're more useful outside these areas, or after dark, especially after the MTR closes. Drivers usually know the terrain well, but, as many don't speak English, having your destination written in Chinese is a good idea. You can hail cabs on the street, provided you're in a stopping area (i.e., not marked by double yellow lines). The white "taxi" sign is lit when the cab is available. Not all taxis will drive from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon (or vice versa). You can usually identify cross-harbor taxis by the red, plastic "No service" sign on their dashboards; you'll find cross-harbor taxi ranks at the Star Ferry terminal and elsewhere around town. Note that it's sometimes hard to find a taxi around 4 pm, when the drivers switch shifts.
Taxis operating in urban Hong Kong are red. Fares for red taxis start at HK$20 for the first 2 km (1½ mile), then HK$1.50 for each.2 km (.1 mile) or minute of waiting time (so fares add up fast in bumper-to-bumper traffic). After the fare reaches HK$72.5, you're charged HK$1 for each.2 km or minute of waiting time.
There's a surcharge of HK$5 for each piece of luggage you put in the trunk. The Cross-Harbour Tunnel, Eastern Harbour Crossing, and Western Harbour Crossing all incur surcharges of the toll plus HK$10 or HK$15 return toll. The surcharge for crossing the Tsing Ma Bridge over to Lantau is HK$30. Passengers must pay the toll amount for other tunnels and roads.
In the New Territories taxis are green; on Lantau they're blue. Fares are lower than in urban areas, but while red urban taxis may travel into rural zones, rural green and blue taxis can't cross into urban zones.
Passengers are required by law to wear a seat belt when available. Most locals don't tip; however, if you round up the fare by a few Hong Kong dollars you're sure to earn yourself a winning smile from your underpaid and overworked driver. Taxis are usually reliable, but if you have a problem, note the taxi's license number, which is usually on the dashboard, and call the Transport Complaints Unit. If you've left an item behind in your taxi, you can call the Road Co-op Lost Property hotline.
In urban areas it's as easy and safe to hail a cab on the street as it is to call one. There are hundreds of taxi companies, so it's usually best to get your hotel or restaurant to call a company it works with. Note that there's a HK$5 surcharge for phone bookings.
Hong Kong Kowloon Taxi & Lorry Owners Association Ltd. (2572–0097.)
Kowloon Taxi Owners Association (red taxi booking) (2760–0411.)
Transport Complaints Unit (2889–9999.)
Lost Property on Taxis Hotline (24 hours) (1872–920.)
Road Co-op Lost Property (1872–920.)
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