I have been looking forward to this trip to Hong Kong – a result of persistent arm-twisting regarding Disneyland – for ages, not sure what to expect. But I was already sold on the taxi from the airport approaching the city. The iconic skyline even more impressive I could have imagined, glamour and grit, skyscrapers and hawker stalls all snugly together and wrapped in a faint whiff of oriental nostalgia.
I actually like traveling with kids to big cities. Well, I like traveling to big cities and the kids have now been added to the equation when they have finally reached a point where the whole family is not constantly on full alert due to some situation or another and their own feet can actually take them to places. In addition to trawling through some sights at leisurely pace we check out the local playgrounds and parks, and imagine what it would be like to live in that city. Mine are still too young to protest but they claim to enjoy seeing new places. Also promising them a day in Disneyland makes them very cooperative. Check out the top tips for city travel with kids here.
Hong Kong accommodation
Hotel rooms in Hong Kong are priced like rare diamonds, especially if one wants a view and a swimming pool. We kept a close eye to the fluctuating prices and eventually got a decent deal at Harbour Grand. The sweetness of the deal was in the club access that meant that we could
inhale sip sparkling wine enjoying this view while the little monsters attacked the canapés and cakes. Although it didn’t come cheap, at least it saved us the trouble (and a few $$) of dragging the kids back out for dinner.
What to do in Hong Kong with young kids
Hong Kong would keep one busy for weeks but since this was our first visit, and a rather short one, we wanted to keep it simple and get a feel of the city. These were the highlights of our trip:
Cool Hong Kong transport
The iconic Star Ferry. Need I say more?
The double-decker trams, or ding dings, are an equally cool way of getting around and you get a good view of the bustling streets from upstairs. The kids thought this beats the metro any day – but it’s not a particularly quick way to get around.
When heading down to Wan Chai street market we spotted a promising tram stop called “Southorn Playground”. We hopped off and realised it was actually a play ground for games like football and basketball, not a playground for kids as we had foolishly assumed. Nevertheless, we had a nice break watching people play, come and go. This is the view of the Wan Chai streets from our ding ding lookout:
Even the taxis are special and all old-worldly. They are also not too expensive so don’t hesitate to flag one down to avoid a long walk with kids in tow. However, crossing the tunnel across the harbour can get costly since the cheaper tunnel tends to be congested. The ferry and metro are your friends!
It is definitely useful to buy the Octopus card that can be used in all public transport. Kids need their own card, as well as a bit of courage to go through the gates at the metro stations!
Enjoy the views
The view over the harbour is mesmerising. The Peak is a tourist trap, of course, but a lovely one. We took the tram up and down, but had a plan B to take a taxi all the way up in case the queue was going to be massive. We walked up to the little playground on Mount Austin Road to observe Hong Kong expat families on their Sunday play dates and tai chi practitioners doing their morning routine. We thought the views from the free viewing galleries were spectacular, but there is another gallery even higher up with an entrance fee. Note that the tram ticket office is selling package tickets for the tram and the viewing gallery as a default – if you only want the tram ticket make sure you don’t get sold the whole package.
Hong Kong has loads of museums suitable for families. We only had time for one and went for the Hong Kong Museum of History, that has replicas of old Hong Kong streets and villages of interest to kids and a bit of information for the older history buffs.
With two kids spoiled by kids’ menus you can hardly plan an ambitious foodie trail. Other than the dim sum experience, it seems the done thing in Hong Kong is a lavish weekend brunch. We wanted to combine the two and tried to look for something different from a hotel buffet, having done those in KL. Enter Hutong, that looks just like the city itself: set in a swanky skyscraper with sweeping views of the port, decorated with Chinese antiques.
The food here is Northern Chinese, with a starter buffet of dim sum – two birds at one go. The food was good, but paled in comparison with the views and the performance. The kids were exited to see their favourite, the face changing act, but were blown away by the kung fu tea performance! The “kids eat free” policy was not quite the whole truth – they do not get a main course and the drinks are very expensive – but the whole experience kind of justified the price tag. Especially when for the rest of the trips we pretty much lived on canapés. And sparkling wine.
I’m still blown away by Hong Kong and the atmosphere of the city. Since we only scraped the surface, we’ll have plenty of excuses to go back. Luckily there is Ocean Park as a bait for the kids. For good online info on HK with families, head here or here.