By LUXE City Guides; Images by Calvin Sit
Hong Kong is a hotbed of discovery and adventure for fun seekers of all ages. Its diverse offering spans land and sea activities from hiking to sailing, delectable local cuisine, islands, animals, museums, markets and theme parks; whatever your interest, whatever your age, the Fragrant Harbour has it all, and dim sum. Here’s our suggested itinerary for families taking a short break in Hong Kong.
Few sights in Hong Kong are as recognisable or beloved as The Peak. From it’s lofty heights you can peer down on virtually the entire city – from the distant mountains of the New Territories backdropping glittering Kowloon, Victoria Harbour and bustling Central directly below, to the outlying islands including Lantau and Lamma. What better way to introduce your little ones to the unique geography, waterways, inhabitants, flora and fauna of this fabulous city?
While the iconic Peak Tram is undergoing renovations, less mobile families should consider taking a taxi or minibus up, while active young ones can scoot, cycle, skip, run or simply meander up the Morning Trail for a true, mini Hong Konger experience. Do a lap around Lugard Road to take in the archipelago-spanning views.
It would be remiss to visit Hong Kong without a traditional dim sum experience, and nowhere is more family-friendly and lively than Maxim’s at City Hall. The cavernous food hall is host to twinkly chandeliers, tables for all group sizes and front row Harbour views; but we particularly love it for the servers pushing old-fashioned carts heaving with bite-size morsels, who willingly chat to all and sundry – it’s a great opportunity to try out your Cantonese! It’s loud, it’s messy, it’s perfect – just be sure to arrive early to beat the hungry masses.
Or, if your wee ones need yet more reason to gobble up the goods, Central’s Yum Cha is well known for its cartoon-like dim sum buns including doggy sausage rolls, BBQ piggy buns and, best of all, “barfing” custard buns. Who said meal time can’t be fun?
- 2/F, Low Block, City Hall, Central, Hong Kong Island
- +852 2521 1303
- 2/F, Nan Fung Place, 173 Des Voeux Road Central, Hong Kong Island
- +852 3708 8081
Hong Kong’s police HQ and gaol turned heritage cultural compound, Tai Kwun, is a sprawling labyrinth of discovery for kids and adults alike. The former jail cells have been reborn as interactive exhibits depicting what life on the inside would have been like, while rotating exhibitions and workshops are held in the compound’s contemporary galleries. If time is on your side, there are even regular Family Day events where accompanied children over the age of five can participate in guided interactive tours, Neko-mask design and canvas mobile construction.
With a history dating as far back as 1880, Hong Kong’s Star Ferry is an undisputed and cherished icon of the city’s habourscape. There’s no bad time of day to take a ride, but it’s pretty special as the sun sets and the glittering skyline begins to sparkle. Make sure you’re over on the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade by 8pm, when the nightly laser and LED spectacle ‘A Symphony of Lights’ takes place, set to orchestral music. Alternatively, book your place on the restored traditional red-sailed junk boat, Aqua Luna, that cruises up and down the harbour for 45 minutes at a time from afternoon till late.
- +852 2116 8821
Step back in time at the Hong Kong Museum of History, which takes you on a self-guided tip-toe through the city’s history over four floors; from its prehistoric beginnings through dynasties and Opium Wars to occupation and the birth of the modern metropolis. The best part? It’s situated directly across the square from the equally excellent Hong Kong Science Museum, also boasting four storeys jam-packed with fun interactive spaces dedicated to telecommunications, mathematics, transportation, life sciences, biodiversity and more, plus a children’s gallery spread across the entire top level. A budding scientist’s heaven!
Retro co-working space and hotel, Eaton House, is not only a Mid-Century Modern aesthete’s visual feast, it’s also home to a cracking market-style Food Hall referencing the street eats and stalls of decades past. Little explorers will love visiting the 10+ counters serving up local and global fare that caters to even the pickiest of eaters of all ages. And given the vast offering is both health and environment-focused, there are great vegetarian options, reduced plastic and waste initiatives, plus complimentary filtered water provided if you bring your own reusable water bottle.
From Eaton House, head north to Prince Edward MTR in Mong Kok, where Hong Kong’s real-deal working markets sell everything from lush tropical flowers to twittering canaries to goldfish and tropical fish of all shapes and sizes, plus all the necessary accoutrements to go with them. If meeting Nemo and Dory wasn’t exciting enough, there are also frogs, hamsters, turtles and all manner of creepy crawlies to inspire giggles and gasps alike. It’s a charming and engaging pocket of the city, though resisting calls to purchase might prove challenging – be warned: you may leave with a new pet!
