Driving Guide

Hong Kong Driving Guide

Hong Kong is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit.

2023-12-21 · 9min read

Ever thought of going on an exciting journey through the bustling streets of Hong Kong? Taking the wheel in this dynamic city sheds light on the captivating blend of Eastern and Western influences, offering an intimate glimpse into its unique culture.

Visualize navigating amidst towering skyscrapers, historical landmarks, and the stunning coastline, enjoying the liberty to uncover Hong Kong's hidden treasures at your convenience.

Don't let the idea of driving in a foreign city deter you, especially if you're visiting for the first time. This guide will equip you with everything you need to drive in Hong Kong confidently.

How Can This Guide Help You?

Many people would like to visit Hong Kong someday, especially those who fancy renting a car in Hong Kong for their road trip. This driving guide will help you find your way around the rules, regulations, and laws that determine the safety of drivers and the public in Hong Kong.

It will explain why you need an International Driving Permit (IDP), how to get the IDP before or during your visit to Hong Kong, and how an IDP will help you after you have secured your rental vehicle and are using it already.

Let's Take a Closer Look at Hong Kong

Hong Kong has become one of the most popular tourist spots worldwide, especially in Asia. For many years, families have brought their children, relatives, and close friends to Hong Kong for rest and recreation.

Geographic Location

Hong Kong might be better known as the “Hong Kong Special Administrative Region'' or simply HKSAR. HKSAR comprises a group of smaller islands, including Hong Kong Island and Stonecutters Island, portions of the southern Kowloon Peninsula, and the so-called New Territories. Hong Kong is surrounded on three sides by the South China Sea. Much of the HKSAR is reclaimed land.

Languages Spoken

Ideally, you should use one of the languages spoken in HKSAR when you inquire about how to get a driving license in Hong Kong. This means either the Cantonese version of Chinese or English. There are residents of Hong Kong who speak Mandarin Chinese as well.

Land Area

Hong Kong is characterized by a combination of flat terrains and mountainous areas with very steep slopes. The region covers a land area of 1,106 km2 and it is divided into 18 administrative regions. These include:

Hong Kong Island

  • Central and Western
  • Eastern
  • Southern
  • Wan Chai


  • Kowloon City
  • Kwun Tong
  • Sham Shui Po
  • Wong Tai Sin
  • Yau Tsim Mong

New Territories

  • Islands
  • Kwai Tsing
  • North
  • Sai Kung
  • Sha Tin
  • Tai Po
  • Tsuen Wan
  • Tuen Mun
  • Yuen Long


Hong Kong was initially under the Qin Dynasty in the 3rd century BC. The British took control in the mid-19th century through the First Opium War. Despite being a major British colony during World War II, Hong Kong was returned to Chinese rule after the lease expired. In 1984, the Sino-British Joint Declaration was ratified, establishing the "one country, two systems" framework until 2047, shared by China and the U.K.


Hong Kong follows a Limited Democracy type of government. The Chief of State is the President of China, while the Head of Government is the Chief Executive. The Chief Executive is elected by the 1,200 members of the Electoral College, and he/she appoints the Judicial Head.

The legislative body comprises 60 members, 35 of whom are elected by the public, and the rest of the 25 are elected through a closed-list representation system.


With a diverse range of attractions, including iconic landmarks like Victoria Peak, the bustling street markets of Mong Kok, and the picturesque Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong attracts millions of visitors annually. The city is a culinary paradise, offering a delectable array of Cantonese, international, and street food options.

International Driving Permit FAQs

Planning to visit Hong Kong soon? Enhance your experience by renting a car, buying a map, and exploring the region at your own pace. Renting a car offers privacy and immerses you in the local culture. Remember, you'll need an International Driving Permit to drive legally in Hong Kong. Enjoy your trip to HKSAR!

Do I Need an IDP to Drive in Hong Kong?

You can use your International Driving Permit in Hong Kong when renting a car. Carry your native driver's passport and valid overseas driving license with the IDP. It complements but doesn't replace your home country's license.

When asked for your driver's license, show the IDP for easy verification. You can also provide your country's valid license if requested. There should be no issues as the information in the IDP is based on your native license. The traffic enforcer may request your passport as you drive in Hong Kong with a foreign license.

Is a Local Driver’s License Valid in Hong Kong?

