Following on from my recent post looking for advice on renting a car in Hong Kong, I have just returned and can cut through some of the myths which seem to surround renting/hiring a car in HK. It took an age to book it and work out where to hire from but it turned out to be really simple in reality. A few points:
- Hiring a car can be useful if you are staying outside of Central/Kowloon. I lived in Hong Kong previously and we drove everywhere except Central. If you are staying in Central or Kowloon DON'T HIRE A CAR as parking is a nightmare and very expensive.
- You CANNOT hire at the airport with an international company such as Hertz or Avis. For some reason Hertz have HK Int Airport as a pick up station. I booked this and then got an email saying they don't do it. This is not a problem however as you simply get the Airport Express into Central, go one floor up in the lift and the Hertz office is on the right hand side.
- I got an email from Hertz asking for scanned copies of drivers license, passport and full credit card details. I wrote back saying that they were asking for an identity theft ready made kit and sent them a few details instead. They were fine with this and the paperwork took about 15 minutes to fill out when we got there.
- I booked a Honda Jazz which was pretty small but we got the family of 4 and luggage into it. I had read about hire companies in HK ripping people off on return with made up damage. I photographed the car during the inspection and the very friendly Hertz guy was fine with that.
- Get an Octopus Card (stored value public transport card) as most of the car parks use touch in/touch out payment with Octopus. These can be bought at the Airport Express customer service counter at Central. They can be topped up at any 7-11 and anything left on it can be refunded at the Airport Express train platform customer service desk when you get back to the airport.
- Some of the tunnels are toll tunnels but are very cheap e.g HK$5, just have a little change in the car.
- If you have an iphone the Maps direction function works perfectly in HK so no need to hire a SatNav. Staggeringly we didn't get lost once.
- Hiring a car opens up a very different side to HK. We stayed at the T-Hotel in Pokfulam on the south coast of HK Island (brilliant and cheap with free designated parking, see separate review). We drove to Stanley for eateries and the market, Ocean Park, the Peak, Star Ferry car park etc etc. You can also easily get out to Disney, the big Buddha, the national parks and the more traditional areas in the New Territories. There is plenty of space in HK and lots of great hiking if you just get out of the central tourist areas.
Hope this helps. Email if you have any other questions.