Hong Kong is a great place for a family holiday. Just ask Symantha Perkins. Here Sam outlines what she, Kieren and their three kids love the most.3>
Shopping and food have always been Hong Kong’s biggest drawcard. For generations women have hit Stanley Markets for some of the best bargains, while their men have ordered a tailor-made suit. But now, thanks to one very famous mouse, Hong Kong is also a fabulous destination for kids. That’s right, Hong Kong Disneyland is open and it’s fun for the whole family.
Now, I should confess my maiden name is Liu, and that clearly means I’m part Chinese and, therefore, a little biased. But having spent my entire life visiting this wonderful destination, I can honestly say that I’ve never had more fun than seeing Hong Kong through my children’s eyes. My parents have lived in Hong Kong for the past decade so it’s like a second home to us. The kids and Kieren even have their favourite Hong Kong hotspots. Naturally for Georgia, nine, Harry, eight, and 19-month-old Charlie, Disneyland is one. Our eldest kids are lucky enough to have visited Disneyland California but the happy and friendly staff make Hong Kong Disneyland a truly user-friendly experience. Of the attractions, our kids love the Mad Hatter Tea Cups, the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster ride and the Jungle River Cruise.
Hong Kong Disneyland
To get to Disneyland, jump on a bus or train. You can take the MTR Tung Chung line to Sunny Bay Station, then onwards to Disneyland Resort Station. It takes just 21 minutes from Kowloon Station and 24 minutes from Hong Kong Station.
Entry to Disneyland costs HK$350 (AU$58) for an adult and HK$250 (AU$41.50) for each child aged from three to 11. Consider grabbing a better deal, and easier access, by staying at Disneyland. You can choose from the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel or Disney’s Hollywood Hotel.
If possible, visit during the cooler months such as August to November, or you’ll be sweating before you get out the hotel door. Humidity can be a killer in Hong Kong, and while winter can be cold (think overcoats and chilly Melbourne winds), consider visiting for the festive season because the Christmas decorations will make your trip truly memorable. Colourful lights in iconic Christmas shapes such as candy canes and trees adorn the sides of skyscrapers, and I’ve never seen Christmas trees so large and beautifully decorated.
Aside from Disneyland, Harry loves Ocean Park (a cross between Queensland’s SeaWorld and Wet ‘n’ Wild) at Aberdeen on the island’s southern shore. Naturally the waterslides are more fun in Hong Kong’s humid spring and summer months, but it’s still open in winter when it’s a great place to see pandas up close and personal. But be warned, these cuties like to snooze so kids can be disappointed. As you enter ask staff when the pandas are most likely to be awake or feeding. Ocean Park’s historic cable car ride across the mountain is fun for the kids and the slow moving gondolas allow tired parents to catch their breath while taking in the majestic sights of Hong Kong’s idyllic waterways. Ocean Park is cheaper than Disneyland with adult tickets costing HK$185 (AU$30) and kids aged three to 11 costing HK$93 (AU$15.45).
Back in town, our daughter Georgia loves the Peak Tram that takes you, at times, almost vertically up the face of Victoria Peak. At the top, the kids can enjoy ice creams or a meal with a panoramic view of the skyline and harbour. Take your camera! If you’re looking for bargains hit Central Lanes on Hong Kong Island, or the Stanley Markets for kids’ shoes, clothes and toys. I can fill two large suitcases for about AU$150.
For luxury goods try the Landmark Centre. You’ll find labels such as Burberry, Ferragamo and Louis Vuitton. Dads who love gadgets will get a kick out of Mongkok on Kowloon – literally a whole suburb dedicated to electronics such as cameras, computers and, more importantly to keep the kids happy, Nintendo and Gameboy games.
Last time we visited Hong Kong, Kieren and I took the kids to the old Kai Tak airport, part of which is now a driving range. You can merrily hit golf balls, while literally floating on the old tarmac in Hong Kong harbour. Amazing, and great for golf fanatics!
Aaaah, Hong Kong’s food – where do I begin? The Zen Restaurant at Pacific Place has great yum cha. High tea at the Peninsula Hotel will give the kids a sugar fix while you enjoy the designer cupcakes and sandwiches. If your children are not good with chopsticks consider carrying plastic forks, and take your own serviettes as they aren’t always available. But the best thing about Asia is everyone absolutely adores kids so you’ll never be short of someone to nurse the baby when you’re eating out. I love it!
Another attraction is that Hong Kong is just a nine-hour flight from Sydney and there’s only a two-hour time difference (three hours during daylight saving). And you’ll always find someone who speaks English.
Qantas fly there most days, as do Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines. We always catch an evening flight home so the kids sleep. We’ve found we usually have to wake them up as the plane lands.
The Peak lookoutAsian holiday spots can be tricky. Do be careful with your children, especially in crowds. Whilst Hong Kong is relatively safe compared with other destinations, kids can get lost in crowded streets. Also stick to bottled water and avoid street food, no matter how good it smells. Pickpockets can be a nuisance so be sure to carry possessions tightly and keep valuables hidden. Despite these irritations, when it comes to Hong Kong, I firmly believe the good outweighs the bad by “n-oodles” so sharpen your bargaining skills, pack your purse and head to Hong Kong for endless family fun… it’s got something for everyone. Just ask our kids!
By Symantha Perkins