Hong Kong is a must-visit travel destination. So what makes Hong Kong so special? Find out in this article that provides an overview of Hong Kong and practical advice for your family vacation in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a vibrant city, a “world on edge.” Here you’ll find world class shopping, dining and entertainment that’s second to none. But while Hong Kong is a great place to visit, it’s also an ideal spot to take the entire family on vacation. Traveling to Hong Kong with the entire family presents opportunities for sightseeing, exploring different neighborhoods and taking in local culture
It was my first time in Hong Kong and I was with my family. Which is a rare combination for me because I normally go by myself. But this vacation was meant to be relaxed and enjoyable which is why it was important that I didn’t have too many plans. Have you ever been to Hong Kong? In Hong Kong, there are things that make one feel like they’ve gone back into the ancient days. Even though it’s so modernized and fairly Westernized, there is still value in being a tourist in Hong Kong. For example, you can take day trips to other parts of mainland China. Hong Kong has many great attractions: attractions like the Tian Tan Buddha which has the largest outdoor seated bronze Buddha statue in the world, or Victoria Peak Tower which gives breathtaking views of Victoria Harbour and the surrounding islands. It really is worth a trip.
Family Vacation In Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of the most modernized and densely populated cities in Asia. It’s famous for its skyline with skyscrapers, as well as its high-end shopping malls. However, there are many other things to experience and see here in Hong Kong, starting with historical sights connected with the colonial past of the city.
We’ve been to every Disneyland in the world, and Hong Kong Disneyland is by far our favorite. I’m a fan of experiencing Disney in other cultures because the food and other aspects are different. While there can be lines, they are typically shorter here than at any other Disney park we’ve been to.
Songs on rides like “it’s a small world” are sung in English, though instructions around the park are typically given in English, Cantonese, and Mandarin.
Of the major roller coasters, Hyperspace Mountain (more or less Space Mountain for those familiar with Disneyland in Anaheim) is the only one represented here. Do not miss the Iron Man Experience, Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars, Mystic Manor, and the new Ant-Man and the Wasp: Nano Battle.
Definitely, buy your tickets in advance online and print them before you go so you can avoid the lines at the ticket booths. Options include:
- Discounted Hong Kong Disneyland tickets on Klook (QR code mobile entry)
- Hong Kong Disneyland hotel or other luxury hotel concierge
- The Hong Kong Disneyland app
If you’re short on time, a half-day visit to Hong Kong Disneyland is still worth it. If you’re coming during the summer months and would like to skip the lines, think about booking a 3-hour Disneyland VIP Tour. The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (there is one in the park now, too), Hong Kong Disneyland character dining, and Disney dim sum all take place at the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, which is a quick shuttle bus away from the theme park. However, know that you need to reserve these experiences in advance.
Though it’s the smaller relative to other Disney parks, Hong Kong Disneyland is one of the best things to do in Hong Kong with kids. Check out my tips for visiting Hong Kong Disneyland in the summer.
Neighborhood: Lantau Island
How to get there: There are local and cross-boundary buses that travel to and from the park, taxis regularly drop off and pick up visitors, and you can also reach the park via MTR by boarding the Disneyland Resort Line at Sunny Bay Station.
Activity: Theme Park
Cost: Standard park tickets start at HK$639. There are special packages available, and you can often get discounted tickets to Hong Kong Disneyland on Klook.
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. (verify on the day you plan to visit) — the park is temporarily closed
Ages: All Ages
2. OCEAN PARK HONG KONG
Sea-themed Ocean Park Hong Kong is on the south side of Hong Kong island. Some prefer this amusement park to Hong Kong Disneyland because it’s unique with fewer crowds and more opportunities for animal encounters (check the schedule). We have participated in the Honorary Panda Keeper program twice, where you go behind the scenes with the resident giant pandas, and it’s a wonderful experience.
The park is divided into two parts — a lower level and upper level — connected by a sky tram that provides some of the best views of this part of Hong Kong Island. Note that the sky tram is a bit hairy on windy days. A submarine-themed train barrels through the mountain to the other side, too. The lines are usually shorter if you take the train up to the upper level and the cable car down.
The Waterfront (lower area) near the entrance has the pandas, a huge aquarium, and a playground for younger kids. The Summit (upper area) has rides for older kids, the sea lions (which you can toss fish to at designated times), the main show area, and other attractions.
Tip: Ocean Park is doable with just a half-day commitment if you’re short on time. Also, buy tickets in advance to avoid lines which have been long lately at the park. Klook has discounted Ocean Park tickets.
Neighborhood: Wong Chuk Hang
How to get there: Ocean Park is accessible by car, bus, taxi, and the MTR (it’s one stop on the South Island Line from the Admiralty station).
