Victoria Peak, Hong Kong Island’s tallest mountain

Victoria Peak.

Any city looks amazing from a bird’s-eye view, because only then does it reveal itself in all its diversity and grandeur. Hong Kong is no exception. I love such views and the first thing I do when I come to a new city is to look for a panoramic restaurant or a platform to climb up to.

Hong Kong is a paradise for people like me, with many opportunities to look down on the city, with a concentration of skyscrapers second only to Manhattan. Despite the large number of viewpoints, panoramic restaurants and clubs, you need to choose carefully because not every place is worth visiting.

But there’s one thing everyone agrees on: the view from Victoria Peak is one of the best. And it’s probably one of the most popular on the Internet. And no wonder: a bird’s-eye view of Hong Kong Island with its skyscrapers, the strait separating the island, and Jiulong – the mainland of Hong Kong.

When I first visited The Peak, I, of course, was no exception and fell in love with the scenery from the first second.

Hong Kong is a city of endless contrasts, primarily in architectural terms. Ultra-modern skyscrapers here are combined with old residential buildings, and at the same time the urban landscapes inevitably contrast with the natural landscape. It would seem, what harmony can there be? However, when you look at the city from a bird’s-eye view, it is impossible not to fall in love with it. At an altitude of 570 meters above sea level, all contrasts and inconsistencies disappear, and all that remains is to admire the city. That’s what I did all those times I climbed the Peak.

Story

Victoria Peak in Hong Kong is always simply called The Peak, and it’s no coincidence that I wrote about it at the beginning of my article, because it is unique in its own way: not only is it the highest mountain on Hong Kong Island, but it is also one of the main attractions.

It began to be inhabited a few centuries ago, and did it mostly by wealthy people who could afford better conditions, because only there you could escape from the stifling heat of Hong Kong. And also imagine that almost until the end of the 19th century, the Peak was accessible only on foot, and the wealthy residents were taken there on palanquins. This is another explanation for the prestige of the area: not everyone could afford such a mode of transport as a palanquin. Each year, 7 million people visit Victoria Peak. But even now, the Peak and its surroundings is a place very popular not only among tourists. There are offices of TV companies, residences of officials, as well as residential buildings. The Peak remains a very prestigious area where prices for apartments are among the highest in the world! If you climb the Peak and see the views from the top, you’ll understand why The Peak has long been a draw not only to Hong Kong residents but to visitors as well.

When it’s best to go

Personally, I recommend going twice – once during the day and once in the evening, when the city lights come on and the skyscrapers begin to shimmer with neon light, reflecting in the water. Hong Kong, like any other city, is transformed at night. In the light of night, the city has no flaws and can only be admired and enjoyed with bated breath. During the day, however, everything is a little different, you can look at the city more realistically. You see that many of the buildings aren’t new at all. In residential areas, everything is extremely functional with a minimal aesthetic component, and there’s nothing to admire. Yes, without night lights the city is not as mesmerizing, but its magic is not lost, and remains a place where pristine nature coexists with modernity, and surprisingly harmoniously.

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I recommend to keep an eye on the weather when you plan to visit: you can take shelter upstairs in the shopping malls, but all the observation decks are open. And in general, sightseeing in the rain is not the most pleasant thing to do. This is why I recommend climbing the Peak in whatever it is, only when the weather is sunny. Plus, when the weather is overcast you are likely to get a bonus in the form of fog and poor visibility at the top. It would just be a shame to waste your money. This is what Hong Kong looks like in cloudy weather.

Getting There

There are many ways to get to The Peak:

  • Thrill-seekers can try climbing on foot. The Peak, of course, is accessible by car and by foot. But first, take Hong Kong’s famous mid-level escalators. There are many of these in Hong Kong, and they’re a particular landmark that’s a great help when you’re on the move. After all, the terrain here is hilly, and sometimes you have to climb several hundred metres, which in a subtropical climate with almost 100 per cent humidity is a dubious pleasure. You can, of course, try, but personally, I recommend the escalators. All the more that after you in any case waiting for a 30-40 minute ascent (the escalators do not go to the top). By the way, the escalator to Victoria Peak is the longest in the world, it will take you about 15-20 minutes to get up! After you get off the escalator, go by the signs, there are a lot of them and you will have no problem understanding, so it won’t be hard to get your bearings. Climbing, as I mentioned, will take about 30-40 minutes, depending on your enthusiasm and fitness. Be ready, that even for the most prepared climbing will not be easy – climate in warm season is quite intolerable (subtropics, after all!), so, most likely, it will be very hot. So if you are going to ascend on foot from May to September, a bottle of water is a must! Well, if you don’t want to risk it, there are plenty of other ways to get to the Peak.
  • You can take a cab and it will cost you about HK$200-300 (US$25-40). The journey from Hong Kong Island takes 25-30 minutes.
  • You can also take a bus. The bus stop (bus number 1, City Hall stop, Central Station, Admiralty Station) is close to Central Station. The road is winding, so be prepared for a long journey, the whole way can take up to an hour, depending on traffic. Tickets cost about 10 Hong Kong dollars ($1.5 USD). The bus will take you to the very top, to the observation deck.
  • And the last, my favorite option, is to take the Peak Tram, which is called The Peak Tram. It is not only the fastest and cheapest, but also the most exciting way. First of all, you will immediately plunge into the unique atmosphere of antiquity (streetcar is very small and suitably styled), as well as experience a unique experience! The streetcar goes directly to the Peak at a huge incline, which sometimes reaches 45 degrees! Tickets start at $10, check here. You can also pay for it with the Octopus Card, which generally makes sense because you won’t have to stand in line. Read more about what the Octopus Card is and how to purchase it here.
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History of the streetcar

