VICTORIA PEAK (THE PEAK)
The Peak is one of Hong Kong’s major tourist attractions and a “must visit” destination for visitors. Dominating Hong Kong Island this mountain (552 metres at the summit) offers spectacular panoramic views day and night across Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, parts of the New Territories and several of Hong Kong’s outlying islands. The Peak also has some of the most expensive and desirable residences in the world and is home to celebrities, leading government officials and company taipans.
In summer a visit to the Peak where temperatures are often 5C lower than at sea level can provide cooling relief from the humid heat in urban areas below. However mists and low cloud all too often swirl around the Peak restricting views and to enjoy the Peak at its best it is advisable to try and choose a clear day.
The Peak is to most visitors the area around the Peak Tower, arrival point for the Peak Tram, and the Peak Galleria where there are shops, restaurants, café’s, viewing galleries and entertainment attractions. However the Peak has much more to offer in the form of scenic walks, tranquil gardens and a country park.
PEAK TRAM – The Peak Tram climbs seemingly almost vertically from its lower terminus next to Hong Kong Park to the Peak Tower in an exhilarating seven minute ride with spectacular views.
The Lower Peak Tram Terminus is located on Garden Road and is served by BUS NUMBER 15C (open-top double-decker or single-deck bus) from outside Star Ferry Pier (Central Pier 8) on Hong Kong Island) and which also stops outside City Hall on Connaught Road Central. The bus service operates daily from 10am until 11-40pm and the journey takes about 10 minutes. The adult fare is HK$4.2.
Bus 15C departs from outside Central Pier 8 (adjacent to Star Ferry Pier - Central Pier 7) Service 15C is operated by both open-top and single-deck buses
The Lower Peak Tram Terminus can also be reached ON FOOT FROM CENTRAL OR ADMIRALTY MTR STATIONS within about 15 minutes walk. Garden Road where the Lower Peak Tram Terminus is situated is easily located by heading for the
prominent Bank of China Tower (the very distinctive geometrically
shaped glass sided tower with "forks" shooting up from the roof).
Adjacent to the Bank of China Tower is the tall box-like structure of
the Cheung Kong Centre and Garden Road runs uphill between these two buildings. The terminus is located near Citybank Tower at the first set of traffic lights. FROM CENTRAL MTR STATION take Exit J2 or Exit K. Exit J2 leads to Chater Garden from where Bank of China Tower is clearly visible. Exit K leads to Statue Square opposite the HSBC Building and the Bank of China Tower is visible to the left. From Bank of China Tower follow Garden Road uphill to the terminus. FROM ADMIRALTY MTR STATION take exit C1 and cross the bridge over Queensway to Pacific Place. In Pacific Place take the escalators on right which run up alongside the shopping mall. Go to the very top and cross the road to Hong Kong Park and follow the signs through Hong Kong Park to the Lower Peak Tram Terminus.
See separate section PEAK TRAM for more information about the Peak Tram.
Peak Tram on the final ascent to the Peak Tower
BUS 15 TO THE PEAK – Citybus service 15 (fare HK$9.80) from Central Ferry Piers 5 (Cheung Chau Pier)* and 6 (Mui Wo / Peng Chau Ferry Pier, adjacent to Star Ferry Pier)* provides a scenic journey to The Peak and terminates at the bus station under the Peak Galleria adjacent to the Peak Tower and Upper Peak Tram Terminus. From the upper deck there are spectacular views over Wan Chai, Central and across the harbour to Kowloon as the bus climbs the twisting Stubbs Road up to The Peak. This bus can also be boarded at Exchange Square Bus Station and on Connaught Road outside City Hall, Queensway in Admiralty and Queens Road East in Wan Chai. The service operates from every 7/15 minutes daily from 06-15 to 00-15 and the journey takes about 40 minutes.
*Note - Up until 10-00 daily all services commence at Exchange Square Bus Station. From 10-00 until 00-15 services commence at Central Ferry Pier 5.
On Sundays and Public Holidays only the following additional service operates to The Peak;
Citybus 15B (fare HK$9.60) from Tin Hau MTR Station Bus Terminus via Causeway Bay and Stubbs Road. Frequency every 20 minutes from 12-00 to 19-00. Journey time approx 30 minutes.