Activity: Theme Park and Aquarium
Cost: Checking Klook for discounted tickets, but on the Ocean Park website, basic adult admission starts at HK$498 and admission for kids 11 and under is HK$249. You can pay for Ocean FasTrack if you want priority accesses for designated rides and attractions.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. — the park is temporarily closed
Ages: All Ages
3. RIDE THE STAR FERRY HONG KONG
Definitely take the 6-12 minute ride (length depends on the time of day) from Central to Kowloon on the historic Star Ferry when visiting Hong Kong with kids.
The Star Ferry Hong Kong is a historical American-football-shaped boat that journeys from Central to Kowloon or Wan Chai to Kowloon in just a few minutes. It also goes to the Hong Kong Disneyland hotel once per day.
Depending on how far you have to walk to the ferry terminals, it can be faster to take the Star Ferry Hong Kong to Kowloon than the MTR.
Try to sit on the upper deck to avoid inhaling coal fumes that trap themselves on the lower level. It costs a few extra cents, but I believe it’s worth it. There is no need to check the schedule (unless you need to ride it very early in the morning or late at night) because the ferries run frequently.
You can also book a short Star Ferry tour around Victoria Harbour during the day or at night. If you only plan to ride the ferry once, I recommend departing from the Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon side in the evening. You’ll get a beautiful view of the Hong Kong skyline and you’ll have a great view of the ICC and Symphony of Lights evening light shows.
Neighborhood: Central / Wan Chai / Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
How to get there: To get to the Star Ferry Tsim Sha Tsui Pier, exit the MTR at the L6 exit. To get to the Central Pier, exit the MTR at the A2 exit or Exit A.
Activity: Scenic Boat Ride
Cost: Tickets start at HK$2.20 per adult per ride in the ferry’s lower deck or HK$2.70 to sit on the upper deck. Use an Octopus Card or purchase admission in the machines near the entrance gates.
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Ages: All Ages
4. SHOP THE TOY STREETS AND OTHER MARKETS
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Yes, there are street markets in Hong Kong dedicated entirely to toys. Since we are always in Hong Kong near my daughter’s birthday, these streets are where we load up on party favors.
At Fuk Wing Street in Sham Shui Po, there are cheap dolls, balls, gadgets, and school supplies that you can buy individually or in bulk. It’s a nice stop if you’re shopping the other markets in Sham Shui Po anyway. Take Exit B2 at Sham Shui Po Station, walk two streets and turn right.
Another option is Tai Yuen Street in Wan Chai. This one has more variety and nostalgic toys. Take Exit A3 at Wan Chai station and walk just a few minutes. You’ll see it.
Some Hong Kong markets appeal to kids more than others. If in need of a costume for any reason, definitely go to Pottinger Street. This small market lines a staircase in Central with vendors selling loads of costumes, accessories, and holiday decor year-round. It’s also conveniently located next two other famous shopping streets called The Lanes (Li Yuen Street East and Li Yuen Street West) just off of Queens Road near the Mid Levels escalator. Visit both in the same outing. Take Exit C at Central Station and walk down Des Voeux road until you see the lanes full of shops. I also take Exit D and walk down Queen’s Road.
Kids who can stay up late will enjoy the festival atmosphere of the (somewhat touristy) Temple Street Night Market with its food, trinkets, and fortune-tellers. Take Exit C at Yau Ma Tei Station or Exit A at Jordan Station. On the quieter south side of the island past Repulse Bay, you can shop Stanley Market.
I’ve written in detail about where to go shopping in Hong Kong.
Neighborhoods: Sham Shui Po / Wan Chai / Central / Mongkok
How to get there: MTR Exits listed next to each market above
Cost: Free to enter
Ages: Kids who like to shop
5. VISIT THE PEAK
The Peak offers the most spectacular view of Hong Kong. The viewing deck on the top of The Peak Tower on the Sky Terrace 428 (admission required) is the perfect place to take that holiday card photo. Or opt for the Lion’s Peak Pavilion to the right (if facing Victoria Harbour) of The Peak Tower. It’s a free viewing platform with more charm but be aware that it is usually crowded.
Go any time of the day, but I think it’s best to maximize your time up here by also dining at The Peak Lookout. There are also quick-service restaurants, some of which serve must-try Hong Kong food. Madame Tussaud’s (temporarily closed) is here as are many, many souvenir shops, so plan to spend a while here.
Stroll around the Peak Circle Walk for more scenic shots. As the name implies, you can walk an entire circle around The Peak. There’s a little kids’ playground around the middle if they need a break. It takes around 40 minutes to do the entire walk, so when we’re short on time we walk it for a bit and then reverse.
We usually like to take The Peak Tram up and walk or taxi back down. If we walk, we take the scenic Morning Trail from the Peak all the way back to Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong in Central which takes about an hour. That said, I know where I’m going… if you get lost, hail a taxi.
Likewise, many hike to Pok Fu Lam from The Peak and downhill via a few other hiking trails. If hiking or walking down from The Peak appeals to you, ask your hotel concierge for a map and make sure your mobile phone is charged.