In a city where skyscrapers tower over city streets, subtropical trees swoop low, and excellent museums are connected by characterful trams and ferries, there's a lot for kids to get excited about. Food and sanitation are of a high standard, but crowds, traffic and pollution might spook more timid mini travellers.
- Hong Kong Science Museum
The three storeys of action-packed displays at Hong Kong’s liveliest museum are a huge attraction for toddlers to teens. There’s a theatre where staff in lab coats perform wacky experiments.
- Hong Kong Museum of History
This excellent museum brings the city’s history to life in visually and aurally colourful ways. Kids will enjoy the ‘Hong Kong Story’ exhibition with its splendid replicas of local traditions, and a life-sized fishing junk.
- Hong Kong Space Museum & Theatre
Kids eager to test their motor skills will go berserk – there are buttons to push, telescopes to peer through, simulation rides and computer quizzes. Older kids will enjoy the Omnimax films shown on the convex ceiling of the theatre.
- Hong Kong Maritime Museum
Even if the exquisite ship models at this museum don't do the trick, there's plenty to fire junior's imagination – gun-toting pirate mannequins, real treasures salvaged from shipwrecks, a metal diving suit… Plus an environmental angle with 'Water Jai' and his tears for plastic waste in the ocean.
- Hong Kong Railway Museum
Thomas and his friends jolt to life at this open-air museum converted from a historic railway station; it comes complete with old coaches and a train compartment.
- Hong Kong Heritage Museum
Though some youngsters may appreciate the displays, the real gem is the hands-on children’s discovery gallery where they can dress up, play puzzle games and enjoy an exhibition of vintage toys.
Great Parks for Kids
- Ocean Park
Hong Kong’s premier amusement park offers white-knuckle rides, a top-notch aquarium, real giant pandas and a cable-car ride overlooking the sea.
- Hong Kong Park
Ducks, swans and turtles inhabit the ponds here, and the massive forest-like aviary has an elevated walkway that lets visitors move through the tree canopy to spy on the birds.
- Hong Kong Zoological & Botanical Gardens
After a visit to this park, your offspring will have seen the American flamingo, the Burmese python, the two-toed sloth and may even be able to tell a buff-cheeked gibbon from a cheeky child.
- Hong Kong Wetland Park
Patience may be required for appreciation of the wetland habitats, but not for the themed exhibition galleries, the theatre and ‘Swamp Adventure’ play facility.
- Kowloon Park
This large verdant space has lakes with waterfowl, two playgrounds, swimming pools, an aviary and dragon dances on Sundays.
- Hong Kong Disneyland
This famous theme park is continually upping its game; a fancy new Marvel-themed area is being launched in phases from 2018 to 2023.
- Peak Tram
Children will be fascinated by the ride on the gravity-defying Peak Tram.
- Star Ferry
Cruise liner, barge, hydrofoil, fishing junk… Your mini-mariners will have a blast naming passing vessels, as their own tugboat chugs serenely across Victoria Harbour.
Looking out of the window of a Harry Potter-esque, skinny double-decker tram that rattles, clanks and sways amid heavy traffic can be exhilarating.
The metro is interestingly colour-coded, full of myths and futuristic enough to enthral younger travellers.
Symphony of Lights
Children will be awestruck by the dance of laser beams projected from skyscrapers on both sides of the harbour, to accompanying music. Bring the Darth Vader costume.
Shopping with Kids
All the essential toiletries you need for younger kids and babies can be found in Hong Kong's chain-store pharmacies, such as Mannings.
Hong Kong Book Centre has a good range of English-language children's books. Horizon Plaza has megastores selling kids’ books and clothing. Tai Yuen St is known for traditional toy shops catering to youngsters of all ages.
See the second-smartest animal on earth in the wild – and here it’s in bubble-gum pink! Hong Kong Dolphinwatch runs three four-hour tours a week to waters where Chinese white dolphins may be sighted.
Tips for Visiting Theme Parks
Both parks are extremely popular with mainland Chinese tourists. For a quieter visit, avoid Chinese public holidays, in particular Labour Day (1 May) and the ensuing two days, National Day holidays (1 to 7 October), Ching Ming Festival in April, and Chinese New Year in January or February. The summer months of July and August are also very busy. At the weekend, Sunday is slightly less busy than Saturday.
Some of the rides have height restrictions.
There's plenty of decent Chinese and western food at both parks.
- Ocean Park
Most teens and grown-ups will prefer Ocean Park to Disneyland; it's much bigger, has a lot more to offer, and the rides are more intense.
Ocean Park consists of two parts – Waterfront near the entrance, and Summit on the headland. You can't walk between the two, but you can take the scenic Cable Car or the subterranean Ocean Express train. The former is busiest in the morning and just before closing. To avoid long lines, take the Ocean Express up and the Cable Car down.
Younger children may like Whisker's Harbour, the age-appropriate play area, and Pacific Pier where they can look at and feed seals and sea lions. Note that it may seem like a lovely idea but animal-welfare groups suggest interaction with sea mammals held in captivity creates stress for these creatures.
Although Disneyland has historically catered for younger audiences, it is in the process of adding new attractions that will appeal to older kids. A hotly anticipated Marvel-themed area will open between 2018 and 2023; an Iron Man Experience flight simulation was already in operation at our last visit.
Though Hong Kong Disneyland is comparatively small, do bring a stroller if you have one. It's stroller-friendly with parking near the rides. The park also has a limited number of strollers for rent.
There are lockers on Main Street, USA, where many of the shops are located.
Fantasyland is by far the best for the very young set. Here's where you'll find Dumbo, Mad Hatter’s Teacups, It’s a Small World and the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. The highly popular Toy Story Land and Grizzly Gulch usually have the longest lines.
Taking the train on Disneyland Railroad is nice if you're tired, but note it does not take you all the way around the park. There are two stops – at the entrance and in Fantasyland.
There's no need to stake out a position to watch the fireworks that come on at 8pm, unless you're looking to take awesome photos. On the other hand, watching near the entrance will allow a quick exit.
Going to Disneyland in the afternoon may let you make flexible use of your time and avoid long lines. The park also takes on a special magic in the twilight hours (6pm to 9pm), when some rides are lit up.