We’ve heard it many times before: when travelling to a foreign country, to make the most of your trip, you must “live as the locals do.”
For the most part, living like a local while travelling lets you discover your destination’s lesser-known “hidden gems” and engage in your host country’s lifestyle and embrace it as your own—even just for the short time you are there.
So if your family has set their hearts on visiting Hong Kong, we’re here to help you follow these ideas and make the most out of your family trip there. With top tips from May and Choy Wan, who recently helped us create the perfect family-friendly outdoor itinerary in Hong Kong, we’ll help you plan an unforgettable family holiday in Hong Kong.
When to go
Assuming that you’re reading this because you and your family have decided to go on a trip to Hong Kong, among the first few things you wanna decide on is when you should go.
While Hong Kong has a subtropical climate with four seasons, it is still a year-round destination.
However, our resident guide Choy has a favourite time and recommends families visit Hong Kong in December. According to Choy, the festive season makes an extra special time to be in the city.
The city’s winter season typically starts in late December (and ends in February). You can expect cool, dry and cloudy, with occasional cold fronts when travelling around this time. The temperature can drop below 10°C in urban areas. This makes travelling there in December the perfect escape from the weather we have here.
|Tip: When travelling in winter, bring along a few thermal wear pieces for extra layers if anyone in your family gets chilly very easily. Pack warm garments such as wool sweaters and coats. Most restaurants and shops in Hong Kong have very effective air-conditioning, so be sure to wear long-sleeved tops so you won’t feel as cold when taking your coats off indoors.
Once you know which time of year you’re going, the next is to find the right flight timing. According to May, whose family prefers to take the morning flight from Singapore to Hong Kong, flying in early in the day allows them to maximise their travel and immediately get going to do sightseeing on their first day.
And if you want your kids (and yourself!) to have enough energy and not be cranky during your first day there, spend the flight time taking a nap. The 4-hour flight between Singapore and Hong Kong allows for a quick recharge, which you will need to make the most of your stay there. You don’t want to start your trip already exhausted!
Where to go
Much as you want to never leave Hong Kong, the reality is you and your family are only there for a short time (and short is relative). To ensure that your family do not miss out on the best of Hong Kong, planning your itinerary ahead of your trip would be a great idea.
Aside from Hong Kong’s top attractions to visit, we’ve also put together places that our celebrity mums May and Choy highly recommend that you check out.
An area that was once empty reclaimed land, West Kowloon has transformed into a cultural, entertainment and transportation hub in recent years and offer delight to travellers of all ages.
West Kowloon Culture District
The West Kowloon Cultural District is known as Hong Kong’s arts and cultural hub. Here, you can catch performances and visit exhibition centres, green open spaces, as well as enjoy sunset views at the waterfront promenade. It is home to cultural venues, with four currently open and more opening in the near future. Here are venues to bring your whole family to:
West Kowloon Promenade
Art Park & Waterfront Promenade – A family- and a pet-friendly prime spot for chilling and relaxation, here you can jog, cycle, or even enjoy a picnic while waiting to catch the sunset.
The Promenade features a range of facilities including a timber boardwalk, landscaped area, children’s play area, the dragon of lanterns, cycling track and cycling ground.
Discover unlimited photo opportunities for the whole family at the Art Park, where seasonal art installations and programmes are displayed in front of a stunning view of the Victoria Harbour. To find out about the current programmes , visit the West Kowloon website.
|Tip: Bike your way around. Hire a SmartBike for the whole family to get around the sprawling space of the Art Park. SmartBikes come in both children and adult sizes, with Family Bikes available on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.
Location: West Kowloon Cultural District, West Kowloon
Photo: Virgile Simon Bertrand © Virgile Simon Bertrand. |Courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron
M+ – Slated for an official opening on 12 November 2021, M+ is Hong Kong’s new museum of visual culture and is set to be one of the world’s largest museums of modern and contemporary visual culture. It’s poised to rival world-renowned museums such as Tate Modern in London and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Aside from art collections expected to be showcased there, visitors can keep themselves entertained at the museum’s lifestyle shops such as The Other Shop and cafes like the Curator Creative Cafe, which offers a multisensory dining experience.
|Tip: M+ offers a wide range of exhibitions and installations which can be overwhelming when you are pressed for time. Visit the M+ website to check out ongoing exhibitions to plan ahead for your visit. Don’t forget to check out the M+ Facade which is embedded with LEDs for screening moving image works. It can be seen from the West Kowloon waterfront promenade and Hong Kong Island.
Location: West Kowloon Cultural District, West Kowloon
Tin Hau Temple at Yau Ma Tei
For families looking for a culture-enriched trip, the Tin Hau Temple Complex at Yau Ma Tei is a must-visit. It comprises a row of five adjacent buildings, which includes a Tin Hau Temple, a Shing Wong Temple, a Kwun Yum temple, Shea Tan and Hsu Yuen. The Tin Hau Temple at Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon, is one of the largest in the city.
