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The Star Ferry Hong Kong: Expert Tips, Mini Tour

Written by GavinUpdated Jan. 20, 2021

Hong Kong's Star Ferry has been faithfully plying Victoria Harbour since 1888. Discover this very popular way to cross the harbor and see the scenery.

You'll have an 11-minute scenic voyage with a fresh breeze and rocking waves. You would need to experience it to know why tourists say it is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Hong Kong.

We at China Highlights have put together some touring information and tips to help you take a mini tour of Victoria Harbor on the world's most popular ferry.

The Star Ferry is FERRY popular!

  • #1 of 875 Things to Do in Hong Kong on TripAdvisor in 2019. Certificate of Excellence.
  • 1st of things to do in Hong Kong on USNEWS in 2019.
  • #4 of 20 Ultimate Things to Do in Hong Kong on Fodor's (2018).
  • #1 of the world's "Top 10 Most Exciting Ferry Rides" as polled by the Society of American Travel Writers ("SATW") in 2009.

In 2019, riding the Star Ferry is rated by tourists as the 4th most popular Thing to Do in all of China on TripAdvisor!

Hong Kong is by far the most popular city for tourism in the world. Victoria Harbour is the most popular area of Hong Kong, and the Star Ferry of Hong Kong is one of its most popular things to do. While riding it, you can get refreshed as you go to the most popular tourist areas around Victoria Harbour at the same time. You can do something REALLY POPULAR!

What is the Star Ferry Hong Kong?

Hong Kong Star FerryWhen you ride the Star Ferry, you can see the scenery, rest and get refreshed, and cross over fast between the best areas of Victoria Harbour.
  • Journey: about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) between Tsim Sha Tsui and Central Star Ferry pier

The Star Ferry travels between the Avenue of Stars and the Central piers in front of the IFC Tower and mall. These are Hong Kong's two single most popular tourist areas.

Two Star Ferry Routes

The Star Ferry operates the following cross-harbor routes. Fares are in HKD and last updated in June 2018.

  • Central Star Ferry pier to Tsim Sha Tsui: For the lower deck, it costs $2.20 on Mondays to Fridays; $3.10 on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. For upper deck, $2.70 on Mondays to Fridays; $3.70 on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. Time: about 11 minutes to Central
  • Wan Chai Star Ferry pier to Tsim Sha Tsui: For $2.70 on Mondays to Fridays; $3.70 on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. Time: about 12 minutes to Wan Chai

The fleet of twelve ferries operate on two routes across the harbor. The most popular route and the one that gets the rave reviews is the Central to Tsim Sha Tsui route. That allows the best views of the mouth of the harbor that is framed by the ICC and the IFC. This route looks especially nice in the evening with the sun setting over Lantau Island in the west and the ICC Tower lighting up with the snappy white graphics all over the face of its 108 stories.

Where does the Star Ferry go?

Avenue of StarsThe Avenue of Stars is adjacent to the Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry dock.

When you ride it, you conveniently land at Hong Kong's most popular tourist areas around Victoria Harbour.

In Tsim Sha Tsui, you get immediate access to the Avenue of Stars with its Symphony of Lights, Harbour City Mall (Hong Kong's largest), and the Space Museum and the Museum of Art.

The Tsim Sha Tsui Hong Kong Tourist Information Centre is conveniently in the same building as the ticket gates for the ferry. You can get free maps, guides and information there as you go.

The Central Star Ferry Pier is alongside the piers for many other ferries to other islands. It is on the Central Promenade. The Hong Kong Maritime Museum and the giant Ferris wheel are adjacent, and the IFC Mall and Towers are a few minutes walk away.

What is Victoria Harbour Hong Kong?

Victoria Harbour is an almost ideally naturally sheltered channel between Hong Kong Island and the Hong Kong mainland. It is usually considered one of the world's most beautiful harbors. The geography makes the channel quite sheltered so that the water is usually peaceful.

Star Ferry Mini Tour Plan

iccThe ICC Tower lighting effects can be watched while riding the Star Ferry and at its Central Star Ferry terminal.

Optimal arrival time: The scenery is beautiful any time of the day, but the highlights are the evening sunset and the Symphony of Lights show at 8 pm.