Non-Hong Kong residents driving in Hong Kong need an IDP, not to be confused with an International Driver's License. Present the IDP, valid driver's license, and passport when requested. A full driving license is required, not a learner's license. IDP is valid in HKSAR for up to 12 months.

For longer stays, apply for a Hong Kong driving license. Renewal can be done online. If needed, present IDP, driver's license, and passport to Chinese officials.

Who Can Apply for an IDP?

Anyone with a valid driver's license can apply for an IDP. Approval depends on bilateral agreements between your home country and the destination country. Hong Kong residents can also apply. IDPs are valid for one, two, or three years.

What if I Lose My IDP While Driving in Hong Kong?

If you misplace or lose your IDP from the International Drivers Association (IDA) while using a rented vehicle in HK SAR, you have two options: obtain a driving license in Hong Kong or contact IDA customer service for a replacement IDP.

Luckily, IDA replaces lost IDPs at no extra charge - you only pay for shipping. Contact IDA customer service with your name and IDP number to receive the payment link. Once the shipping cost is paid, expect the replacement IDP to arrive within 24 hours.

Renting a Car in Hong Kong

Renting a car in Hong Kong provides travelers with the flexibility to explore the vibrant city and its surrounding areas at their own pace.

Car Rental Companies

You can go online to rent a car in Hong Kong. There are many websites where you can inquire about car rentals for the HKSAR territory. Some well-known car rental companies you may contact are:

  • Alamo Rent A Car
  • Thrifty Car Rental
  • National Car Rentals
  • Budget Car Rentals
  • Avis Car Rentals
  • Fox Car Rentals
  • Enterprise Car Rentals
  • Dollar Rent A Car
  • Payless Car Rentals
  • Hertz Car Rentals

Documents Required

You'll need a valid passport and driver's license from your home country to rent a car. It's recommended to have your International Driving Permit (IDP) on hand as well. Check the car rental agency's website for accepted payment methods, including debit or credit cards. Additional requirements, like presenting more IDs, may apply. Travelers with valid documents can request airport pickup for their rental car.

Vehicle Types

SUVs are a top choice among rental companies in Hong Kong, with "Economy" being the most popular category. Various rental websites aid customers by offering a range of vehicle choices at affordable prices.

Here are commonly sought-after rental types:

  • Mini, standard, midsize, full-size, and compact car rental
  • Convertible, sports car, and luxury car rental
  • Minivan, pickup, and passenger van rental
  • Premium car rental

When choosing a rental, consider the vehicle's driving range, which indicates the distance it can cover per full tank. This helps estimate fuel needs and costs.

Car Rental Cost

Car rental in Hong Kong averages around $121 per day, $848 per week, and $3632 per month. Prices vary with the car model.

Common cost contributors include:

  • Sales taxes/value-added tax
  • Airport and drop-off charges
  • Various insurance policies (Collision Damage Waiver, Personal Accident, Personal Effects, Additional Liability)
  • Fuel charges
  • Early return fee
  • Licensing fee
  • “Peak Season” surcharges
  • Surcharges for additional driver and “extras” (GPS, roof racks, booster seats)
  • “Frequent Flier” charges

Ensure to review the rental agreement to understand potential "hidden fees".

Age Requirements

Most car rental companies in Hong Kong allow visitors at least 21 years old to rent a car. However, some may charge a "young driver's fee" for those under 25. If you're young and inexperienced, consider enrolling in a driving school in Hong Kong to improve your skills.

Drivers above 25 can easily renew their driving license in Hong Kong. For drivers aged 70 and above, it's advisable to check with the Hong Kong Transport Department for any required medical exams for car rental.

Car Insurance Cost

The cost of car insurance depends on the vehicle type, age, driving experience, and coverage. Rental companies must secure minimum insurance before renting vehicles. Optional insurance may be required based on company policy. Additional coverage is paid daily if required.

Here is an example of car insurance prices from Rental Cover:

  • Super Collision Damage Waiver: HK$233-HK$350/day
  • Roadside Assistance Cover: HK$78-HK$116/day
  • Personal Accident Insurance: HK$78-116/day

Car Insurance Policy

In Hong Kong, the minimum car insurance policy is third-party coverage. It's a legal requirement for all car owners to have at least HK$100 million for death or injuries and HK$2 million for property damage. Most car insurance in Hong Kong only covers local travel.

