So you think you’ve seen Hong Kong - admired the skyline from the Star Ferry, walked around the Peak, shopped in the markets, visited the Outlying Islands, and hiked the Maclehose Trail until your blisters have blisters. But Hong Kong is a vertical city, and you haven’t really seen it properly until you’ve seen it from the air. In the days of the old Kai Tak Airport this was easy: after the planes banked above Beacon Hill before coming into land on the harbor runway, the wingtips seemed to skim the washing lines of Kowloon City. But since the airport moved in 1998, the best way to get an aerial view of Hong Kong has been from a helicopter. Do it in style by taking a Heliservices Hong Kong trip from the double helipad on the roof of The Peninsula hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui. Together, the hotel and chopper service operate the “Fly-and-Dine” package: a 15-minute flight around the island, followed by dinner in any one of the hotel’s restaurants. It’ll be the best 15 minutes of your life. We are taken up to the China Clipper Lounge at the very top of the Peninsula, directly below the helipads – enough of a view that it’s already difficult to pay attention to the safety video. By the time we’re led up the steps to the helipad, and see the chopper sitting on the pad, we’re convinced that this is going to be pretty much the coolest thing ever. The front left seat next to the pilot gives the best views, but when you’re a few thousand meters in the air in a glass-windowed helicopter, wanting the “best view” somehow seems a bit superfluous. It’s like asking to have extra chocolate grated into your chocolate fondue. Our pilot is a South African gentleman named Mitch, who’s been doing this gig for two years now. He thinks it’s a fun job, which is a bit of an understatement. It’s not exactly your average Hong Kong-style eight-til-late job. We’re belted in, headphones on, and then we’re in the air and the view is... spectacular. There’s no other way of putting it. Hong Kong’s skyline is incredible from the ground and it’s only better from the air, as we rise up opposite Admiralty and head west on an anticlockwise circuit of the island. There’s too much to see as I count off the landmarks in my head: Bank of China, HSBC, Two IFC, the Centre. Below us, a Turbocat leaves the Macau Ferry Terminal for the one-hour trip to Macau; Mitch tells us that Heliservices does it in 15 minutes. Why doesn’t everyone have a helicopter? What’s surprising about this flight isn’t always what you expect to be impressive – the skyline and the skyscrapers – but the bits of Hong Kong you didn’t expect to see, or haven’t seen before. Mitch points out the Mount Davis Youth Hostel, a little white building dwarfed by green in the Western corner of the island. It looks impossibly remote, cut off from the world: even if Kennedy Town sits just beneath it. We head down the western side of the island, to Pok Fu Lam and Aberdeen. The first of many cemeteries comes into sight, looking for all the world like urban stone quarries. They look so tall, tiers upon tiers of gravestones set into the hills and stacked in a manner not dissimilar to how the living are housed. There’s a little island with a World War II bomb shelter sitting on its spine, fifty metres from the shore and deserted. The Jumbo Kingdom floating restaurant looks far less impressive from the back. We fly past the three chimneys of the Lamma power station. There’s a dolphin show on at Ocean Park, and the stands are packed with people. I like to imagine they’re clapping and making the inimitable noise of Hong Kong approval: “Wahhhhh!” The beaches – Deep Water Bay and Repulse Bay – are fairly empty today, probably because it’s a bit cloudy. Stanley feels more populated and we get a good look at Stanley Prison, a regimented-looking building that faces the South China Sea. Prisoners in Hong Kong, Mitch claims, get all the sea views. Then it’s up the east side of the island, over the Dragon’s Back hiking trail and I’m reminded of the one thing it’s so easy to forget about Hong Kong – that the greenery is everywhere. Most of the population lives under concrete skies because the rest of the island is made up of hills. It’s so much greener than you remember to expect. And then we round the island and are met with Victoria Harbor once more, that sequence of familiar buildings against the hills and their shorter counterparts opposite. Just before we land, hovering above Admiralty, Mitch dips the copter almost 90 degrees so it feels like we’re falling into Hennessy Road which stretches out ahead of us, skyscrapers coming to meet us in a forest of rooftops and glass. It’s utterly breathtaking, and we don’t stay there long enough before we level out and swoop away. We land, giddy as schoolgirls. The second half of the package is dinner at Felix, the Philippe Starck-designed restaurant atop the Peninsula Tower, which has its very own amazing (if stationary), view of Hong Kong Island. The sun sets over cocktails, and the lights of the city come on. And every second of the day that remains, we are reminded that this is the best city in the world. The Fly-and-Dine package is operated by Heliservices (Hong Kong) and the Peninsula Hotel, \t\t2920-2888. Prices start t $6,640 for two, or $7,120 for four. Call 2802-0200 for reservations, \t\tor visit www.heliservices.com.hk .