Heading to Hong Kong? Buy an Octopus card!

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With its efficient and effective public transport system and compact city size, getting around Hong Kong is incredibly easy. However, it’s made even easier with the addition of the Octopus travel card. So, before heading out to Disneyland and Tsim Sha Tsui, grab your Octopus card and enjoy effortless travel in this vibrant city!

What is an Octopus card?

An Octopus card is a contactless value card used on public transport in Hong Kong. It’s an alternative payment method to cash, and provides a fast, simple and secure way to pay whilst travelling – eliminating the need for pockets full of loose change. Today, there are more than 34.8 million Octopus cards in circulation, with 99 per cent of people in Hong Kong using them for travel, according to the official site.

Where can I use my Octopus card?

As such a widely used payment option, Octopus cards can be used on trams, subways, buses, Mass Transit Railway (MSR) and local ferries. It’s even an accepted method of payment in taxis too!
However, it’s not just public transport that takes Octopus cards as payment. Nowadays, Octopus cards can be used to pay at restaurants, vending machines, stores, supermarkets and parking garages, making it even more convenient to carry an Octopus card.

Which Octopus card do I need?

There are two main types of Octopus card:

  • On-loan: This option is lent to the user by Octopus Card Limited. It requires a refundable deposit of HK$50 (AU$8.56) and includes stored credit (the amount varies subject to card type).
  • Sold: As the name suggests, this option is ‘sold’ to a person, rather than loaned. These cards feature unique designs, making them more desirable. For this reason, there is no usable value when you buy a sold Octopus card, it holds no deposit and cannot be refunded unless value is added to it.

For visitors to Hong Kong, it’s better to opt for the standard on-loan option, unless you don’t mind not receiving a refund and would prefer a momento to take home.

How to use and top up your Octopus card

Using an Octopus card couldn’t be easier. For use on public transport, simply tap your card on one of the designated Octopus readers until a beeping sound is made. This will indicate the transaction is complete, and the reader will show your remaining value on the screen. Once complete, remove your card and hop on your bus or train. At departure, tap off until your hear the beep!

Run out of credit? Topping up your Octopus card is easy. This can be completed at various merchants such as 7-Eleven, public transport stations, McDonalds and Starbucks – just to name a few.

When topping up, a maximum of HK$1,000 (AU$171.26) can be added.

Where can I buy an Octopus card?

Upon arrival to Hong Kong, you can purchase your Octopus card at the airport. This makes it incredibly convenient to get from A to B right from the get-go. However, they can also be purchased at MTR customer counters and 7-Elevens around the city.

How much does an Octopus card cost?

Depending on age, costs for standard on-loan Octopus cards vary. For an adult under 65, the total cost comes to HK$150 (AU$25.68). This includes the HK$50 desposit and HK$100 stored value.

Note: Information current as of 17th July, 2018.


TID is an Australian online travel insurance company.


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