Will I be able to drive in Hong Kong?

Question: Don't people in Hong Kong drive on the left? I'm coming from the USA/continental Europe/etc., and I'm used to driving on the right. Will I be able to adapt?

A reader replies: We drive on the left in right hand drive cars. This is a British thing. In fact our traffic lights, road signs, markings, etc. are exactly as they are in the UK. China drives on the right like the US, which makes things interesting for cross border traffic.

Mr Tall adds: Switching sides of the road when driving isn't a big deal. I learned to drive in the States, on the right, and thought I might have a lot of trouble at first driving in HK. That wasn't the case at all. Your brain simply flips everything around quite automatically -- at least mine did. I actually found it harder to adjust to being a pedestrian here than to being a driver, since when you're walking across the street, it seems easier to forget which direction you need to check first for oncoming traffic.

A couple of related questions: If I have a US/UK/other country's driving license, can I use it in Hong Kong? If I want to get a Hong Kong license, will I need to take a driving test?

Mr Tall replies: You can drive in Hong Kong on a foreign license temporarily when you arrive, but if you're planning to stay here beyond a year, you must get a Hong Kong license to keep driving.

The good news is that if you hold a driving license from a country recognized by the Hong Kong Transport Department, you can use it to apply for a Hong Kong license. You don't need to take a driving test. And the best news is that a HK license is good for 10 years. See this page at the Hong Kong Transport Department for details.

It's a good thing I didn't have to take the test, by the way. Mrs Tall had to sit for it here, and the whole process is a travesty. 'Driving', according to the examiners here, comprises exactly three skills: making a three-point turn, parallel parking, and avoiding ever, ever, EVER making a hand-over-hand turn of the steering wheel. You have to shuffle your hands along the wheel like an arthritic nincompoop to pass!

See also our article on keeping a car in Hong Kong.


Motorcycle licence??

Dear Mr. Batgung.com

Do you know if you need a licence to drive a motorcycle or scooter in Hong Kong? I have a car licence rom Norway is it good for driving a motorcycle in Hong Kong? Do you also know where you can buy a LHD car in Hong Kong, I know they are driving on the right. Thanks.

Best regards

Mr. Helgø

You'll need a licence

Hello Mr Helgo,

You do need a licence, but if you already have a motorcycle licence (not a car licence), you should be able to get a local motorbike licence without having to take a test. The transport department have more info here.

Not sure where you'd buy a left-hand drive car, but won't it be better to get a right-hand drive if you'll be using it here?

regards, MrB

Tips on driving in HK...

A few tips on driving in Hong Kong for those newly arrived in the Territory and wishing to blend in:

1. Under no circumstances use the turn indicator. It is purely there for display.
2. Buy a fat exhaust for your car. In doing so, you will lose all ability to drive a car safely, not care about other road users, think you are an F1 racing driver, and eventually crash. But that doesn't matter cos you've got a fat exhaust and are therefore better than anyone else.
3. If you wish to change lane, do so without looking. Like the turn indicator, mirrors are only there for display purposes.
4. If you are driving slowly on a dual-carriage highway, always drive in the fast (right) lane and make other drivers illegally under-take you.
5. If you are involved in a prang with another car, never pull over to the side of the road to allow other traffic to flow freely; rather, leave your cars where the 'accident' happened and discuss the microscopic scratch on the bumper, even though you are legally required to pull to the side of the road.
6. Fill the rear window shelf with tissue boxes, Hello Kitty toys and the like to completely obscure the rear view. It doesn't matter that you can't see out the back window because you won't use the mirror anyway (see point 3 above).
7. If you are approaching a pedestrian crossing, never slow down and let pedestrians cross, as you are legally obliged to do. Rather, speed up and, if a pedestrian does try to cross, swear at him/her demanding to know why he/she thinks he/she has the right to cross the road at a pedestrian crossing. Pedestrian crossings are only there to brighten up an otherwise dull tarmac road surface.
8. The round-about (traffic circle to our American brothers and sisters) is similar to the pedestrian crossing in the sense that its only purpose is to brighten up the road and add a bit of variety. Under no circumstances give way to the right.
9. The hazard lights are the only instrument you need in the car. Use them whenever you want. They can mean, amongst other things: "I'm turning; I'm braking; I'm changing the CD; I'm a human; I'm confused". But under no circumstances should they be used in an emergency only.
10. NEVER, EVER, under any circumstances, give way to another driver; never let him in; never let him pull out in front of you; never thank another driver. If you give way to another driver, it's a huge loss of face. And we wouldn't want that now, would we?

