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Hong Kong Travel, tours, Victoria Peak

Victoria Peak

Famous postcard views and lovely nature trails...

The Peak, as it is commonly known, is probably Hong Kong's most popular tourist attraction.  The world-class views of the city and the harbour are simply spectacular... Especially at night, when the countless skyscrapers are flashing in millions of dazzling lights...

 

Rising to an altitude of 552 meters above sea level, this is the island's highest mountain (even though there are higher summits in the territory). The actual summit of Victoria Peak is occupied by a telecommunications facility and is closed to the public. However, the surrounding area comprises a mixture of publicly accessible parkland, tourist facilities and extremely expensive residential land, and it is this area that is normally meant by the name The Peak.

 

The Peak's pleasant climate made it a desirable retreat for Hong Kong's rich and powerful, right from the first days of the crown colony... The sixth governor of Hong Kong, Sir Richard MacDonnell, built his summer home there around 1868 and other wealthy residents followed suit.

 

In the old colonial days, the area was designated as an exclusive residential area, reserved for Europeans and government officials only. This discriminative regulation, however, was abolished after World War II and today The Peak remains an upmarket residential area, although residency is controlled by wealth rather than race.

 

The original residents reached their homes by sedan chairs (litter), which were carried up and down the steep paths by their personal staff of uniformed bearers. The difficulty of access limited the development of the Peak, a situation that remained unchanged until the opening of the Peak Tram in 1888.

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Most visitors use the Peak Tram to get to The Peak... Not only that riding the internationally-famous tram is one of Hong Kong's "must dos"... it also provides the most direct route and offers good views over the city's harbour and skyscrapers.

 

A small tip from Metropolasia-Man

The internationally-known Peak Tram climbs the stiff 400 meters ascent to the upper terminus in approximately 7 minutes and riding it is one of Hong Kong's "must dos"...

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Owned by the same group that owns the iconic Peninsula Hotel, the Peak Tram covers a distance of about 1.4 kilometers and a height difference of slightly less than 400 meters.  The lower terminus station is located on Garden Road near St. John's Cathedral, while the upper terminus is located below the Peak Tower shopping and leisure complex at Victoria Gap, some 150 meters below the actual summit of Victoria Peak (which, as already mentioned, is occupied by a telecommunications facility).  There are also four intermediate stations, but they are of not much interest to the average visitor, and the tram rarely stops there.

 

The tram operates daily, from 7 am to 12 midnight.  It departs every 10 - 15 minutes and covers the full distance in approximately 7 minutes.

 

Tickets can be purchased at either of the terminuses.  They cost HK$ 25 / HK$ 36 (one way/ return) for an adult, and HK$ 9 / 16 (one way / return) for a child of 3 - 11 years or for a senior citizen (above 65).  You can also buy a "combo" ticket combining the tram and the Sky Terrace at a somewhat discounted rate.

 

A small tip from 'Metropolasia-Man' :

While waiting for your tram, at the lower terminus, spend a couple of minutes at the Peak Tram Historical Gallery, which displays many memorabilia items from the tram's early days.

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To get to the Peak Tram Lower Terminus:  From MTR - Central, take exit J-2 to Chatter Garden, walk through the garden, cross Queen's Road Central and continue up along Garden Road (you will see it on your left side, opposite the American Consulate General).

If coming by ferry from Tsim sha Tsui, you can board the Peak Tram shuttle bus (No. 15C) at Central's Ferry-pier bus terminus (next to the pier).  It operates daily, from 10 am to almost midnight (a bus leaves every 15 - 20 minutes) and the ride costs approximately HK$ 4 per person.

 

Getting to the peak is also possible via other means of transport:

Green minibus No. 1 connects Central and The Peak.  It departs from the bus interchange, next to Hong Kong Station - Exit A1 (near Two IFC and the Four Seasons Hotel) every 10 minutes or so, daily, 6:30 am - 12 midnight, and charges around HK$ 8 each way.

 

Bus No. 15 can be boarded at Central's Ferry pier bus terminus (both Pier 5 and Pier 7), as well as at Exchange Square.  A bus leaves every 10 - 15 minutes (Daily: Early momning till midnight) and it costs around HK$ 9.2 each way (HK$ 4.6 for children and senior citizens).

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No matter how you travel to The Peak, you'll always end up at either the Peak Tower (where the tram's upper terminus is located) or at Peak Galleria (where the bus terminus is).

 

The two adjoining shopping and entertainment centers form the gateway to the Peak area and, as a matter of fact, most visitors do not even bother to venture beyond them (which is a shame)... One notably good thing about the two malls is that they are built in a dip (Victoria Gap) which means they don't really interrupt the natural line of the hills.

 

Things to do and see around The Peak

Naturally, both Peak Tower and Peak Galleria are packed with the expected shebang of restaurants, cafés, shops, "unique attractions" and tourist traps...

 

The Sky Terrace, at the top of the Chinese-wok-shaped Peak Tower, seems to be the latest thing... The large terrace offers a breathtaking 360° panoramic views of the city and the sea (including the southern shores of Hong Kong Island, and some of the outlying islands) and on clear days (which become more and more rare, due to air pollution from China) the views are unmatched. 