If you drive outside of Hong Kong, your insurance won't cover you or your vehicle, including rented cars. Check your international travel insurance policy to see if it covers car rentals in Hong Kong.

Road Rules in Hong Kong

Mainland China has its own road rules separate from Hong Kong due to its status as a Special Administrative Region under the "one country, two systems" rule.

Important Regulations

You are expected to search for tips from the HKSAR Transportation Department on how to get a driving license in Hong Kong online. Travelers not skilled in Chinese may inquire with the Transportation Department for an accredited English driving school in Hong Kong. Don’t forget to ask about the driving license fee for Hong Kong as well.


Driving intoxicated with alcohol or drugs is considered to be a criminal offense in Hong Kong. The prescribed maximum alcohol limits are:

  • 22 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath
  • 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100ml of blood
  • 67 milligrams of alcohol per 100ml of urine

If you get caught drunk driving, you can be charged up to a maximum fine of HK$25,000 and imprisonment for three (3) years. However, the specific penalties hinge on the degree to which an individual surpasses the acceptable blood alcohol limit.

Seatbelt Laws

Children are safer in the rear passenger seats of a car. In a collision, sitting in the front or between the driver and the front passenger is risky. It's crucial to follow seat belt guidelines for child passengers in Hong Kong, avoiding positions in the front or between the driver and front passenger, which pose higher risks.

For teenagers weighing over 80 pounds, regular seat belts are appropriate. Responsible seat belt usage is imperative for adults while driving, and pregnant women are advised to use both shoulder and lap belts for enhanced safety.

Parking Laws

There are plenty of designated parking areas in Hong Kong. Directional signs will usually guide you to them. Some parking spaces are designed to accommodate specific types of vehicles. Thus, you shouldn’t park in areas meant for other vehicle types.

In addition, 24-hour parking is not allowed in public parking spaces. This is monitored thoroughly because, apart from CCTVs, you’d have to register at a parking meter upon parking.

Probationary Driving License Scheme

For first-time tourist drivers in Hong Kong, understanding and complying with the probationary driving license scheme is essential. Here's a breakdown of the key points:

1. Initial Check: Determine if you fall under the probationary driving license scheme.

2. Application Process: If required, apply for a probationary driving license, a valuable
step for acclimating to driving in Hong Kong.

3. Displaying the "P" Plate: Affix a prominent "P" plate on the left-hand side of the
windshield and the back windscreen.

4. Driving Restrictions: Avoid using the "offside" lane on expressways with three or
more lanes during the first 12 months.

5. Probationary Period: Drive under probationary conditions for 12 months to enhance
safety and reduce the likelihood of accidents.

6. Transition to Experienced Driver: After 12 months, gain the designation of an
"experienced" driver, allowing for reduced supervision.

7. Extension for Offenses: Any road driving offense within the initial 12 months extends
the probationary period by an additional six months.

8. Application for Full License: Successfully completing the probationary driving period
allows you to apply for a full driver's license.

9. Vehicle and Road Test: If driving your own car, ensure it passes the road test, and
bring a valid vehicle license for driving in the city.

This structured approach ensures a gradual and safe progression toward independent driving in Hong Kong.

Speed Limits

When driving in Hong Kong, the official speed measurement is in kilometers per hour (Kph). However, it's worth noting that some sources provide miles per hour (Mph) equivalents for reference.

In the probationary driving license scheme, novice drivers must adhere to a maximum speed limit of 70 km/h, even on roads where a higher limit is typically allowed (e.g., the standard limit for regular Hong Kong roads is 50 km/h).

Major roads like expressways permit a speed limit of up to 110 km/h for experienced drivers. If you feel uncertain about driving competently under these regulations, consider enrolling in a reputable driving school in Hong Kong. Additionally, be sure to check the driving license fee in Hong Kong, as this is a necessary cost associated with obtaining a license.

Driving Directions

To ensure smooth navigation in Hong Kong, consider requesting a car with GPS from the car rental company. In case of a GPS signal loss, having a printed map as a backup is handy. Additionally, note that there are border checkpoints due to pandemic restrictions. If you need directions, border officials can assist you. Remember to present your IDP, valid driver’s license, and passport as proof of legitimacy.