Transport to Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry: You can reach the Star Ferry in Tsim Sha Tsui via buses 6, 7 and others. If you are taking the MTR, go to Tsim Sha Tsui Station. It is about an 18 minute walk from there through tunnels and on the ground.

Transport to the Central Star Ferry: You can take the metro to Hong Kong Station or Central Station. Both are under the IFC Mall complex. There is a pedestrian overpass you can take from the IFC Mall directly over to the Central Star Ferry building. Many buses park in an open air bus station in front including bus 15 that goes to Victoria Peak.

To avoid crowds in the ferry terminals: Avoid the rush morning and evening hours (7 to 9:30 in the morning and 4 to about 7 pm in the evening).

Payment: You can use the Octopus card so you don't have to buy tokens at the station (quicker), or you can simply pay cash into the token dispensing machines near the gates. Drop your token into the gate box to enter.

Wait in the lobby: Even during busy hours, you'll probably only wait for at most ten minutes. There are washrooms at both terminals, but at times the washrooms are closed.

Take the lower deck: For the most tourist fun, take the bottom deck to get close to the washing waves and for a clearer view.

A Scenic and Refreshing Ride

For most people, riding the Star Ferry is quite enjoyable. Even for commuters who ride it day after day, it is a welcome 12 minute rest and a bit of refreshment in the day. The reasons are hard to understand though...

For a more detailed tour plan on what to do around the ferry piers, see our Victoria Harbour Guide.

Recommended Restaurants near Star Ferry Piers

BLT SteakFor American food with a scenic view of the harbor, BLT Steak is a minute walk from the Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry.

Middle budget lunch/dinner: You can have lunch at the Harbour City Mall adjacent to the TST pier. If you want American-style food, we recommend BLT Steak and Dan Ryan's in the mall. Both have good harbor views.

Gourmet lunch/dinner: If you want fine dim sum or Michelin-starred meals, then we suggest go over to the Four Seasons and the IFC Mall. In the IFC, we recommend 3 Michelin star Lung King Heen if you can afford it or Lei Garden for dim sum. In these two restaurants, you can experience authentic Cantonese-style food.

Budget meals: If you want about the least expensive meals you can find in the area, there is a McDonalds adjacent to the Star Ferry in Tsim Sha Tsui.

History of the Star Ferry Hong Kong

The Star Ferry was founded in 1888 with one boat. It quickly became quite popular, and by 1898, four ferry boats were plying back and forth across the channel.

  • In 1898, these four boats made about 147 crossings a day.
  • From these small beginnings, the ferries now carry about 70,000 passengers per day or 26 million per year.

Reclamation projects have changed the look of the harbor. The width of the channel between Tsim Sha Tsui and Central is now less than half of what it was about two decades ago. Substantial construction is still being undertaken in 2019.

How to Get to the Star Ferry

tour with China HighlightsYou can sightsee, tour and shop in comfort and style in Hong Kong with our private transport.

Public bus: Bus 1, 2, 6, 7, 8A, or 9 and others and get off by the Hong Kong Cultural Center/Star Ferry bus stop.

Taxi: From the ICC and the West Kowloon HSR Station, taxis go to the Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry for about 7 USD in about 5 minutes or less.

The Best Time to Ride the Star Ferry

The best time to visit Victoria Harbour is from October to December when it is cool and dry. Rainy, cloudy weather usually begins in January. If there is inclement weather, the Symphony of Lights is canceled.

The summers are beautiful, warm, and sunny, but there are occasional tropical storms.

Touring Victoria Harbour with Us

Visit Hong Kong with your familyVictoria Harbour from Victoria Peak

Our knowledgeable guide could escort you on the ferry boat ride and relate its history and the many harbour sights. He or she can lead you to the best spots that you'll prefer. Your driver will ferry you conveniently with care.

We create tailor-made, private tours according to the wishes of our clients. Here are some customizable regional tours for your consideration:

Private transport: Instead of using taxis, we could arrange private transport for your tour.

All our tours are modifiable, or you could design your own. Or tell us your interests and requirements, and we will tailor-make a Hong Kong tour for you. We reply within 24 hours.

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