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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

2021-08-05 · 9min read

Hong Kong is one of the most well-known places in Asia due to its prominence as a financial services hub and popular vacation spot for tourists from around the world. There is much to experience in Hong Kong, whether you are a first-time visitor or a business person on a regular visit, but especially if you will be driving in Hong Kong.

Though, as of this writing, there is some political instability in Hong Kong due to street protests by residents and citizens, eventually, tourists may travel freely throughout Hong Kong when the political situation has stabilized.

How Can This Guide Help You?

Many people would like to visit Hong Kong someday, especially those who fancy renting a car 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 will 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.

General Information

Hong Kong has become one of the most popular tourist spots throughout the world and especially in Asia. For many years, families have been bringing their children, relatives, and close friends to Hong Kong for some rest and recreation. Driving in Hong Kong is one way you and your companions can immerse yourselves fully in the culture of the territory. So you must learn how to get a driving license in Hong Kong as soon as possible to rent a car for your travels.

Geographic Location

Hong Kong might be better known as the “Hong Kong Special Administrative Region'' or simply HKSAR. HKSAR is actually composed of 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 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 do speak Mandarin Chinese as well. However, due to the current political situation in Hong Kong, it is best to use English or Cantonese Chinese only as some protesters don’t like Mandarin Chinese from the mainland.

Land Area

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

Hong Kong Island

  • Central and Western
  • Eastern
  • Southern
  • Wan Chai

Kowloon

  • 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

History

Hong Kong first fell under the Qin Dynasty during the 3rd century BC, until the British seized the region during the mid-19th century via the First Opium War. During the Second World War, Hong Kong remained the last major colony of the British forces. Because Hong Kong was only leased to the British during the 19th century, the expiry of the lease supposedly returned Hong Kong under Chinese rule. However, in 1984, Great Britain and China ratified the Sino-British Joint Declaration which will guide the socio-economic system of Hong Kong until 2047. This declaration basically stipulates the “one country, two systems” of the country wherein the two-systems are shared between China and the U.K.

Government

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. For the legislative body, it is composed of a total of 60 members, 35 of which are elected by the public, and the rest of the 25 are elected through a closed-list representation system.

Tourism

Are there special visas needed when driving in Hong Kong? Well, tourists are required to have a Hong Kong Visa even if their stay is short and purely for tourism purposes. Travelers who are only using Hong Kong as a jump-off point to another country will also have to present this Visa.

IDP FAQs

If you are planning to visit Hong Kong sometime soon, you can get a better visitor experience by renting a car, buying a map of Hong Kong, and driving around the region. This will help immerse you in the local culture at your own pace. It is also more private to rent a car for your visit to HK SAR.

However, you will need an IDP or international driver’s permit if you intend to rent a car in Hong Kong. The IDP is a document that translates important information about the driver. This way, you will be legally allowed to drive around the HKSAR freely at your leisure.

When you pay for your IDP, you can expect to get an International Driver’s License card valid for your specified length of use. The IDP also comes with a booklet printed in 12 languages, which translates details of your driver’s license issued by your government. This is the most convenient way of driving in Hong Kong with a foreign license.

Do I Need an IDP to Drive in Hong Kong?

Yes, you may use your IDP in Hong Kong when you rent a car to get around. Just be sure you have your native driver’s license and passport with you at all times. When you present your IDP, it should be accompanied by your valid overseas driving licence and your passport.

An IDP does not replace your home country’s driver’s license. Rather, it will complement your driver’s license. When a person in authority, such as a traffic enforcer, asks for your driver’s license, you may present your IDP. This way, the traffic enforcer can easily read through your driver’s license information without fear of miscommunication.

If the traffic enforcer asks for your country’s valid driver’s license, you can present that as well. There shouldn’t be a problem considering the IDP is based on your native driver’s license. The traffic enforcer may also ask you for your passport since you are driving in Hong Kong with a foreign license.

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

Anyone who is not a resident of Hong Kong but wants to legally drive around Hong Kong in a rented vehicle will need an IDP. The IDP should not be confused with an International Driver’s License or IDL. The IDP or International Driver’s Permit is supposed to be presented along with your valid driver’s license issued by your home country and your passport when a Hong Kong official, such as a traffic enforcer, asks for these. The place of issue of a full driving licence must be shown. Note that a learner's driving licence is not valid to get an IDP.

The HKSAR government does permit individuals who are traveling from other countries to rely on their IDP for travel within the HKSAR territory. However, these travelers who have an IDP have to clarify with the HKSAR government that they are going to be residing in the territory for a period not exceeding 12 months.

