Discover outdoor family fun in the shopping mecca
Flight Hong Kong is just three-and-a-half-hours away and getting there couldn’t be easier. To find the best prices for flights, buy tickets online (try Ctrip.com or Elong.com) and fly Chinese airlines.
Climate The island is always humid, with scorching hot summers and brief, mild “winters” with temperatures mostly above 13 degrees Celsius. Air conditioning is omnipresent in the summer, but winter visitors might want to carry an extra layer of clothing, as nights can feel surprisingly chilly because of the humidity.
Hotels Traveling with Little Mermaids and Simbas? Young kids who love Disney will have a blast at the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Hollywood Hotel, both of which promise a fairytale experience complete with princesses and pixie dust. The hotels are near the Disney theme park and thus a bit far from Hong Kong’s other attractions, but getting around is a cinch with the subway. For a stay in the middle of the excitement, the Holiday Inn Golden Mile on Kowloon Island is a mid-range hotel that makes a convenient base for exploring the city’s attractions, many of which are just a short walk away. Four- and five-star hotels on Hong Kong Island abound, though prices will be higher.
First order of business: Buy an Octopus card at an MTR subway station. This marvelous invention can be used for subway rides, in convenience stores, cafes and chain restaurants. Take the MTR to Central; Exit D leaves you on Queens Road East, a bustling thoroughfare with close-up views of many of the city’s unique skyscrapers. (Architecture buffs can read up on the Hong Kong skyline and play a game of “I Spy…” with the kids.) Make your way east to Garden Road to get to the station for the Peak Tram (7am to midnight daily; roundtrip fare is HKD 32 for adults and HKD 15 for kids ages 3-11).
A century ago, those who lived at the top of Victoria Peak (www.thepeak.com.hk) had to be carried up the steep hill on sedans by servants. These days, visitors and residents alike love taking the tram, which moves at a thrilling incline, rising nearly half a kilometer in elevation in just a few minutes. The line for the tram can be half an hour or more on weekends, so bring something to entertain the kids.
At Victoria Peak, take a walk on the many paved nature trails that overlook the city. Older kids will also enjoy mugging next to Jackie Chan, David Beckham and other celebrities at the wax museum, Madame Tussauds (HKD150 for adults and HKD 80 for kids 3-11; www.madame-tussauds.com.hk). Break for lunch at the Peak Galleria, which has a small playground on the second floor; for an impressive and family-friendly splurge, try Café Deco.
After lunch, head down the hill; a taxi (about HKD 50) is best if you’re in a hurry. For a lazy afternoon, wander the streets near Central, where you’ll find old markets and antique shops just a few minutes’ walk from ultramodern malls and towers. Ride the Mid-Levels Escalator up the steep hill; hop on and off to explore the small shops, restaurants and galleries.
For a long and ambitious afternoon, head to Lantau Island, where the family can choose to go swimming and hiking, explore Tai O, a traditional fishing village, or experience Ngong Ping 360 (www.np360.com.hk), a tourist attraction that includes a spectacular six-kilometer cable car ride in the sky over the island, a themed village, and the Tian Tan Buddha, one of the largest outdoor Buddha statues in the world. To get to Lantau Island by boat, walk to the Central Piers and board a ferry at Pier 6. For Ngong Ping, take the MTR to Tung Chung and board the cable car. (Ngong Ping package prices: HKD 159 for adults, HKD 80 for children ages 3-11. Prices for round-trip cable car ride only: HKD 96 adults, HKD 48 children ages 3-11.)
For a classic Hong Kong experience at the day’s end, board the Star Ferry at Central and enjoy the short, sweet ride to Kowloon. At 8pm, watch the city’s nightly skyscraper light show – with accompanying soundtrack – from the boardwalk.
Get up early to beat the crowds at Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park.
Disneyland (general admission: HKD 295 for adults, HKD 210 for children ages 3-11), which opened on Lantau Island in 2005, is best suited to younger children, as it doesn’t have as many attractions as Disney’s larger themed areas. Still, kids (and uninitiated adults) will get a kick out of the parks: Main Street, where they can watch the parade; Adventureland, which has a jungle cruise; Fantasyland, where little ones can meet Winnie the Pooh, Sleeping Beauty and other characters; and Tomorrowland, which has space-age attractions.
Kids of all ages will enjoy Ocean Park (general admission: HKD 208 for adults, HKD 103 for children ages 3-11; www.oceanpark.com.hk), a humongous theme park that offers roller coasters, aviaries, a pair of giant pandas, seal and sea lion shows, and a four-story aquarium housing thousands of fish. On a crowded day, plan to catch the early dolphin show or arrive 30 minutes early for a good seat. Located on the south side of Hong Kong Island, the park is accessible by bus and taxi.
On the last day, head to Tsim Sha Tsui for people watching, Hong Kong tschochkes and delicious Cantonese desserts. Look for street vendors selling octopus balls, bubble tea (milk tea with sweet, sticky “pearls”) and gai daan jai, crisp hollow balls of pancake batter.
Stroll to the Hong Kong Science Museum (admission: HKD 25, or free for children under 4 and on Wednesdays; www.hk.science.museum), which has hundreds of hands-on exhibits. Children can marvel at the airplane suspended from the ceiling and try their hands at “driving” a real car through a video simulation. Step next door to the Museum of History (admission: HKD 10; www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/Museum/History) for a walk through time – from 400 million years ago on the island straight up to the handover to China in 1997. Life-size models, real artifacts and movies bring history and culture to life.
Don’t forget to leave time for dim sum. For inexpensive dim sum in modern environs, try Tsui Hang Village Restaurant in TST’s Miramar Plaza (1 Kimberley Road, +852 2376 2882). Or walk to the Star Ferry terminal for Jade Garden Chinese Restaurant (+852 2730 6888), a tourist-friendly spot with an extensive English menu. For a view of Victoria Harbor, dine at Serenade Chinese Restaurant (+852 2722 0932), located in the Hong Kong Cultural Centre by the ferry.