Since 1888, the Peak Tram has been shuttling passengers to and from Central to the top of Mount Austin or Victoria Peak, the highest mountain on Hong Kong Island. After protracted renovations with a hefty price tag of HK$799 million, the sixth generation of the tram was finally unveiled in August 2022.
One of Hong Kong’s top experiences for tourists, residents, and transport enthusiasts alike, heres the Cheapo Guide to the Peak Tram, Asias oldest funicular railway.
A quick backtrack
Before the tram was constructed, colonial subjects shouldered the burden of getting residents up to the Peak — literally.
So-called “coolies” or labourers served as urban sherpas, hoisting European officers on sedan chairs all the way up to the lofty summit. In fact, so prevalent was this exploitative system that most Peak residences boasted designated chair sheds and separate quarters for bearers.
Fortunately, the imperialist status symbol eventually gave way to a more elegant and efficient mode of transport: the venerable tram.
It was originally used only by residents of the Peak, who tried to escape the notorious humidity among the breezy mountaintops. But today, the cable-operated tram is a Hong Kong icon enjoyed by all.
Cheapo Tip: Sit on the left to keep an eye out for the East Asian Porcupine (Hystrix brachyura) in the foliage, also featured as the sixth generation tram mascot. Sit on the right for unadulterated city views.
What to expect
The previous Peak Tram carried 17,000 people a day, while the newest iteration accommodates 210 passengers per ride, 75 per cent more than the last generation. The Lower Terminus has also been revamped to include an immersive display of the Peaks flora and fauna, and a roomier, temperature-controlled waiting area. The Peak Tram Historical Gallery also lets visitors see the first carriages, an old haulage room, and antiques such as the old conductors uniforms and the original tickets.
Crucially, the expanded capacity means significantly shorter queues and smaller crowds, allowing visitors a more relaxed excursion than before.
The ride takes just 7-8 minutes, but climbs at an extremely steep gradient to an altitude of 396 metres, making it feel almost vertical. Akin to a rollercoaster crawling at snails pace, youll definitely want to be seated rather than standing on this joyride. As you rise above the myriad skyscrapers and swathes of lush greenery, peek out of the newly widened windows and skylight ceilings. Soak in fabulous views of the city, the teeming jungle it sits atop, and serene Victoria Harbour.
Cheapo Tip: Watch out for the Peak Tram optical illusion; whether riding up or down the terraced slopes, the skyscrapers hugging the railway will look like they’re falling towards the mountainside! This phenomenon has not been recorded on any other railways, because where else would you find skyscrapers erupting right next to train tracks?
Where to board
Though it seems counterintuitive, the famed Mid-Levels Escalators do not lead to the Peak. Heed the helpful signs and avoid taking the Mid-Levels Escalators if the Peak is your destination.
Instead, passengers must board the tram at the Peak Tram Lower Terminus, located at 33 Garden Road in Central. Several buses will get you to the vicinity, but the most straightforward route is on foot from either Central or Admiralty MTR stations. A 15-20 minute walk through the ritzy upper reaches of the CBD will land you in just the right spot.
The tram ride ends up at the Peak Tower Terminus, inside the Peak Tower, which has restaurants, shops, and an observation deck, called Sky Terrace 428, to admire the view. Once you exit the Peak Tower, you will find yourself in the Peak Galleria.
Cheapo Tip: The range of view-driven restaurants at the Peak Galleria are, in a single word, eclectic. Consider fuelling before or after your tram expedition.
Tickets and admission
You can purchase either a single or return ticket. If you choose the one-way ticket, you can take a number of buses down from the Peak back to the city. To get to Central MTR, from where you can connect to other parts of the territory, take Green Minibus 1 (HK$10.90) or CityBus 15 (HK$11.50). Alternatively, you could also hike down.
Though tickets are available for purchase at the lower station, streamline your experience and purchase tickets ahead through the official website. If youre opting for a weekend trip, you will need to pick a time slot. Weekday tickets can be redeemed at any time during operating hours (7 am to 10 pm). You will receive a QR code to scan at the gates right from your phone screen.
Your best option is to purchase the all-inclusive Peak Tram Sky Pass, which includes a single or return trip on the Tram, plus entry to Sky Terrace 428, the highest viewing platform in the Peak Tower. This delivers the best bang for your buck, because buying the tram tickets and the Sky Terrace 428 tickets separately ends up being a lot more expensive.
Cheapo Tip: Until the 27th of October, Hong Kong residents can avail of special discounted ticket prices through the official website.
Peak Tram standard tickets:
Adults HK$62.00 single, HK$88.00 return
Children (ages 3-11) and seniors (65+): HK$24.00 single, HK$44.00 return
Limited time offer for residents (Thank you HK Pass):
Adults HK$47.00 single, HK$66.00 return
Children (ages 3-11) and seniors (65+): HK$24.00 single, HK$33.00 return
Peak Tram Sky Pass (Tram ride & Sky Terrace 428)
Adults: HK$122.00 single, HK$148.00 return
Children (ages 3-11) and seniors (65+): HK$61.00 single, HK$74.00 return
Limited time offer for residents (Thank you HK Pass):
Adults: HK$82.00 single, HK$99.00 return
Children (ages 3-11) and seniors (65+): HK$41.00 single, HK$50.00 return
Cash, cards, digital wallets, and Octopus are accepted at the gates. Cards and digital wallets are accepted for online booking.
Safety and accessibility
The floor of the newest tram is wave-shaped for a smoother ride.
To accommodate disabled and family passengers, the sixth generation tram includes eight parking places with safety belts for wheelchairs and baby carriages.
Baby strollers must be folded before entering the Peak Tram and the width of baby strollers must not be wider than 66 cm when folded.
Steps from the entrance to tram cars have been eliminated for easier access. New vertical lifting platforms at both the upper and lower terminus are now available to assist passengers in need.
Peak Tower and Sky Terrace 428 both have accessible lifts and bathrooms.
Qualified guide dogs are welcome on the tram.
This post was originally published in September 2019. Last updated: October 13, 2022.