If you are going to be staying beyond 12 months, you must learn how to apply for a driving license in Hong Kong. It is possible to process the renewal of a driving license in Hong Kong online as well if you are currently using a full driving license. If you are using an IDP, be sure to present this along with your valid driver’s license and passport to any Chinese official who needs to examine it.

Who Can Apply for an IDP?

Anyone who has a valid driver’s license from his home country may apply for an IDP. Your application will be approved if your home country has a continuing bilateral agreement and treaty with the country where you will be driving a rented vehicle. A resident of Hong Kong may also apply for an IDP to be able to drive a rented vehicle in other countries. The IDP will remain valid for a specific number of years, depending on the duration of the IDP that you applied for. This means the IDP may be valid for one, two, or three years. This will influence how much you have to pay for your IDP.

If you already have a valid driver’s license from your home country, you may apply for the IDP already. The IDP is available to anyone, regardless of citizenship, around the world. You only need to apply to start the process. You don't need to set a driving test appointment to get an IDP.

Renting a Car in Hong Kong

There are some advantages to renting a car to tour Hong Kong. For one thing, you won’t be exposed to places, things, or people that might be carriers of the Covid-19 virus. You can just keep your windows up and the air-conditioning on so that you will be safe within the vehicle. Consider your rented vehicle as your personal “clean zone” in this pandemic.

There are also some sights that you might prefer visiting via a rented vehicle instead of taking mass transport. If you want to stop to buy souvenirs from roadside vendors or perhaps take pictures in front of scenic locations, that is easily done if you are the one driving the car. It is also easier to bring along friends and family on a road trip if you simply rent a vehicle.

Car Rental Companies

You can go online if you want 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

If you want to rent a car, you will need to have your passport and valid driving licence from your home country. It is also best to be ready with your IDP when you present these documents. You may want to pay with either a debit card or a credit card but check with the website of the car rental agency first to see what they accept as a mode of payment.

There may also be additional requirements, such as presenting more IDs. Travelers who have valid documents may request for the rental car to be available upon the arrival of the traveler at the airport.

Vehicle Types

Sport utility vehicles (also called SUVs) are quite popular among car rental companies lately. A lot depends on the price you are willing to pay to rent a car. It is not surprising to find car rental websites that emphasize “cheap car rentals” in their advertising. The most popular car rental category is “Economy.” Some Hong Kong car rental websites are actually “middlemen” who gather information about a lot of car rental websites so that it is more convenient for someone searching for Hong Kong car rental.

Here are popular terms you can use to search for the right car rental type:

  • Mini car rental
  • Standard car rental
  • Convertible car rental
  • Full-Size car rental
  • Minivan car rental
  • Sportscar car rental
  • Midsize car rental
  • Premium car rental
  • Compact car rental
  • Pickup car rental
  • Passenger van rental
  • Luxury car rental

When looking for the right rental car, always inquire about the vehicle’s driving range in Hong Kong. This indicates how far your car can go in terms of distance covered per full tank of fuel. This way, you will be able to estimate how much fuel to load into the car and how much should be replenished before you return it to the rental car company.

Car Rental Cost

The average cost of car rental in Hong Kong is computed on a per-day basis. On average, you may pay around $121 per day to rent a car. If you use that car for a week, you may pay $848, while using it for a month will cost you $3632. The kind of car you request will also influence the fee coverage. Some car rental companies offer more choices when it comes to the type of car you can rent from them.

Here are some of the common elements that may contribute to the total car rental fee you have to pay:

  • Sales taxes/value-added tax
  • Airport charges (usually charged for airport pickup of the rental vehicle)
  • Insurance (i.e., Collision Damage Waiver/Loss Damage Waiver)
  • Personal Accident Insurance
  • Personal Effects Coverage
  • Additional Liability Insurance
  • Fuel charges (car rental company supplies full tank of fuel)
  • Drop-off charges (specifies the location where you will drop off the car after use)
  • Early Return Fee (for returning the car before the due date and time)
  • Mileage
  • Licensing Fee
  • “Peak Season” surcharges
  • Surcharge for having an additional driver
  • Surcharges for “extras” (including built-in GPS navigation systems, roof racks, infant or child booster seats)
  • “Frequent Flier” charges

It will depend, of course, on the country where you will be renting a car and the car rental company’s policies, but there may be other “hidden fees” bundled into the car rental fee. For example, ask the car rental company about the driving range in Hong Kong of the vehicle they offer because this may affect the car rental fee. You may check the terms and conditions of the agreement with the car rental company to see these hidden fees.

Age Requirements

Most of the time, car rental companies will allow Hong Kong visitors to rent a car if they are at least 21 years of age. There are car rental companies, though, that may ask you to pay a “young driver’s fee” if you are not yet at least 25 years old.

