Friday, March 02, 2012

Thinking of Hong Kong, aka Kong Kong

It is a VERY long time since my one and only trip to Hong Kong - in fact, it's over a quarter of a century ago! Not only have I changed a lot since then, but I suspect plenty about Hong Kong has changed too, not least that it has lapsed from being a British colony to become a "Special Administrative Region" of China. The "east meets west" angle of Hong Kong has long fascinated me and it appeals to me as a part of Asia where it's easy and safe to travel with a small child. 

On Ocean Park's escalator, aged 9
But the real reason I am considering a near-future trip to Hong Kong is much more random - when I was chatting with my son about all the different places in the world we could visit, he latched immediately onto the fun sound of the words "Hong Kong " and sang "Kong Kong, Kong Kong" for the rest of the day. With so many places I'd like to go, picking where to go next is tricky, so I'm more than happy to take his inspiration.

Shortly after deciding that Hong Kong might be a great place for a trip in the next year or two (my husband was easily convinced because he can go shopping for new camera equipment there!), I was lucky enough to have a Facebook discussion with several friends who've either been recently or are planning to go. Given that this time I'll be travelling with a small child rather than being the child, I was pleased to gather a few child-friendly Hong Kong tips, which included:
  • Hong Kong Disneyland was great for small kids - over twelves, perhaps not so great. Although since I thoroughly enjoyed both the original Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland while in my twenties, this advice may not actually apply.
  • Ocean Park great for slightly older kids (so by the time we go, I'll see how interested our little boy is in fishy stuff). From a sentimental viewpoint, though, I'd love to return to the place where I celebrated my ninth birthday.

    Dolphins in Ocean Park, Hong Kong
  • Evenings out in Kowloon are fun for kids and they love the light show - I'm pretty impressed to discover that the "Symphony of Light" sound and light show runs every night and includes projections on over 40 buildings (although I wonder what nearby residents think?).

    Symphony of Light, Hong Kong
  • Ngong Ping 360, reached by glass-bottomed cable cars, was also a success - at the top of the cable car you find the Giant Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery, amongst other attractions.
Giant Buddha, Hong Kong
This list, of course, really just skims the surface of the main tourist attractions of Hong Kong. But it's a good start and certainly enough for me to imagine being able to entertain a toddler there. The local food is another strong attraction for me, and the pure curiosity of seeing how this city has turned out with its unique history. There are so many possibilities that I have barely considered - a quick search on Hong Kong museums, for example, turns up some really interesting sounding places like the Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum (I loved studying Chinese history in high school) and the Hong Kong Science Museum which looks fun for kids too. However I'm not sure I'll make it to the Cantonese Opera Appreciation Class I read is offered at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum.

So, while I'm daydreaming about a Hong Kong holiday, I'd love some more tips - with or without kids, what did you most enjoy about Hong Kong? All comments gratefully received below.

Photo credits: Ocean Park by xiquinhosilva, Light Show by wZa HK, Giant Buddha by Paolo Paraiso.




19 comments:

  1. Oooh - I def want to keep an eye out for responses here. I can't give you any good feedback just yet... We're heading there soon though. We're going to stay at the cheap(er) hotel in the Disneyland resort - the Hollywood hotel and after our 2 days at Disneyland, will go to Ocean Park and most of the other sights you've mentioned!

    We decided to stay the whole time (6 nights) at Disneyland because a) the accommodation was a bit cheaper b) we want to relax a bit and not move from one hotel to another, only to stay for a couple of nights and head back to Lantau Is to leave. I do think however that we'll fall short in experiencing Hong Kong's food though which is a shame.

    I'll be in touch :)

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    1. How funny, I think you're the third Perth family I know heading to Hong Kong shortly, obviously I'm far from the trend-setter here! Hopefully we will both get some useful tips from other readers (and then I'll get some useful tips from you when you've been!).

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  2. Peng Chau Island, Cheung Chau Island (sp?), go on a junk trip on a Sunday. Stanley Market is a Must, and so are The Lanes in Central. Oh, I love Kong Kong! Have fun!

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    1. Excellent Jo, thank you - am I right in thinking you lived in Hong Kong for a while? I am sure these are especially good tips :-)

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  3. I think many say to avoid Disneyland because it was so small and somewhat disappointing when it opened. They are undergoing a huge expansion, which by the time you go should be nearly complete. It's at the top of my list!

