Eye-catching views, sights, and attractions are vital to tourism. Beyond their aesthetic value, these spots serve any incoming tourist a swift, yet complete introduction to their respective destination—these allow them the opportunity to somewhat grasp the essence of a place they are foreign to.
Taking on the persona of a visitor, a pleasing sight in a different environment completes the whole vacation experience, a palate cleanser from the usual—isn’t that the point of any getaway, to relieve yourself of your daily stressors by taking a momentary refuge elsewhere, away from it all? Additionally, capturing a beautiful scene for your next Instagram post isn’t too bad as well.
Just on the week of Valentine’s day, the LIFESTYLE.INQ team was invited by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) to participate in their Media Fam Tour for a complete experience of their latest offerings that have opened in the past 3 years; their latest effort in opening their borders to the public after a long and grueling battle against the pandemic.
In a region where new and old meet, here are the heights and sights of Hong Kong that remain embedded in my memory, places you should not miss on your next visit to Asia’s global city.
The Peak Tram, The Peak Tower, & Sky Terrace 428
With these three interconnecting attractions, taking in the grandeur and the sense of freedom an overlooking view of a vast city gives has never been this good before. The Peak Tram, the Peak Tower, and Sky Terrace 428 will take you on a blast to the past and on an upwards journey toward the best view Hong Kong has to offer.
Opened in May 1888, the Peak Tram, the double reversible funicular railway, rises from 33m to 396m above sea level along a 1.27 km track with a gradient of between 4 to 25.7 degrees. It connects to the Peak Tower shopping and entertainment complex.
The perfect combination of modern and vintage, the tram does not fail in introducing you to its history with its terminal containing bits and pieces of its over-100-year narrative, from an installation of the wooden 1st Generation Peak Tram to an audio-visual display exploring the various transformations the tram has undergone throughout the years. On the way up, passengers will also be treated to a close-up look at the city streets, and a view of the sprawling city from afar, on a perspective unlike any other.
The Peak Tower is one of Hong Kong’s most recognizable architectural icons and is a leading tourist destination. The entertainment complex offers a unique festival-market-style shopping arcade, exciting signature restaurants with stunning views, as well as a number of casual dining outlets.
Sky Terrace 428 by day and by night
And culminating the scenic route with an even better view, atop the tower and located 428 meters above sea level, Sky Terrace 428, the highest viewing terrace in Hong Kong offers a stunning 360-degree panoramic view of the city.
The Peak Tram Lower Terminus is located at 33 Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong
Peak Tram Operating Hours:
7 am to 10 pm (Mon – Sun & Public Holidays)
Frequency: Departs every 15 to 20 minutes
Sky Terrace 428 Opening Hours:
10 am to 9 pm (Mon – Fri)
8 am to 9 pm (Sat, Sun & Public Holidays)
For more information visit their website.
A Peek Into the Daily Life in Hong Kong: A Walk in the West Kowloon Neighbourhood
If you’re anything like me and appreciates exploring what isn’t traditionally a tourist destination, opting instead to be thrust into what is normal for a locality for a sense of what daily life is like in a foreign destination, rather than go through a curated experience, then a simple stroll in West Kowloon may be the thing for you.
On foot and up close to the streets of Hong Kong, you will notice many things that you would never see while on a bus, or away overlooking the entire city; that rushing sound that plays while you’re crossing the street, the various metal bars and pipes located outside of each apartment that acts as a clothing line, and the stair-like structures near the top of a number of old buildings—there’s a ton of these small nuances that may not seem overly impressive, but are the things that make Hong Kong what it is. Obviously, I encountered these while on a guided walking tour so it’s still somewhat of a curated experience, but you get the point.
Look closely! 🔎 Do you see the stair-like structures near the top of these old buildings? They are ‘daylight planes’, once popular in the 1970s to comply with building height restrictions and promote natural lighting on the streets. pic.twitter.com/zb8AbTTiaB
— Hong Kong (@discoverhk) January 13, 2022
As you make your way through West Kowloon, here are some sights that you may encounter:
Red Brick Building – Located at 8 Waterloo Road, Yau Ma Tei
Built in 1895, it is the oldest surviving structure of Western-style architecture in the neighborhood. The red brick building was originally a water pumping station. In 1891, there were 13,000 people residing in the Kowloon Peninsula area without proper freshwater supply, so they channeled the 3 wells in the valleys to this pumping station to provide water for the neighborhood.
