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Well Known and Hidden Secret Places to See City Views (02/2010)
1. Victoria Peak (aerial view of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and Harbor) The Peak Tower (where the Upper Tram Station is located) has a roof-top vista area (free). Old Peak Rd (to your right when facing Peak Tower) and Lugard Rd (to your left when facing Peak Tower) are pedestrian trails that wind along even elevation towards the east and west of the peak. Both are popular for scenic walking to see the aerial harbor view. Allow 20-30 min one-way excursion. The Peak Galleria across the street from Peak Tower has broad terraces that offer aerial view of the south side (less urban) of the island. If you have time you can take the bus to the peak, instead of the tram which can have long lines on weekends. Allow 30 min for one-way bus ride from the Central district.
2. IFC2 (harbor view, Island view) Inside the tallest building in Hong Kong, the mall area (2 floors) has various restaurants and coffee shops that have window views of the harbor. There is a Monetary Museum and Library on the 55th floor that has great views of the island itself and the Victoria Peak. But you have to show your passport or resident identification card at the concierge desk (office tower entrance) before they will give you a visitor badge for free entrance. There is a terrace garden between IFC2 and the Four Seasons Hotel that offers unobstructed open view of the harbor and Kowloon (albeit low elevation). You can even have a drink or two at the outdoor tables of a restaurant/bar there.
3. Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center (view of harbor and Kowloon) Inside the Center on the floors where the lobbies of the Exhibition Halls are located, there are window views of the Central district, harbor and Kowloon. For a street level view of the same, you can go outside to the Expo Promenade area, which is a public square right next to the sea.
4. Avenue of Stars (views of Hong Kong Island and harbor) This long cement/brick boardwalk next to the Kowloon Star Ferry Pier is most popular for a classic view of the Island and busy harbor. Perfect spot for watching fireworks too (if you can handle crowds). For a similar view at a few floors higher, you may go to the Hong Kong Museum of Art (inside or on the terrace) or Intercontinental Hotel Hong Kong (bar area with sit-down drinks!) Both buildings are nearby, but the latter is only accessible from the Salisbury Rd.
5. Ride the ferries! (views of the Island, Kowloon and harbor) This is cheap scenic cruise on a sunny calm day! The Star Ferry routes from the Kowloon Pier to Central Pier or Wan Chai Pier are great for inner harbor views. A small local ferry operates from Sai Wan Ho (near Tai Koo City on east side of the Island) to Kwun Tong (near the old Kai Tak Airport runway on Kowloon side), which offers unusual views of that part of the city. Elsewhere along the harbor front on both sides, there are ferry piers and services to cross the harbor too, such as North Point. If you take ferries to the outer islands (Lantau or Lemma), you will sail along the west waterfront of Hong Kong Island with great cityscape views. Also, Star Ferry offers harbor cruises at reasonal prices.
6. Affordable restaurants with a view. A La Umai Restaurant (108 Electric Rd, 25/F) near Victoria Park offers French-Japanese fusion cuisine and unobstructed views of Causeway Bay and harbor (daytime or night). In the World Trade Center (280 Gloucester Rd, Causeway Bay) there are many Asian restaurants on various floors that have window views of the harbor.
Helicopter Flight over the city.
Despite living Hong Kong this was still the most awesome experience to do if you're a visitor or resident.
There are a few companies that do this.
This means a 5-6 minute helicopter flight around the harbour doing a figure of 8 type manouvere taking you from the Wanchai Heliport out towards Quarry Bay... along the harbour up to Shun Tak centre, back along/over the peak and then swinging out to go over to Kowloon and landing on the roof of the Peninsula. It sounds like a short time but is plenty enough to get plenty of great photos and experience something very different to the usual HK sights and sounds.
The finale of the trip is high tea at the Peninsula where you'll find yourself ushered to a reserved table for scones, sandwiches, cakes etc. You can also do lunch and massage versions instead of the tea if you prefer.
It costs around $1050 HK upwards but is definitely worth the money!