We started and ended our recent trip to Asia with our two 5-year old boys in Hong Kong. Visiting Hong Kong as a mom with a child was super easy and not a problem at all, it was just as any other big city. I liked it quite a lot and I´m glad we got to spent that many days – we really got a good impression. The thing that stayed in my memory the most are the contrasts – walking down the night market one evening was so different to walking through a modern shopping centre the next day. So, what did we do and what we think you should not miss on doing during your visit? Read more 😉
When: February/March 2017
We visited: HK & Lantau island
How: MTR trains, taxi, on foot
Stayed at: hotel apartment
HOW TO GET THERE & AROUND
There are good connections with DIRECT FLIGHTS FROM EUROPE (We flew via London with British Airways from Hanover) and really good connections on to some other Asian and Pacific countries, making Hong Kong a great stop on the way.
The easiest and best way to go around the city is by MTR trains – you can get the OCTOPUS CARD which will give you some advantages at other tourist attractions, or just pay single rides as you go. We took a TAXI from the hotel to the AIRPORT to save some time as we had a very early flight to the Philippines (fixed price) and walked lots on foot (bring comfortable shoes). Otherwise, tourist attractions are well signposted, so except on a market, it´s not easy to get lost ;). One time we also took a bus (on Lantau island) and it was pretty comfortable – you will have to take a bus if you want to make one of the hikes outside the city.
Similar as with the food, there are many options. You can get pretty cheap rooms on good location, but expect small or no windows and probably loud noises form the street. As we were 2 adults + 2 kids we found a nice hotel with reduced prices and ended up with an apartment for 3 adults, with a kitchen, living room, 2 bedroom and most importantly – the view on the city over Victoria bay. Yes it was slightly outside the city but it had a free shuttle leaving every 10-15 minutes which was perfect. Price? 100€ per night per room. Oh and it did have a pool as well, but it was still too cold outside ;).
Oh yum, the food. So, there´s a little bit of everything. There´s STREET FOOD (lovely WAFFLES, ICE CREAMS, SKEWERS and so on), there are TOP END RESTAURANTS, there are affordable MICHELIN STAR restaurants, JAPANESE, VIETNAMESE, CHINESE and other international cuisines. It depends what you want, but I´m sure you´ll find pretty much everything here. Don´t forget about DIM SUM ;).
WHAT WE SAW & DID
We actually FIRST SPEND 3 DAYS IN HONG KONG and then we had ONE MORE FULL DAY when we were returning from the Philippines. So all together we had 4 DAYS, but I added one more in the post, because if we had one more day we would definitely use it to go on a hike. So this post is actually a MIX OF WHAT WE DID AND WHAT I SUGGEST YOU SHOULD DO IN 5 DAYS in Hong Kong. Here we go 😉
DAY 1 – Victoria´s peak & Hong Kong island
STAR FERRY FROM KOWLOON TO HK ISLAND
Since we were staying close to the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade we first had to go over the bay – and the best way to do this is taking the TRADITIONAL STAR FERRY, which is operating already since 1888! Today this is of course not the only connection between the two sides of Victoria harbour (there are road and rail tunnels), but taking this ferry will take you back in time so you should definitely do it.
The journey takes only around 10 minutes and offers magnificent views. Plus, it´s really affordable (only around 3HK$, depending if it´s a weekday/weekend)! You will have to buy a ticket at the machine as the offices only offer the STAR FERRY HARBOUR CRUISES.
Once you step off the ferry you will find yourselves in a very modern district with huge skyscrapers – follow the signs and be prepared for elevators, escalators & walkway systems which take you over the roads below.
HK OBSERVATION WHEEL
On your left, you see the wheel – we did not take a ride, because we were about to go to the best viewing point anyway, but if you´re keen on doing it: it costs 100HK$ for adults, 70 for kids above 3 years old and it is open until 23:00.
The INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL CENTER is a world-class BUSINESS & LEISURE center with lots of shops, restaurants, hotels, movie theatres & more. Besides having breakfast and buying snacks for the day we of course strolled around the shops and also took a walk at its wonderful ROOFTOP GARDEN (Level 4).
There are nice cafes & restaurants with FREE VIEWS OVER THE CITY, also lots of space for your kids to run around ;). The IFC is also has a stop for the Airport Express line & other MTR lines, plus it´s just a short walk from the Star Ferry harbour.
GETTING LOST IN THE SMALL STREETS
Before we hit the queue at the Peak tram station we decided to walk around the streets a little bit – you know, without a real goal, stopping at a shop here and there. We did come across a few temples and interesting older parts of the city. I´m sure there´s more to discover here, but we enjoyed our aimless walk ;).