- 1/F & 4/F, 380 Nathan Road, Kowloon
- +852 2710 1858
By now your little ones must be famished (and you too!), so keep it simple with a few stops on the MTR to Lai Chi Kok Station, where a two minute walk will deposit you at Mr Tree, an outpost of the popular Taiwanese chain that merges dinnertime with playtime. Occupying 560 sqm, Mr Tree dedicates half its floor space to a cafeteria-style dining hall serving kid-friendly eats, and the other half to a playground for 0-6 year olds, featuring rope bridges, slides and a mega ball pool.
- Shop 103-107 & 120-121,1/F, D2 Place Two, 15 Cheung Shun Street, Lai Chi Kok, Kowloon
- +852 3184 0033
With no less than 263 islands making up its archipelago, it’s safe to say there’s much more to Hong Kong than initially meets the eye. Island village life is quaint, laidback and offers an entirely different experience to residents and visitors alike. One of the most popular and easily accessible is Lamma Island, where families would do well to spend the entire day exploring. To make the most of your journey, take a ferry from Aberdeen to Mo Tat Wan, taking around 25 minutes to cross the channel. (Ferries run around every 90 minutes).
Upon arrival, hike the gently undulating trail to Sok Kwu Wan village, where you’ll espy a string of restaurants specialising in freshly caught seafood cooked to zingy local specifications (think steamed fish, fried clams with black bean sauce, salt and pepper squid, garlic shrimp and chili crab). If you’re feeling weary, you can pop on a ferry back to HK Island from here (Aberdeen or Central), or else push on along the hiking trail to buzzy Yung Shue Wan, passing bee farms, pineapple sellers, beaches, temples, pavilions, village houses and organic Herboland farm replete with bunnies and birds along the way. After a wander through the charming lanes of Yung Shue Wan, pop on the ferry back to Central.
- Hung Shing Yeh Beach, Lamma Island, Outlying Islands
- +852 9094 6206
If you’re not all walked out, now’s the perfect time to take in another fabulous harbour vantage, this time via Tamar Park’s waterfront Admiralty situ. Pootle east from the Central Ferry Piers passing the Hong Kong Observation Wheel, to reach the park, which regularly hosts outdoor exhibitions, installations and events. Push on into the heart of characterful neighbourhood Wan Chai, where family-pleasing plates are available at wood-fired pie-slinger Motorino pizza.
- 15 Ship Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong Island
- +852 2520 0690
No family stay in Hong Kong would be complete without a visit to one of the city’s favourite theme parks, Ocean Park and Disneyland. Whichever you choose to do, you’ll want to avoid weekends and public holidays if possible, and go early as crowds (and heat) tend to swell later in the day. Here’s what’s not-to-be-missed at both…
Ocean Park Hong Kong
Situated on the southern side of Hong Kong Island, and easily accessible via MTR or taxi, sea-themed Ocean Park offers up-close animal experiences, rides and play areas for children of all ages. Tickets can be pre-purchased to avoid queueing faff, and a FasTrack addition allows for priority access to rides and attractions – so worth getting, particularly if it’s the height of sticky summer and you’ve got small ones in tow. Don’t miss the Emperor’s of The Sky and Amazing Bird Theatre shows, Sichuan Treasures exhibition (aka the pandas), Grand Aquarium, Adventures in Australia, Arctic Fox Den, South Pole Spectacular, Old Hong Kong and all the Summit thrill ride action. And, if you don’t mind the slightly fishy aroma, meeting the Sea Lions and Penguins also makes for a memorable experience for little sea-venturers.
Hong Kong Disneyland
Located on Lantau, near the airport is Hong Kong’s home of all things Disney. From the adorable old-fashioned Main Street, through futuristic Tomorrowland, sweet Fantasyland, and action-packed Adventureland, there are rides and experiences to appeal to kidlets young and old. Budding animators can learn to bring characters to life at the Animation Academy, while character photo opps set up throughout the park allow little fans to meet their favourite heroes and villains. There are thrill rides for older kids (Ant Man and the Wasp, Iron Man Experience, Big Grizzly Mountain Mine Cars, Toy Soldier Parachute Drop), chill rides (It’s A Small World, Mad Hatter Tea Cups, Jungle River Cruise), and must-see performances (Festival of the Lion King), plus delicious snacks and treats available park-wide.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board disclaims any liability as to the quality or fitness for purpose of third party products and services; and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy, adequacy or reliability of any information contained herein.
Information in this guide is subject to changes without advance notice. Please contact the relevant product or service providers for enquiries.