If you are young and not yet proficient in driving, there are driving schools in Hong Kong that you may enroll in. Keep searching until you find the best driving school in Hong Kong. Others who are above 25 years of age and are already licensed may just seek renewal of a driving license in Hong Kong instead.

Drivers who are age 70 and above should check with the Hong Kong Transport Department if they still have to submit to a medical exam before they may rent a car.

Car Insurance Cost

The cost of car insurance depend on the type of vehicle you are going to rent, your age, your driving experience, and your insurance coverage. Car rental companies have the responsibility to secure the minimum car insurance policy before they rent out their vehicles. However, some car insurance is legally optional, but which may be required according to company policy. If you are required to purchase additional insurance coverage, you will have to pay for it on a daily basis.

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

The minimum car insurance policy in Hong Kong is third-party coverage. By law, all car owners must have a third-party liability insurance cover with at least HK$100 million for death or injuries and at least HK$2 million for damage to property.

Most car insurance applied for in Hong Kong will cover only Hong Kong travel. This means that if you drive beyond the borders of Hong Kong, your car insurance will no longer cover you or your vehicle. This applies to private cars and even rented vehicles. If you have previously applied for international travel insurance, you should examine the terms of your insurance policy to see if it will cover your planned car rental in Hong Kong as well.

Hong Kong photo by Jerry Zhang

Road Rules in Hong Kong

You first need to understand that mainland China has its own set of road rules that are different from Hong Kong road rules. This is because Hong Kong is 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 who are 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.

Drunk-Driving
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. Nonetheless, the penalties will depend on the proportion of alcohol you overtook from the acceptable blood alcohol limit.

Seatbelt Laws

It is generally understood that children of any age will be safer if seated in the rear passenger seats of a private car. This is because a child seated in the front passenger seat, or between the driver and the front passenger seat, is in danger should there be a collision. The child may incur severe or even fatal injuries from such an accident.

There are three kinds of seat belt rules for child passengers that should be observed in Hong Kong by responsible adults using private cars. On the other hand, teenagers who weigh above 80 pounds may use a regular car seatbelt for their safety. This is because teenagers may have reached their maximum growth to use the seatbelt of adults in their car.

For adult drivers and passengers of private cars in Hong Kong, it is understood that both the driver and the passengers are responsible for their own use of seat belts while the car is being driven. A pregnant woman should use a shoulder strap across her chest and a lap belt placed under the “bump” or abdomen. This provides sufficient safety to protect the fetus inside her womb.

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. With this, you shouldn’t park in areas that are meant for other types of vehicles. 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.

General Standards

As a tourist who will be driving in Hong Kong for the first time, you should make sure you are subject to this probationary driving license scheme first. If yes, this means the novice driver will be required to apply for a probationary driving license. The probationary driving license scheme is one way to learn to drive in Hong Kong.

The first rule for being placed under this driving program is for a prominent “P” plate to be displayed both at the left-hand side of the car’s windshield and back windscreen. The car cannot be driven on the “offside” lane of the expressways where three or more lanes are driven on. The novice driver has to drive under these probationary driving conditions for 12 months to make accidents less likely to happen.

After 12 months, the novice driver will be deemed “experienced'' enough to drive with less supervision. However, if the novice driver commits a road driving offense after those 12 months, the probationary driving period is extended for another six months. If the novice driver passes the probationary driving period with flying colors, then he may apply for a full driver’s license. If you're driving your own car, it needs to pass the road test. You also need to bring a valid vehicle licence to drive in the country.

Speed Limits

The first question should be, are they using Kph or Mph in Hong Kong? Officially, the Hong Kong government measures vehicular speed by Kph or kilometers per hour. But one source does give the Mph (or miles per hour) equivalent of the Kph statistics cited. When in doubt, you may use both Kph and Mph as needed

Under the probationary driving license scheme, the novice driver has to drive below the speed limit of 70 km/h even on roads where surpassing that speed limit is allowed. Notice that the usual speed limit for regular Hong Kong roads is 50 km/h. For major roads such as expressways, the speed limit for regular drivers can reach up to 110 km/h.

If you are not sure how to drive fast yet competently under this rule, you may have to sign up with the best driving school in Hong Kong first. Make sure to find out the driving license fee in Hong Kong since you have to pay for this also.

Driving Directions

First off, you have the option of inquiring with the car rental company and asking for a rental car with GPS already installed. This will help immensely with navigation, especially since there are parts of Hong Kong that haven’t been developed yet. If you suddenly lose your GPS signal, it would be useful to have a printed map as your backup.