 

The Terrace is open daily, 10 am - 11 pm and tickets cost around HK$ 25 for an adult and HK$ 12 for a child or a senior (as already mentioned, you can buy discounted "combo" tickets that combine the tram and the Sky Terrace).

 

Still at the Peak Tower, Madame Tussauds doesn't really need to be introduced... The Hong Kong branch of the world-famous wax-museums- chain houses nearly 100 wax figures of internationally-known personalities and local celebrities... From famous Hong Kongers like Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee and Michelle Yeoh  to George W. Bush, Saddam Hussein, Brad Pitt, Hugh Grant, David Beckham and many others...

 

Madame Tussauds is located at level P1, where the Peak Tram station's exit is.

Open daily, 10 am - 10 pm, and tickets cost around HK$ 160 for an adult and HK$ 90 for a child or a senior (there are combo packages that include the museum, the Peak Tram and the Sky Terrace at a somewhat discounted rate).

 

Website: www.madame-tussauds.com.hk                        Phone: 2849 6966

 

The EA experience is the Hong Kong outlet of American computer and video games conglomerate, EA (Electronic Arts).  You can play here till you drop, or see what's the latest buzz in the games world... (and buy some of these new-released games).  Open daily, 12 noon - 10 pm (from 10 am on weekends), entrance is free (Level 1).

 

The Peak Galleria, just a stonethrow away, has less in the way of tourist attractions, but houses some great shops and restaurants you might want to check out... such as trendy Café Deco.

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Believe it or not, Life around The Peak goes beyond shopping malls... so those of you who actually hoped to enjoy some lovely nature walks can get a scoopful of it.  Pok Fu Lam Country Park covers most of the area around the peak and boasts some nice walking trails that pass through fabulous observation-points and allow the visitor to familiarize himself with Hong Kong's flora and fauna...

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The Peak Trail, possibly the most famous of those nature walks is , a relatively easy family walk that encircles the actual summit.  It winds through the lush woods and other than to render awesome views, it also passes through various stations where you can learn about the territory's unique trees and plants... 

It also crosses some other trails along its route, so it can be used as a "jumping board" for those who want to try some "more serious" walks...

 

The Peak Trail starts at the back of the Peak Tower.  Turn right (the opposite direction from Peak Galleria), enter narrow Lugard Road and walk along it around the Victoria Peak Summit.  This section of the trail is known as the Pokfulam Native Tree Walk, as it boasts most of Hong Kong's indigenous flora species, including Chinese Hackberry (Celtis sinensis), Ivy Tree (Schefflera heptaphylla), Lance-leaved Sterculia (Sterculia lanceolata), Turn-in-the-wind (Mallotus paniculatus), Silver-back Artocarpus (Artocarpus hypargyreus), Reevesia (Reevesia thyrsoidea), Woodland Elaeocarpus (Elaeocarpus sylvestris), Acronychia (Acronychia pedunculata), Morris's Persimmon (Diospyros morrisiana), Chinese Banyan (Ficus microcarpa), Mountain Tallow Tree (Sapium discolor), Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora), Pond Spice (Litsea glutinosa), Short-flowered Machilus (Machilus breviflora) and Hong Kong Gordonia (Gordonia axillaris).

 

Interpretation plates with interesting information are scattered along the trail and it's really advisable to spend a bit of time, reading them...

 

At a certain stage, Lugard Road joins Harlech Road, with which you complete the summit circuit and return to Peak Galleria and the Peak Tower (the whole circuit can take something like 1 - 1.5 hours of pleasant walking).

 

The slightly more adventurous among you might want to continue the walk, down to Pokfulam village and The Reservoir.  Just before you return to Peak Galleria (from Harlech Road), turn right to the narrow Pokfulam Reservoir Road (a few steps from Peak Café) and walk down with it to the reservoir and the village.

 

The road forks just before reaching the reservoir and you should take the right branch (the left one goes to a dead end) and walk with it along the reservoir's shore (which should be on your left hand side) and onto Pokfulam village (you'll have to proceed along Pokfulam Reservoir Rd. till you get to Pokfulam Rd., turn left and walk along it for a few minutes till you see the old village on your left). 200 years old Pokfulam village is one of the only old villages on Hong Kong Island that still maintain some old-days authenticity...

 

After strolling around the "village" you can catch bus Nos. 4 , 7, 90B, 91 or 94 to Central, or bus No. 40 to Wanchai Ferry Pier and Pacific Place.  There are stations opposite HKU University hall (closer to the reservoir) or on 147 Pok Fu Lam Rd. (outside Pokfulam Skills Centre - closer to the "village")

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Victoria Peak Garden is the closest you can get to the summit itself. Soaking in lush greenery, the lovely Chinese style garden is great both for the unmatched views it renders, as well as for its ultra-pleasant ambience... It's not far from the Peak Tower (or from Peak Galleria) in terms of actual distance, but you need to climb something like 150 meters, so you might huff and puff a bit before you actually get there... but it's worth the effort.

 

From the back of the Peak tower, walk into Mt. Austin Road (the entrance is next to Peak Café) and continue with it.  Turn right, and then left (still on Mt. Austin Road) and keep on walking up the street till you get there...

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You may also want to read about other trips around this area...

Wan Chai & Admiralty - Modern architecture, shopping and sinful streets

Central - "Where modern Hong Kong started from"