Traffic Road Signs

Motorists in Hong Kong are expected to be aware of 104 traffic signs, with particular attention to commonly encountered ones. For a comprehensive understanding of traffic signs, especially those with Chinese characters, consider reviewing the HKSAR Traffic Department website. It's essential to familiarize yourself with potential penalties for disregarding traffic signs to ensure a safe and compliant driving experience.

Right of Way

In adherence to British influence, driving in Hong Kong follows the left side of the road. When entering the main road from a side road, the entering vehicle needs to yield to traffic on the main road.

Identifying the main road may sometimes require noting relevant traffic signs in the vicinity. Even if the area displays "Stop" or "Give Way" signs with no apparent traffic, it is crucial to exercise caution, reduce speed, and come to a complete stop before proceeding.

To drive a rental in Hong Kong, be at least 18. Beginners need a learner's license, with driving school costs starting around $14,500. Physical fitness is a must, and those 70 or older have special requirements, including a medical exam.

For stays over 12 months, renew your license without needing an IDP. Choose certified driving schools, complete a minimum of 30 hours of training, and take the driving test. Access the Road Users' Code and license information on the Transport Department website.

Laws on Overtaking

Overtaking is allowed by driving to the right unless a double white line is present, prohibiting entry into the opposite lane. In the event of another vehicle attempting to overtake you, maintain your lane at normal speed until the overtaking vehicle has safely passed.

Driving Side

In Hong Kong, drivers travel on the left side of the road and may use the right lane to overtake. For those still learning to drive in the region, it's advisable to refrain from overtaking until more confident. Tourists accustomed to right-side driving and left-hand drive vehicles should take time to acclimate to the left-side driving norms in Hong Kong.

Other Road Rules

Safety should be your main concern when driving in Hong Kong. To stay safe, always practice caution when driving your rented vehicle. To summarize:

  • Three options for gaining permission to drive in Hong Kong: apply for a full driving license, a temporary driving license, or an International Driving Permit (IDP).
  • Locals follow the probationary driving license scheme to reduce accidents involving new drivers.
  • Check if the probationary driving license scheme applies to rental car drivers during your visit.
  • Novice drivers in Hong Kong must drive under controlled conditions longer before obtaining a full driver's license.
  • If your visit extends beyond 12 months, learn how to apply for a driving license in Hong Kong.
  • Consider enrolling in a driving school in Hong Kong if you don't know how to drive yet.
  • English driving schools in Hong Kong are available if needed.

Driving Etiquette in Hong Kong

For new drivers in Hong Kong, it's crucial to extend courtesy to any police official or traffic enforcer who may signal you. It's understandable that, as a non-resident or someone from mainland China, there might be initial caution from both sides. Building trust in a foreign place like Hong Kong is a shared consideration.

Car Breakdown

In the event of a breakdown with your rented vehicle in the HKSAR, prioritize safety with these steps:

Activate Safety Measures:

  • Turn on hazard lights immediately.
  • Steer the car to the roadside.

Contact the Car Rental Company:

Inform the car rental company for assistance.

Safe Exit:

  • Exit the vehicle from the left-hand side.
  • Move to a safer area.

Pet Safety:

  • If traveling with pets, leave them inside with partially open windows.

Emergency Services:

  • Call emergency services at (999) and provide your location.

Stay Inside:

  • Remain inside the vehicle with seatbelts on while waiting.

Towing and Insurance:

  • If necessary, towing service should be covered by car insurance.

Police Stops

When pulled over by a police officer while driving a rented car in Hong Kong, maintain composure and place your hands on the steering wheel. If you understand Chinese, respond to the officer's questions; if not, ask if they speak English. Keep your International Driving Permit (IDP), passport, and driving license readily accessible in the glove compartment.

Present these documents, along with the car registration certificate if requested. Hong Kong visitors have the option to take a driving test for a temporary or full driver's license instead of relying on an IDP.

Asking Directions

Before driving in Hong Kong, having an up-to-date English map of HKSAR is crucial. Ensure the map is in English if you're unfamiliar with Chinese. Despite preparation, you might need to ask bystanders for directions.

If uncertain, seek assistance from government office staff in the area and familiarize yourself with the route on the map based on their guidance. To enhance navigation, consider requesting a rental car with an English GPS from the car rental company in advance.