PEAK TRAM & VICTORIA PEAK
Now get ready, it was the end of February, it was a week day and despite it´s not even high season yet, we waited for an hour to get our tickets! You can beat the crowds a little bit if you buy a COMBINED TICKET for the Peak tram and the MADAME TUSSAUDS MUSEUM (we didn´t). We opt for a ticket called a PEAK TRAM SKY PASS, which also brought us on the OBSERVATION DECK. The cost of the return one was 90HK$. So, after an hour we were finally set to go up with this beautiful TRAM.
The tram which started operating back in 1988 rises to 396 metres above sea level and takes you to this SQUARE, around which there are various SHOPS, MUSEUMS & RESTAURANTS. The most recognizable feature is the famous PEAK TOWER, which upper part is shaped like a WOK pan.
The 360 view from the SKY TERRACE at 428 metres is one of a kind! I loved how the mighty skyscrapers are surrounded by luch green vegetation – it´s such a remarkable contrast between a jungle-like forest on the hill and the modern buildings around the bay. I have tons of pictures from up here, but I guess this one sums it all up perfectly ;).
We really WANTED TO STAY UP UNTILL THE SUN WOULD SET, but after we had a delicious lunch at the BUBBA GUMP RESTAURANT with amazing city views, so we decided to go back down, because we would have to wait for too long otherwise. We rather walked around the beautiful Hong Kong park before heading back to the other side of the bay. As soon as we were down we were so happy we did not wait until late afternoon to go up, because now the waiting time to take the tram was already close to 3hrs!! This would be nearly impossible with two 5-year-olds. So, my advice: IF YOU WISH TO VISIT THE PEAK FOR AN EVENING VIEW, BETTER WALK UP and forget about the tram. Maybe take the tram back down ;).
HONG KONG PARK
This is not just a usual city park – there is also an AVIARY with over 80 bird species, a GREENHOUSE, MUSEUMS, a RESTAURANT and PONDS. It makes a great place to cool off in the heat, to have a picnic or just let your kids run around.
In the park, there is also a GREAT CHILDREN´S PLAYGROUND where we of course stopped for a while. It´s always important that the kids also do something they really like and enjoy ;). Besides, resting our feet while they played was actually not a bad idea ;).
“A SYMPHONY OF LIGHTS” LIGHT SHOW
As if the skyline on the other side of VICTORIA HARBOUR was not spectacular enough, there is also a DAILY LIGHT SHOW – named ‘World’s Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show’, it starts at 8pm and last about 10 min.
The show is not only about the lights, you can also listen to the show’s MUSIC AND NARRATION in 3 languages – live at the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront outside the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, and the promenade outside the Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai. (no lights on my photo though, taken just before it started).
DAY 2 – street markets
There are so many STREET MARKETS in the city, you can easily spend one whole day visiting them and even then, it´s nearly impossible to check them all out, so you better make a plan before you start your day. We visited the following ones: LADIES MARKET, FLOWER MARKET, BIRD MARKET, TEMPLE STREET NIGHT MARKET, JADE MARKET & FABRIC MARKET. Read more about those and some other in a post we´ve already published by clicking on the button below.
read more about HK´s MARKETS
DAY 3 – exploring Tsim Sha Tsui & Kowloon
The first two days were quite busy so it felt good to take it easier on our last day before we flew off to the Philippines. We returned to Honk Kong at the end of our trip and spend one more day visiting the Lantau island (more about that later on). Due to colder weather we decided to stay in the city and left out our planned hike on one of the trails in the countryside.
TSIM SHA TSUI PROMENADE
This promenade is a perfect place to go for a longer walk, morning run or watching the light show in the evening. Our hotel was right next to it so it and even though it did have a shuttle service to one of the busiest city´s MTR stations, we did walk to the city along here and it was really pleasant.
AVENUE OF STARS
Unfortunately a BIG PORTION OF THE AVENUE WAS CLOSED DOWN during our visit due to construction works – anyway it seemed like there are big buildings being built everywhere and the city is obviously doing good financially :). We did see a couple of statues and hand prints from various artists. Also found a PLAYGROUND which was actually (again) a nice one.
There are lots of museums you can visit (we avoided them though, because it´s not always easy to visit those with two energetic 5-year old ;)). Here is a list of some of them:
Museum of Art
HK Cultural Centre
HK Museum of History
HK Heritage Discovery Centre
Museum of Tea Ware
HK House of Stories
HK Racing Museum
To get away from all the city action you don´t really have to drive far – just make a few steps and turn into this park. It´s a wonderful GREEN OASIS WITH PONDS, PLAYGROUNDS and WALKWAYS. At one pond you will find many FLAMINGOES who have found their home in the park.
