It is in every guide book, and with every reason. The Star Ferry is a fantastic way to travel across the harbour from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island and vice versa. My kids love it and so do I.
The Star Ferry has been running for more than hundred years.Up to 1978 when the Cross-Harbour Tunnel opened, it was the only way to cross the harbour. Unfortunately, nowadays it is running with fewer boats, only three destinations (Central, Wan Chai and Tsim Sha Tsui) and also shorter distances now that more land has been reclaimed.
Still, the white and green boats have not lost its charm. They all have names that include a ‘star’, such as Morning Star (which is the oldest boat, and currently not in service), Twinkling Star and Electric Star, and the crew is wearing old-school blue outfits that don’t seem to have changed much in the last decades.
There are two decks, which were originally conceived to allow Europeans to travel apart from the Chinese commuters. There is the cheaper lower deck where you can hear/see the engine moving and smell the fumes, and the more expensive upper deck which has a front/back section where you can actually close the windows (useful in cold days, not so much on hot days). On the route Wan Chai to Tsim Sha Tsui the lower deck does not seem to be in use, I’ve never seen it open.
A ride on the Star Ferry usually lasts 5-7 minutes (including the time it takes to open/close the hatches) so it is short enough for impatient kids to enjoy it. If you take the Star Ferry to Tsim Sha Tsui, then you’ll be greeted by lots of people, and often there is an ice cream van parked close by (and an ice cream shop in the Star Ferry Terminal shopping mall). There is plenty to do around Tsim Sha Tsui, with the Ocean Terminal/Harbour City next door. In the other direction, towards Central, you can explore the Maritime Museum, the Central Ferry Piers, IFC, the City Hall and Gallery etc.
Also note that the Wan Chai Ferry Pier is still part of a whole new reclamation project – and currently, in mid-2018 there is still a huge building site around it and it takes a good 15 minutes to walk into the heart of Wan Chai. The good thing is that there are lifts everywhere, so from Wan Chai Ferry Pier you can walk all the way down to Lockhart Road with a stroller.
You can use a stroller when you go on the Star Ferry – there is plenty of room on board and the entrance/exit gangplank has an area with fewer bumps, so it is easier to push the stroller. But bear in mind that on the Wan Chai to Tsim Sha Tsui route, the Tsim Sha Tsui side does not have a lift (or I have never encountered it). So you need someone to help you with the stroller down the steps. It seems that if you want to go from Tsim Sha Tsui to Wan Chai that there is an barrier-free option, but all it says at the bottom of the green stairs is to speak to the staff and ask for help. Again, I have never done this as there was always a helping hand when I used a stroller to get on/off the Star Ferry.
Prices in 2018:
- Adults: It costs 2.20HKD (lower deck – only on the Central/TST route) and 2.70HKD (upper deck) on Mondays-Fridays and 3.10HKD (lower deck – only on the Central/TST route) and 3.70HKD (upper deck) on the weekends
- Children (Aged 3-12): 1.50HKD (lower deck – only on the Central/TST route) and 1.60HKD (upper deck) on Mondays-Fridays and 2.10HKD (lower deck – only on the Central/TST route) and 2.20 HKD (upper deck) on the weekends
- Seniors (Aged 65 or above): Free of charge
Don’t forget to change the directions of the chairs. Kids love it to switch the directions and often they don’t mind sitting backwards to the direction the ferry is heading.