Hong Kong with the family

Giant panda eating bamboo leaves in Hong Kong Ocean Park
Giant panda eating bamboo leaves in Hong Kong Ocean Park. Photo: Shutterstock


There is a great deal on offer for children in Hong Kong. Travelling on the city's public transport is adventure enough for some with its trains, trams, taxis, minibuses, double decker buses, ferries and junks.


Theme Parks
Hong Kong now has two large theme parks. When Hong Kong Disneyland opened in 2005, it seemed that the writing was on the wall for its local counterpart, Ocean Park. A major renovation and expansion soon put paid to that idea, and now both parks attract a similar number of adventurous locals and tourists. In fact, each offers quite a different day out – as the name suggests, an aquarium forms a big part of Ocean Park’s draw, while Disneyland has its own unique appeal for small children. Both have rollercoasters and other rides for thrill-seekers – although Ocean Park has more for older kids.  

Disneyland (Lantau) is at or near the top of most children’s must-see list. Just 30 minutes by MTR from Central, the 126-hectare (310-acre) site includes four themed areas: Main Street USA, Fantasyland, Adventureland and Tomorrowland. Entrance fees are HK$539 for adults, HK$385 for children aged 3–11, and HK$100 for over-65s.  

Ocean Park (Aberdeen) is a home-grown theme park located on the south side of Hong Kong Island. Its animal collections include giant pandas, sea lions, birds, butterflies and dolphins. The coral-reef-themed aquarium includes a dramatic shark tunnel. There are also various stomach churning rides. Admission charges are HK$345 for adults and HK$173 for children (3–11).  

The Hong Kong Tourism Board also recommends checking out Noah's Ark, which features educational fun and non-stop action for the family.

 Hong Kong Disneyland. Photo: Shutterstock


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Museums

A variety of Hong Kong museums are particularly child-friendly:

In Kowloon, visit the highly interactive Science Museum (2 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, closed Thursday). On the ground floor, the Children’s Zone under-fives make giant bubbles and experiments. Among 17 other galleries, older children are drawn to transport simulators and a computer lab.   

The Museum of History (100 Chatham Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, closed Tuesday) is a modern museum that recreates the “Hong Kong Story.” Younger kids love the volcano simulation and life-size examples of the mammals that once roamed Kowloon. The walk-through Hong Kong street scenes are also excellent.   

The Space Museum (10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, closed Tuesday) has fabulous exhibitions. But the best part is its dome-shaped cinema screen, which shows Omnimax films and the Sky Show.   

Perhaps an unlikely hit with kids, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Racing Museum (2/F, Happy Valley Stand, Happy Valley Racecourse, closed Monday) focuses on horses instead of gambling – dress up as a jockey and try out the horse simulators.   

Adventurous types love clambering around the battlements and tunnels at the extremely well designed Museum of Coastal Defence (175 Tung Hei Road, Shau Kei Wan, closed Thursday). Explore 600 years of coastal history and walk around the hillside at this historic fort that once protected the eastern approach to the harbour. Tip: If it’s raining or very hot, you will need a few indoor activities on your itinerary.   

Cockpit of a full size Space Shuttle model demonstrates control and operation system in Hong Kong Space Museum. Photo: Shutterstock


Active Pursuits

Ice skating is a cool option, and several large malls have decent-sized rinks, including the Dragon Centre on Yen. Chow Street, Kowloon, is a 10-storey mall with an ice rink on the eighth floor, plus a children’s entertainment arcade. 

For space in the city, head to the free public parks and playgrounds. In Causeway Bay, there’s Victoria Park, which boasts mini-playgrounds, a boat pond, a small roller-skating rink, and an outdoor swimming pool.   

Cross the road bridge to the Central Library (66 Causeway Road, Causeway Bay, closed Wednesday mornings) for air conditioning, children’s books, a playroom, readings and information about what’s going on for children.   

Connecting Admiralty to Central, Hong Kong Park is good for a few hours of fun. Enjoy its large children’s playground, water features, aviary and open-air restaurant.   

Kowloon Park is a haven in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui. Its playground, maze, swimming pools and sculpture park are popular attractions.   

The outlying islands also make for an easy day out with children. Take a ferry to Cheung Chau or Lamma and set your own pace. The tanks of live fish outside the islands’ renowned restaurants will fascinate. Enjoy a stroll to the beach, hike in the hills, or hire bikes and explore the traffic-free islands. 

For a day on the beach on Hong Kong Island visit Deep Water Bay, Repulse Bay and Chung Hom Kok. The beaches are kept clean and are patrolled by lifeguards.  

Kadoorie Farm is a great place to take children. In addition to experiencing the local flora up close, there’s an amphibian and reptile house, insect house, and various farm animals to see. Injured birds of prey are treated and released back into the wild from the Raptor Sanctuary, and there is also a wildlife rescue centre. You must phone (tel: 2483 7200) before you visit.  

Hong Kong Stanley beach. Photo: Shutterstock


Only in HK 

A must-see for most visitors, including kids, is the tram ride up The Peak and the view from the Peak Tower. There are family friendly restaurants and an expanded Madame Tussaud’s (Shop P101, Level P1, open daily). 

And a trip to Aberdeen’s Jumbo Kingdom floating restaurant always seems to go down well with children. 

The Hong Kong Tourism Board adds that a visit to Lantau Island is another great idea. Here, families can hike 200 steps to see the world's largest seated bronzed Buddha statue. The Ngong Ping 360 cable car also adds a bit of excitement to the trek.


Book it: Hong Kong Deluxe

Buy a book: Insight Guides: Southern China & Hong Kong

Read more: Just back from...Hong Kong