Sailing Hong Kong’s Iconic Star Ferry
The Star Ferry in Hong Kong is an institution and tourist icon. It really doesn’t need a review as it is easy enough to buy a ticket and jump on for the short ride across Victoria Harbour.
But it is such an experience we thought it deserved a closer look and helps us relive our journeys across the Fragrant Harbour.
What is the Star Ferry?
Hong Kong is made up of the mainland and many islands including the big one Hong Kong Island. The Star Ferry began as a means of transporting people from the Island across to Kowloon at the shortest point in Tsim Sha Tsui. For nearly a century it was the only way to do this until the underground tunnels were built. But even today it is still a joy to experience and a great way to see the Hong Kong skyline on both sides.
Nice, when did it start?
The Kowloon Ferry Company was established in 1880 with four single deck ferries that ran roughly every hour during daylight every day except for Mondays and Fridays. A few years later the upper decks were added to the ferries.
The ferries all had the word Star as a suffix (the “Morning Star” being the original) in their name and thus the Star Ferry Company Limited was born around 1898 when the company was bought by businessman Sir Catchick Paul Chater. Today there are 8 ferries that carry 18 million passengers annually on the main Central-Tsim Sha Tsui run plus there is also a service from Wanchai-Tsim Sha Tsui.
How do we get aboard?
Easy, make your way to Central Pier No7 and you will see the Star Ferry arriving and departing every 6-12 minutes from 6.30am until 11.30pm every day.
At both ends you can buy tokens which you insert into a box but most people use the “Octopus Card” which allows you to simply tap and go through the ticket turnstiles.
Be aware that there is an upper and lower deck. The upper deck is covered and has air conditioning. You pay a little more for the privilege but we also enjoy the sea air in your face experience of the lower deck which is open on both sides to the elements. The upper deck is open at the front on some ferries but not all.
When boarding there are two levels depending on which deck you prefer so enter accordingly.
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Why should I use the star ferry?
It has been noted as being one of the 50 things you must experience in your lifetime and we can definitely vouch for that! Nothing beats being on the water with the brace of the sea breeze upon your cheeks.
You will probably use the Star Ferry a few times during your stay and it is recommended to experience it during the day and of course by night.
At night there are few cities that match the razzle and dazzle of an illuminated Hong Kong consumed in a neon glow. The Island in particular with its many skyscrapers transforming and morphing in a symphony of digital colour.
The harbour itself is also fascinating with sea crafts of all sizes darting this way and that. The odd super cruise-liner also comes through and the Star Ferry can actually stop on the harbour to wait for traffic although this doesn’t happen that often.
Your phone or camera will be on overdrive to capture the spectacle from all angles. Enjoy the ride.
What is the Star Ferry? – A fun ride on the legendary Star Ferry across Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong
Where does it go? – It leaves from Central Pier No7 on Hong Kong Island or Tsim sha Tsui Ferry Terminal on the Mainland side.
When is it? – It starts around 0630 daily and finishes around 2330. Check here for the latest timetable: Star Ferry Timetable
Why do it? – Fun and relaxing way to see the harbour and skyline of Hong Kong. Especially exhilarating at night.
How much is the Star Ferry? – See the prices here: Star Ferry Prices
How long does the Star Ferry it take? – Tsim Sha Tsui – Central about 8 minutes / Tsim sha Tsui – Wanchai about 10 minutes.
Can I use the Octopus Card on the Star Ferry? – Of course! Just tap and go!
Fun facts –
The Ferry used to run from Pedders St which isn’t even on the water anymore (about 1.6km inland!). Reclaimed land meant that the ferry then moved to Edinburgh Place and finally to the Central Ferry Pier no7 came into operation in 2006.
The double ended design means the boat can be captained from both ends eliminating the need to turnaround. The same for the innovative seats which can pulled in either direction!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Greg Kodric is an avid traveller who loves nothing better than a good wander around the streets and back streets of each new destination he visits.
“I enjoy sitting somewhere with a local brew and just watching the locals get on with their daily lives. It’s fascinating to explore the sights, sounds and smells of somewhere new.
As well as visiting the usual tourist attractions, I like to compare the differences between places, the brands and products on offer and of course the local cuisine. I hope you enjoy my articles!”
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