There’s no shortage of things to do and see if you’re traveling to Hong Kong with kids. There are, however, a few things you might regret not doing! I was born and raised in Hong Kong, and earlier this year took Sean and Ella back to my hometown for the very first time. It was so special to be able to show them where I grew up. Here were their favorite experiences from the trip!
1. Star Ferry
These boats have been carrying passengers from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and back since 1888, and they’re still as reliable as ever! While the two sides of Victoria Harbour are now connected by plenty of roads and tunnels, millions of people still ride the Star Ferry vessels, and visitors take the ride to see one of the world’s most photographed waterways.
Growing up in Hong Kong, this was always one of my favorite things to do. There is something so peaceful about the short trip, and I love that the ferries have hardly changed since my childhood. My daughters thought it was so cool that they could push the backrest to the other side (riders can choose whether to face forward or backward for the trip).
2. Trick Eye Museum
This unique museum is perfect for the snap-happy, self-obsessed generation because it’s designed for selfies! It features about 50 paintings and installations that appear to be three-dimensional by way of optical illusion.
You’ll find five different zones full of comical art to take photos with. (Sometimes, the funniest part will be you!)
It’s a fun, but short excursion, so you don’t need to designate an entire day to it. This was by far my kids’ favorite part of our vacation in Hong Kong.
3. Ocean Park
This marine-life themed park has thrill rides, shows, and plenty of animals to see. Some of the proceeds even go to animal conservation efforts across Asia. Ocean Park is divided into two parts: the Waterfront and the Summit. There’s plenty to do and see on both levels.
We loved the jellyfish exhibit and the Old Hong Kong District the best. Having grown up in Hong Kong, it was fun to see relics from British rule, like the bright red mailboxes.
A few tips: To avoid long lines, take the Ocean Express train to the Summit, then take the cable cars heading back to the Waterfront. For our girls, getting to the top was half the fun! They really enjoyed the train. The windows and doors are TV screens that play video footage of underwater scenes as you ride. Also, the kids were pretty disappointed that they weren’t tall enough for many of the rides. Do your research before you go so you’ll know which rides to avoid.
4. The Peak
For the most incredible views of Hong Kong, head to the city’s most exclusive neighborhood: The Peak. Ride right past skyscrapers as you take the tram to the top or down to the bottom! (The lines for taking the tram get really long, so consider taking a bus or taxi up to the peak, and then taking the tram back down.)
While there’s plenty of shopping and dining up there, I’d recommend The Peak Lookout for western food. The restaurant is charming, stylish, and historic all at once. I have fond memories of eating there as a kid with my parents. For Chinese food, we really enjoyed Lu Feng. Decorated with vintage signage, it has a throwback feel and amazing views of the harbor, not to mention delicious dim sum and wok-fried dishes.
5. The Hong Kong Observation Wheel
This giant Ferris wheel is Hong Kong’s answer to the London Eye. Expect incredible views of Hong Kong Island and Victoria Harbor. With 42 gondolas that comfortably seat eight passengers and come equipped with high-speed Wi-Fi, your kids will be awestruck. The plaza surrounding the wheel frequently hosts events, and has drinks, snacks, and free Wi-Fi. Our daughters love all Ferris wheels, so riding them everywhere we go has become a tradition for our family. (Check before you go: The wheel was recently shut down abruptly due to a business dispute, and its fate as of this writing is unclear.)
6. Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery
Tian Tan Buddha, or the Big Buddha, is a bronze statue that sits more than 110 feet tall. Pilgrims visit from all over, climbing to the top for the spectacular views of Lantau Island. Normally, you’ll hop onboard the Ngong Ping 360 cable car for a 25-minute ride up to the village where Big Buddha is located. (We weren’t able to take the picturesque cable cars on our visit due to construction, but thankfully, our touring bus had a license to take us all the way to the top of the Buddha, meaning we were able to skip the 268 steps we usually would have had to climb the reach the statue.)
The statue is surrounded by Po Lin Monastery, which reminds visitors that while this is a popular tourist destination, it’s also a scared place of worship. You’ll find plenty of restaurants and shops at post the Po Lin Monastery and in Ngong Ping Village.
7. Temple Street Night Market
This popular street bazaar is a can’t-miss stop for sure! With shopping, dining, and plenty of entertainment, it’s something to be seen.
It’s not uncommon to hear opera singers, see fortune tellers, and haggle with sellers over their fantastic wares (everything from jade and antiques to toys and clothes) in this pedestrian-only zone. It’s busy and bright, making it the perfect backdrop for many Hollywood movies.
Heads up: Some of the vendors can be a bit unfriendly towards children, especially if your kids like to touch everything on display (as mine do). Also, as you get toward the end of the market, there are quite a few vendors selling sex toys and lingerie. If you’d rather not have to explain what those items are to your kids, keep an eye out and steer them in the opposite direction!
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About Carmen Sognonvi
Carmen Sognonvi is a luxury family travel content creator at Top Flight Family, named a top 10 family travel Instagram account by Time Out New York and Brit + Co. Her insights on travel have been featured in The Washington Post, INSIDER, Huffington Post, Wanderlust Travel Magazine, TravelPulse, HOTELS Magazine, and more. Carmen firmly believes that you can (and should) travel with your kids from a young age. She offers families practical solutions for travel, as well as tips on how to travel in luxury for less. She lives in New York City with her multiracial and multicultural family of four. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
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