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Everything You Need To Know About The Mid-Levels Escalator System

Picture of Sally Gao
Updated: 9 February 2017
The Mid-Levels Escalator is one of the whacky wonders of Hong Kong’s transportation system. Heralded as the longest outdoor roofed escalator system in the world by the Guinness World Records, it actually consists of an interconnected system of 18 escalators, three travelators, and several footbridges. Intermittently spaced entrances and exits allow travelers to hop off and enjoy the trendy markets, restaurants and bars clustered along the way.

The system opened in 1993, and was designed to ferry commuters efficiently from work to home and back despite Hong Kong’s steep, hilly terrain. The 800-meter (2600 feet) apparatus runs between Central, a business and retail district, to the upscale residential neighborhood known as Mid-Levels.

Doug Letterman/CC BY 2.0/Flickr
Doug Letterman/CC BY 2.0/Flickr

It covers an elevation of 135 meters (443 feet) and bisects 13 streets, and a journey from bottom to top takes 25 minutes to complete. Every day, the system shuttles over 85,000 Hongkongers from home to work to play. In addition, it’s a top tourist attraction and was named one of the world’s coolest commutes by CNN.

Maureen Didde/CC BY 2.0/Flickr
Maureen Didde/CC BY 2.0/Flickr

Visitors should start their trip at the Hang Seng Bank headquarters on 100 Queen’s Road, Central. The journey will take you past coffee and tea shops, market stalls, alleyways, bars, and restaurants (so feel free to stop off and wander around at any time). Cochrane Street and Gage Street, near the bottom, are adjacent to some of Hong Kong’s oldest markets and hawker stalls. Don’t miss the buzzing SoHo neighborhood, which spans Staunton Street and Elgin Street and is packed some of the best food and drink options in the city.

SoHo, Hong Kong | Hanumann/CC BY 2.0/Flickr
SoHo, Hong Kong | Hanumann/CC BY 2.0/Flickr

Meanwhile, Hollywood Road is stuffed with antiques shops, and leads off into Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong’s hottest nightlife district. The escalators end at Conduit Road, where you’ll see some impressive residential skyscrapers and which is quite close to the beautiful Botanical and Zoological Gardens.

The system runs in different directions depending on the time of day. The escalators go downhill (from Mid-Levels to Central) between 6 AM and 10 AM, and uphill between 10AM and midnight. Those traveling in the opposite direction can use the adjacent steps.