Enhanced Guide to Navigating Hong Kong with the Octopus Card

We had an awesome time exploring Hong Kong and highly recommend it as a WanderLawyer location.
Enhanced Guide To Navigating Hong Kong With The Octopus Card

We had an awesome time exploring Hong Kong and highly recommend it as a WanderLawyer location. We quickly learned though, that it’s absolutely necessary to have an Octopus Card when you’re in Hong Kong. 

Exploring the dynamic city of Hong Kong is remarkably streamlined thanks to its highly efficient public transportation system, and at the core of this system lies the versatile Octopus Card. This contactless, rechargeable smart card is not just a travel companion but a key to experiencing Hong Kong like a true local.

What is an Octopus Card? 

An Octopus Card is a reusable, contactless stored value smart card used primarily for electronic payment in public transportation and retail outlets in Hong Kong. It’s also accepted at almost every restaurant. Introduced in September 1997, the Octopus Card was one of the world’s earliest and most successful implementations of a contactless smart card system.

Why its necessary

Transportation and dining. Most restaurants do not accept American credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard. To pay for food, you can use cash, or you can use your Octopus Card. Think of it as a reloadable debit card. As for transit, its quick and easy to tap your Octopus Card on the subway, buses, and ferries. Otherwise, you will be stuck having to use cash for one-time use paper tickets. 

Acquiring and Utilizing the Octopus Card

Where to Get One:

  • Airport: Start your journey right at the Hong Kong International Airport, where you can purchase an Octopus Card at the Airport Express Customer Service Counter.
  • MTR Stations: Available at any MTR (Mass Transit Railway) Customer Service Centre.
  • Convenience Stores: Pick one up at 7-Eleven or Circle K outlets across the city.
  • Online: Order in advance online, for those who like to be prepared before traveling.

Usability Beyond Transportation:

  • Public Transport: Valid on MTR, buses, trams, ferries, and the Peak Tram.
  • Retail and Dining: Accepted at numerous retail outlets, restaurants, and vending machines. 
  • Leisure and Attractions: Use it at various tourist attractions, public pools, and more.

Refilling Your Octopus Card: Options and Preferences

Refilling your Octopus Card is a straightforward process, with multiple convenient options available:

Refill Options:

  • MTR Stations: Top-up machines, readily available at all MTR stations.
  • Convenience Stores: Quick top-up services at 7-Eleven and Circle K.
  • Banks: Selected banks like HSBC and Hang Seng Bank offer ATM reloading services.
  • Online: Those with a Hong Kong bank account can top-up via certain banking apps.

Payment Methods for Top-Up:

  • Cash: Most top-up points accept cash, which is handy for travelers who prefer to carry physical currency.
  • Credit Cards: Certain top-up locations, particularly MTR stations and select convenience stores, accept credit cards.
  • Bank Cards: At ATMs of participating banks, you can use your bank card to reload your Octopus Card.

Tips for Seamless Usage:

  • Tourist Versions: Special tourist Octopus Cards might offer travel passes and discounts.
  • Refundable Deposit: The card includes a refundable deposit, returned with any remaining balance upon card return.
  • Mobile Integration: Link your Octopus Card to a mobile payment system for even more convenience.

Now that you know how important it is to have an Octopus Card, you’re all set to navigate the bustling streets and scenic routes of Hong Kong with ease. 


Anthony Shallat

Anthony Shallat

Anthony Shallat is a digital nomad attorney and WanderLawyer co-founder. Anthony believes travel unlocks potential and opens minds. He’s been wandering and lawyering since 2014.