As long as your identification and rental car documents are intact, you will probably not encounter any problems and will be allowed to pass through checkpoints.

Driving Conditions in Hong Kong

For those new to driving in Hong Kong, it's not uncommon to encounter situations or incidents while operating a rented vehicle. Here's some advice to keep in mind for a continued pleasant road trip in Hong Kong.

Accident Statistics

In the year 2021, there were 17,831 road traffic incidents resulting in personal injuries, with 1,824 categorized as serious and 94 as fatal. The combined count of fatal and serious road traffic accidents showed a 4.5 percent decrease compared to the figures from 2020.

Common Vehicles

Hong Kong frequently experiences traffic congestion, especially during rush hours, owing to a high volume of vehicles. However, roads beyond the city limits generally offer more space and less traffic.

In the local vehicle market, there is a preference for new or well-maintained secondhand vehicles, with the latter being a more budget-friendly option.

Typical vehicles on Hong Kong roads include:

  • Light buses
  • Private and non-franchised buses
  • Special purpose vehicles
  • Light, medium, and heavy goods vehicles
  • Government vehicles
  • Taxis
  • Motorcycles
  • Tricycles
  • Private cars

Toll Roads

Currently, Hong Kong has 16 toll road tunnels, with 6 being toll-free. 5 toll roads have flat rates, while others vary based on vehicle type. Toll fees for private cars range from HK$0 to over HK$75. The Western Harbour Crossing and Tai Lam Tunnel have the highest toll fees. For a complete list of toll road tunnels and fees, visit the Transport Department's website.

Road Situations

Due to Hong Kong's high population density, the roads experience heavy traffic due to the large number of vehicles. The government developed a high-quality mass transport system to address this congestion, including the 262.2-kilometer MTR railways.

The challenging topography of Hong Kong necessitates continuous improvement of the road network. While road congestion occurs as more people drive, minor roads are relatively traffic-free. In the hilly areas, you may encounter winding mountaintop drives.

Driving Culture

Distracted driving is a significant factor in numerous accidents, with a notable impact on elderly pedestrians, and hit-and-run incidents further contribute to this issue. Pedestrian inattentiveness is also a common contributing factor.

The Hong Kong government takes road safety seriously. Drink driving carries a penalty of up to $25,000 (HKD), three years imprisonment, ten driving offense points, and a driving ban of six months to five years.

The Top Destinations in Hong Kong

Going on a road trip in Hong Kong is a fantastic way to explore the city, especially if you're driving a private rental vehicle. While some roads may pose challenges due to steep inclines or narrow pathways, the experience of discovering the top tourist spots in Hong Kong can be both thrilling and enjoyable.

Victoria Harbour

Victoria Harbour is a must-visit spot. Take a ride on the iconic Star Ferry, in operation since 1880. Enjoy the hair-raising jaunt as the crew navigates through passing ships. For a small fee, witness the evening splendor of Hong Kong's skyline from the Star Ferry Dock benches on the Kowloon Peninsula.

Victoria Peak

Visit Victoria Peak, also known as The Peak, for breathtaking nighttime views of Hong Kong's skyline. Take a tram from Hong Kong Park to the top and be mesmerized by the city lights!

Big Buddha

On Lantau Island, the "Big Buddha" (Tian Tan Buddha) attracts many visitors. Located above Po Lin Monastery, it is easily accessible by cable car. Lantau Island, within Hong Kong's New Territories, offers tranquility and fresh air for those seeking a peaceful retreat.

Ngong Ping 360

Explore Ngong Ping 360, an aerial cable car experience providing stunning panoramic views of Lantau Island and the South China Sea. The journey to Ngong Ping Village allows you to witness the beauty of the landscape from a unique vantage point.

Ocean Park

Ocean Park, a popular marine-themed amusement park, offers an exciting road trip destination. Located on the southern part of Hong Kong Island, it combines thrilling rides with marine life exhibits, providing a diverse and entertaining experience for visitors of all ages.

Embrace the Wonders of Hong Kong with an IDP

Ready to embark on your unforgettable Hong Kong driving adventure? Arm yourself with an International Driver's Permit from our website. It's your passport to a smooth, confident driving journey in this vibrant city.

Don't delay your adventure; start your application now! Secure your International Driving Permit here.


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