As a resident of the deepest wilds of the New Territories (well, Discovery Bay), I’m often on the lookout for things to do with my kids that don’t involve a trip to the Hong Kong hustle, and over the years, I’ve developed a reasonable mental Rolodex of new spots to take visitors. So when the nice people over at Cathay Pacific asked me to share some of my favourite days out for families visiting Hong Kong, it was challenge accepted!
Fortunately, Hong Kong is blessed with an abundance of fun activities to keep little ones happy and so my biggest challenge was narrowing down the huge number of great options. After much deliberation, I got down to just five of my top my picks for days out with kids away from Hong Kong Island. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
Hong Kong Wetland Park
This 61-hectare ecological tourist attraction is a fun and educational day out for the entire family. Teeming with wildlife, the park is home to over 200 species of bird, 150 species of butterfly and numerous dragonflies, insects and other aquatic life. Older kids will enjoy finding their way out of the maze and, as if that wasn’t exciting enough, Hong Kong Wetland Park has it’s own celebrity crocodile (yes, really!). Pui Pui was an abandoned pet that happily found her way to her new home at the park where she now lives happily ever after. If all that nature leaves you craving concrete then cast your eyes over to the Shenzhen skyline, just across the border in Mainland China, and which makes for an interesting contrast to the park’s lush greenery.
Opening hours: Daily, 10am to 5pm
Costs: $30 per adult and $15 per child; under-3s are free.
Hong Kong Wetland Park, Wetland Park Road, New Territories, Hong Kong; 3152 2666
Sham Shui Po Food Tour
Getting stuck in to something tasty is a particular favourite pastime of ours Chez T-T, and, in this food-obsessed city, there are few places better to go snack hunting than Kowloon’s fascinating Sham Shui Po district. If you like a bit of culture with your dan tat (Hong Kong-style egg tart), then Hong Kong Foodie Tours offer a walking tour around this fascinating neighbourhood, highlighting points of interest along the way. A great option for older kids and teens, the tour stops at six local eateries, giving you plenty of opportunity to sample some of the best local food that Hong Kong has to offer. Sounds like a lot of eating? All that walking will help build an appetite in no time.
Tours run on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, beginning at 9.15am and lasting about 3.5 hours.
Costs: $720 per adult and $520 per child aged 5-14 years. Your ticket price includes all food.
Hong Kong Island is just one of 262 to explore, so get yourself on a ferry! Head out to one of the city’s many varied and fascinating outlying island for scenic walks, great food and a slower pace of life – all within an hour or so of Central. Some of our favourites are Lamma, with its thriving eco-community (ferry from Central Pier 4 or Aberdeen), sleepy Peng Chau (ferry leaves from Central Pier 6), teeny-tiny Po Toi (ferry from Aberdeen or Stanley) and the beautiful beaches of Tap Mun (ferry from Wong Shek Pier, Sai Kung).
Camping in South Lantau
I may be biased as a Lantau-dweller, but in my humble opinion, South Lantau is one of the most picturesque parts of Hong Kong. With great beaches that are always a hit with the kids, it’s also a popular camping spot, offering the opportunity to escape the city and get back to nature (as much as you can get back to nature in Hong Kong). Now, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be too idle and laden down with coolers full of wine to lug a tent to a beach and wrestle it up. And that’s before you even have to contemplate sleeping on the ground.
So hooray for glamping! If the idea of sleeping under the stars appeals, but all that hassle doesn’t then Palm Beach will take the stress out of your adventure under canvas. With a choice of cool beachside tepees or supersized bush camper tents that include airbeds and aircon (yay!), this is a very civilised alternative way to camp. There’s an on-site water sport centre and you can also rent barbecue equipment, leaving you to focus on the marshmallows and scary stories.
Costs: prices start from $720 for a four-person tent.
Palm Beach, Cheung Sha, Lantau, Hong Kong; 2980 4822
Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden
Situated in Lam Tsuen near Tai Po, Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden is a great spot to let the wild animals (yours, not the farm’s) run free for a few hours. Pack a picnic and spend the day exploring the gentle walking trails, pretty flower gardens and shady pavilions dotted throughout the gardens. Based around the 550-metre high Kwun Yum Shan hill, there are impressive views the higher you climb, but if little legs get tired then there’s a shuttle bus – I’d suggest taking this to the upper sections of the park then meandering your way back down again. There are also plenty of animals and birds to admire, including a native mammal enclosure, a butterfly garden and an owl sanctuary. This is a sure fire hit with the little ones and can easily occupy a whole day.
Opening hours: Daily, 9.30am to 5pm (check here for specific dates throughout the year when the farm is closed to the public).
Costs: $30 per adult, $15 per child, under-fives are free of charge.
Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden, Lam Kam Road, Tai Po, New Territories, Hong Kong; 2483 7200
So there we have it. If you’re about to hop on one of Cathay Pacific’s flights to Hong Kong, then I hope this guide offers you a few interesting alternatives to the neon jungle of Hong Kong Island!
Please note that this post was sponsored by the nice folks over at Cathay Pacific.