Secondly, there are checkpoints at the borders of Hong Kong since motorists visiting Hong Kong are not allowed to enter mainland China due to pandemic concerns. The same holds for those originating from mainland China who wants to enter Hong Kong. If you get lost and need directions, you can always ask the border officials for driving directions. Be sure to present your IDP, valid driver’s license, and passport, so they know you are a legitimate visitor in Hong Kong.

Traffic Road Signs

There are actually 104 traffic signs that motorists in Hong Kong are expected to pay attention to. One traffic sign that motorists are probably expected to mind most often is the “No Parking” sign, which is a red circle with a red slash running across the blue interior of the circle. This is because it can be hard to find suitable parking spaces within the city limits.

Another traffic sign that you should pay attention to closely is the “No U-turn” sign. This sign is basically just a red circle with a red slash running across the U-turn arrow against a white background. It can be difficult to know where it is acceptable to make a U-turn on crowded city roads otherwise.

You may want to read through the Traffic Department website of HKSAR in advance to see other signs that have Chinese characters on them if you are not familiar with Chinese characters. You should focus as well on the penalties you might incur if you disregard traffic signs.

Right of Way

Due to British influence, motorists must drive on the left side of the road only. A vehicle entering the main road from a side road must make way for vehicles from the main road. If you are not sure which road is the main road, try to look for appropriate traffic signs in the area. If there are “Stop” or “Give Way” signs but no traffic in the area, you are still required to slow down and stop before going your way.

If you are driving a rented vehicle, which seems to qualify as a “private vehicle,” you have to be at least 18 years of age. If you don’t know how to drive yet, you are supposed to apply for a learner’s driving license first before signing up for driving lessons in a driving school in Hong Kong. It may cost you $14,500 to sign up with the cheapest driving school in Hong Kong. You are required to prove you are physically able to drive a private vehicle as well.

In case you are already 70 years of age and above, you have to meet special requirements such as a medical examination by a doctor to show you are capable of handling a private vehicle. You may have to learn how to renew your driving license in Hong Kong as well if you intend to stay for longer than 12 months in the territory without an IDP.

You can choose to learn how to drive from a government-certified school or from private car driving schools in Hong Kong. Once you have sufficient training of a minimum of 30 hours from the best driving school in Hong Kong, you will be allowed to take the driving test. It is a good idea to get familiar with the Road Users’ Code on the Transport Department website of HKSAR as well as search for how to get a driving license in Hong Kong easily.

Laws on Overtaking

You may drive to the right to overtake another vehicle unless there is a double white line on the street. If the double white line is there, you may not maneuver into the opposite lane. If, on the other hand, another vehicle is attempting to overtake you, then you should stay in your lane at normal speed until that vehicle has safely passed.

Driving Side

A driver in Hong Kong drives on the left side of the road. Motorists must drive on the left side of the road but may enter the right lane to overtake another vehicle. If you are still trying to learn driving in Hong Kong, it’s a good idea to avoid overtaking until you’re more competent. Tourists who are used to driving on the right side of the road and left-hand drive vehicles in their home countries should spend some time getting familiar with left-side driving.

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, especially when you are driving out of a parking space onto the main road or when you put your car in reverse to park. Always be mindful of your “blind spots” or parts of the car that you cannot see in your side mirrors or rear-view mirror. Be wary of drivers that are driving in excess of the speed limit in Hong Kong.

Who Is Disallowed to Drive?
Anyone who will be renting a private vehicle in Hong Kong from a car rental company may choose from three options to gain permission to drive there. First, the visitor may apply for a “direct issue” full driving license. Second, the visitor could opt to apply only for a temporary driving license. And third, the visitor could ask for permission to use the IDP instead.

What is interesting is that locals usually have to follow the probationary driving license scheme. You should check if this scheme is now being applied to drivers of rental cars at the time you will be visiting Hong Kong. The HKSAR government developed the probationary driving license scheme since it would like to reduce instances of accidents involving new drivers. The HKSAR government discovered that the scheme is useful for significantly limiting the incidence of accidents involving private vehicles.

The HKSAR government will require a novice driver to drive under “controlled conditions” for a longer period before being permitted to drive freely without supervision using a “full driver’s license.” If your visit to HK SAR will suddenly be extended to beyond 12 months, you must learn how to apply for a driving license in Hong Kong. If you don’t know how to drive yet, you can try enrolling in a driving school in Hong Kong. You can also ask for an English driving school in Hong Kong if needed.

