Sheung Wan is an absolutely delightful area in Hong Kong Island for a tourist to experience the city. The area and its vicinity have much to offer and we spent a couple days exploring the streets, eateries, restaurants and tourist spots. We barely scratched the surface but then there is always a next time.
A late start in the morning has become a sort of regular routine for Malati and me on all our travels. On our last day in the city we set out at our usual time and walked to Des Vouex Road a short distance away from our hotel. Breakfast was a croissant and a creamy milk bun filled with the freshest of cream at Paper stone Bakery- a sort of landmark in the area. Just outside this bakery we hopped on to a Ding Ding (Tram) at the Western Market stop and headed for Kennedy Town the last stop on the westward tram route.
Hong Kong trams are the oldest and cheapest means of public transport in operation since 1904. Locally they are known as a ding ding because of the ding ding sound made by the warning bells on the tram.
Western Market where we hopped on to the tram is one of the oldest buildings in Hong Kong and the only building to have survived the ravages of the Fire in Sheung Wan in the 1850s. It is now a place of historical importance and houses a few bakeries and general stores on the the ground floor. The tram lines as can be seen in the photograph along side run past the Western Market on Des Voeux road before looping away onto Connaught Road and onwards to the last stop Kennedy Town.
The Western market Terminus is also where you can take a tram for a guided history tour – Called Tram no 68 which has the upper deck open to sky. We however took the regular tram service. Any journey costs HKD 2.60 irrespective of the distance – an unusual pricing method. We used our Octopus card but you can also drop in coins in the box for the turnstile to open. Do note that no change is returned on these trams. The trams though slow afford a leisurely view of the city and the distance of about four kms to Kennedy took about half an hour past 14 tram stops – one stop every few hundred meters. Named after a Governor General Kennedy town is a later development of the city because of the distance from the central part of the city. We hopped off at Kennedy town bus depot and walked along the main streets past the numerous eateries that studded the streets and boarded an east bound tram towards Admiralty. We got off 19 stops later at Bank Street and walked around the Court Of Final Appeal; a building with an impressive dome and rather quiet and eerie ambience.
Adjoining the Court is the War Memorial and the Chater Park where we spent some time resting our legs and had a panoramic view of the impressive buildings of Hong Kong. From Chater Park we ambled along the Garden road guided by sign post to the Peak Tram straight to the ticket counter. Spot tickets are always costlier than pre-booked but I feel it is small price to pay for the flexibility it adds to your schedule. At 84 HKD we got a one way ride to the Peak and entry to Sky Terrace 428. Klook.com offers advance tickets for a discount. A ride of approx 1.2 km takes just under ten minutes and the funicular steeply takes you to the Peak station from the Garden Road. The tram has undergone many upgrades over the 130 years of existence and is today a fun tourist ride as also used by local residents at the Peak.The evolution of the Peak Tram has been well showcased in the gallery below the Sky Deck. I would recommend just a one way ride up from Garden Road and then you can either walk down or take a cab or bus back to the city.
The Peak as the area around Victoria Peak is called has developed as a kind of recreation area with numerous shops and eateries besides of course souvenir shops.The floors below the Sky Deck house besides shops and restaurants and more souvenir shops.
I had lunch at a small restaurant called Kala Cheese toast where I had the most amazing cheese toast and Bruschetta – easily ranks amongst the best I have ever had. (do check out my review on Trip advisor). Madame Tussaud also has a gallery here with and entry fee of 225 HKD . I did not go in but was happy to exchange views with Einstein at the entrance. From his look I gather he seemed impressed !!
We loitered on the floors below the Sky terrace for a while and then took a series of escalators up to Sky Terrace 428 so called because of its height above Mean Sea Level.The Sky Terrace is a little lower than the highest point of Victoria peak. The Sky terrace requires a ticket and affords some amazing views of Hong Kong, Victoria Harbour and even as far as Discovery bay. One need not go all the way to the top to get an equally good view- But only on a clear day. The last time I was here we were caught up in typical Hong Kong cyclonic weather and saw nothing beyond our nose! We absorbed the view from the Sky Deck from all directions and a few photographs later we headed out of the Peak Tower to the gala outside. One thing I observed was that the crowds were far thinner than April when I was here last. Was it because of the season or does it reflect a drop in tourist traffic due to the situation in Hong Kong I can’t say.
For the more adventurous I would recommend walk down the Hong Kong Trail- 50 kilometre nature trail which starts at the peak and ends at Wave Bay. We however took the iconic bus route no 15 which winds its way down Stubbs road which is home to the Hong Kong rich, on to the Race course past Wanchai and Causeway Bay providing some spectacular views along the route till we were deposited outside the mid level escalators. Unfortunately the escalators were closed for repair and so we walked down Queens Road past Bonham Strand to our Hotel. An early Pizza dinner at an Italian restaurant in Sheung Wan and a stroll past the Municipal Square and we were now ready for our next leg of our journey to Japan.