EPIC HONG KONG HELICOPTER TOUR FROM THE PENINSULA HOTEL
Hong Kong is one of the most unique cities in the world with the incredible, city metropolis meeting the jungle and mountains. The best way to see the contrast between the city and the jungle and to enjoy an epic fly-over view of the city is with a Hong Kong helicopter tour. I did the heli-tour and in this blog post I will share with you my photos and also my tips for time of day to fly, how to shoot photos and give my review of the flight.
HOW TO BOOK THE HONG KONG HELICOPTER TOUR
In Hong Kong, there is just one main company flying the helicopter tours so it makes it an easy choice when deciding who to fly with. The company is called HeliServices and operates from the top-floor and helipad of the Peninsula Hotel, which is one of the fanciest hotels in Hong Kong.
You will need to book in advance, which you can do online through Klook, which is actually the cheapest way to book your helicopter flight. The price for one person on a group flight for 18-minutes is $2750 HDK ($350 USD). This isn’t the cheapest heli-flight price in the world but Hong Kong is an expensive city so it’s on par with the city prices. The private tour is ridiculously priced at more than $4000 USD.
The things to consider:
- You will be part of a group flight. The helicopter seats six people so there are 4 window seats and two middle seats. You can still see out of the windows but the view is much better from the window seat. Luckily for us, there were only four on our flight so everyone had a window.
- Because it is a group tour, you cannot pick the exact time you want to leave. I asked for a sunset flight but they told me the group tours leave at 2:30 pm and if I wanted the sunset time slot I would need to book the private tour. The lighting and views would be better at sunset probably but it was still great at 2:30 pm.
- The flight is 18-minutes. It’s quite short but because Hong Kong isn’t a large region, you can still see a lot in a short time. The longer private flights of up to 45-minutes are thousands of dollars to book.
- It is quite an expensive activity but for $350 per person to fly over Hong Kong, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity so it will be an experience you remember, rather than that night out on Hong Kong Island you will forget by the next day!
Click Here to book your Hong Kong helicopter tour
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE HONG KONG HELICOPTER TOUR
We arrived at the Peninsula Hotel and met the staff on the ground floor we waited for the others from our group tour to arrive. Off we went to the top floor in the elevator and into the waiting and briefing room that had epic views back out to Hong Kong Island. After a quick briefing, we headed out onto the helipad, which is on the roof of the Peninsula Hotel and strapped into our seats.
It wasn’t a doors-off helicopter flight, which is my favorite but it was going to be some epic cityscapes and landscapes so I was stoked. Our flight began by heading off from Tsim Sha Tsui and circling back around towards Tsuen Wan. On the way, we flew over all of the shipping yards, which was actually a really interesting part of the flight. We could see all of the multi-colored containers and one huge container ship being loaded up at the dock.
We then headed inland and found ourselves in the thick of the Hong Kong jungle after leaving the city behind. That’s why I love Hong Kong, it’s 85% natural parklands but most people don’t realize that and think it’s just shopping and business buildings. Flying over it all in a helicopter really shows you just how green Hong Kong is.
The pilot needs to do a refuel every few flights and luckily for us it was our flight so we had a bit of an extended journey. We had to stop, get out and wait 5-minutes at the refuel base but I think it extended our trip by 15-minutes so we had almost double the time of a normal flight!
After the refuel we set off again and before too long, we found ourselves cruising over the iconic Lion Rock. It’s one of the most popular hikes in Hong Kong but on this day we didn’t have to put in too much effort to enjoy the view.
We were now on our way back to Tsim Sha Tsui but we still had to do a giant victory lap over Hong Kong Island, which is the iconic business district of Hong Kong. It can really only be described as a mini-New York with urban density on par to some of the busiest cities in the world. The birds of view over the financial district and the high-rises is such a unique perspective and one of the highlights of the Hong Kong helicopter tour.
That rounded out an epic Hong Kong helicopter tour. It was an expensive trip but as you can see from the photos you get to see quite a diverse range of landscapes in such a short amount of time. Comment below if you end up going on the trip and let me know how it was!
TIPS FOR SHOOTING PHOTOS ON A HELICOPTER FLIGHT
Shooting photos through glass in the middle of the day can be very difficult. Here are a few of my tips to make sure you have a good experience taking photos out on the helicopter flight around Hong Kong. If you aren’t into taking photos, skip the tips below.
- Remove any filters or polarizers from you camera as they may not work through the glass of the helicopter and distort your colors.
- Set your camera up with your preferred settings before you get on the flight as things happen quickly from the first minute.
- Rehearse taking photos and changing settings so you aren’t flustered in the heat of the moment.
- I shoot in aperture priority, wide focus, and multi-metering mode so that my settings are pretty automatic but I still have some control. I make sure my shutter is no slower than 1/1000 so that I don’t have to worry about motion blur.
- Try not to shoot directly into the sun as it can be difficult to capture all the highlights doing so.
- On this flight, I had to hold me camera high on the window to avoid the glare and reflection. Figure this out early rather than having reflections, glares and marks on your photos. You’ll still see some in my photos below but for the most part they turned out okay considering it was full sun and through the glass.
- Unless you are keen on a tighter lens for a specific purpose, I suggest a wide angle. I shot all of my photos on a Sony A7iii witha 16-35mm lens.