On the other hand, those newly arrived in Territory and NOT wanting to blend in, do the exact opposite to tips 1 - 10 above. Maybe you won't blend in, but at least you'll be driving properly!

Feel free to pull over

Feel free to pull over anywhere you like, particularly, put your hazzard lights on and stop to do what ever you want, oblivious to the fact that you may be stopping traffic.

Drive as close to the car in front as you can. When stopped at lights, if they inch forward, feel free to narrow the gap a little more.
Seriously though, drive as though you expect the red minibus/taxi in front to do something stupid, play predict the foolishness.

Don't drive

Please, don't drive here.  The public transport is great and we don't need any more pollution on the road!

driving licence

Does Hong Kong have visa requirements for getting a driving licence? The UK requires the applicant to have a visa valid for more than 6 months in order to get a licence. Is it different in HK?

Visa & Driving licence

Take a look at the government's requirements page.

For a commercial vehicle licence, it says you : "must be the holder of a Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card, or the holder of a Hong Kong Identity Card (other than a Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card) and is not subject to any condition of stay other than a limit of stay as defined in section 2(1) of the Immigration Ordinance (Cap.115)." Which in effect means you'd need a visa.

There is no such requirement listed in the "Private Car, Light Goods Vehicle and Motor Cycle" section, so it looks like you can get those licences without needing an ID Card / Visa.

There's a 'contact us' link on that page you can use to ask them and be 100% sure.

If you have two little kids

If you have two little kids then the public transport in HK sucks just like anywhere else in the world. Goddam tree huggers, tru catching the mtr with two babies, bags and a pram....

if you have three little kids...

...like me (ages 1, 4 and 6) - I still catch all forms of public transport in HK (bus, tram, subway, train, minibus etc) without any problems beyond my capability to handle. The public transport doesn't suck at all (and after living on the district and circle lines in London for many years I really know how public transport can suck).


I think you really got

I think you really got confused between China and Hong Kong.  Whatever you described it happens in China daily.  Try to do the same thing in Hong Kong you will be jailed in no time!

Well, you're a better man

Well, you're a better man than me! Still, the public transport system sucks compared to my big Honda Odyssey! No stairs, rude locals pushing in with no respect for people with children, insane minibus drivers too impatient to wait till babies are seated, nose pickers, staring old people touching your kids with their dirty fingers, stupid people who try to get on the MTR before passengers can get off-always, not sometimes, always. Well done for comparing it to London! The public transport is also crap in Budapest and loads of other countries for that matter, I didn't say HKs was the worst, just that it sucks.....................and it does suck if you have kids!!

"Still, the public transport

"Still, the public transport system sucks compared to my big Honda Odyssey!"

Yes, and flying economy class on Cathay sucks compared to having your own private jet.

"Well, you're a better man than me"

Judging from that last diatribe, I think I am inclined to agree with you.


The public transport in HK is rubbish and dangerous. Hot and overcrowded. Last week a speeding minibus crashed with a speeding taxi in TST, minibus ended up in subway with bodies splattered everywhere. Try driving up Tuen Muen Highway every day as we do in our company, or out to Tung Chung. Every day crashes and always buses and taxis involved.  What public transport IS in HK is cheap. If you're prepared to risk your life letting these morons drive you about so be it but please don't try and moralise to those of us who can afford cars and put our and our families safety first.

Lol..you say it as if it's

Lol..you say it as if it's unusual and the worst thing ever...

This is Hong Kong "etiquette" :)

Drive in Hong Kong with California driving permit

will i be able to drive in hong kong with my california driving permit under a 25 years old Hong Kong driver's license holder supervising?