Bus 15 for the Peak starts here outside Central Pier 5 then calls at Central Pier 6, next to Star Ferry Pier. Passengers wishing to claim the coveted upstairs front seats for the scenic ride stand a better chance by joining the bus at its starting point, Central Pier 5
GREEN MINIBUS 1 TO THE PEAK - A faster bus service to The Peak is provided by Green Minibus number 1 (fare HK$9.2) although the views are not quite as scenic as those provided by the above franchised double deck bus services. The service starts from Hong Kong Station Public Transport Interchange (MTR Hong Kong Station Exit E1) which is located under the Four Seasons Hotel end of IFC Mall (the Green Minibus Terminus is somewhat hidden away behind the main bus terminus). The service travels via Connaught Road (where you can board near City Hall) and Peak Road and terminates at the bus terminus under the Peak Galleria adjacent to the Upper Peak Tram Terminus. On its upward journey only it makes a diversion via Mount Kellett Road and Matilda International Hospital. Journey time is about 30 minutes on the upward journey and about 20 minutes on the downward journey. The service operates a 5/12 minute frequency from 06-30 (07-25 on Sundays and Public Holidays) to midnight. On the return journey from The Peak you can disembark in Central on Ice House Street, Peddar Street outside Central MTR Station, Two IFC Tower or at the terminus.
The current Peak Tower was built originally in 1997 but a major refurbishment took place over a two year period during 2005/6 which included the internal structure being completely rebuilt, panoramic windows installed and a new viewing terrace being built on the roof. The refurbished Peak Tower reopened during November 2006.
Peak Tower and Peak Piazza
Peak Tower, viewed from Lugard Road
The tower opens from 7am to midnight and admission is free but there is a charge to enter the rooftop Sky Terrace 428. which is Hong Kong's highest viewing platform standing 428-metres above sea level. The tower has six levels and a roof terrace. The lowest level, podium 2 has souvenir shops. Podium 1 is the arrival level for the Peak Tram and has gift shops, Giordano fashion shop, Crocs shop, post office, foreign currency exchange, cafe and Madame Tussauds waxworks.
Marilyn Monroe at Madame Tussauds
The Ground floor is the departure level for the Peak Tram and has shops including Adidas, Crocs, Sunglass Hut, BSX, Giordano, coffee shop, juice bar, gelato shop, and jewellers. Level 1 has the Peak Tower's largest store, gift and souvenir shop ME.N.U. as well as Burger King and Pearl on the Peak restaurant. From level 1 a set of vertigo inducing escalators lead up the open central core of the tower to level 2 where there are gift shops, Bank of China ATM, Japanese restaurant and Chinese restaurant which extends to level 3. On level 3 are photo shop, candy shop and Bubba Gump restaurant.
Panoramic windows and dizzying escalators inside the Peak Tower
SKY TERRACE 428 - From Peak Tower level 3 escalators lead to the Sky Terrace 428 which is open 10am to 11pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 11pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. Access is via turnstile for which there is a charge of HK$30 (half-price concessions for seniors and children). Payment can be made by Octopus Card or tickets can be purchased from the customer service desk on the ground floor or at the Lower Peak Tram Terminus. Visitors arriving by Peak Tram can purchase a combined ticket for the tram and Sky Terrace 428 which results is cheaper than purchasing separately. For more information see “Peak Tram”. Views from the terrace, which is 428-metres above sea level and the highest viewing deck in Hong Kong, on a clear day are stunning. Visitors can see along the length of Victoria Harbour, the northern urban areas and harbourside of Hong Kong Island, all Kowloon and parts of the New Territories. There are fixed binoculars for which there is a charge and there are usually professional photographers touting for business. Also on Sky Terrace 428 is the Sky Gallery, an outdoor exhibition of local artwork.
Sky Terrace 428, Hong Kong's highest viewing platform offers stunning views over Hong Kong Island, Victoria Harbour and Kowloon
For more information about the Peak Tower see the Peak website;
PEAK GALLERIA AND PIAZZA
The Peak Galleria and Piazza
The Peak Galleria is located opposite the Peak Tower and houses gift shops, art shops, supermarket, bookshops, café’s and restaurants over three floors. Restaurants include Cafe Deco with spectacular views from two floors, Tien Tien Dim Sum restaurant on Level 1 and Maks Noodle, New York Fries and Tsui Wah Restaurant on the ground floor. There is a 7-11 convenience store on the ground floor and Dymocks bookstore which relocated from ground to second floor in November 2010. The roof has a free viewing terrace and roof garden which can be accessed by an obsevation lift and, whilst the views are not quite as spectacular as those from the Peak Tower Sky Terrace 428, they are still very impressive.
Peak Galleria's free viewing terrace. Renovation work in 2011 included installation of an observation lift to reach the terrace from the piazza
The basement of the Galleria houses the bus and green minibus terminus and taxi stands. Free wi-fi is available at the Peak Galleria.