Liu Ma Kee – Located at 1 Min Street, Yau Ma Tei
This unassuming 5-story building houses the legacy of four generations and 116 years worth of history in the art of making wet bean curd. Widely known as the king of wet bean curd, Liu Ma Kee first started out as a mobile store in 1905, eventually moving to Min Street in 1915 as the business thrived. Endlessly innovating in response to the changing times, the shop has gone beyond selling just plain old wet bean curd and has gone into creating its own version of carbonara sauce, as well as chili wet bean curd and red wet bean curd among others; different varieties that fit perfectly into the Hong Kong kitchen.
There’s so much to see and explore on the deep dive into Hong Kong and you can start simply by exploring West Kowloon. The HKTB has collated several guides for your use, you can check them out on their website.
Mini Great Wall
There’s nothing like a walk (or hike) to clear your mind and get moving, and on the Mini Great Wall on the island of Cheung Chau, you can do so with a beautiful view and a refreshing atmosphere to boot. Getting its name from the granite railings along the trail that resemble the Great Wall of China, the 850-meter pathway is also known for the 16 rock formations that you will encounter over the course of your journey there. The hike on the mini great wall is more of a viewing experience rather than a tedious form of physical exercise. Even on a sunny day, it won’t be too hot given its position overlooking the nearby beach, giving you that ever-soothing sea breeze.
Away From it All: Cheung Chau
If you’re in dire need of a way out of the hustle and bustle of city living, a trip to the island of Cheung Chau is probably what you’re looking for. Located southwest of the mainland, a short journey via the Central Pier is all that it takes to get there. As if transported to a land where time magically stops, urgency does not exist at Cheung Chau, with its relaxing atmosphere prompting you to take your time and explore—it’s a sightseer’s paradise. And if you find yourself with an empty stomach after a day of exploration, there are several seaside restaurants in the area serving the best seafood around.
But don’t confuse its peaceful and tranquil ambiance for boring as aside from housing the Mini Great Wall, Cheung Chau is home to a number of activities; grabbing a quick bite from Kam Wing Tai Fishballs and Kwok Kam Kee, slowing it down and having a sip at HAIKA Coffee, and basking in the sun and taking a dip at the island’s beautiful beach.
Laidback and modest, as if you’ve entered someone’s home, the essence of HAIKA Coffee | Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB)
Follow them on Instagram @haikacoffee
Rid yourself of your preconception of what fishballs taste like, those sold at Kam Wing Tai Fishballs are miles ahead of what you’re accustomed to | Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB)
Aside from selling pastries, Kwok Kam Kee is known for their ping on bao (peace and prosperity buns), the round white buns with a lucky red stamp, the centerpiece of the island’s Bun Festival | Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB)
Avenue of Stars
A word of caution: do bundle up if you’re planning to visit. The Avenue is located along the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront and its proximity to the bay makes for a very cold experience, with every brush against the breeze capable of sending shivers down one’s spine. I made the mistake of wearing only one layer of clothing on my visit; it was not pleasant, but hey the view more than made up for it.
The Avenue of Stars is an attempt at revitalizing the promenade on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront and was designed by landscape architect James Corner alongside other international and local designers. It pays homage to the numerous contributors to Hong Kong’s entertainment industry with statues erected in their honor, as well as the inclusion of over 100 handprints from various celebrities including the likes of Tony Leung and Jackie Chan placed along the rails of the promenade.
The statues of Mcdull, Bruce Lee, and Anita Mui lie along the stretch of the Avenue of Stars | Carl Martin Agustin
Visit their website for more information on the inspiration behind the Avenue of Stars and the numerous individuals it’s dedicated to. Also, follow them on Instagram @avenueofstarshk
Header image courtesy of the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB)