Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrMount Austin, or The Peak as it is colloquially known, is the highest point on Hong Kong Island and stands 582m above sea level. It is considered the city’s most prized landmark and is, undoubtedly, the most unmissable attraction in town. A visit to The Peak is actually a multi-sense experience and combines several Hong Kong gems, such as insane crowds, packed-as-sardines tram rides and, of course, shopping. In true Hong Kong style, not one but two shopping centers have been erected here, because if there were ever a perfect time to buy new clothes it surely must be when you’re on a stunning mountain top.
So Why Go?For the views, of course!
Victoria Peak may sound like hard work and we admit that at times it really is. But the views...ooohhh the views are incredible up here. On a crystal clear day, a reputed rarity in this part of the world, the views are truly breathtaking and mesmerising. Once you’re up this high you’ll truly appreciate the beauty of this harbor and you’ll get to see all nearby islands as well as the city’s most beloved landmarks.
A Look Back at HistoryIt’s crazy to think that the actual climate on The Peak (temperate) is different to that at sea level (tropical). For this very specific reason, the top of Mount Austin has been favored by wealthy Hong Kong residents since at least the mid-19th century. Back in those days, the bourgeoisie used to reach the top by old-fashioned Litter , yet after the opening of the tram in 1888, both access and popularity of The Peak soared to new heights.
Soon after, the higher levels of Mount Austin were set apart as very exclusive residential areas, something which continues to this very day.
The TramWhat started as a means to get builders to work in a timely manner has now become one of the city’s most sought-after experiences. The Peak Tram is a steep ride and offers superlative and continuous views (as long as you sit on the RHS) for the duration of its 400m climb. Having said this, many visitors attest to having a love-hate relationship with the famed tram. Yes, it’s a priceless experience, but it does come at a high cost. Crowds are unbelievable, waiting times infuriating and the enjoyment of the whole thing (this is the packed-as-sardines-part by the way) can be severely tainted at busy times. Which is pretty much any time on a crystal clear day.
So what to do? Our best recommendation is to follow our below-mentioned instruction on how to reach The Peak by bus or taxi, and taking the tram for a one-way ride on the way back. You may enjoy a relaxing compromise doing it this way.
What you will find at the Peak
Sky Terrace 428This half-moon shaped terrace stands an altitude of 428m and is the piece de resistance of the Peak. Fantastic, sweeping and all-round views is what it gifts and, being the highest open-air viewing platform in the city, it means those views are utterly unrivalled anywhere in Honkers.
The Peak TowerThe tower is basically the supporting platform of Sky Terrace and the whole construction has earned it the nickname 'rice bowl' among locals. Filled to the brim with shops, restaurants and cafes, as well as a branch of Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. You'll also find an indoor bazaar here (the Peak Market) where you'll find a plethora of souvenirs, arts, crafts and various trinkets. This is considered the 'sanitized' market shopping venue, ideal for those who feel a bit overwhelmed with outdoor markets such as the Temple Street Night Market. The Peak Galleria is where you'll find an array of fast food joints (McDonalds and Burger King to name a few) and over a dozen restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets.
Plan Your VisitYou may have surmised by now that a visit to The Peak should be approached with military precision. Although your visit will be mostly dictated by the weather (a visit should only ever be considered when skies are blissfully clear), there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of enjoyment and taking in the views in relative peace.
Considering the fact that large numbers of tourists come here on organised tours, be sure you’re in a taxi and on your way at least half an hour before opening times. By the time the tour guides have picked up everyone, ticked them off the list and made sure they all got on the tram, you’ll be well into your second cup of coffee at the Peak’s café.
Although no-one would dare argue that the admission price for the Sky Terrace is not worth every cent, you can actually enjoy equally superb views by taking an hour-long round walk along the top trail. Not only will you get your views free of charge but you’ll also enjoy a much more ‘in touch with nature’ experience.
Crowds notwithstanding, the most impressive time to visit is at twilight. If you’re going to deal with healthy crowds then you may as well squeeze your visit for all its worth. Head up here about an hour before sunset and stay awhile. You’ll get to see the best daytime and night-time views, and will finally appreciate Hong Kong’s obsession with neon lights as darkness descends. It’s truly mesmerizing.
- Tram: HK$40 ($5.20) for return tix, HK$29 ($3.77) one way.
- Sky Terrace: HK$48 ($6.24).
- Sky Terrace & Tram (combined): HK$65 ($8.45) return, HK$53 ($6.89) one way.
How to Get There
To the Lower Tram StationYou can reach the lower tram station by hopping on the MTR and stopping off at Central Station. Take the J2 exit and walk up to ground level and cut through Charter Gardens to reach Garden Road. You’ll find the Tram Station just a few hundred meters on the LHS. Alternatively, you can reach the lower tram station by catching the 15C shuttle-bus from the Central Bus Terminal, found just west of the Star Ferry Terminal.
To the PeakWhilst it’s true that the tram is indeed the most scenic way to reach The Peak, it is by no means always the most enjoyable. Those who wish to keep their nerves unfrayed may opt for a bus, minibus or taxi fare instead. In a city where visibility is so precious, time wasted queuing for the tram (as much as 2 hours at times) can certainly leave one quite infuriated. Keep your sanity and save time by catching a metered taxi to the top viewing platform, or take minibus 1, or bus 15, from Central. the bus rides costs HK$10 ($1.27). A taxi fare from central, all the way to the Peak, should set you back no more than HK$100 ($13).
- St John’s Cathedral
- Hong Kong Disneyland
- Ocean Park
- Po Lin Monastery
- Hong Kong Museum of History
- Hong Kong Space Museum
Do you see any omissions, errors or want to add information to this page? Sign up.
Author: Laura Pattara. Last updated: Jan 23, 2015