Inside the Peak Galleria
The Peak Galleria is fronted by a piazza for which a refurbishment programme was completed in mid-2008 as part of the Peak Improvement Scheme set up by the tourism commission. The piazza has outdoor café tables, seats, fountain and Victorian style architecture and is home to the Peak Visitor Information Centre housed in an old Peak Tram (see below) and is the venue for exhibitions and other events particularly at weekends. Peak Galleria website;
PEAK VISITOR INFORMATION CENTRE
Hong Kong Tourism Board opened the Peak Visitor Centre in April 2008. The centre is housed in a heritage Peak Tram cabin which was is service between 1959 and 1989 and is installed under a Victorian canopy. The centre is open daily from 9am to 9pm and provides a full range of visitor information services.
Hong Kong Tourism Board's Peak Visitor Information Centre located in a vintage Peak Tram
Just a short walk along Findlay Road alongside the Peak Tower leads to the two-storey Lions Lookout Pavilion which has also undergone a recent renovation.
Both the pavilion and Findlay Road provide excellent viewpoints and photo opportunities. Also along Findlay Road are photographers and vendors offering paintings and souvenirs and quite often one of the few remaining rickshaw pullers touts for business although don’t expect anything more than a trip of a few metres and a photo.
View from Lions Lookout Pavilion, Findlay Road
Night scene at Lion's Pavilion
VICTORIA PEAK GARDEN
Victoria Peak Garden is a wonderfully peaceful, colourful and scenic spot near to the summit of Victoria Peak seemingly a world away from the frenzied crowds below. To get there follow Mount Austin Road (which starts almost next to the Peak Lookout Restaurant) uphill for about 15/20 minutes. On the way just past Mount Austin Playground is a viewpoint with more outstanding vistas over Hong Kong Island and Kowloon and the road also passes some of the most desirable residences in Hong Kong. Further up the hill the Gate Lodge of the Former Mountain Lodge (the Governor's summer residence) is reached at the entrance to the lower gardens on the left.
The Gate Lodge of the former Mountain Lodge on Mount Austin Road is located at the entrance to the lower part of Victoria Peak Garden
Continuing up the road to the top of the hill the road ends at the site of the Mountain Lodge. The Governors former summer residence was once located here and the site of its remains has been renovated and is once again accessible to the public, having been declared an archaelogical site and screened off behind hoardings for a number of years.
Site of the Mountain Lodge, the Governor's former summer residence
There is a viewpoint with views over the western side of Hong Kong Island, Lamma, Lantau and parts of Kowloon. The Governors Walk is a short gentle shaded walk winding round the perimeter of the gardens back to Mount Austin Road. The actual summit of Victoria Peak is dominated by transmission masts and it is possible to get very close to the summit by following the path from within the gardens towards the masts.
The Governor's Walk is a scenic short walk around Victoria Peak Garden back to Mount Austin Road
Substantial redevelopment of the gardens has taken place over several years, being completed in early 2010, and a new pavilion, benches, sun-dials, stone pillars, carvings and gazebos have been installed to induce a Victorian style theme in these tiered gardens.
The splendidly renovated Victoria Peak Garden provides a peaceful retreat close to the summit of the Peak
The Peak has some wonderful tranquil and mainly shaded scenic walks. The most popular of these is the flat 3.5km circular walk along Lugard Road and Harlech Road which forms part of the Hong Kong Trail.
The popular mostly shaded circular walk along Lugard Road and Harlech Road
These roads both begin near the Peak Lookout Restaurant and the walk should take around 45/60 minutes although most visitors will feel the temptation to stop and enjoy the outstanding views along parts of the route. If starting from Lugard Road the walk soon emerges from the shade of the heavily forested slopes of the Peak to allow stunning views over the northern side of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and parts of Lantau.
Panoramic view from Lugard Road on the circular walk
Further along at the junction with Hatton Road there is a recently renovated garden with picnic area and toilet facilities. Continuing along Harlech Road there are views over Pok Fu Lam Reservoir and Aberdeen on the south side of Hong Kong Island and Lamma Island before reaching a waterfall and emerging next to the Peak Lookout Restaurant. For a longer walk instead of completing the circuit follow Hatton Road which descends steeply via the remains of Pinewood Battery, a historic military site, to Hong Kong University from where there are frequent buses to Central.
South Hong Kong Island (Pokfulam Country Park and Reservoir) from Harlech Road on the circular walk
Opposite the entrance to the bus terminus under the Peak Galleria is the entrance to Pok Fu Lam Country Park. There is an easy and pleasant downhill and mainly shaded walk down the wooded southern slopes of the Peak through the park and past Pok Fu Lam Reservoir to Pok Fu Lam Road from where there are frequent bus services to Central (cross to the bus stop on the opposite side of the road) and Aberdeen (stay on the same side of the road as the park entrance). This walk should take no more than one hour. Alternatively for a longer walk when descending the main path through the country park follow the signs for “Peel Rise” along Stage 2 of the Hong Kong Trail. The trail which is undulating at first eventually opens out to provide dramatic views over Aberdeen, Ap Lei Chau and Lamma Island before descending and winding its way along a water catchment to Peel Rise. At Peel Rise leave the Hong Kong Trail and follow the path down to Aberdeen. Allow about 2 hours for the walk from the Peak.
