There are four main tours with Heliservices, the only flightseeing operation in Hong Kong. The first flies around Hong Kong Island, concentrating on Victoria Harbour. The flight lasts approximately 15 minutes. Slightly longer, the Hong Kong Island Experience takes in the whole of the Island, looping down over Stanley and Aberdeen and the beaches and bays on the south of the island. Longer still, the half-hour Kowloon and Hong Kong Island Experience heads north over the mountains that separate the city from the New Territories. Finally, the Geopark Experience, of a similar length, flies east to take in Sai Kung Country Park and the Hong Kong Geopark. The tours usually employ a seven-seater MD902 Explorer, and they're piloted by expert crews. A full safety briefing is given beforehand, and safety equipment such as lifejackets are provided.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: It's a pricey trip, but it's also the trip of a lifetime.
Ed's expert tip: Place your camera as close as possible to the window to avoid the reflection.
Occupying three blocks of Tung Choi Street every night, this enclave of more than 100 stalls represents the epitome of Asia's market culture: a bit crowded, a lot noisy but totally stimulating. Rather than what its name suggests, the 1,000-meter-long market sells a wide selection of clothes, shoes and travel souvenirs, from US$5 sandals to Chinese necklace pendants to the "I Love Hong Kong" T-shirts. Although it's been running for about three decades, this government-licensed street market is still set up from scratch every day. Vendors build their stalls with canvas at noon and pull them down when the market closes around midnight. Best time to go is after 7 pm when tourists and merchants are at their optimal size. The nearest metro station is Mongkok via exit E2.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: The sights, sounds and smells of this market are sheer entertainment.
Ed's expert tip: Bargain hard or you'll be a bargain. A good strategy is to halve the asking price, at least.
Chinese history has taken dramatic twists and turns over the past three millennia, and this museum offers detailed exhibits that take you through every aspect of the country's development. Beginning in Neolithic times and running right up to today, some of the top attractions include a recreation of a Hong Kong street of a century ago and photo exhibits showing how certain areas have changed. Many clans and ethnic groups are represented. Most importantly, the museum shows Hong Kong did not suddenly spring into life when the British landed in the mid 19th century but has been a thriving part of South China for centuries.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: The Museum is very well interpreted with lots of hands-on exhibits, so kids won't get bored.
Ed's expert tip: This is a very large museum so set aside the best part of a day to take it all in.
The New Territories, once home to nothing but pastoral meadowlands, are quickly becoming industrialized and commercialized. However, this park remains a bastion of natural beauty. This unspoiled seaside area of parkland features hiking trails dotted with informative visitor centers. See the area from a watery vantage point by renting a kaido (a small boat) in the town of Sai Kung, which is flanked by protected parks. Locals say eating seafood in this town is a must. The beaches at Tai Long Wan, on the eastern fringe of the park, are the most lovely in Hong Kong and well worth the hike out.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Who said Hong Kong isn't a beach destination? Some of the best seaside spots are located in this lovely park.
Ed's expert tip: If you are hiking this park, take enough food and water and there are not many refreshment points.
The 552-meter mountain has that classic Hong Kong view. Near the summit, at 396 meters high there is an entertainment and viewing complex called Peak Tower where travelers can snap that perfect souvenir photo. In the foreground, a forest of skyscrapers rises in eye-opening density beneath your foot while the sapphire blue Victoria Harbour glitters in the distance. Go on a nice day and provides can also make out the outlying islands scattering on the South China Sea on the 360-degree observation deck. Various modes of transport reach the top but the 1,350-meter-long peak tram is most popular. The 125-year old track is said to be the first railway in Asia and the eight-minute ride can reach as steep as 30 degrees from the ground. The Peak Tower also houses a view-fantastic Cantonese restaurant Sky Terrace 428 and a Madame Tussauds Museums featuring Jackie Chan, Jet Li and various other Asian celebrities.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: The trip up, on the Peak Tram, and the views from the top have few equals anywhere in the world.
Ed's expert tip: The lush mountain also provides great hiking opportunities. Hikers can exceed the tourist viewing deck and reach the less crowded summit via several footpaths including the Old Peak Road.
