Victoria Peak is the highest point on Hong Kong Island which means 360 degree views of the island and a breathtaking harbour vista as you look across to Kowloon side. Hong Kong's most popular tourist attraction is a definite must-see, but I have a couple of tips that the guide books don't include.
My first top tip relates to getting up to the Peak. Your guide book will tell you take the Peak Tram, a funicular railway that's been running since 1888 which creaks 396 metres up the side of the hill at a hair-raising gradient. The ride is an experience not to be missed but the queues to catch the tram up the Peak (at the Garden Road Terminus in Central) snake right around the block morning, noon and night. The queues at the top to ride back down again however, are much smaller and anyway, in my opinion, the ride down is even more exciting and roller coaster-esque than the ride up. So, I always save the tram for the way down the hill and just jump in a cab on the way up thereby skipping the maddening queues at the bottom (Hong Kong's cabs are plentiful and cheap - the red and white taxis are for hire when the red circle on the dashboard is lit up and the white taxi sign on the car's roof is alight).
My second tip centres on what to do once you get up there. The majority of visitors flock straight to the Peak Tower, a wok-shaped viewing platform 428 metres above sea level. You undoubtedly get breath-taking views from this lookout point but it sits atop a giant shopping mall packed with tacky souvenir shops and generic chain restaurants. While I see the Peak Tower as a definite must do (it’s a great place to snap a few impressive skyline photos) I’d suggest that you don't confine your Peak experience to this Disneyfied corner but instead combine it with something that not everyone does. Ask your cab driver to drop you off outside the Peak Tower and take a gentle stroll along the Hong Kong Trail, a route which loops for about an hour around the top of the Peak through lush greenery that chirrups with cicadas. Along this trail you'll get beautiful views across the city and wind past some of Hong Kong's most luxurious houses (prices of the real estate up here exceed even those of Monaco's mansions). This is a perfect walk to take during the latter half of the afternoon so that you end up back at the Peak Tower just before sunset. Head to the viewing platform in time to watch the sun sink below the skyscrapers and stay until the city’s kaleidoscopic lights come up. By this point you should have worked up a healthy appetite.
Which brings us to my third tip - where to eat. Scoot straight past the shopping mall chain restaurants and head directly across the road from the Peak Tower to the Peak Lookout, the quaint cottage-like building that twinkles under chains of fairy lights. The restaurant sits on the site of the former resting shelter of the sedan chair carriers whose job it was to ferry the Peak's wealthy residents up and down the hill. Bag a table out on the terrace which overlooks the South side of the island and refuel with jet-fresh seafood, tandoori oven fired meats accompanied by pillows of fluffy naan or a char-grilled steak from the barbeque.
128 Peak Road, The Peak, Hong Kong Island.
Google Maps: goo.gl/maps/yziA
The Hong Kong Trail
The Peak Lookout
121 Peak Road, The Peak, Hong Kong Island.
(852) 2849 1000
Google Map: goo.gl/maps/TT7Y
* Natalie is our local for Hong Kong. You can read all about her here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/hong-kong-local-natalie-robinson.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/natalierobinson
She also has her own blog at: www.3badmice.com/
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