Driving Etiquette in Hong Kong

If you are new to driving in Hong Kong, bear in mind that it is important to be courteous to every police official or traffic enforcer who may flag you down. They may be wary about you if you are not a Hong Kong resident or even someone from mainland China. This is understandable because you may also be cautious about whom to trust in a foreign country like Hong Kong.

Car Breakdown

In the HKSAR, the standing rule if your rented vehicle breaks down is “safety first.” This is why vehicles in Hong Kong undergo an annual roadworthiness test to avoid accidents and breakdowns. This means immediately switching on the hazard lights of the car as soon as possible. If you can, try to steer the car onto the shoulder of the road or other safe areas beside the roadway. Turn off the engine of the car as well. If the car seems to be catching fire, get as far away from the vehicle as you can. Refrain from attempting any repairs of the vehicle even if there’s no fire. Most car rental companies have their own mechanic so it's best to contact them when this happens.

You and any passengers should use the left-hand side of the car to leave the vehicle so that you can go to a safer part of the area beside the road. If you have pets or other live animals in the vehicle, lower the windows by a few inches but leave the animals in the car. However, if you feel that it is better or safer to stay in the car, then do so.

Always call at once for the police or other emergency services with a mobile phone. (Dial 999 to call for either an ambulance, police, or fire services). You should indicate to the person receiving your emergency call the markings on the chainage markers nearest your vehicle. While waiting inside the car, keep your seatbelts on. You may have to call for towing service when your car does break down on the road. This should be covered by your car insurance.

Police Stops

It can be a bit alarming when a police officer stops you while you’re driving a rented vehicle in Hong Kong. However, try to stay calm and clear-minded. Keep both hands on your steering wheel until the officer asks you to lower your window. If you understand Chinese, you may reply to the officer’s questions. However, if you don’t understand Chinese, ask the officer if he knows how to speak English.

Since you never know when a police officer will flag down your rented car, it is always a good idea to keep your IDP, passport, and full driving licence together in the glove compartment for easy access. Present these to the officer if he asks for identification. If you have the documents for your rented vehicle, you may show these to the officer as well. They may ask for the car registration certificate.

Hong Kong visitors who exchange driving license in Hong Kong may opt to take the driving test for either a temporary driving license or a full driver’s license. These are alternatives to using an IDP paired with your native country’s driver’s license and your passport.

Asking Directions

It is always important to buy an updated map of HKSAR before you start driving around Hong Kong. Make sure the map is in English if you don’t understand Chinese. Sometimes, despite your preparation, you might get confused and need to ask bystanders for directions to get to your destination. If you’re not sure who to ask, look for government offices in the location you’re in and ask their staff for help.

Be sure you can identify the route on your map based on their directions. You might also want to ask the car rental company beforehand for a rental car that has a GPS system on it that uses English.

Checkpoints

With the current political instability in Hong Kong, it is very likely that a traveler, like you, will have to pass through checkpoints while driving your rented vehicle. As long as your identification documents and the rental car documents are intact, you will probably not encounter any problems and will be allowed to pass. However, you may want to avoid areas where Chinese protesters will probably be demonstrating, just to play it safe.

Other Tips

You may be more confident about driving in Hong Kong if you have valid travel documents on hand, like the car rental receipt, your IDP, your valid driver’s license, and your passport. Should you wish to stay beyond the 12 months, you may exchange a driving license in Hong Kong by inquiring with the Transport Department on how to get a driving license in Hong Kong.

What if I Lose My IDP While Driving in Hong Kong?
There may be instances when, despite your vigilance, you might misplace or lose the IDP granted to you by the International Drivers Association (IDA) while you are using a rented vehicle in HK SAR. You have two options: learn how to get a driving license in Hong Kong or contact IDA customer service to seek a replacement IDP. The good news is that IDA does replace lost IDPs at no extra charge - you only need to pay for the shipping cost.

You need to contact the IDA customer service to submit your name and the IDP #. IDA will then send you the right link to allow you to pay for shipping. You can expect the replacement IDP to be shipped to you within 24 hours from payment of the shipping cost.

What If I Crash My Rented Vehicle Accidentally Within HK SAR?
When you rent a car during your visit to HK SAR, you usually will be asked to pay an insurance premium before the car can be turned over to you. The coverage is usually for “Collision Damage Waiver,” and the premium is bundled into the cost of the car rental. Though this does defray most of the expenses involved in repairing the damage to the car, you should be ready to pay for part of the damage. The fee you are liable for is usually dubbed “Collision Damage Waiver Excess.”

It is possible that your car could be hit by another vehicle if the other driver is driving in excess of the speed limit in Hong Kong. One reason for the driver’s speeding could be drink driving in Hong Kong. If so, it is advisable to call Hong Kong police so they can investigate the incident. The police report may help with the car insurance claim. If someone's injured, contact the nearest hospital and wait for the medical practitioner. If you know how to perform first aid, then do so while waiting for the medical practitioner.

