Octopus card is the most popular electronic payment system in Hong Kong. It can be used in a lot of daily life situations: taking transportation such as airport express, metro (MTR), tram, bus and minibus; casual dining like fast food shops, i.e. Starbucks, 7-11; the famous tourist attractions, for example, The Peak Tram and Star Ferry. Due to its convenience, we recommend everyone to get an Octopus card upon your arrival.
The name of the Octopus card entails an interesting meaning behind and it is closely related to the Chinese culture:
- Octopus has eight tentacles; this coincides with the number eight in the Chinese name (八達通). In the meanwhile, number night implies the cardinal and ordinal directions and four-character idiom (四通八達) which is loosely interpreted as “reachable in all directions”.
- In addition, number eight is considered as a lucky number in Chinese culture and the phase (八達) is easily associated with another phase (發達) in Cantonese that means “getting wealthy”. Therefore, the logo of the Octopus card features a Möbius strip in the shape of an infinity symbol, or you could say in the shape of number eight.
As a result, you can use the Octopus Card whenever you see these infinity symbols scanner at any store! Or you can just ask the cashier if they take Octopus card at any time.
A standard Octopus card is available for purchase at Customer Service Center in all the MTR stations, except Racecourse station. There are the MTR Customer Service Centers at the Hong Kong International Airport (if you arrive by air), Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau Stations (if you arrive by land), Sheung Wan and Tsim Sha Tsui Stations (if you arrive by sea). Please be reminded not to buy the pre-paid Octopus card in the convenience store or the tourist (1-day or 3-days) Octopus card. They charge more than you need to pay. Be a smart tourist, don’t fall into the tourist trap!
In terms of price, an adult Octopus card costs HK$150, including HK$50 deposit and $100 initial stored value while the child and elder ones both cost HK$70 with HK$50 deposit and HK$20 initial stored value. The child whose age 3-11 and elder whose age over 65 are eligible to buy the child and elder Octopus cards respectively. Please note that there is a concessionary fare of HK$2 per trip (i.e. MTR, buses, ferries and green minibuses) for all the elder Octopus card holders. It can save you a lot of money in the transportation.
Since the Octopus card is refundable, the HK$50 deposit together with the remaining value stored in the Octopus card will be returned to the guests once the Octopus card is refunded at any Customer Service Center in the MTR station. Please note a handling fee of HK$11 will be charged when the refund of Octopus card is made within 90 days from the date of issue.
Despite of the handling fee, it is still a smart move to buy the Octopus card as the fare of a single ride ticket is higher than that paid by the Octopus card. The difference varies depending on the destination. It can be up to HK$9 when travelling to the sub-urban areas in Hong Kong. Moreover, as there is no change on the other public transportations like bus and tram, it would be more convenient to travel around Hong Kong with the Octopus card. The benefits of purchasing an Octopus Card definitely outweigh the $11 handling fee.
Enjoy Hong Kong with a heady Octopus card!
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