A nice way to escape the concrete jungle of Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s nature is mesmerizing. A pity that most visitors and tourists only plan for a short stay and never get to see the green side of Hong Kong when chasing the supposedly “must see” attractions. But it needn’t be the all-day hiking excursion in the New Territories. There are nice trails on Hong Kong Island, too. Especially the hike up to Victoria Peak is recommendable for many reasons:
- Victoria Peak is one of the “must see” attractions on every visitor’s bucket list, anyway
- The exercise offers you the chance to burn some of the dim sum calories
- The hike itself is a rather short one – depending on your fitness level and the amount of breaks you need it should only take between one and a half and three hours
- After the exercise, the views from the Peak are much more rewarding
- You avoid the – especially on weekend – long queues at Lower Peak Tram Station and get to enjoy wonderful nature while ascending which will remain invisible to Tram Passengers
If these reasons sparked your interest, please continue reading as I will describe the way how to get up to the peak in more detail below:
Preparation of the hike
However, there are a few things to consider before we start. Though this hike may sound easy, it is a serious and sweat-inducing exercise that will demand quite something from the occasional hiker and is definitely not to be underestimated!
You should avoid ascending at very hot periods of the day (recommendable is a start at around 3:30 or 4:00pm) and be well prepared.
- Sufficient water (minimum 1.5 liters per person)
- Facecloth and/or towel
- Some energy-delivering snacks
- For pictures: Camera or smartphone (standard, anyhow, I know)
- Some insect repellent might be helpful
- A thin jacket or clothes to change on the peak, as there might be some wind and latest after sunset temperatures might become chilly. Sweat-soaked as you will be, don’t run the risk of catching a cold, that’s completely unnecessary!
Equipped with all this, we’re ready to go!
Start in the heart of the city
Our hike starts in front of the Pacific Place Mall in Admiralty, in the middle of the city. We walk westward, passing the Lippo Centre Towers (nicknamed „Koala Trees”) to our right. At the corner we turn left into Cotton Tree Drive and left again into a small path that brings us up to Hong Kong Park. Enter Hong Kong Park to your right, pass the big colon and head straight to the artificial lakes where you can enjoy the view of the waterfalls and the many turtles swimming in the lakes.
Instagram-worthy recommendation: If you cross the bridge and walk behind the waterfalls, you can take gorgeous pictures with the waterfall in front and the Bank of China Tower in the background from here!
Behind the lakes, turn left up the slope and pass Olympic Square towards the Aviary. Before you reach the aviary, take a few minutes to rest in the beautiful Tai Chi Garden and have a look at the SARS memorial here. Busts of nurses, doctors and other helpers during the SARS epidemic outbreak are displayed here, telling stories of a few examples of the thousands of people who died fighting SARS in 2003. This tragic disease shook Hong Kong and changed the city with effects still visible today. There’s a viewing tower that resembles the double-helix structure of a DNA strand that offers some nice views over Hong Kong Park. As we will still have to climb some metres in height during our hike, I leave it up to you whether you decide to climb up or not and save your energy for later 😉
If you like, make a small detour and visit the hornbills and pigeons in the caged aviary area. Then follow the path towards HK VisualArts Centre. Or have a look into the Edward Youde Aviary which is well wort a visit, but beware: it is an one-way street descending all the way to the bottom of Hong Kong Park, so that you would have to make your way up again afterwards. If you’re not short in time you can do this, but you should plan for at least two more hours to the Peak.
At the playground in front of HK VisualArts Center you climb up the stairs to your left to Kennedy Road. Cross the street and turn right, following Kennedy Road until the tracks of the Peak Tram cross the street. Here, climb up the stairs to your left (Tramway Path) and follow the tram tracks for the next few hundred meters. At the level of MacDonnell Road, cross the street and continue following the tram tracks to your right. Don’t let the passengers in the trams passing by make a fool out of you, they don’t know what they’ll be missing!
Jungle 2 Jungle
At the level of Robinson Road, pass the zebra crossing and turn left into Brewin Path in order to continue following the Central Green Trail. Along this trail, there are some information plaques displayed every now and then which inform the interested hiker about the trees and plants along the track. At station 8, turn left and follow the arrow along a steeper slope up to May Road. Here, cross the bridge over the tram tracks and continue the hike to your right behind them, passing a public toilet. Please ask yourself whether you’ve drunk enough water so far, don’t forget to stay hydrated!
Follow the arrow pointing to the right at Chatham Path which leads into some steep serpentines through beautiful lush green forests where it literally feels like inside a jungle. Choose from one of the many photo opportunities with vines and lianas as natural frame for pictures of the skyscrapers below in the picture background.
Eventually, you’ll reach Barker Road and can take a few minutes of rest – the hardest part is over! Turn right, follow the street along Victoria Hospital and let yourself be rewarded by the magnificent views on Victoria Harbour. As you reach the tram tracks again, turn left and hike up Plantation Road for a little while, before turning into Findlay Path. You’re almost there!
Complete the sweat-inducing hike to arrive in "Disneyland"
Having finally arrived at the Peak (actually, Victoria Gap), you might be surprised where all the people come from, as you might have seen almost not another single human being during your ascent. However, as there are other options to get up here, like the Peak Tram, the bus no. 15 and of course taxis, this place always fills up easily with masses of tourists who want to enjoy the view from the Peak as well.
To cater their demand for entertainment, a whole tourism industry evolved in this place. For instance, you can find two shopping malls on the peak: The Peak Tower, where the Peak Tram terminates, houses the Sky Terrace 428 viewing deck and other stuff like Hong Kong Madame Tussauds. I definitely recommend not to pay the entrance fee for the Sky Terrace. It is being promoted as Hong Kong’s “highest 360-degree viewing platform”, however, I rather feel like it is Hong Kong’s highest tourist trap. Rather walk over to Peak Galleria, the other mall on the peak, instead. This one features two viewing decks which are completely for free and offer almost the same views on the harbour. Of course, this mall also houses absurdities like the “Trick Eye Museum” or seasonal exhibitions that cater to the needs of photo-crazed tourists.
Another nice free viewing option is the Lion’s Pavilion close to both malls. Or you take an approxiamtely 45-minute stroll along the so-called Morning Trail which offers a few more nice views. You can also continue further up towards the “real” Peak, passing the beautiful Peak Gardens which qualify for a nice picnic break, although the views won’t get better even if it’s higher up the hill. Those of you interested in continuing the hike may embark on Stage 1 of the Hong Kong Trail from the Peak on the path down to Pok Fu Lam. Those of you who had enough of exercise for today have different options to descend: You may use the Peak Tram if the queues are not inconsiderably long or take bus no. 15 from the stop in the parking lot below Peak Galleria instead. Refrain from walking down again, your feet and knees will thank you later!
Did this description help and inspire you to explore the “green Hong Kong” at least once? How did you like the hike? Would you recommend it to others? Or do you know a different and better way up to Victoria Peak on foot? Please share your views with others by writing a comment, I’m looking forward to read your suggestions!