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This summer we travelled to Australia. I really didn't relish the long flight and when the travel agent suggested a stop over in Hong Kong for little extra cost I jumped at the idea. We had 2 nights and 3 days in Hong Kong and so choosing what to see was difficult within the timeframe. One of the best ways to experience the iconic skyline is to travel on the Star ferry across Victoria harbour. The Star ferry is listed by National Geographic as one of the top 50 places to experience in the world.
The star ferry has been operating since 1880 and now has 9 ferries making the regular journey from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon. We had booked to stay on Hong Kong Island and so needed to make the journey by bus to central. From here it is a short, well signposted walk to the ferry terminal.
Once inside the terminal you will need to buy your tokens from the machine. Hong Kong has a really efficient and inexpensive travel system and at just HK $2.20 (20p) for an adult single and HK $ 1.30 for a child (aged 3-12). Once you have purchased your tokens you will need to make your way through the turnstile. If you have purchased a child token an alarm will sound so the attendant can check it really is for a child! It really is all very efficient. There are also concessions available for Hong Kong students, the elderly and anyone with proof of a disability.
The ferries are very frequent departing approximately every 10 minutes from 6.30 am until 11.30pm. The later ferries are a bit less frequent, so check the timetable in the ferry terminal. There are 2 routes available- from Hong Kong Island to Tsim Sha Tsui (Kowloon) and from Hong Kong to Wanchai. Wanchai is a busy commercial area withy some reasonably priced hotels. It is worth knowing that if you choose to stay here there is a ferry terminal nearby!
Once you have passed through the turnstile you will need to wait to board. There is a small seating area with toilets available. When it is time to board the barrier is opened and it is a short walk down a ramp to the ferry. The ramp is wheel chair friendly and I did see the staff helping someone with mobility problems to board.
There are 2 decks on most of the ferries and I recommend you opt for the upper deck to get the best views. Remember to take your camera as the Hong Kong skyline is breathtaking, especially at night when the light show begins! Seating is basic although plentiful. The journey lasts about 10 minutes and over 70,000 passengers make the trip across the harbour every day! This really is a very cheap way to see the sights!
We travelled to Tsim Sha Tsui as this is the most convenient location for many of the attractions we wanted to experience such as the Hong Kong museum of history. From Tsim Sha Tsui it is well worth walking along the avenue of stars where you get wonderful views back to Hong Kong Islands skyline. There are also numerous hand prints of famous Chinese actors and a bronze statue of Bruce Lee. It can be very hot and it is recommended you carry sunscreen and wear a hat to protect yourself. It can also be very crowded and many of the Chinese carry umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun; dodging the sea of umbrellas can make for a stressful walk!
Once in Kowloon there are many good places to eat. I recommend a visit to the large mall just next to the ferry terminal. There is a first class Peking duck restaurant here (booking essential).
Although it is possible to travel between the Island by road or train, the Star ferry really is an amazing way to experience Hong Kong and a trip not to be missed!
Anyone who's heard of Hong Kong has surely heard mention of the Star Ferry. It is one of the iconic, enduring images of the city - an old fashioned green and white painted ferry which transports locals and tourists across the spectacular Victoria Harbour.
Despite the MTR and road tunnels running underneath the harbour, the Star Ferry remains one of the most popular individual forms of transport in Hong Kong. It is like a floating escape, for to either side are droves of people, class, concrete and neon - the energy of which is intoxicating and tangible.
The Star Ferry is therefore the perfect means of getting away from it all - for 6 or 7 minutes - in the middle of this vast metropolis.
It runs several routes from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island, but surely the most popular is from the old ferry pier at the south tip of Tsim Sha Tsui, over to Central ferry pier on HK Island. This connects two of the most important areas of Hong Kong, and as such, is popular amongst businessmen and women not in a rush, as well as the many tourists who come.
