At a height of 552 meters (1,811 feet), Victoria Peak is Hong Kong's highest point and one of the most visited of the island's many attractions. The Peak, as it is locally known, boasts spectacular views of the city's skyline, backed by the bustling Victoria Harbour. By night, the view transforms into a glittering sea of vibrant lights. A walk around the Peak reveals views over the greener Western parts of Hong Kong Island, and a visit to the viewing platforms at the Peak Tower and Peak Galleria is a must. It is a steep climb to the top, and while hikers are welcome, an inexpensive tram is also available. The oldest funicular in Asia, the Peak Tram is over 125 years old. With a steep ascent, the tram links Central to the Peak Tower. The Peak is also known for its lovely gardens, most notably that of the old governor’s summer lodge with its faux-Victorian design. Once there, you're likely to see birds, butterflies, and giant dragonflies as well.
One of Hong Kong's star attractions and one of the deepest container ports in the world, Victoria Harbour is shielded on both sides by urban structures. The port has towering skyscrapers and Victoria Peak on one side, and the Tsim Sha Tsui shoreline on the other. Everyday, hundreds of ferries, tugs, speed boats, and barges come here, carrying people and cargo. The history of this iconic harbor dates back to the First and Second Opium Wars, when China was defeated by the British, making Hong Kong a British colony. Named Victoria Harbour after the Queen of England, the harbor's critical position on the South China Sea, between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, facilitated a thriving economy which largely impacted Hong Kong's development. The harbor, a natural landmark that showcases both the past and future of Hong Kong's progress, is a spectacle at night. It comes alive with a light and sound show that features a dazzle of lasers, music, and twinkling buildings.
The Cat Street Gallery is committed to exhibiting the best of international contemporary and modern art by both established and emerging artists. The Cat Street Gallery opened in November 2006 in it's first home in Cat Street with a group show of Australian artists including David Bromley and recent Archibald Prize winner Guy Maestri and held various exhibitions before moving to 222 Hollywood Road in February 2008. The Cat Street Gallery is a bit different. Nestling amidst the cold store meat packers and coffin shops of downtown Hollywood Road. Vibrant, edgy and mercurial, it is a gallery that likes to make a noise.
One of the top museums in town and also free of charge for its permanent exhibits, Hong Kong Museum of History chronicles 400 million years of this island's history. That is indeed a massive amount of time to explore and understand. Spread across eight galleries, this bi-level establishment really takes one back in time. Dioramas, multimedia exhibits and graphic panels give insight into the topography, nature, culture, history and growth of Hong Kong. With thousands of objects creating a story-line that is exciting and engaging, there is probably no other museum in the city that is as comprehensive as the Hong Kong Museum of History. They also have special exhibitions at times.
One of Hong Kong's oldest theme parks and among the globe's most visited amusement parks, Ocean Park Hong Kong also holds the distinction of being the top contenders of Asia's biggest theme parks. This massive parkland has something for everyone. Comprising of an oceanarium, amusement park, marine park and animal park, it is spread across two zones, The Summit and The Waterfront. These are segregated further into thematic areas. For thrilling rides such as The Flash, The Mine Train and Raging River, The Summit is the place to go. It is also where you will find the Polar Adventure. Meet the adorable giant pandas at The Waterfront. Also get up-close with marine mammals at this end of the park. Fun, educational and exciting, Ocean Park will keep you wanting for more.
Although mainly a small village with a traditionally Chinese community ambiance, Shek O is also home to some of Hong Kong's wealthiest families, who live in luxurious mansions perched along the headland. A number of restaurants and cafés within the village and along the sandy beach offer refreshments in relaxing open-air surroundings, making this one of Hong Kong's most popular seaside destinations. Adventurous travelers can attempt to climb the rocky cliffs, or head north to Big Wave Bay for surfing and paragliding. A half-hour drive from Central, Shek O displays a different side of Hong Kong.
Established in 1962, Hong Kong City Hall was the first fully fledged cultural venue in Hong Kong. Consisting of two unmistakeably sixties-styled blocks, the low block houses major facilities such as the Concert Hall, a theatre, an exhibition hall and restaurants, whilst the high block is home to an exhibition gallery, recital hall, committee rooms and a marriage registry. City Hall is conveniently located in Central, and individuals and organisations can hire the venues for cultural and art activities. Right in front of the building's main entrance are Edinburgh Place and Queen's Pier, where many official ceremonies are held.
Sitting in a prime harbour-front location are the pre-handover headquarters of the British garrison, nicknamed the "upside-down gin bottle" because of the narrow base. Not just a weird design feature, its purpose is to reduce damage in the event of an explosion during a terrorist attack. This otherwise architecturally unexceptional building was opened by the Prince of Wales in 1979. The current occupants, the Chinese Army, have managed to remove the building name that was emblazoned on the structure's western wall. Unfortunately the lettering was so deeply incised that the name is still visible to this day.
This two hour cruise on board a Chinese-style junk, sadly without sails, first sets off towards the eastern end of Victoria Harbor, sailing past the skyscrapers lining the northern shore of Hong Kong Island. The cruise then heads towards north-eastern Kowloon, passing Lei Yue Mun Fishing Village before sailing back to Causeway Bay for the firing of the famous noon-day gun. Boarding takes place at the Kowloon Public Pier in Tsim Sha Tsui and at Queen's Pier in Central. The tour is free of cost.
Experience the rapid growth of Hong Kong for yourself at this immersive gallery where the city's dynamic change and infrastructure is examined. Through 40 interactive displays and exhibits learn about the humble beginnings of the city and what the future may look like in three decades time. Urban planning and infrastructure models bring the far-flung, technology driven ideas to life over the five floors of this center. Tours are offered on a first-come-first-served basis and are well worth the time.
In the midst of some formidable modern architecture stands the neo-classical structure of the Legco Building. The Goddess of Justice above the main entrance dates back to 1912 when the building was originally opened as the Supreme Court. In the early 1980s the Legislative Council took over occupancy. Many of the Legislative Council meetings are open to the public, which is a great way to get a look inside this old colonial beauty. Check out the Legco website to see what is on and then call during office hours to reserve a seat.