The Peak Tram Cableway
Peak Tram (山頂纜車 in Chinese) is a funicular railway, or cable pulled car, that not just carries tourists but local commuters from Central to Victoria Peak. It has been operating in Hong Kong since 1888 and is one of the most famed forms of public transport, sharing stage with the Star Ferry as one of the must-do activities for any visitors to Hong Kong.
One of the most famous tourist attractions of Victoria Peak is the Peak Tram, a cableway or funicular service that has been taking visitors to the peak on a fast and safe journey since 1873 making it one of the oldest continuously operating cableways in the world.
Running up and down the side of Mount Austin, the cableway has two stops in the Mid-Levels but the majority of riders are taking it up or down to get to The Peak, hence the name.
The lower terminus is located on Garden Road which you can get there by taking bus 15C from Star Ferry pier or bus 15 from Exchange Square in Central. The upper terminus is located within the building that houses the Peak Tower shopping complex and SkyTerrace viewing platform.
Opening hour of Peak Tram:
7a.m. to midnight (Mon - Sun & public holidays)
Opening hour of Peak Tower:
10a.m.- 11p.m. (Mon - Fri), 8a.m. - 11p.m. (Sat, Sun & public holidays)
The funicular is so popular these days it carries an average of over 11,000 passengers every day. To avoid long queues and crowds, you may want to avoid visiting on public holidays and weekends. If you can't do that then consider making a very early start as the tram does not become busy until around 9am in the morning. If you visit before then the queues will much shorter.
Generally speaking the queues are a lot less on the way down, though this also depends on the time of day there are many times when you can just walk up to the turnstile and go through. It does help if you do have an Octopus stored value card so that you can simply "beep" and go into rather than queue for a ticket. Queues for the ticket are often more the problem then queuing to get onto the tram itself. At busy times you will still have to queue even with the octopus card though.
After lunch, mid to late afternoon, the trams going downhill are less busy.
Terminals and stations
There are two terminus buildings, and four request stops on the line. The majority of passengers are tourists who are taking the trip from the top to the bottom of the line, but on off-peak times when the trams are not busy local residents of the area still use the tram as it is a fast and cheap way to get between different sections of the mid-levels.
- Garden Road Terminus - the lowest level
- Kennedy Road
- MacDonnell Road
- May Road
- Marker Road
- The Peak Tower - the highest point and upper terminus
Opened originally in 1888 it was under design and construction since 1881.
Since 1926 it has operated on electricity, before that a steam engine pulled the cable.
Renovated in 1989 it is now a modern Swiss building mechanism, but one of the older style trams is located in the plaza at the top of the route as a souvenir.
You do want a seat, while standing is allowed it is not particularly comfortable or practical and you are best seated. But which seat will give you the best views? That depends on what you want to see but there are some that are clearly better than others.
When the tram is going up, so starting at Garden Road and heading for The Peak, the great views are going to be on the right side of the tram. If you have a window seat on the right then you will be able to see over the harbour. That is the side closest to you as you board the tram, so don't "cross" the tram to the other side when you get on, but stay on the side where the doors open.
Sitting near the front is also good as you can see where you are going, but being right at the back is almost as good as you have an unobstructed view of the line receding down the mountain. Not a good position if you have vertigo though as at the steepest parts of the track it looks a lot like a long drop!
When you are leaving Victoria Peak and going down-hill, perhaps you arrived by bus, taxi or GMB and now what to experience a one-way ride on the tram. Then of course it is the reverse, you need to be on the left side of the tram for those good views.
If you are on the wrong side of the tram then really all the view you will see is the backs of other passengers heads, or maybe the views you will see on the screens of their phones, cameras and ipads as they take those great harbour shots.
Although good roads have made access to Victoria Peak easier the tram remains interesting as an attraction though only a few local residents still use it.
The tram is operated by a local property company who also owns the Peak Tower which is the upper terminus of the cableway, their official site can be found here: http://www.thepeak.com.hk/
Today it is the preferred way for visitors to reach the peak, although those wishing to avoid the long queues at busy times may consider taking the Bus or a Taxi which also offer great views.
Video from the Peak Tram