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Hong Kong's 10 Best Things to Do with Kids



No matter how old they are, there are a lot of things for kids to do in Hong Kong.

The city's excellent transportation system makes it easy to get around, Hong Kong is fairly compact, so visitors don't have to make long journeys to get from one attraction to another, and – best of all – many attractions are free or cost only a few dollars. Take the Star Ferry – a one-way upper deck fare costs all of HK$2.70 on weekdays, HK$3.70 at weekends and public holidays. As well as a charismatic way to cross the harbor, it's a mini sightseeing tour.

Few kids don't like theme parks, and Hong Kong can boast two – Disneyland on Lantau Island not far from the airport, and Ocean Park -- on Hong Kong Island – which is still going strong after more than 40 years of operation. 

Even the ordinary things about Hong Kong can be fun for kids, such as a trip to a market, which will be filled with colorful sounds, sights and – probably – unusual smells.

Here's a tip for parents: if your kids don't have a camera, there are some good deals in Hong Kong, and giving your kids a photo/video assignment is a great way to keep them occupied.


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Heliservices
Photo courtesy of The Peninsula


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.


Ladies Market

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.


Hong Kong Museum of History
Photo courtesy of Museum of History


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.


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Sai Kung Country Park
Photo courtesy of Hong Kong Tourism Board


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.


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Victoria Peak


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.


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Central


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.


Hong Kong Island Trams


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.


Hong Kong Disneyland
Photo courtesy of Hong Kong Disneyland


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.


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Causeway Bay
Strokes
Photo courtesy of Strokes


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.


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Aberdeen
Ocean Park
Photo courtesy of Ocean Park


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.


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Meet Ed Peters

Ed Peters has been based in Asia for much of his life.

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