Hong Kong is a city of great views, but these panoramas often double as tourist traps. To experience Hong Kong’s best views, without feeling like you’ve been scammed, here’s a list of lookouts my wife and I visited during our city adventures:
ROOFTOP OF THE IFC MALL
Head inside the IFC Mall and go up to the fourth floor rooftop. Amid the chic bars and wealthy bankers, there are public tables available for picnicking, free of charge. Best of all, you can bring up whatever libations or snacks you fancy, available at City Super, a grocery on the ground floor of the mall. They have a great selection of wines, meats, and cheeses. We even got free wine cups there, even though they were the size of cough syrup caps. The public area is open well into the evening and the couches or wicker chairs make for a great place to watch the Kowloon district glow across the harbor. Major construction of a new skyscraper is imminent, so visit soon.
After spending the day hiking the hills of Hong Kong, we jumped on the tram and rode from Causeway Bay to the other end of the city, Sheung Wan. The tram’s upper deck is prime real estate, since it allows you to peer down the crammed alleyways, where you’ll be sure to spot flip-flop wearing butchers swinging cleavers, as well as fishmongers chasing fish down the sidewalk that had flopped from their trays. Even if you have no destination in mind, ride one way and then ride back because the fare only costs about thirty cents (US).
A can’t miss is the Peak, which provides panoramas of the city and the outlying areas. But it’s also a prime tourist trap. While its only $4 (US) admittance to view the city from the designated viewing area and $8 for a tram ride up, the viewing area is crammed and tram lines are long. A better option costs about $2.50. Start by taking bus #15 from just outside the ferry terminal. The views from the upper deck seats are exceptional and you take in the entire city as the bus winds up the mountain. At the top, find the two-mile Peak Circle Walk. For those short on time or looking for quick gratification, begin the flat loop at Lugard Road, walking in the counter-clockwise direction. After you see the stunning views of the city and the boat-packed bay (about fifteen minutes in), you can head back. But if you do continue the walk, just note that vistas become far and few between. Still the stroll is a worthwhile escape from the metropolis below. It’s best to visit The Peak in the early morning or early evening since the midday sun washes out the city’s colors.
VANTAGE POINT TOWER
If you’re keen on a dizzying calf burner, ascend the Vantage Point Tower, which can be found inside the geometric and quaint Tai Chi Court of Hong Kong Park. The Vantage Point Tower is exactly that. Panoramas include slices of bay, the pink and white apartment towers that lead up to the lush Peak, and close encounters with skyscrapers like the Bank of China and both Lippo buildings.
Dragon’s Back trail, a 2.5 hour strenuous walk, passes through a landscape that feels as fictional as fire-breathing reptiles. Though Marissa thought we’d die from a Panda attack, or possible immolation from a dragon, the hike lacks frightening fauna. There are just hundreds of butterflies, some larger than birds, floating across the path, giant crickets leaping at your feet, and an orchestration of birds bursting full or song. The groves of bamboo, ferns, and azaleas offer framed patches of turquoise waters through the trees. When the trail begins to ascend a clay path, the trees get smaller and the views become spectacular–surrounding blue seas, unpopulated islands, the rocky coastline below that separates the sea from the endless rise of trees, the inconspicuous mansions, a quaint beach.