The streetcar was launched in 1888 and was the first cable car in Asia. Back then it could seat 30 passengers and tickets could be purchased in one of three classes. Now it is a bit simpler: there is only one class and it seats about 70 passengers, which, however, is not much more. The modern model of the tramcar was introduced in 1959, when electric transportation was introduced, and it still runs in this form. It really is a unique experience, so I definitely recommend getting to the Peak this way. Note: Be sure to take into account that on Friday and Saturday, mostly in the evening, there are long lines, especially on the streetcar. So, count your time, because you can stand in line for about an hour (streetcar, unfortunately, one and not high-speed, and wishing, of course, a lot). The streetcar runs every day from 7 am till 24 pm.

What to do on the Peak

As you go up the Peak you will get a lot of curious views, mainly of the residential areas, both prestigious and not so prestigious. Climbing The Peak will give you a good idea of just how much of a contrast Hong Kong is. When you go up, you can check out the pleasant Victoria Peak Garden, the former residence of the Governor of Hong Kong, and the highest accessible point of the Peak. There you can stroll around and rest a bit after a difficult climb. I can’t say the garden is a must-see, but you certainly won’t lose anything, especially if you decide to climb on foot, especially since admission to the garden is free. There are also a few more pleasant streets upstairs for walking.

As you walk up, you’ll see two shopping malls, cafes, and restaurants. And what can you do without it? Hong Kong has a consumer culture like nowhere else in the world. But don’t be too skeptical: you can buy souvenirs inside, and the view from the restaurants is truly stunning, especially in the evening. So if you get a chance, I highly recommend booking a table in one of them and spending an evening enjoying the view. The restaurants are not cheap (average check from 60-70 USD), but it is worth it. Again, I recommend booking in advance: The Peak is a very popular place. Upstairs you can see a small exhibition dedicated to the history of the streetcar, as well as one of the branches of the Madame Tussauds Museum, which I personally would not recommend wasting your money and time if you are not a big fan. It’s no different in concept, and there’s plenty to do at the Peak as it is. But if you do decide to visit all the sights of the Peak, I recommend buying a comprehensive ticket, it will be cheaper. Read more about the types of tickets here. At the Peak there is also an observation deck in the traditional sense, it is called Sky Terrace and there is a fee to enter. It is easier to buy a ticket at the ticket office of the streetcar, so you can save time. A round trip ticket and entrance to the Sky Terrace will cost you $25. Hours are 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

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There will be a line waiting for you on the way down, but you can’t help it: you have to pay for the view. It’s up to you how you get down – some of you want to get down quicker and not have to queue for the streetcar, some want to get a taste of old Hong Kong and go for a ride. I guarantee you’ll get the most positive impression of the Peak and when you come to Hong Kong you’ll climb it again and again and, like me, you might even go up more than once.

Victoria Peak. Hong Kong

Victoria Peak is the tallest mountain on Hong Kong Island and one of its most visited attractions. But it’s not really the peak that’s the attraction, it’s the stunning views of the city and its surrounding area.

Victoria Peak

Victoria Peak. Hong Kong

Located in the north-western part of the island, Victoria Peak is 1.7 kilometres from the coast.

Victoria Peak on a map

  • Geographical coordinates 22.275761, 114.145800
  • Distance from the Chinese capital of Beijing is about 2,000 kilometres in a straight line.
  • The nearest airport is Hong Kong, about 25 km to the west. The airport is located on neighboring Lantau Island.

If you expect to see Everest or Mauna Kea, you are mistaken. Victoria Peak is not as high, and is a large elevation with several peaks.

The maximum height reaches 552 meters above sea level. Not the highest elevation geologically, but it’s more than enough to get a bird’s eye view of pretty much all of the city to the ocean, Lamma Island to the south, and Victoria Harbor.

Victoria Peak.

Victoria Peak View

History of the name

The mountain takes its name from Queen Victoria, at a time when this part of China was a British colony. The Chinese themselves call it just “The Peak”, either without acknowledging the queen, or because it is shorter. In addition, there are no other such significant peaks on the island.