Driving Conditions in Hong Kong

If you are new to driving in Hong Kong, don’t be surprised if you get involved in some situations or incidents related to driving a rented vehicle. Here is some advice you should bear in mind to make your Hong Kong road trip continue to be a pleasant one.

Never use a smartphone while driving unless you will be using “hands-free” technology (earphones and microphones). Always be mindful when you are steering your car so that you don’t wind up getting into accidents. This is especially true when you are driving very fast, such as on the expressways. If you are tired, have just consumed some alcohol, or are on some kind of medicine that can sedate you, refrain from driving.

Accident Statistics

The total number of traffic accidents in Hong Kong fell by 15% from 1982 to 2002, according to Chapter 4 of a Hong Kong government paper entitled “Traffic Accident Trends in Hong Kong.” For the same period, the number of casualties related to traffic accidents in the territory also fell by 15%. This may be interpreted to mean that the Hong Kong government is successful in promoting road safety in HK SAR.

This does not mean, however, that you will never get involved in a vehicular accident while driving in Hong Kong. You might indeed get into a car accident. The difference is, you now know about what you should do in case your rented vehicle figures in a car accident.

Common Vehicles

Hong Kong roads often experience traffic congestion because so many Chinese residents are buying their own cars. There are also mass transport vehicles that add to the vehicle volume. This is especially true during rush hours in the morning and afternoon. However, once you get outside city limits in your rented vehicle, you may enjoy the long expanse of roads with little traffic. Your rented vehicle will probably qualify as a “private car.” If the car rental company maintains its rental cars well, you can find yourself enjoying the smooth performance of your rented vehicle.

Cars owned by private individuals are either brand new or secondhand. Second-Hand vehicles are sometimes preferred since they are priced lower than brand new cars. Hong Kong cars tend to be well cared for by each family’s driver, which explains why secondhand cars are acceptable.

The most common types of vehicles presently in use in Hong Kong are:

  • light buses
  • private buses
  • non-franchised buses
  • special purpose vehicles
  • light goods vehicles
  • medium goods vehicles
  • heavy goods vehicles
  • government vehicles
  • taxis
  • motorcycles
  • tricycles
  • private cars

Toll Roads

As of this writing, there are about 16 toll road tunnels in Hong Kong, with six (6) of them that are toll-free. Five (5) toll roads have flat toll rates, and the rest are dependent on the type of vehicle. For private cars (much like what you are probably going to rent), toll fees can go between HK$0 to more than HK$75. The Western Harbour Crossing charges the most expensive toll fees, followed by the Tai Lam Tunnel. For a complete list of toll road tunnels in the country and their corresponding fees, refer to the website of the Transport Department.

Road Situations

Due to the high population density of the territory, the roads of Hong Kong go under much use daily since there are so many vehicles traversing them. In response to traffic congestion, the Hong Kong government developed a high-quality mass transport system such as the MTR railways, which spans 262.2 kilometers. The difficult topography of Hong Kong is one reason road engineers have to improve the road network. As more people take to driving, road congestion also naturally results. However, you'll notice there isn't much traffic on minor roads. You'll most likely encounter a twisting mountaintop drive in the hilly side of the country.

Driving Culture

According to the Smile At Safety Annual Report 2018, it can be difficult to say whether Hong Kong residents, on the whole, are “safe drivers.” But it noted that “driving inattentively” is a major cause of driving-related accidents. Elderly pedestrians made up a huge chunk of the casualties related to improper driving practices. Hit-and-run cases also contributed a lot to the level of accidents in Hong Kong. However, many of the driving-related accidents were also linked to “pedestrian inattentiveness.”

The Hong Kong government does what it can to ensure road safety for residents and visitors alike. For one thing, there is a penalty for drink driving in Hong Kong, meaning a drunk driver may pay up to $25,000 (Hong Kong dollars) if caught. There may even be a prison term of three years, plus ten driving-offense points for the driver caught drink driving in Hong Kong. In addition, the driver will not be permitted to drive for a period between six months up to five years.

Things to Do in Hong Kong

Travelers have different reasons to visit Hong Kong. For some, it is a chance to see the sights and experience life as a tourist there. Others may want to get paid work as a driver or a travel guide in Hong Kong. Whichever you choose, you are bound to encounter many surprises during your first and subsequent visits to Hong Kong that you never thought possible.