What makes it special is the old world vibe. Here you have a ferry connecting two of the most futuristic, chaotic districts of any city, any where in the world. Yet when you are out on the water, sailing between the two, all you can feel is the refreshing sea breeze and the sound of the waves lapping up against the side of the ferry. But this is not the only reason why the Star Ferry is so spectacular. The prime reason has to be the proximity at which it offers such unrivalled views.
Crossing the harbour it's possible to see the unparalled skyline of Hong Kong Island in all it's glory, and it's with this sighting that the true contrasts of the setting come into focus.
In more practical terms, the Star Ferry is also very cheap - between 2 and 3 HKD depending on whether you go top or lower deck. For this you can pay with regular change, or use an Octopus card (highly recommended).
In other words, for about 20p, you can ride one of the most memorable stretches of water in the whole world. You can't possibly beat that for value!
Star Ferry is actually more of a necessity than something you can just go and see if you want. It's the main access between islands, being by far the quickest and cheapest route if you do need to make the journey.
And it's a welcome necessity. Beautiful scenery, fresh sea air (definitely not the type of air you'll get inland) and more convenient than any other type of congested travel you'll get in hong kong.
Thinking back it's not really that surprising that this is one of Hong Kong's staple tourist attractions, apparently its harbour is one of the busiest in the world so a chance to get out there and see it for yourself is probably worth it. Not that it's something that sounds too impressive when you tell your friends though.
So yeah, this is a must-visit for Hong Kong, but only because you may have no other choice.
And like i said it's cheap.
The Star ferry is the iconic ferry service betwen Kowloon and Hong Kong island and has been ferrying passengers back and forth now for well over a century.
The ferry line actually has four routes although the most famous and commonly used one, and the one most people mean when they talk about the 'Star ferry' is from tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon to Central, Hong Kong. The price is HK$2.3/1.8 upper/lower deck (£1 currently is around HK$12) so an extremely cheap way to get out into the water of Hong Kong. Boats depart at least every 15-20 minutes so you can turn up at the pier without having to look up departure times in advance and the crossings take only around 15 minutes. There are now other ways to get across to Hong Kong island such as the metro which may be more convenient for regular commuters, however, as a tourist it means you are not stuck underground but instead looking at the city. The cost of the metro is also comparable to the ferry.
The other ferry routes available are Tsim Sha Tsui to Wan Chai, Hong kong then Central to Hung Hom, Kowloon and Wan Chai to Hung Hom. The latter two routes cost around HK$6 with the former being similar to the classic route cost. All run ferries at least every 25 minutes.
The boats themselves have not been overly modernised and still look like old fashioned steam ferries. There are 2 deck levels, the upper gives you a better elevation for looking over the harbour but the windows are glazed and sometimes as a result the views aren't as clear. The lower deck is my preference as there is no glass and the wind and occasionally spray whilst you travel remeinds you that you are in a boat. The views are as good as the upper deck if you get a seat near the edge-so off-peak times are better as there is less crush of people.
The great thing about the ferry is that it is a mode of transport and a tourist attraction in one package. As well as getting you over to Hong Kong island it allows the passenger to see the boat, travel on this old form of transport and get good views of the bay and the city from the water which gives a different perspective on the place. I would highly recommend the trip as it is very cheap and is also relaxing to be chugging along on the water away from crowds and chaos in the city. Crossing at least once at night is also recommended as you can see all the lights of the city and the reflection in the water as you bob around on the dark water
This is a traditional means of transportation between Kowloon and Hong Kong. It does not cost much. It takes around 15 minute to get to the other side of the town. If you want to escape from traffic jam hazards of the cross harbour tunnel and mtr, this is a really cool way. Be sure you are not in a hurry, then you will enjoy the trip more. I highly recommend this to tourists. The Tsim Sha Shui coastline is very pretty at night. One can get to see the fantanstic view just by riding this traditional ferry. I find it very relaxing, because it is not as crowded as mtr station, and can enjoy the beautiful scenery of the harbour. It is best during Christmas when all the christmas lights of the buildings are lit up, visitors can enjoy the scenery according to his or her own pace.
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