Long before the steamboat was invented, people crossed the harbour between Kowloon and the island of Hong Kong on a sampan. It was a time-consuming business but once the Star Ferry opened the trip only took a few minutes! The company now operates twelve boats, and the journey offers fantastic views of the impressive Hong Kong skyline.
The Star Ferry was founded in 1888 as the Kowloon Ferry Company and received its current name in 1898. The company has continued to flourish for over a century, despite undergoing several crises. In 1906, a typhoon struck the Kowloon pier and destroyed two ferries. The only other break in service occurred after the Japanese invasion in 1941.
Although there are now many tunnels and bridges linking the island of Hong Kong to mainland Kowloon, the Star Ferry is still a very inexpensive way to cross the harbour. Some 70,000 people take the boat every day, adding up to almost 26 million per year. The ferry has two regular routes and a special Harbour Tour, which docks at each stop.
Here’s a tip: Try to find a spot on the ferry just before eight o’clock in the evening. This is when the show ‘Symphony of Lights’ starts, with 44 buildings lit up in an amazing laser show with fireworks. The ferry will stop halfway through the harbour to let passengers enjoy this spectacle from the water.