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    1. Ah, this is very good to know! Excellent tip, thank you. Perhaps I'll check out their renovation schedule and wait til it's done. It's funny, I'm normally such an "off the beaten track" traveller but I have that childhood obsession with Disneyland (and a child to take there now, what a good excuse!).

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  4. I LOVE HONG KONG! Visited 2 years ago, and could happily visit again there is that much to do and see. Get a boat out to Lamma Island, some nice easy walks, lovely beaches and pretty temples to explore. Also the beaches and reservoirs around Repulse Bay are beautiful.

    Enjoy x

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    1. Ooh some more excellent tips, thank you! Although I have to say that with a name like Repulse Bay it doesn't exactly sound beautiful?!

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  5. I was there in late 2010 when my son was 14 monthsplus husband in tow and again last spring with just my son (then 20 months). We did a lot of exploring. Our home base was TST. Traveling alone with a toddler in that heat limited us a little bit but we found some great stuff to do. Kowloon Park was a must. Lots of room to run around. A short (in height) maze for kids to explore. Lots of locals there doing activities on the weekend. I loved headed a little north of TST to check out the Fa Yuen market right near the Goldfish market and flower market (these are actually just streets with lots of fish shops and flower shops. Fa Yuen is a traditional street market that anyone would recognize.) Lots of street food and cheap shopping. Temple Night market was great for food but hard to go to when we first landed cause of crazy jet lag. I've got a ton of other suggestions on my blog. Most of our exploring was free. We had a blast going to Macau too. Your hubby will be in heaven with the camera gear. If you make it to the mainland and head to Shenzhen you have to go to Window of the World and check out the shops in downtown. As an old professor once said, Shenzhen is like Tijuana on steroids ;-)

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    1. Perfect tips here thank you!! I think my son would go crazy at the goldfish and flower market, for a start! Will have to check the relevant posts on your blog for sure. Oh and we will have one advantage in that we won't have jet lag - it's the same time zone as us (or one hour out - anyway, nothing significant).

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    2. Not having a big time change will make a world of difference (as you know). We always hit Hong Kong on the way to the mainland where I had to do some work. Thankfully on the way back from one trip we got to spend some unexpected time in Hong Kong and really explore. We had already switched to local time by then. Have an amazing trip! Can't wait to hear about what you guys explore. I've heard the 10,000 Buddha Temple is pretty cool too. There are monkeys :-)

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    3. Yes - similar time zone is a big bonus.
      Monkeys? We're there!!

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    4. Ah I have just double-checked and yes, we're on exactly the same time zone. A nice bonus.

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  6. Hi Amanda, I am thinking of going to Honkers in the near future, but not for fun, I will still make it fun, but I have been recommended a Dr Wu and his Bunion Centre. I wish to get my bunions fixed and apparently he has a relatively painless technique http://www.bunioncenter.com/. I have also found some accommodation which looks perfect for recovery http://www.lansonplace.com/hk_welcome.php. I am supposed to be there for at least 7 to 10 days. So your piece on HK is perfect timing. Cath

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    1. Cath, too bad you need the op but great idea to head to HK for it I think - combine a bad thing with a fun thing, turns out much better I imagine! Hope you will have time for some sightseeing beforehand and then you make use of some of these excellent tips I've been getting.

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  7. I think you're making a great decision. I've been to Hong Kong three times in the past 4 years and it is one of my favorite cities in the world.

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    1. Three times in four years is a good recommendation! I'm looking forward to it - I'd better get planning.

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  8. Hi Amanda, I just returned from Hong Kong, last week . I have some secrets of Victoria Peak over on my blog ( http://www.yomadic.com ) ...it's a must see, even if you have seen it before (25 years ago!) it is flabbergasting just how big Hong Kong is now, as viewed from "The Peak"

    But I would also add:

    * Catch the star ferry from Kowloon to the island, the whole family will love it, and it is still remarkably cheap (like 30 cents or something)

    * Catch the trams on Hong Kong island - sitting on top of the double-decker trams, you can open the windows, and just watch the city life roll on by - it's an awesome experience. Again, it's about 30 cents.

    * Night market at Temple street near Jordan MTR (Kowloon) is always a good one, for the whole family.

    Nate

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    1. Great tips Nate, thanks heaps for them - especially with two things costing around 30 cents, it's sounding like we won't have to completely blow a budget to have a great holiday.

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