Victoria Peak on Hong Kong Island boasts the best views the former British colony has to offer. From the main viewpoint, looking north, the tops of the skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island seem almost within touching distance, with Tsim Sha Tsui and Kowloon over the harbour looking equally impressive and expansive, spreading to the green mountains in the distance. A short walk from the Peak along Harlech Road gives a more natural outlook, down the slopes so the southern shoreline and the outlying islands.
To get there, many people just think of taking the famous Peak Tram, which ascends from the Central area, near Hong Kong Park. However, a much cheaper and way more scenic ride to the top is to take the bus. OK, it takes longer (approximately 40 minutes), but the view you get along the route from the top floor of the double decker buses that ply the route are breathtaking, sometimes quite literally, as it twists and turns its way along a precarious mountain top road! On the tram, much of the route is covered by trees with just the odd glimpse available here and there of the city below.
The number 15 bus leaves from Central Pier on Hong Kong Island, where the Star Ferry from Tsim Sha Tsui docks, making connections from the mainland simple. The buses leave every 10-15 minutes from 10am until midnight and cost just HK$9.80 one way – compare this to a HK$28 single ticket for the tram. The route takes you past City Hall and the busy streets of Central before beginning the climb uphill above Happy Valley – there are great views of the racecourse below! As the bus climbs higher and higher you pass by communities that literally cling to the mountainside with the price and exclusivity of the properties tending to increase the higher the elevation.
Once at the top there are numerous attractions. The bus station is underneath The Peak Galleria shopping mall. The roof of this mall offers views over the city and surrounding hills – just look for the signs once inside. The mall also offers numerous dining options. The Peak Tower is the main attraction, albeit on the pricey side – you can ascend to the roof for HK$48. However, for free, you can walk either side of the Peak Tower and get just as stunning views. If you have the time, do take a leisurely one hour circular walk along Lugard Road and Harlech Road – the view constantly changes as you wind along the paths, with jungle-like flora and fauna everywhere.
Time to descend…you have the choice: take the bus back down, splurge on a ride of the tram (queues are normally quieter when descending rather than ascending), or you can walk. If you don’t mind the very steep path, which does put a lot of pressure on your legs and ankles, walking is the best option in my opinion – just take Old Peak Road by the side of The Peak Tower which zigzags down the hillside and eventually takes you to the zoo and botanical gardens which are just a hop, skip and a jump away from the city centre. If you have the time, go up Victoria Peak both in the daytime and night – the view of the lit up city skyscrapers below is hard to beat!