Drive As A Tourist

Yes, tourists are allowed to drive in Hong Kong if they meet the following conditions: you possess a valid driver’s license from your home country; you have been residing in your home country (the one that issued the driver’s license) for a minimum of six months, and your driver’s license has been in effect for a minimum of five years in your home country. You may also use your IDP to drive a rental vehicle in Hong Kong. Be sure your legitimate passport and valid driver’s license are with you also.

Work As A Driver

Yes, you may become a live-in driver for a Hong Kong family that needs someone to drive the children to school or bring elderly relatives to appointments (such as a visit to the doctor). You will first need to apply for a driver’s license - there is a different license for drivers of private cars and another license for motor, tricycle, or truck. If you were previously granted a valid Hong Kong license, you could focus on the renewal of your driving license in Hong Kong instead. You also need to submit the medical examination report form TD256. You can download the medical examination report form TD256 online.

If you apply to become a live-in driver and you are not a citizen of Hong Kong, your classification will be Foreign Domestic Worker (with special duties as a driver). You need to fix your visa status with the Immigration Department. Your new employer will need to adjust the car insurance as well. You have other options as a car driver, such as driving a taxi or becoming a delivery driver if you prefer that. If you're applying for a truck driving job, you need to take a written test and a driving test of this class to prove you're up to the driving test standard.

Work As A Travel Guide

If you already have your driver’s license or have undergone a renewal of your driving license in Hong Kong, you may try to get accreditation as a Hong Kong travel guide too. You need to be connected with a licensed travel agent and go through the Tourist Guide Accreditation System.

You will be issued a Tourist Guide Pass by the TIC or Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong, meaning you can serve as a travel guide. The Tourist Guide Pass may be used for three years after you have paid the fee of $300 (Hong Kong dollars).

If you are not yet a capable driver but still aim to be a travel guide, it is advisable to sign up at the cheapest driving school in Hong Kong for a 15-hour course. This will help you when applying for your driver’s license as well.

Apply for Residency

The Hong Kong Transport Department in the webpage “Driving in Hong Kong for Overseas Driving Licence Holders” states that a visitor may indicate that they will be residing in Hong Kong for up to 12 months only. This allows the visitor to rely on an IDP, valid driver’s license, and legitimate passport while driving in Hong Kong.

However, if the visitor wants to stay in Hong Kong for beyond 12 months, the visitor may have to apply for a temporary driving license or a full driving license by direct issue without a test. To qualify for a full driving license by direct issue without a test, the visitor may refer to Appendix C of the webpage indicated above for a list of countries that are approved for drivers who want to stay in Hong Kong beyond 12 months. A driver whose home country is not listed in Appendix C will only be considered for the temporary driving license.

The Top Road Destinations in Hong Kong

This tiny Island is a great place to visit through a road trip, especially if you will be driving a private rental vehicle. Though some roads might be difficult to traverse since they can be quite steep or the roads are quite narrow, it can be fun to see sites that are not usually visited by tourists.

Some people may opt to travel in groups while using a rental vehicle, which is good if you like having the company. Others may like to travel alone, though, which is nice too. Just make sure you remember when your rental car is due to be surrendered to the car rental company to avoid penalties. Enjoy Hong Kong's top scenic drives and don't forget to follow the driving rules.

Victoria Harbour-Hong Kong photo by  Houses Cheung

Victoria Harbour

Victoria Harbour is definitely one spot that a first-time visitor should go to at least once. You can get a ride on the world-famous Star Ferry, which has been in operation since 1880. This is sought after by tourists who want a hair-raising jaunt through the Harbour, as the Star Ferry crew dodge other ships passing by. Not a bad experience considering you only have to pay a small fee to ride the Star Ferry. If you time your ride on the Star Ferry for the evening, do rest at the Star Ferry Dock benches on the border of the Kowloon Peninsula.

This way, you will see the evening splendor of the Hong Kong skyline when skyscrapers and other more modest buildings are lit up for the night.

Driving Directions
Victoria Harbour is about 38 km from the Hong Kong International Airport. It will take you more or less 30 minutes to travel via private car.

  1. Take a rental vehicle from Hong Kong International Airport on Lantau Island.
  2. Head for Lantau Highway and follow it straight to Victoria Harbour.

Things To Do
Apart from the Star Ferry ride on the Harbour itself, modern development has since emerged around the Harbour. If you fear riding a boat, then you can just admire the Harbour from its surrounding banks.

