Hong Kong’s Peak Tram reopens with a new look

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(CNN) — Hong Kong’s Peak Tram, one of the city’s most recognizable tourist attractions and the oldest funicular in Asia, will reopen to the public on August 27 following a year-plus-long closure.

The tram, which has been ferrying locals and tourists alike to Hong Kong island’s highest spot since 1888, is now in its sixth incarnation.

Among the new additions to the attraction are longer cars, which means that the tram can now hold about 200 people per ride. The entire area — from ticket line to train car — has been made step-free to better accommodate wheelchair and stroller users.

The visitor entrance, located in central Hong Kong near the American consulate, has been fitted out with multimedia exhibits tracing the tram’s history from the Victorian era to the present.

While waiting in line to board, guests can watch an animated video showing some of the animals who call the Peak home, including toads, birds, porcupines and wild boars.

According to the artist, Eye of Infinity represents Hong Kong's "spirit of ascension."

According to the artist, Eye of Infinity represents Hong Kong’s “spirit of ascension.”

Peak Tramways Company Limited

An art piece, the stone sculpture Eye of Infinity by Australian-Chinese artist Lindy Lee, now dramatically marks the ticket entrance.

In just a few minutes’ time, travelers climb to 396 meters (1,300 feet) above sea level, with a maximum gradient of 25.7 degrees.

Guests in the last car can opt to ride backwards up the hill in order to get an unobstructed view, but there’s no bad place to sit.

On the eastern side of the tram tracks, keep an eye out for two vintage Peak Tram cars — editions four and five, respectively — and for the enormous yellow pulleys that help power the tram.

The sixth generation tram cars replace previous dark-red ones.

The sixth generation tram cars replace previous dark-red ones.

Peak Tramways Company Limited

Victoria Peak — called just “The Peak” by locals — has long been one of Hong Kong’s most coveted areas.

During the days of British colonial rule, The Peak was reserved only for westerners, who were carried up the hill in sedan chairs. The original tram had three separate classes of seating — one for the white foreigners who lived in these exclusive addresses, one for police and soldiers charged with keeping the area safe, and the last for servants of the great Peak houses.

The law barring locals from The Peak was finally repealed in 1947.

These days, you’re just as likely to spot locals walking their dogs as tourists checking out the observation deck at the summit. Its most notable structure is the Peak Galleria mall, which was designed to look like a giant wok.

Attractions by the tram terminus include Monopoly Dreams, an immersive experience based on the popular board game, Madame Tussauds wax museum and a range of shops and restaurants.

Travelers who are interested in exploring further can opt to take the tram up, then walk or hike down one of the many trails to the bottom.

The overall cost of the refurbishment clocked in at $799 million HKD ($102 million).

Tickets, which begin at $47 HK ($6 US) one-way for adults and $24 HK ($3) for kids and seniors, can be purchased online in advance.

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