Gone are the days of walking up to The Peak Tram Lower Terminus in Central Hong Kong and boarding shortly after purchasing a ticket.
Today’s experience at The Peak Tram involves long queues if you don’t research how to skip them in advance. We’re talking hours long waits to ride the historic funicular railway that first opened in 1888.
We’ll cover how to minimize wait time, what to do at The Peak, and other ways to get there and back. It’s one of the best things to do in Hong Kong with kids and without.
UPDATE: The Peak Tram will be closed for maintenance for up to three months starting on April 23, 2019.
Why the Peak Tram Is a Big Deal
Once you ride The Peak Tram, you’ll understand its significance.
The ride up to Victoria Peak from Central is a steep one. It took three years to lay the .87 miles of track. The project was considered an engineering marvel because workers hauled supplies and equipment uphill without any mechanical help.
The tram itself has undergone some transformation from a steam engine to what is now an electric motor and lighter-weight cars. A replica of the very first car can be seen up at The Peak.
The Peak Tram ride takes about a 7-8 minute ride each way. Two trams operate on the track.
How to Ride The Peak Tram
Board at The Peak Tram Lower Terminus in Central or the Upper Terminus at The Peak.
(Technically, you can board at a handful of request stops at some residential streets along the way but the tram is likely to be full and unable to stop.)
Only 120 passengers at a time can ride in the tram. Demand for the privilege has increased over the last few years.
When to Ride The Peak Tram
The Peak Tram starts running at 7 a.m., but the problem is that nothing at The Peak will be open that early.
As it can be a half-day excursion, I would plan to eat lunch or dinner up there. Sky Terrace 428 opens at 10 a.m. Shops in Hong Kong start to open at about 10:30 a.m.
If you’d like to hike down The Peak or take photos at the Lion’s Pavilion with fewer crowds, by all means, go early.
Lower Terminus lines start to grow after 9 a.m. Lines are also on the long side in the evening as people head up to The Peak to view the 8 p.m. Symphony of Lights show over Victoria Harbour.
The Peak Tram Lower Terminus Line
It’s impossible to entirely skip the Peak Tram Lower Terminus line, but you can skip most of it.
The outside queue pictured here is skippable, which is helpful.
What you can’t see is that this line is also across the street.
A few steps past Vin Diesel in the red kiosk above (an advertisement for Madame Tussaud’s at The Peak), is where staff members scan tickets. Just past this area awaits another queuing room that I would guess can hold enough people to fill about 3–4 trams.
Trams arrive roughly every 8 minutes, so that could be 24–32 minutes of additional wait time. As far as I know, and based on personal experience, this is the part that can’t be skipped (please advise if you know differently).
Tours and advanced purchase ticket holders enter this area before walk-ups who purchased tickets at the Lower Terminus on the day.
If you don’t buy tickets in advance, you’ll need to queue for tickets and then queue to enter. Using an Octopus card will skip the ticketing line but you’ll still queue to enter.
As you can see, it’s critical to buy tickets for The Peak Tram in advance to minimize line waiting.
There are two ways to avoid the longer queues at The Peak Tram. One is by purchasing the tickets directly through The Peak Tram, and the other is via a Klook discounted Peak Tram ticket. There are benefits to both.
Klook Peak Tram Tickets
Klook offers various bundled ticket combinations for The Peak Tram, Madame Tussauds, Sky Terrace 428, and Bubba Gump restaurant. They also have a voucher for a downhill bus. Klook tickets are a discount to retail pricing.
Select the date you’d like to visit The Peak and the time you’ll meet your tour when purchasing on Klook.
I bought a Klook Peak Tram and Sky Terrace 428 combo ticket on my most recent trip to Hong Kong. It was extremely easy to use. The one thing to note, which can be a benefit depending on how familiar you are with Hong Kong, is that Klook Peak Tram tours begin at Central Station (exit K).
A guide will walk you from Central Station to the Lower Terminus, which takes about 10-15 minutes. He or she will relay detail about the famous sights and buildings along the way, so it is a bit of a mini sightseeing tour. You’ll wear an orange Klook sticker to distinguish you from other groups and be handed your purchased ticket combination.
After entering the dedicated tour group line and having our ticket scanned, we waited for three trams to depart before entering our own. The trams were filled to maximum capacity.
