It’s been a long time coming, but Hong Kong’s very own Ferris wheel is now up and running.
Right next to Victoria Harbour, the wheel is just a short walk away from the Star Ferry pier on Hong Kong Island. From its slowly turning gondolas, passengers can take in the city scene on the island as well as views across the water in Kowloon and of Victoria Harbour itself.
Opinion is divided as to whether it’s a better ride by day – when the mountains above Kowloon are visible – or by night, when the city is lit up by a sea of neon lights.
From every angle, the Hong Kong Observation Wheel is a great ride — Photo courtesy of The Hong Kong Observation Wheel
Officially dubbed The Swiss AEX Hong Kong Observation Wheel, the attraction opened to the public in December 2014. The new landmark – located between Central Piers 9 and 10 at the Central Harbourfront on Hong Kong Island – is 60 meters in diameter, with 42 gondolas, including a glass-bottom VIP gondola. Each standard gondola can carry a maximum of eight passengers, and the VIP gondola carries a maximum of five passengers.
The wheel is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Rides last between 15 and 20 minutes and cost HK$100 for adults and HK$70 for children under 12 and seniors aged 65 and above. To reserve a private gondola costs HK$500 for up to three people or HK$800 for four to eight people. The VIP gondola costs HK$1,500 for up to three people or HK$2,500 for four or five people.
The operator, Swiss AEX Holding Limited, has a distinguished pedigree. It was awarded the contract for the setting up, operation and management of the London Eye-style Ferris wheel by the Hong Kong Government's Lands Department for an initial three-year period at a monthly rent of HK$825,000, followed by quarterly extensions thereafter. The site covers about 9,620 square meters.
Installation and transportation costs were estimated at HK$95 million. A soft launch had been expected in September 2014, but the project was delayed owing to bad weather.
Swiss AEX Holding Limited already operates the Asiatique Sky Giant Wheel in Bangkok, and the Hong Kong wheel has been designed by Dutch Wheels of the Netherlands, which also designed the Bangkok wheel.
The wheel is expected to attract between 2,000 and 4,000 riders per day. Queues form early for the wheel, which is popular throughout the day with both young and old, visitors and locals.