Victoria Peak, also known locally as ‘The Peak’ in Hong Kong, is constantly rated as the number one attraction in Hong Kong – famous for it’s incredible views over Hong Kong Island and across Victoria Harbour, Kowloon and Lamma Island.
It was early in the 19th century that the European residents of Hong Kong began looking for an escape from the tropical climates of Hong Kong – settling on the Peak for it’s cooler climates and incredible views. They originally made the steep journey up the Victoria Peak slope by sedan chairs, before the Peak Tram funicular opened in 1888. Today a trip up to the peak in the tram is just as famous as the views itself, so both were on our to do list whilst in Hong Kong!
Our trip up to the peak was somewhat last minute – as we’d had days of cloud and fog over the entire city, we decided to try and wait it out for a nice day. About halfway through our stay whilst exploring other viewpoints in the city, we noticed the cloud had largely disappeared and a bit of sun poking through. It was likely going to be our only opportunity to visit, so we decided to make our way to the peak around 3PM.
We took Bus 15C from the Star Ferry Terminus (we’d been exploring the nearby IFC building) to the Peak Tram Terminus located on Garden Road. Whilst taking the tram up to the peak IS the quickest way to the top – the reality is that once you count in lining up, purchasing tickets and then waiting for a time, you could be waiting for up to an hour. The line for the tram snaked around the block, and whilst it moved reasonably quickly, by the time we were able to get on a tram we’d been waiting over half an hour.
Whilst the tram journey itself is meant to be a ‘most scenic’ journey – to be totally honest – we weren’t that impressed. As is typical with most transport ‘attractions’, there was lots of pushing and shoving by others to get on to the tram, so we ended up standing up for the trip. Standing up whilst ascending the peak at a nearly 45 degree angle wasn’t exactly easy! The tram hurtled through residential areas before stopping at the halfway mark for a quick ‘photo op’ of the city. Unless you had the seat closest to the window, you wouldn’t be able to see anything, let alone capture a photo as well. Whilst we had reached the top in just several minutes, we found the experience as a whole fairly overrated.
Atop the peak, two shopping centres have been established – the Peak Tower and the Peak Galleria. The Peak Galleria has an observation deck on Level 3 which offers free views over the city skyline. The Peak Tower however is home to the iconic observation deck, which is also known as the Sky Terrace 428 (as it stands 428 metres above sea level) and offers 360 degree views across Hong Kong. The Sky Terrace 428 is not free however – to access the observation deck a ticket is required, which includes the use of an audio guide with information about the history of the Hong Kong and its iconic buildings.
Which observation deck had the better view? We checked out the free deck atop the Peak Galleria and whilst this still has incredibly stunning views, it’s at a lower height than that at the Peak Tower, and sits at a different angle so that you’re not facing into the Victoria Gap – where all those classic shots of the Hong Kong city skyline are taken from. If you’re on a budget, then this is definitely the way to go but if you’re wanting the opportunity to take those classic photos, then the Peak Tower is where you need to head.
We wanted to watch the sun set from atop the Sky Terrace 428 and then stay on for the city lights to appear as night set in, so we headed up to the observation deck around 5PM. Be warned – you’re not able to re-enter the deck on the same ticket, so if you are planning on spending several hours at the top over the course of an evening, be sure to visit the bathroom/eat/bring snacks before making your way up!
You will also need to be patient if you wish to capture ‘that’ shot of the city skyline. In today’s selfie-taking age, everyone is vying for the best spot up against the glass paneling to capture a photo, without anyone in it. The only spot along the entire lookout where you can possibly get a photo with no one in it is in the far right corner – in front of the coin-operated telescopes. Needless to say, this is the most popular spot and it can take a long, long time for the chance to duck in and grab a photo. We spent a total of FOUR hours atop the deck, slowly making our way closer and closer to the prime photo-taking spot. There was a lot of patience involved, but we’re so glad we stuck it out because we got some incredible photos!
After contending with selfie-sticks and pushing and shoving all night, the next battle is getting out from the Peak. After watching the light show from atop the Sky Terrace and then leaving for a bite to eat, we made our way to the Peak Tram Station to leave – and so did everyone else. The queue for the peak at around 9PM at night was more than 30 minutes long, and we had to line up outside in the cold wind – a stark contrast to the humid temperatures down below.
Despite the fact we had bought a return tram ticket, we couldn’t be bothered waiting in line, to then still not be anywhere near an MTR station at the other end – it would be well over an hour before getting back to our guesthouse in Tsim Sha Tsui. So, we bailed and took the bus instead which would drop us off right outside Central MTR station instead, saving the issue of getting from the lower peak terminus to the station.
It took about 20 minutes to get down the hill by bus, but boy are we glad we decided to take it instead of waiting for the tram – the views are spectacular! Unlike the views on the tram where you get a quick glance at the city through a gap in the trees, the road from Victoria Peak to Hong Kong Central meandered through the city, offering continuous spectacular views of it all lit up. It was the perfect end to our sight-seeing trip to The Peak!
- Getting to The Peak:
As mentioned, the ‘done thing’ is to get to and from the Peak by tram, however we found the entire experience pretty overrated. If you still want to give it a go, you’ll want to arrive at the Lower Terminus on Garden Road to buy your tickets and make your way up to the Peak. A return tram ticket is $40 HKD (approx $6.60 AUD)Alternatively, take the bus – it has much better views than the tram does (especially at night) and the lines aren’t nearly as long! Jump on board Bus 15 from Central Pier 5 (near the Star Ferry terminals on Hong Kong Island) all the way to the top for just $9.80 HKD (approx $1.60 AUD).
For more transport information check out the official site here.
- What has the better view?
In our opinion the paid entry to the Sky Terrace 428 definitely had the better view – it was higher up and the perfect angle to take some amazing shots. You can buy your admission tickets from the Sky Terrace 428 desk inside The Peak Tower shopping centre for $48 HKD (approx $8 AUD), or if you’re planning on taking the tram up you can buy a bundle ticket for $83 HKD (approx $13.80 AUD) which gives you access.