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 glimmering skyline, punctuated by towering skyscrapers and backed by the bustling Victoria Harbour. By night, the view transforms into a glittering sea of vibrant lights. A walk around the Peak reveals further scenic vistas 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 an astoundingly 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 embellishments. Once there, you're likely to enjoy the company of birds, butterflies, and giant dragonflies as well.
Home to Stanley Market, famous for its wide variety of relatively inexpensive goods, including Chinese souvenirs, rattan products, handicrafts and fake designer labels, Stanley offers more than just shopping. The neighborhood also boasts a relaxing beach, a plethora of waterfront restaurants and bars and historic sights, such as the 18th-century Tin Hau Temple and the Stanley Prison, which is still in use today. The Stanley Plaza, the Murray House and Ma Hang Park are some of the coastal town's additional sights.
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.
Victoria Park is one of Hong Kong Island's largest parks and has a statue of Queen Victoria near the entrance. This waterfront park offers a panoramic vista of the ocean and surrounding skyscrapers. In the morning, early risers gather here for walking, jogging and practicing martial arts like Tai Chi. Facilities such as tennis courts and swimming pools are open to the public for a small fee. On special occasions like the Mid-Autumn Festival and the Chinese New Year, this park dons a festive look and is packed to the brim with ebullient children and adults. Victoria Park is also the site of important art and political events.
This park features a full-fledged amusement park with the popular Dragon Roller Coaster, a Ferris wheel, a marine park with a shark aquarium, and a Chinese cultural village with temples, pagodas and traditional street displays. The star attraction, though, has to be the theme park's two very adorable pandas. A great way to start the day's amusements is by taking a cable car to the headlands - the views of the ocean are stunning.
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.