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The picturesque views from the peak have always attracted people. During the colonization of China, wealthy Englishmen built their villas and houses on and around the peak, and the indigenous population was forbidden to come here. From 1904 to 1930 Victoria Peak was reserved as a residential area for “non-Chinese” only.

The good thing is that there is no such absurdity now, and access to Victoria Peak is available to all.

How to get to the top

Getting to the summit can vary in length, speed, and financial cost.

Take a cab or bus

Take a cab or a public bus (bus No15 or No1) which will take you straight to the mountain, as the road goes all the way to the summit

The famous Peak Tram

Take the famous cable car called the Peak Tram (literally, Peak Tram to the Peak). It is also a peculiar sightseeing attraction in Hong Kong.

Peak Tram.

You can take the Peak Tram all the way to Victoria Peak.

Streetcar goes directly to the Victoria Peak on a route 1365 meters long with 6 stops and a total height of 368 meters.

The maximum rate of ascent is 48% (not degrees, but percent. In degrees it is about 26o ). Tourists usually try to use this method. It is an opportunity to ride on such an unusual form of transport, and look at the neighborhoods, and significant savings in time, since the streetcar passes this distance in just eight minutes.

It is also interesting that the Peak Tram runs since 1888. Originally, its cars were wooden and the engines were steam. The streetcar runs from 7:00 am to 24:00 pm. The Peak Tram terminus is located at the Peak Tower Shopping Center.

Walking

The most budget-friendly, but, in our opinion, the most preferable way to get to the top is on foot.

Let’s say right off the bat that most hiking sites recommend the first two ways. But having walked the way to Victoria Peak on your own (which can take 1-2 hours of your time), you can fully experience the excitement and joy of this walk.

Your body will thank you for the calories burned along the way and the opportunity to exercise your muscles. And this is much better than any fitness. In addition you don’t have to stand in long lines at first to the ticket office, then to get into the streetcar (experienced travelers say that you can stand in line for 3 hours).

This option, of course, has disadvantages. Do not walk the elderly and young children, as there will be stairs with very steep steps. There are several hiking paths with observation decks around Victoria Peak.

Victoria Peak. walking trails

Walking paths at Victoria Peak

Whichever path you choose, at the end of it you will be rewarded with a magnificent view of the island.

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All the skyscrapers of the huge metropolis lie below, literally in the palm of your hand. Streets, cars, stores – everything seems so toy-like. A trip to Victoria Peak is a must if you find yourself in Hong Kong.

Things to see and do in Victoria Peak

Besides the peak itself, there are plenty of things to see and do here. Cafes and restaurants, high-end boutiques and casual stores, museums and viewing platforms.

The 7-story Peak Tower is a shopping and entertainment complex near the peak.

Peak Tower is a shopping and entertainment complex.

Peak Tower Shopping Center

It is home to the famous Madame Tussauds wax museum, with over a hundred figures of famous and legendary people. At the entrance you will be greeted by one of the most recognizable Chinese people – Jackie Chan. Photo with him is paid, and only on the camera staff of the museum. But inside you can use the camera until it goes up in smoke. Next to many of the exhibits have special places and attributes for taking pictures.

On the next floor was an interesting museum of curiosities from around the world. It was called “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” (it could be translated into Russian as “Believe It or Not”). The exhibition featured more than 450 amazing things that the traveler and journalist Robert Ripley collected from around the world. This museum is now closed.

There is an interesting “Peak Explorer Motion Simulator” on the fourth floor. You can walk around the virtual city.

At the very top of the mall is the Sky Terrace, located at an altitude of 428 meters. And if the entrance to the mall is free, then you have to pay to visit this terrace.

Do not miss the small “streetcar museum”. It is located inside the station at the foot of the peak and is called “Tram Historical Gallery”. Naturally, it is dedicated to the history of the creation and operation of the Peak Tram.

Every day in the evening after 20-00 begins a spectacular laser show “Symphony of Lights”. It is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest continuous light and sound show.

Symphony of Lights laser show

The best time to get to Victoria Peak in the afternoon. Then you can see beautiful panoramas in the daylight and equally amazing views in the evening and experience the contrast.

Victoria Peak. In the evening

Evening views from Victoria Peak

Interesting facts

  1. Many guidebook photos in Hong Kong are taken from the summit of Victoria Peak
  2. About 7 million people visit Victoria Peak each year
  3. If you bought streetcar or sightseeing tickets, you can use them to take advantage of discounts and bargains in cafes, restaurants and stores. Discounts can range from 10 to 40%. All information on this can be found at the stands at the ticket office
  4. Land in the Victoria Peak area has always been considered prestigious. Now the price for 1 m 2 can go up to 100 000 U.S. dollars

Victoria Peak

Victoria Peak

Sunset from Victoria Peak

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