  1. Visit the Library at The Dock
    For book-lovers, the Library at the Dock is a very nice place to spend time in. It is a very modern-day library, and it also caters to artists and community events. The best part is, you can read a book whilst having the best views of the Harbour. The Library at the Dock offers free Wi-Fi service, and it was Australia’s first 6-Star Green Star-rated public building.
  2. Watch the Symphony of Lights at Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade
    The Symphony of Lights is a musical light show that lights up the urban skyline every night. The show starts at 8:00 pm, and one of the best viewing locations also is the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade. The light show is free for everyone, and if you don’t prefer the promenade, you can still find other spots around the harbor.
  3. Ride the Hong Kong Observation Wheel
    The Hong Kong Observation Wheel is basically a Ferris Wheel with 42 carriages or gondolas. One (1) gondola can accommodate up to eight (8) people, and one full cycle will take about five (5) – seven (7) minutes.
Victoria Peak-Hong Kong photo by Chapman Chow

Victoria Peak

Another ideal place to visit close to nighttime is Victoria Peak, or simply The Peak as locals know it. Here on this mountain, you can also get a good view of the Hong Kong evening skyline. To get to The Peak, you need to ride a tram at its starting point near the Hong Kong Park entrance until you reach the top. From there, you can wait, and when night comes, the lights of the buildings will switch on for a breathtaking view.

Driving Directions
Victoria Peak is about 45 km from the Hong Kong International Airport. It will take about 50 minutes or less to drive to the tram station, your jump-off point to go up the peak.

  1. Take a rental vehicle from Hong Kong International Airport on Lantau Island.
  2. Use Route 8 until you reach Hong Kong Island.
  3. Take the tram up to Victoria’s Peak.

Things To Do
To get to Victoria Peak, you’ll have to ride a tram. You can buy tickets at the tram station, or you can also buy in advance from online ticket sellers like Klook. If you bring your car, you’ll have to park it somewhere near the tram station. Again, make sure to park in a designated parking area.

  1. See the Life-size Wax Statues at Madame Tussauds
    Established in 2000, this wax sculpture museum is highly renowned worldwide. The museum exhibits a variety of wax sculptures, from cartoons to prominent real-life figures. You can see the sculptures up close and even pose interactively with them. To visit Madame Tussauds, you’ll have to pay an entrance fee between HK$196 – HK$232.
  2. Go Up the Sky Terrace
    The Sky Terrace is the viewing deck of the Peak Tower. If you’re not too afraid of heights, the deck will give you breathtaking, sweeping views of the Harbor and the surrounding skyscrapers. There is an entrance fee, though, if you want to visit the Sky Terrace. Regardless, the experience will still be worth the bucks.
  3. Stroll Around Victoria Peak Garden
    The Victorian-inspired garden is about a 30-minute hike up Mount Austin Road if you come from the Peak Tower. The garden has sprawling fields, picnic benches, and kiosks where you can just run around and spend a chill afternoon in. You can also drive your car up to the garden and park at their designated parking space.
Big Buddha-Hong Kong photo by Jason Cooper

Big Buddha

Many Chinese practice Buddhism, so it isn’t surprising that the so-called “Big Buddha” in Lantau Island draws in crowds. The real name of this imposing replica of the Buddha is Tian Tan Buddha. The statue is located above the Po Lin Monastery and can be reached via cable car. Lantau Island itself is located within Hong Kong’s New Territories and is quiet and peaceful. Those who want to just sit and breathe in the fresh air won’t be disappointed by this place.

Driving Directions:
The Tian Tan Buddha is about 27 km away from the Hong Kong International Airport. It is located on the same island, and it will take you about 30 minutes to drive to the temple.

  1. Take a rental vehicle from Hong Kong International Airport on Lantau Island.
  2. Head to S Lantau Road and drive for 36 minutes until you reach Ngong Ping.

Things To Do
The Tian Tan Buddha is located within the Po Lin Monastery. If you’re interested in visiting the Big Buddha, we recommend spending at least half a day in the area.

  1. Ride the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car
    The Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car will take you directly towards the Tian Tan Buddha area. Delight yourself with sweeping views of the entire Lantau Island for just a minimal fee. A tip, though, is to buy tickets online in advance. If you buy tickets on-site, the line is very long. If you made an advanced booking, there is an express line for this. If you even have the budget, we recommend that you try the glass bottom cable car for a more exhilarating ride.
  2. Buy Souvenirs at Ngong Ping Village
    The end terminal of the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car is Ngong Ping Village. This is also where you are going to walk from to get to the Tian Tan Buddha. There are plenty of local handicraft shops in the village, and if you want to take a rest from hiking, you can grab a snack from the specialty stalls.
  3. Climb Up to See the Big Buddha
    Yes, climb. This is because to get to the foot of the Big Buddha, you’ll have to climb up 268 steps. Once you reach the top, you’ll also get amazing views of the Monastery and Lantau Island.

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