I mean, you could seriously spend 5 days in HK just shopping if that´s your thing. I know for a long time, that I´ve changed a bit since my teen years and shopping can make me even aggressive now. So many people and so many things and so hard to choose.
Huh, markets are a different thing as it´s kind of social and usually more traditional. These huge shopping centres sure are fun to walk through and if you want to spend some € this is the place to go clothes-shopping. I can´t even make a list because eit would be too long, just put the words “shopping mall” into google and this is what comes out ;).
DAY 4 – hiking outside the city
Believe it or not – Hong Kong has some WONDERFUL HIKING TRAILS, which take you to HIDDEN BAYS, SANDY BEACHES, FORGOTTEN TEMPLES. So, if you have the time make sure you do one of the hikes! Discovering the woods and volcanic landscape so close to this big modern city is definitely a PRIVILEGE and gives the city an important value. This time, we had to skip the hike we intended to make (I really wanted to do the famous DRAGON´S BACK) because the weather was not so nice.
Here is a list of some hikes you can take:
Ping Shan Heritage Trail
Sai Wan Pavilion
Mui Wo to Pui O
Yin Tsz Ngam
Twin Peaks & Violet Hill
Ap Lei Chau to Ap Lei Pai
Plover Cove Circular hike
- Sunset Peak
DAY 5 – Lantau island
Lantau is one of Hong Kong´s LARGEST ISLANDS. This is the place where your plane lands on the INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT so the island makes it a great place to spend some hours on if you have a longer stop over between flights! The MAIN ATTRACTIONS ARE: Disneyland, Lantau Peak, Ngong Ping 360 Cable car, Tian Tan Buddha & Po Lin Monastery, Wisdom Path, Tai O village, Discovery Bay & Sunset Peak.
Our plane on the way back to Europe from the Philippines landed at 8AM and our next one left at midnight – this gave us ANOTHER FULL DAY in HK and we used it to discover Lantau island. We took the Airport MTR for a couple of stations, switched to another line and then took the 45minutes BUS RIDE from TUNG CHUNG (btw, great OUTLET STORES HERE!).
NGONG PING 360
Unfortunately this CABLE CAR WAS CLOSED (it is due to reopen in summer 2017) so we had to take the bus instead. If you do take the cable car there are some great views of the Buddha Statue and South China Sea on the almost 6km long way ahead of you – this is also supposed to be one of the world´s best cable car rides.
NGONG PING VILLAGE
This CULTURAL THEMED village has lots of INTERESTING LITTLE SHOPS, RESTAURANTS and two famous attractions – MOTION 360 and WALKING WITH BUDDHA.
Only a short walk further, you will see this SQUARE with the famous MOUNTAIN GATE and the Tian Tan Buddha statue, which is a major Buddhism centre in Hong Kong. Don´t miss a visit to the monastery as well!
TIAN TAN BUDDHA
This large BRONZE STATUE, also known as the BIG BUDDHA was completed in 1993 and symbolises the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people and faith. There are quite some steps to come up to it, but it´s really worth it – and also, check the museum inside.
PO LIN MONASTERY
This BUDDHIST MONASTERY founded in 1906 visiting from Chinese mainland is a complex made up of temples, squares and nowadays also a monastery restaurant selling affordable VEGETARIAN DISHES (we had lunch here as well). Here there is also a NUNNERY dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy, today only an elderly abbess remains living there. The best of this complex for me personally was the look inside the amazing golden GRAND HALL OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS (no photos allowed here, so you´ll have to Google it or check it out on your own).
WE HAD A GREAT DAY HERE and I would definitely recommend visiting this part of the island if you are on a stopover or if you have enough time during your stay in Hong Kong. We were back at the airport before it got dark and had a lovely yummy dinner, spent all the money we had left in local currency and almost missed a flight in the end, but let´s all forget about that little detail ha ha ;).
If you have more time, you can use one or more days to VISIT THE CITY OF MACAU – we slept there 2 nights, but many visit it as a day trip from Hong Kong. Read more about our time in Macau by clicking the button below the photo!
a trip to MACAU
Many FAMILIES decide to go to DISNEYLAND and/or OCEAN PARK – we left out these two attractions on purpose, because we´re not so keen on visiting places like this. Otherwise Disneyland is a great choice also if you have only a longer STOPOVER BETWEEN FLIGHTS, as it is situated at the same island as the AIRPORT! As you see there are so many things to see & do, you could EASILY SPEND A WEEK HERE 😉. Also, if you do not plan to spend extra days in neighbouring Macau, make sure you do a day trip from Hong Kong! We will surely be back some day – next time in the summer, so that we can do some hiking ;).
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