Star Ferry is the loveliest attraction in Hong Kong. This 115-year-old service is one of those rare attractions that are hailed by both tourists and locals. Shuttling between Tsim Sha Tsui on Kowloon side, and Central and Wan Chai on Hong Kong island, these 20-minute boat rides represent a lifestyle of the past: slow, soothing and stress-free. That's exactly where excitement and enjoyment lies. It's fascinating to see the hyper-busy city from these boats: century-old colonial buildings rub shoulders with glass-walled skyscrapers on the two jam-packed waterfronts. Even with the subway efficiently connecting Kowloon and Central, locals still choose to ride the Star Ferry now and then for that classic Hong Kong moment.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Not only is this a great attraction, but it's also a part of regular life in the city.
Ed's expert tip: Time your star ferry ride with A Symphony of Lights to achieve an optimal Hong Kong moment.
To really get the feel of the city, board one of its old-fashioned trams, aka streetcars, that wends their way through this intriguing city that's a unique blend of ancient and modern. Although lacking air conditioning and crowded during rush hour, these trams offer a street-level view of the hustle and bustle that is Hong Kong. The tram makes plenty of stops along its route, so don't take it if you're pressed for time. Rather, enjoy a leisurely, and very economical, tour of the city. Trams generally operate between 6 am and midnight, running about every five minutes. Seats at the rear of the upper deck command the best views.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: The trams run the length of Hong Kong Island's north shore: talk about a really great sightseeing trip.
Ed's expert tip: The best seats are on the top deck, either at the back or the front.
Escape the city center for a family day trip to fantasy by the overly cute Disneyland Resort Line from Sunny Bay metro station. Currently the smallest of all Disneylands, the 240,000-square-meter park is compact and easily navigated (like everything else in Hong Kong). The wonderland consists of seven sections including two world exclusives: Mystic Point and Grizzly Gulch. The former is the latest addition to the park and features a haunted Victorian-style castle owned by fictional explorer Lord Henry Mystic as well as the most advance trackless ride Disneyland has built. The latter is another original story designed just for Hong Kong. Set in the American West, the sandy yellow section has a hair-raising gold mine roller coaster. The comprehensive resort also contains two large-scale hotels for ultimate Mickey fans: 600-room American-style Hollywood Hotel and 400-room Victorian-style Disneyland Hotel.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Ever heard of Disney magic? Well, it's true, and gets more so every day.
Ed's expert tip: Stay for the nightly "Disney in the Stars" fireworks show at 9 pm. It's truly unforgettable.
Strokes is the first mini golf club in Hong Kong, part of the Fashion Walk complex in Causeway Bay. It covers over 8,000 square feet and provides a unique indoor entertainment experience for individuals and large groups. With two, nine-hole mini golf courses, a specialty restaurant and bar, and a multi-purpose event space, Strokes is a one-stop entertainment shop. Mini golf combines skill, luck, and quite a bit of banter for a great time spent with friends and colleagues, couples enjoying their romantic moments, or a fun and fulfilling family day. Mini golf is easy to pick up as players only need to putt. The two nine-hole courses, Palm Springs and Coachella Valley, were inspired by retro Californian environments and interiors. The courses feature 360-degree loop-the-loops, bridges, ball jumps, tunnels, winding passages and ramps. Sheer fun, and a great option on a rainy day. Nearest MTR: Causeway Bay. Admission prices vary.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Indoor Strokes is great for a rainy day or when it's sweltering hot.
Ed's expert tip: Strokes is popular, so make sure you book early in the day.
This massive Chinese wonderland is a combination of an amusement park, aquarium and zoo. It has enough activity to keep everyone in the family busy for an entire day. Built around several hills near the South China Sea, the 780,000-square-meter park is divided into two sections: The Headland and The Lowland. They are connected by a 1,400-meter-long cable car system as well. The Lowland houses two giant pandas, a variety of fun animal shows and Dolphin Encounter, 90 minutes of up-close-and-personal time in a pool with the friendly cetaceans. The Headland section is equipped with several thrilling ocean-side scream machines (roller coasters, water rides, etc), a vast aviary with more than 1,000 birds and Marine World, a massive aquarium with a fabulous jellyfish exhibit, a shark tunnel and a gigantic reef tank with some 2,000 fish.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Ocean Park is a Hong Kong original, with an imaginative layout and lots of great attractions.
Ed's expert tip: Dolphin Encounter participants must be at least eight years old.