WHILE many people boast that seeing Hong Kong's towers rise from the Star Ferry is one of the world's great sights, swooping over those same towers in a helicopter must be a greater thrill. Soaring over Central is a different and thrilling way to mark the end of the year and could be the ideal gift for that hard-to-buy-for person - whether he or she is a resident or a visitor. Like a trip up the Peak, a helicopter ride puts the island and surrounds into perspective, but it offers far more excitement than a Peak Tram trip. The flights are a treat usually reserved for VIPs but anyone can hire a Heliservices helicopter and get a different perspective on the city's unmistakable crazy streets and ever-busy harbour. And you do not need to limit yourself to Central. Heliservices Air Tours can arrange trips over practically everywhere in Hong Kong, so if you have friends or relatives arriving for Christmas, it may be the ideal way to take them for a ride. Heliservices' four helicopters mainly take businessmen on survey work and provide tours for company VIPs. But about five per cent of the clients are adventure-seeking tourists who want a bird's-eye view of Hong Kong. The most popular routes are the half-hour trip around the harbour and Hong Kong Island and the one-hour trip around the harbour, the Kowloon peninsula, Lantau and the New Territories. But if you have a favourite spot in the territory, you can organise to fly there. And you can also avoid crowds of tourists. When you book the flight you get the helicopter to yourself; it is the ideal trip for a small group. The helicopters have large, clear windows that offer all-round visibility. And if it turns out to be an overcast day the booking can be changed. It costs $4,470 for a half-hour flight. The heliport is on the waterfront on Fenwick Pier Street on the eastern side of Central, next to HMS Tamar.