The Governor's Walk is a short walk around the perimeter of Victoria Peak Garden between Mount Austin Road and the site of the Mountain Lodge (see "Victoria Peak Garden" above).
There are several paths leading from below the Peak Tower down through Mid-Levels to Central. The most direct route is to take Findlay Path (next to the Peak Tram tracks in front of the Peak Tower) down to Barker Road Station and then follow Old Peak Road, once a busy route for coolies hauling sedan chairs, between the towering residential blocks of Dynasty Court and Hillsborough Court, across the traffic lights at Robinson Road, down Albany Road, through Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens and down Garden Road to emerge near Hong Kong Park and the Bank of China Tower. Although downhill all the way this walk descends very steeply in places and is not suggested for those with weak knees. To walk from the Peak to Central takes about 30 minutes.
Night view from Lugard Road
The Police Museum, located at 27 Coombe Road, The Peak, is housed in the former Wan Chai Gap Police Station. The museum, which was renovated in 2010, is operated by Hong Kong Police and has over 700 exhibits in four galleries on two floors including an Orientation Gallery illustrating the history of the police force, Triad Society and Narcotics Gallery, Heroin Factory and Thematic Gallery with temporary exhibitions. This is an interesting small museum which is off the beaten track for many visitors. To reach the museum, visitors should disembark from bus 15 at the "Wan Chai Gap Road, Peak Road" bus stop from where there are direction signs to the museum which is about 5 minutes walk. The museum is open Sunday and Wednesday to Saturday 9am to 5pm, Tuesday 2pm to 5pm. It is closed on Mondays and public holidays. Admission is free. For more information about the Police Museum see MUSEUMS - HONG KONG ISLAND
Off the beaten track for many visitors, but the Police Museum is an interesting small museum easily reached by bus route 15
DINING AT THE PEAK
There are a range of cafes and restaurants at the Peak offering alternatives from sandwiches and fast food to sophisticated international menus.
FAST FOOD AND SNACKS –
The Peak Tower has a BURGER KING, PACIFIC COFFEE coffee shop, HONG KONG DAY, Hong Kong style cafe and JUNGLE JUICE juice bar. The Peak Galleria has MACDONALDS, DELIFRANCE, OLIVERS SUPER SANDWICHES, STARBUCKS and a PARK'N SHOP INTERNATIONAL supermarket which sells drinks and snacks much cheaper than most other outlets at the Peak.
THE PEAK LOOKOUT restaurant located in an old colonial building has both indoor and outdoor dining and offers an international menu. The restaurant overlooks the southern side of Hong Kong Island towards Aberdeen and whilst the views do not perhaps compare with those fro some of the other restaurants at the Peak this restaurant has a wonderful ambience and reputation for excellent food and is a well established favourite with both visitors and locals. For full details see the restaurants website;
Peak Lookout Cafe
CAFÉ DECO – located on two levels of the Peak Galleria with panoramic windows and outdoor balconies offering spectacular views over Hong Kong Island, Victoria Harbour and Kowloon this large international restaurant has an open kitchen and extensive menu.
TSUI WAH RESTAURANT - a recent addition to the Peak Galleria and located on the ground floor;
PEARL ON THE PEAK – owned by Maxims Group this international restaurant located on level 1 of the Peak Tower is a new addition following renovation of the Peak Tower. The restaurant has stunning views and a comprehensive menu influenced by its Australian chef. There is no English website for this restaurant but opening hours are 12noon -2-30pm and 6pm to 10-30pm daily (to 11-30pm Sat, Sun and public holidays). Telephone 2849 5123
TIEN YI CHINESE RESTAURANT – on levels 2 and 3 of the Peak Tower the restaurant owned by RC Gastronomic has stunning views and a 6 metre high water wall. Speciality dishes include shark’s fins, bird’s nest and abalone;
KYO HACHI – located on level 2 of the Peak Tower this Japanese restaurant is also owned by RC Gastronomic and is sister restaurant to Tien Yi. Also enjoying spectacular views this restaurant has an intimate atmosphere with booths and
candlelit tables for two. There is a central sushi bar and teppanyaki counter featuring a “live show” performed by the restaurants chefs.
BUBBA GUMP – part of the American Bubba Gump chain this shrimp, seafood (and more) restaurant based on the movie character is located on level 3 of the Peak Tower. Fun dining for all with the standard Bubba Gump menu which can be downloaded online;