The time it takes to walk from Central Station to the Lower Terminus, enter the tour group line, wait a bit, board the tram, and ride up to The Peak is about an hour in total. The tour guide is there to get you on to The Peak Tram. After exiting the tram at the Upper Terminus, you’re free to explore on your own.
Those staying in the Admiralty hotels (Island Shangri-la, Conrad, Upper House, and JW Marriott) can very easily walk to The Peak Tram Lower Terminus through Hong Kong Park in about 10 minutes. It is slightly out-of-the-way to take the MTR to Central (one stop from Admiralty) and then walk another 15 minutes but isn’t the end of the world. Perhaps plan some sightseeing, shopping or eating in Central before meeting the tour.
Tickets Through The Peak Tram
You can also buy tickets directly through The Peak Tram. They cost a bit more than they do on Klook.
You need to choose the date you’d like to go when buying the tickets. However, these tickets let you arrive at any time during opening hours. Through The Peak Tram, it’s possible to bundle a Peak Tram ticket with Sky Terrace 428, but you can’t bundle entry to Madame Tussauds at The Peak, at least online.
With either of these methods, you will wait for less time than if you show up without a ticket in-hand.
The Peak Tram Upper Terminus
Lines to ride The Peak Tram back down to Central are typically shorter. It’s not uncommon for people to take another form of transportation up and The Peak Tram down. You can buy tickets here.
Should You Buy a Sky Terrace 428 Ticket?
Sky Terrace 428 is the viewing deck from which people take the postcard-worthy shot of the Hong Kong skyline. If the weather is good, I would say definitely yes because it is the best vantage point for this photo. If it’s cloudy/rainy, give it a skip because you won’t be able to see much.
The Peak Tram Upper Terminus is located inside this building. From here, you’ll take a series of escalators to the Sky Terrace 428 viewing deck.
Lots of shops, restaurants and even Madame Tussauds also await inside. The viewing deck requires ticketing, but the rest of the building can be explored for free.
Alternatively (or in Addition to), Try the Lion’s Pavillion
The Lion’s Pavilion is a free viewing point. If facing Sky Terrace 428 and Victoria Harbour, you’ll find it on the right down a short path (now there is signage to guide you).
Looking down from Sky Terrace 428, you can see it to the right of the Peak Tram. It’s free so often very busy. The view looks like this as it’s not as high up.
A walk along Lugard Road (Peak Circle Trail) will also yield some scenic skyline photos.
Where to Eat at The Peak
With The Peak Galleria closed for renovation until late 2019, where to eat at The Peak becomes a more straightforward decision.
I would skip the touristy restaurants in Sky Terrace 428 and go straight to The Peak Lookout. This restaurant is located inside a historical building that used to be a resting place for British engineers that constructed the Peak Tram line in 1888. It’s one of the last examples of British Arts and Crafts architecture remaining in Hong Kong.
Diners enjoy views to Aberdeen and Pok Fu Lam from the outdoor patio. The menu features Asian favorites (I typically order the Hainanese chicken rice, a chef’s recommendations), Western dishes, curries, and an extensive wine and cocktail list.
See also: Best Foods to Eat in Hong Kong
Peak Circle Walk
Do take the Peak Circle Walk if time permits. It’s easy enough for kids and strollers.
This walk starts on Lugard Road where you’ll also enjoy panoramic views down to the Hong Kong skyline. The entire circle takes about an hour but plan for longer in case you’d like to stop to take in views or let the kids play. Bring water and snacks as there isn’t a place to buy them along the way.
Other Ways to Get to Victoria Peak
Take Bus 15 (First Bus) from Central Pier near the Star Ferry. The bus starts running at 10:15 a.m. and runs every 7-15 minutes. The ride takes 40 minutes to an hour to get from Central to The Peak. It’s certainly cheap at HKD 9.80 per person and easiest to board with an Octopus card.
Taxi One or Both Ways
It’s common for people taxi one or both ways to The Peak. We often taxi up and take The Peak Tram down. The line for the Peak Tram on the way down is usually much shorter. Taxi rides from Central take about 20 minutes and cost around HKD 100.
Or, take The Peak Tram up to The Peak and taxi onward to the south side. The last time, I went from The Peak to the outlets in Ap Lei Chau.
(The road is a bit curvy so be prepared for that if traveling with anyone who is very sensitive to motion sickness.)
See also: Best Hong Kong Family Hotels
Most importantly, have fun!