The Fastest and Cheapest Way to Kobe from Kansai International Airport and Back
If you’re planning on visiting Kobe after landing at Kansai International Airport there’s a super deal for the high speed ferry between both airports in western Japan. Hopping on these fast bay shuttle boats is cheaper than taking a bus or a train from KIX to Kobe and back.
As of writing until March 31st, 2018 an adult one-way fare cost 1000¥. The bay shuttle ferry takes you from Kansai International Airport to Kobe Airport in about 30 minutes. The normal fare for adults cost 1800¥. Children’s one-way fare cost 500¥ down from 930¥. And like it says on the advertisements it’s a 45% discount.
This special discount is only available for foreign tourists. So you’ll have to present your passports. And this deal is valid until March 31st, 2018.
I came across this discount while I was searching for the cheapest train option to KIX from Kobe. There are no direct trains so I would have to transfer to one of the trains at one of Osaka’s stations. Plus my flight departs at 10am which meant I would have to get up early and try to get my butt at the airport a few hours before it leaves without me.
Which meant that I’d have to check out of my hotel at 5am. Which means I would be groggy, grouchy and possibly bitchy until I find some decent coffee to touch my lips. All in all, it wouldn’t be pretty.
So when I found out this better and cheaper way of getting from Kobe to KIX in about an hour I was all psyched.
Since I wanted to stay in Kobe for my last leg of the trip, using the bay shuttle makes more sense. I already stayed quite awhile in Osaka already recently. So I really wanted to spend more time in Kobe.
Kobe – Kansai High Speed Shuttle ferry service is hands down better than taking a bus or a train back to Kansai airport. Because the ferry ride takes about 30 minutes. Total travel time for me was only about 1 hour.
This high speed ferry boat service going from Kobe to KIX runs every hour starting at 5:30am with the last departure at 10:45pm. The ferry boats run once every hour but check out their timetable to make sure in case there are changes. And of course it also runs from KIX to Kobe also which is great if you are planning to head to Kobe first.
Even though early in the morning there were plenty of seats available I still highly recommend you reserve a seat, especially if you’re traveling in a larger group. The boat has about 50 seat passenger capacity with some spaces allocated for luggage.
I can imagine during peak hours it might be hard to get a seat. It’s a high speed boat after all and for safety reasons there’s no standing room permitted. When passengers are seated they are required to use the seatbelts.
How to Get from Kobe City to Kansai International Airport in Roughly 1 Hour
I was staying at b Kobe Hotel which is about a 5 minute walk to Port Liner Sannomiya Station (PLSS). The PLSS is directly connected to JR Sannomiya Station which is important to know because there are other train stations nearby with the Sannomiya name. And trust me you don’t want to get into the wrong station. Otherwise you’d never find PLSS.
So when you located JR Sannomiya station, start looking for signs directing you to PLSS. There were many signs and hard to miss.
There’s only one entrance to Port Liner Sannomiya station and it’s on the second floor. If you have a lot of luggage there is an elevator on the ground level. You’ll see the ticket vending machines like the one the picture below. Just like other ticketing machines you’ve come across while traveling on Japanese trains, you first must indicate how many fares you are purchasing and then you’ll get the total you have to pay.
My flight was departing at 10am so I checked out of the hotel at 5am. The walk from b Kobe hotel where I was staying to Port Liner Sannomiya Station took about 5 minutes.
I actually went a few days ahead to find the entrance of the Port Liner station so I wouldn’t have to run around like a headless chicken at the last minute in the early cold morning of Japan’s winter. To me alone that would probably be fun. But I was traveling with my wife so I had to be a bit wiser. So that’s why I found the station quicker.
“Wayfaring Soul Travel Tip #86: Locating the exact location of your next transport hub beforehand will ensure smooth travels.”
The first train at Port Liner Sannomiya Station arrives 5:40am sharp. The trip to Kobe Airport where the ferry terminal is located is 18 minutes long and the final stop. Remember to take the train heading for Kobe Airport. If I recall correctly the train waited for about 3 minutes before it left the station.
Because we were in so early the train was not crowded at all. The train makes 8 stops along the way and even stops at a station with an IKEA. I was so tempted to go buy some Lingonberry jam and some wall shelves. But we had a plane to catch.
Kobe Airport is the last stop. After you exit the ticket gate you should see some signs pointing the way to the port entrance right in front of you. There’s no need to go inside Kobe airport. When you go downstairs outside you’ll see the first large sign leading to the ferry terminal.
You’ll be walking past a parking lot and at the end of the parking lot is another sign directing you to go left. Then more signs leading you directly to the Kobe Airport Kaijyo Access Terminal.
There should be a bus that will take you to the pier but we didn’t see one I guess because it was still early in the morning. But for me and my wife the walk took about 5 minutes. So the pier is not far away.
I reserved 2 seats a few days ago before departure. Matter of fact according to their website reservations are available 3 months to 48 hours before departure. The ticket counter was easy to spot because the ferry terminal is not all too big. You can pay with credit card and I even saw a currency exchange booth.
So I informed them of my reservation and was asked to show my passports and then I got two tickets on the ferry to KIX at 1000¥ a piece with 15 minutes to spare. I even had enough time to buy a hot coffee at a vending machine.
Besides vending machines selling hot and cold drinks I even saw ice cream too. Also some work tables with charging ports. Quite the cozy ferry terminal if I may say so.
At KIX Airport
Once passengers disembark at KIX ferry terminal a few buses are waiting. The first bus heads to Terminal 1 which is where all airlines are located except for Peach Airline which is located in Terminal 2. Don’t worry, all the buses have digital displays indicating which bus goes to which terminal.
It’s probably a wise idea to check the weather to make sure there are no typhoons or hurricanes forecasted. The end of August and early September is Japan’s typhoon season. You can imagine weather could really play a part in delaying your trip to catch your flight from Kobe to KIX.
Really, the whole trip process was so smooth and in a way, so Japanese. As I looked out my window when the boat departed you could see a porter waving good bye. Everything went so smoothly. Usually I get nervous about trying out a mode of transport for the very first time. Especially when I have to catch a flight home. But this first time going on this high speed ferry boat from Kobe to KIX was a flawless experience.