Without a doubt Hong Kong has an iconic skyline. Like other famous skylines around the world, such as Chicago, New York, and Tokyo, the skyline of Hong Kong attracts millions of visitors each year. Only a select few, though, get to see it from the vantage point of a Hong Kong helicopter tour.
Thanks to Mother Nature and man, it’s possible to view this patchwork of steel, glass and from several locations throughout the territory. Peering down from high atop Victoria Peak, or up close while sailing across Victoria Harbour on the famous Star Ferry, the scene, especially at night, is breathtaking. We’ve seen these views before on prior trips to Hong Kong, but wanted something more unique.
On our recent trip to Hong Kong, Amber and I learned about Heliservices Hong Kong and their aerial sightseeing tours. They are the only licensed provider of rotary-wing services in Hong Kong. Heliservices provides everything from aerial photography for movies and TV, to utility work installing power lines. Lucky for us, they also offer a Hong Kong helicopter tour for sightseeing. This is one thing to do in Homg Kong that should be added to your Hong Kong itinerary.
Arriving for our Hong Kong Helicopter Tour
Heliservices offers stunning 15 minute flights over Victoria Harbour to witness from mid-air the beauty of Hong Kong. The Hong Kong helicopter tour departs from the rooftop helipad of the Peninsula Hotel on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong.
The Peninsula is the ideal location to begin a helicopter tour of Hong Kong. Being on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong, only a few hundred meters from the harbor itself, the hotel isn’t boxed in as most buildings are on the Hong Kong side. It offers stunning views in all directions.
The Peninsula also happens to be one of the best hotels in the city. Amber and I happened to arrive at the Peninsula during their famous afternoon tea. Sounds of a three piece string orchestra filled the lobby with Christmas music.
We met the Heliservices representative at their kiosk situated sandwiched between Hermes and Chanel. The first signs of a luxury travel tour. Staff escorted us to the China Clipper, an ultra private club (we were told it was “VVVVVIP”) located right underneath the helipad. The Club was stunning, particularly for an AvGeek. Decorated in plush blue carpeting, the walls were adorned with memorabilia from the age of the Clipper Flying Boats who serviced Hong Kong from the West Coast of the United States and Hawaii during the 1930s and 1940s.
One thing: no pictures allowed in the China Clipper. Technically, we were allowed to take photos, but were not allowed to share those photos with others. So, really, what’s the point?
Preparing for our Hong Kong Helicopter Tour
We watched a quick safety video. Unlike the safety videos on airplanes, which we’ve all seen dozens of times, this video was entirely different, and was over quickly. It left Amber asking “can I watch that again?” She wanted to make sure she got all of the important information. After all, the seat belts alone looked complicated.
After our safety video, we were able to choose our seats. With only six seats available, this wasn’t hard. But, we needed to tell the pilots ahead of time whether we wanted to face forward or backward. For weight distribution reasons, we also needed to weigh ourselves. That was a little embarrassing. Too many dumplings and Hong Kong dim sum for sure.
After our preparations, we settled into the China Clipper waiting for our turn with the stunning Hong Kong skyline just outside the window. There were two flights before ours. During the first, we chatted with a young guy, who bought the Hong Kong helicopter tour for his parents as a Christmas gift. How sweet. Unfortunately for him, he lured his parents to the Peninsula with a promise of afternoon tea. His mother was excited for the helicopter tour, but was disappointed about missing out on tea.
The second of the flights before ours was a young couple. After they departed, Heliservices staff set out an enormous bouquet of roses and a card for the young lady for when they returned. I hoped it meant he was proposing. A Hong Kong helicopter tour would be a romantic proposal!
Heliservices set up a CCTV feed, with a camera at the edge of the helipad. While waiting, we watched the flights take off and land on the roof top. Although, you could hear the noise of the helicopter arriving before catching a glimpse on the TV.
Heliservices did an amazing job preparing guests for their flight with the China Clipper. The location atop the Peninsula Hotel, and CCTV cameras of the helipad. We enjoyed the build up of anticipation. But let’s not kid ourselves, it’s all about the flight.
Our Hong Kong Helicopter Tour With Heliservices
A typical sightseeing flight with Heliservices lasts approximately 15 minutes from the Peninsula Hotel flying over Victoria Harbour, past the amazing Hong Kong skyline, out to South Hong Kong island, with views of all the Hong Kong neighborhoods, and back safe and sound at the Peninsula.
Because Heliservices was giving us the chance to experience a helicopter flight, ours was a “repositioning flight.” The goal was to bring the helicopter back to its hanger over in the New Territories after a days work. I could have flown from the Peninsula to the neighboring building and would have loved it just as much.
We heard the return of the helicopter with the young couple, and were quickly escorted to the entrance to the helipad. Once the doors opened, the noise of the rotor blades was almost defining. As we were told in the safety video, we kept our heads down, and did not attempt to raise our hands up for photos. Our instructions were to just get in and sit down. Which we did. After fumbling a bit with the complicated seatbelts, and placing the headsets on, we were off.
As much as our flight was over a different path than the typical helicopter tour, our experience was very similar. We had the same vantage point over Victoria Harbour, and saw the skyline from above, before heading out to the New Territories. Unfortunately, we had awful weather. A grey, wet sky. That made it hard to take good photos, but we enjoyed the experience never the less.
Flying out to the New Territories, we saw from overhead the vast cargo container yards that are the heart and soul of Hong Kong. Hundreds of cargo ships waited to unload and pick up their shipment of containers. Beyond that, massive apartment blocks housed the citizens of Hong Kong and dotted the foothills.
Once we reached the New Territories, only a 10 minute flight, the scene changed dramatically to green hills, walking trails, and large areas of open space. We touched down gently at the airfield, in the middle of a wooded area. It seemed that the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong was a world away.
An #AvGeek Dream Come True
It’s no secret I’m a card carrying aviation geek. To date, I’ve flown on every Boeing and Airbus model, except the newly launched Airbus A350. Flying on a helicopter, much like riding in a hot air balloon, has eluded my flying resume. I was even more excited than Amber for this experience.
There were a few times when I was reminded how unique of an experience this was, and how different it is from flying in an airplane. First, we lifted off of the Peninsula Hotel helipad, backwards. Backwards! Amber didn’t even notice, but I did.
Second, when we landed at the hanger, the pilot parked the helicopter on what seemed like a postage sized parking space. Just before touching down, the pilot seemed unhappy with his positioning, and just slid the hovering helicopter a little to the left before landing. Again, something Amber didn’t notice, but I of course did.
My inner #Avgeek was alive and kicking realizing that I’d finally achieved the goal of flying in a helicopter. Without a doubt this was the highlight of our trip to Hong Kong. Sure we ate really, really well, but to finally experience a bucket list item like flying on a Hong Kong helicopter tour is one we’ll never forget. A truly unique way to see the stunning Hong Kong skyline.
For more on our Heliservices helicopter tour over Hong Kong, check out our Luxury Travel Podcast where we talk about the experience, and how it almost blew Eric’s mind!
We were hosted by Heliservices Hong Kong on this repositioning flight. Their regular tours run about $300 a person. Buy 5 seats, get the 6th free!
If you’re looking for a hotel in Hong Kong, we recommend booking with Hotels Combined!