Once known as Hong Kong Harbor, Victoria Harbor earned its current moniker after it sheltered the British fleet during the reign of Queen Victoria. These days, the only fleet to be seen on the waters is that of the Star Ferry, which has been shuttling passengers to and fro since the 1880s. With one-way fare costing just HK$2, the 10-minute ride is billed as the “world’s cheapest cruise.” It’s also probably the fastest.
The best views of the harbor are had from the Kowloon side, looking towards the skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island and graceful hills of Victoria Peak. The cityscape is truly spectacular at dusk and I spent nearly every night of my time in Hong Kong strolling along the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade and soaking up the scenery.
A great way to access the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade is via the Waterfront Podium Garden off Chatham Road South. In addition to providing an easy path across a major highway, it’s close to the Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong’s take on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Unveiled in 2004, the stars on the sidewalk honor the local film industry, which includes celebrities such as Jet Li and Chow Yun Fat. Some of the stars include hand prints and legendary martial artist Bruce Lee is immortalized in bronze.
The Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade is also the perfect spot to view the “Symphony of Lights.” Every night at 8pm the city puts on a laser light show featuring some of the most famous skyscrapers on Hong Kong Island. The display lasts for about 20 minutes and is accompanied by electro-pop music; the lights are meant to dance to the beat. Frankly, more buildings need to join in the fun because the effect as a whole is a little underwhelming. But I can never get enough of that gorgeous skyline, especially on a clear evening! Depending on the night of the week, the announcements will be made in either English, Mandarin or Cantonese.
For a birds-eye view of Hong Kong, head up to Victoria Peak which, at 552 meters, is the highest point on Hong Kong Island. You can reach the summit by bus and taxi, though the Peak Tram is worth taking at least once. The funicular railway began operating in the late 19th century and was the first of its kind in Asia. The short ride is thrilling, if slightly painful to the neck, as most of it is spent at a 45 degree angle. Tram rides cost HK$28/40 one-way/round-trip.
Once at the Peak, visitors exit the Tram into a multi-level shopping mall with signage that urges you to continue on to the top floor lookout deck, which you have to pay to enter. With terrific viewing platforms accessible free of charge, I think you can probably save your money. Outside the mall, a little village serves not only hordes of tourists, but also the wealthy residents of the Peak. I’ve heard real estate here is some of the most expensive in the world, with property prices double that of London!
I was a little concerned about venturing up to the Peak after dark, but was assured Hong Kong is one of the safest cities in the world and there would be plenty of other people to keep me company. Boy, that’s the truth! I wouldn’t plan on taking the Tram at night unless you have a lot of time to kill. Bus 15 will take you back down to Central and provides great views to boot.
Have you been to Hong Kong? Which views do you prefer, day or night?
Tell me in the comments!