At the back of the Complex’s east is the Public Square Street Children’s Playground and Rest Garden, located in Kowloon’s main thoroughfare, a Nine-Dragon Wall that is not to be missed.
|Tip: If you time your visit on the 23rd day of the third lunar month, you will be able to experience the celebration of the birthday of Tin Hau, the goddess of marine protection whom Hong Kong fishermen worship. Aside from the festive activities during this time, you will also be drawn to the local culture by visiting the historical structures and checking out the bells and tablets found at the temple.
Location: Temple Street, Yau Ma Tei
Shanghai Street at Yau Ma Tei
What’s a holiday without a visit to your destination’s popular shopping sites? In Hong Kong, hit two birds with one stone as you visit one of its most unique shopping streets: Shanghai Street.
The street is especially popular with the city’s top chefs because it is filled with shops that sell anything that you will need in a kitchen. So whether you are a home cook, or your child is an aspiring junior master chef, here you can find pots, pans and other kitchen utensils and gadgets to help you whip up your next meal.
|Tip: A terrific place for souvenirs, here you can find wooden mooncake moulds with various designs to choose from, bamboo steamer baskets, long chopsticks, beautiful ceramic bowls, as well as jade jewellery, trinkets, and sculptures. Check out this map to help you navigate this shopping street.
Location: Shanghai Street, Yau Ma Tei
Price: Free to visit; Item prices vary
The new territories offer up and coming tourist destinations that will truly make the most of your trip to Hong Kong.
Water World Ocean Park
Dubbed as “Asia’s first and only year-round, all-weather seaside water park,” Water World Ocean Park in Aberdeen offers a world of discovery and wonders that the whole family can enjoy. Water World will be divided into five zones—Splendid Reef, Torrential River, Thrill Valley, Adventure Coast, and Hidden Village—and there will be 27 indoor and outdoor attractions, including Hong Kong’s first-ever surf rider and nine dynamic water slides. It also features several areas specially designed for small children.
|Tip: Visitors holding Water World dated admission tickets can make shuttle bus reservations and pre-register their names and contact numbers via our online reservation system. Note that due to limited seating, reservations for the shuttle bus service will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.
Location: Ocean Park, Aberdeen
Hong Kong’s largest island is a haven of family-friendly activities and adventure. No family vacation in Hong Kong is complete without a visit to this great island.
Hong Kong Disneyland
What’s a family vacation in Hong Kong without visiting the “happiest place on Earth?” Although it is the smallest Disneyland in the world, Hong Kong Disneyland offers unlimited fun to tourists of all ages. With many options for rides and experiences, as well as snacks and dining options, there’s plenty of great family fun to have at Hong Kong Disneyland.
Definitely check out the revamped, re-imagined Castle of Magic Dreams—the centrepiece of the resort. The castle’s architectural design takes inspiration from 13 stories of Disney princesses and queens, taking inspiration from the interpretation of colour, icons, symbols, patterns and cultural features.
|Tip: Check out the first-of-its-kind “Glimpse into the Magic” tour of the castle to learn all about its ins and outs. The tour is guided by an audio narration from actress Karena Lam which visitors can tune into at eight different checkpoints using their own mobile phones and earphones.
Important note: Timing is everything when visiting Hong Kong Disneyland. Before your visit, be sure to check out the park calendar to get up to date with park and restaurant hours and where and when you might meet some of your favourite Disney Characters.
Location: Hong Kong Disneyland Park, Lantau Island
Where to eat
Hong Kong offers plenty of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. Still, another thing that makes it a family-favourite holiday destination is its wide range of family-friendly dining options.
With many options to choose from, it can be too overwhelming. Lucky for us, Choy has listed down some of her top picks to take her sister May and her family when they come back to Hong Kong to visit her. Here are some of the best family-friendly restaurants in Hong Kong:
Hutong (Tsim Sha Tsui)
A hit for locals and tourists alike, Hutong offers a variety of dim sum and Northern Chinese dishes (read: Peking duck) with magnificent views of the Victoria Harbour. Its popular Feng Wei brunch is available Saturdays and Sundays. Kids will enjoy this venue as it offers a variety of entertainment. Depending on your visit date, you might get to catch acts including Chinese Kite Painting, Chinese Sugar Painting, and Chinese Lantern Painting. Check out their calendar of events to learn more.
And as if it’s not good enough, kids under 12 years dine for free!
Location: Hutong, 28/F, One Peking Road, Kowloon
Bathers (Lower Cheung Sha Beach)
A go-to place for family happy hour and all-day dining experience. Apart from offering delicious treats that the whole family can enjoy (they have a kids’ menu that changes daily!), Bathers offers an unbeatable view and seaside ambience to make your meals extra special.
|Tip: If you want to get a cosy nook, book one ahead of your visit. And because it’s along a sandy beach, bring along some baby powder to get the sands off your feet before you leave.
