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Car Hire in Hong Kong: It's actually very straight forward!

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London, England
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Car Hire in Hong Kong: It's actually very straight forward!

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.

Hong Kong, China
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for Hong Kong, Osaka
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1. Re: Car Hire in Hong Kong: It's actually very straight forward!

While the feedback is helpful, most travelers should not hire a car in HK unless you have a very specific need. Car rental and parking are expensive, and traffic at the wrong time can be horrendous. Most casual visitors would have less stress using publuc transport.

Hong Kong, China
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for Hong Kong, Macau, Holiday Travel, Food and Travel
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2. Re: Car Hire in Hong Kong: It's actually very straight forward!

Hear hear....

For the vast majority of those visiting Hong Kong, it will not be necessary or advisable to rent a vehicle. There needs to be a reasonable need for you to consider a vehicle rental before you consider doing this.

Very helpful tips though, tree888. Thanks for sharing. Hope you enjoyed being back in Hong Kong.

Los Angeles...
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3. Re: Car Hire in Hong Kong: It's actually very straight forward!

It's good the legitimate companies like Hertz sets up operations in Hong Kong, other than those scammers. I am not sure how good they would do though. The rental car market is really not big in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong, China
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4. Re: Car Hire in Hong Kong: It's actually very straight forward!

Tree888 made the important point that s/he had lived in HK before, and so would be familiar with the general layout of the region, the way drivers behave, driving on the left, and where the family wanted to go. The information given is useful, and I thank the OP for giving it.

Still, I concur with the other local posters:if you are not familiar with Hong Kong, public transport almost certainly makes more sense. It doesn't matter if you're heading to Disneyland, Lau Fau Shan, Kadoorie Farm, the Railway Museum, Repulse Bay or wherever, public transport will get you there and back AND give you the chance to watch the scenery instead of the traffic.

HF, I suspect visitors are just the icing on the cake for the rental companies: I suspect their main business would be long term corporate leases.

Hong Kong, China
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5. Re: Car Hire in Hong Kong: It's actually very straight forward!

With the gas / parking / tolls / rental fee all factored in, one is actually looking at similar cost (if not more) as in taking taxi. But I do know people who just love to drive on their holidays so it is a very good / useful article for them

Los Angeles...
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6. Re: Car Hire in Hong Kong: It's actually very straight forward!

That's a very good point oisaan. Rentals would be good for those on temporary work assignments from a few weeks to a few months.

Hong Kong, China
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7. Re: Car Hire in Hong Kong: It's actually very straight forward!

As a Hong Kong resident I don't have a car. Most residents don't, for the simple reason that you don't need a car here.

If I have a need to get somewhere quickly, or somewhere where there's no public transport, I just get a taxi. Like a car with driver, but then cheap. If I need to transport goods, I call a van. If I need to transport big stuff, I call a truck. Those are all just a phone call away.

As pointed out above, taxis are usually cheaper (much cheaper) than renting a car. Your really have to drive a lot to make it worth it - and even so, one of the great things about a taxi is that you don't have to park it. Parking is a big issue in Hong Kong. Also when you have a car you must go back to your starting point to collect it, instead of just taking another taxi elsewhere.

8. Re: Car Hire in Hong Kong: It's actually very straight forward!

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Hong Kong, China
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9. Re: Car Hire in Hong Kong: It's actually very straight forward!

Driving in central Hong Kong is a bit similar to driving in central London, except we don't have a congestion charge. Street layout is chaotic, and the signs are not always helpful telling you which way you should go.

I have a car, but seldom drive on weekdays. On holidays, I head out of the city, not in. Can't deal with the headache of getting stuck in traffic and looking/waiting for parking.

Even going to the countryside (in relative terms for Hong Kong), you need to pick the right time. Beach parking gets full quickly in summer. Car parks at the Peak, Stanley and Sai Kung are even more expensive than those in downtown (not to mention waiting in long queues on holidays). And going to scenic spots like Ha Pak Nai, Nam Seng Wai, and the top of Tai Mo Shan, you have to deal with one lane roads with two way traffic, and you can easily get stuck when you have an inexperienced driver ahead of you.

10. Re: Car Hire in Hong Kong: It's actually very straight forward!

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