Location: 32 Lower Cheung Sha Beach, Lantau
Little Cove Espresso
This trendy, family-friendly restaurant promises a laid-back dining experience, true to the chill-vibe Sai Kung is famous for. Located right amongst the seafood restaurants, the menu here focuses on organic ingredients, which is a healthy break from all the other indulgent food you and your family will be enjoying throughout the trip.
Try out their creative smoothie bowls, which the kids will surely love.
Location: Sai Kung Town Villa Block A, Siu Yat Building Block A, Shop 1+2, G/F, Hoi Pong Square, Sai Kung, New Territories
Where to stay
Before having kids, choosing a hotel to stay in during your travels likely revolved around affordability and convenience. While those are still essential considerations when travelling with your whole family, room rates and locations aren’t the only things you need to note when choosing a hotel to stay in when overseas.
When travelling with kids, you must choose a family-friendly hotel that offers amenities to suit your family’s needs.
Hong Kong boasts a healthy variety of family-friendly hotels from budget to luxury. Here are our shortlisted options for you to narrow down your search:
The Hong Kong Gold Coast Hotel
Hong Kong Gold Coast Hotel is one of the most family-friendly hotels in Hong Kong for its abundance of kid-friendly amenities and facilities. From Princess-themed to Outer Space-themed rooms, adventure zones, and water parks, a stay at this hotel is a vacation on its own. Just 30 minutes from Central, this hotel resort offers the ultimate escape from Hong Kong’s urban landscape.
Location: 1 Castle Peak Road, Gold Coast, New Territories
Although on the luxury tier, Four Seasons Hong Kong is a top choice for family-friendly accommodation in the city. Parents will enjoy staying here because not only does it offer Michelin-star food at its restaurants, it also provides fantastic amenities for the little ones. Mini robes and kids’ slippers are available in the room when you book a stay with your kids. There’s also a kids playroom where children can do creative activities. Staying in? This hotel also offers in-room activities too!
Location: 8 Finance St, Central
Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott Hotel
A trip to Hong Kong with your kids is not complete without visiting Hong Kong Ocean Park. So why not stay there too? Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott Hotel is located at the park’s main entrance. It features a 50-foot aquarium in the lobby and a lagoon-style pool, arguably one of the best in Hong Kong. Kids will also enjoy the themed rooms here, which includes underwater, bamboo forest and rainforest themes.
Location: Hong Kong Ocean Park, 180 Wong Chuk Hang Rd, Wong Chuk Hang
Hong Kong Disneyland Hotels
The next best thing to visiting Disneyland is staying there. Within the park are three hotels: Disney Explorers Lodge, Disney’s Hollywood Hotel and Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel. As if there’s not enough fun to be had at the park itself, hotels within the park offer plenty of exclusive benefits that not all parkgoers get to experience. From unique room amenities and recreational facilities, guests will experience Disney magic throughout their stay at the hotels.
Location: Hong Kong Disneyland, Lantau Island
Get ready for your trip!
While you wait for the day of your trip, it is good to note the following tips to ensure that you and your family don’t have anything else to worry about when you arrive in Hong Kong.
Other than packing weather-appropriate clothes, there’s generally no need to worry about dress codes when in Hong Kong. Unless you plan to visit fine-dining restaurants and luxury establishments, which generally do not admit flip-flops and shorts, decent casual outfits are all you need.
To make sure your clothing is appropriate for up-market venues, it is advised to check ahead for dress codes required by the establishments you are planning to visit.
Apart from what you usually pack when heading out with your baby, such as milk, diaper, change of clothes, snacks, water and sunscreen, bring a baby-wearing gear or a baby carrier. The streets of Hong Kong are typically busy; hence it is not advised to use a stroller when touring the city.
Hong Kong’s public transport network is extensive. You can take the MTR and buses to almost anywhere in the city. If you intend to go around the city using public transportation, get yourselves an Octopus Card which will allow you to travel cash-free on all major transport systems.
Available for sale (HK$39) or on-loan (HK$50, handling fee refundable), the Octopus Card can also be used at convenience stores and some shops and can be topped up easily.
A tip from Choy on using Hong Kong MTR is, “if you are travelling with a stroller, study the MTR map system and be wary of which exits have elevators for your stroller needs.”
When planning your itinerary, be sure to check out opening hours, fees and other operational information concerning places you will visit.
Should you be visiting attractions that require tickets, May suggests that you book your tickets ahead of your visit.
Meanwhile, Choy encourages families to space out visits to theme parks during their stay in Hong Kong. “If you’re travelling with older kids, space out the days between the theme parks and other attractions with some nature in between.”
“Hong Kong has some beautiful outlying islands and also nature spots over in the New Territories, so plan some caravan camping, glamping, or beach time in between your visits to key tourism attractions so you and your kids can unwind,” added Choy.
Otherwise, if you’re looking for a hassle-free tour around the city, join excursions and tours! Hong Kong offers a wide range of themed and guided tours that delve into the city’s culture, food scene, history, nature and more. Visit the Hong Kong Tourism Board website to check out all the available for you and your family.
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