There is always something special when venturing into a international destination for the first time, especially a place like Hong Kong that is renowned to be a spectacular tourist destination and has so much activities going on all round the clock. You only need to think about the world-class attractions in Hong Kong such as the action-packed Disneyland, the vibrant Tsim Tsa Tsui, the mesmerising views from Victoria Peak on Hong Kong Island and the extravagant shopping malls like Harbour City instantly come to mind, but all those amazing attractions are only the beginning on what’s in offer in the amazing Asian destination and that’s what gets you excited during your pre-trip research.
It’s all those hours of research that had me long anticipating this trip in December of 2018 months I advance, a trip that I thought would never arrive but when it did, our Hong Kong trip truly lived up to it’s high standards. On this occasion, it was a Hong Kong family vacation to saviour, a trip that was exciting, fast-paced, required extreme patience and was at times, totally exhausting. However, thinking back on the family getaway, I wouldn’t have it had it any other way, for it truly was an educational, eye-opening experience to simply cherish.
In the first edition of Hong Kong Diaries, there will be two editions all up to cover our 2018 trip, I delve into how we got to the country, the accommodation we stayed in and the major highlights of the busy trip that hardly ever stopped, and if we did it was to get some wonderful Hong Kong food into us. Let’s get into this edition of travel diaries where the Hong Kong family trip begins in style.
The Highlights of Hong Kong Diaries: 1st Edition – The Hong Kong Family Trip Begins
Flying Singapore Airlines to Hong Kong
Singapore Airlines is fast becoming a favourite airline carrier of mine. To say it’s worth the few extra dollars for choice of air travel over a budget airline is an understatement. Especially when flying on long hauls and with children by your side. For the kids, they’re easily entertained with a selection of games and newly-released movies, and for the adults, all we need is a good movie, a glass of wine (take your pick of red or white) and a nice meal, from there, the duration of the flight should be relatively stress free as it was for us.
On this occasion, we left Perth International Airport at 7am, had a brief stopover at Changi Airport in Singapore, before arriving at our destination at around 6pm. A long day indeed, but our Hong Kong travel getaway had begun as we stepped outside the airport for the first time and took an Uber drive to our hotel.
Staying at Royal View Hotel
For the duration of our stay, there were eight nights in total before we hopped over by ferry to Macau, we stayed at the Royal View Hotel. It may not be the best place to stay in Hong Kong or cost effective for that matter, but it still was a nice hotel that offered plenty for the guest with few nice amenities, including a couple of dedicated kids rooms, and we were far from disappointed with our overall stay.
We stayed in a large single room that had two double beds, a small bathroom, a television with limited English channels, and WIFI that was rather good for a large hotel. The room was a little cramped for four people, especially with aging kids and I would have preferred to pay extra for an extra room, but it wasn’t in the budget.
The hotel did have a lot going for it, however, with a solid restaurant that served a quality buffet dinner & breakfast, gym and fitness, a nice outdoor swimming pool which was closed during the winter months, and a shuttle bus service that took you to the Cheng Wen MTR station every 15-minutes, for the Royal View Hotel is a little away from Central Hong Kong, but the free shuttle bus service helps close the gap somewhat.
If you do want to consider the Royal View Hotel for your Hong Kong trip, whether for family purposes or not, check out booking.com for all their latest prices by clicking on this link, but do your required research that you think will suit your individual needs.
A day trip to Lantau Island
When you tour Hong Kong as a family, or any sort of travel for that matter, you are bound to head over to Lantau Island on a couple of occasions. Firstly, it’s the home of Disneyland and that is a must go to attraction, and secondly, it’s an area you capture great Hong Kong views on the Cable cars and visit the famous Tian Tan Buddha.
It Begins at Tung Chung
When you’re making your way to the cable cars, you’re normally going to travel to the Tung Chung MTR on the Orange Tung Chung Line. In the area, you’re not going to do a lot, there is a boutique shopping mall and a few restaurants, but generally you’re going to head straight to the cable cars and that is where you’re going to a fair bit of waiting, at least that is what happened to us during our trip.
The Ngong Ping 360 Cable Cars
Is the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Cars worth it? Yes, it is, once you’re up there looking at the gorgeous views, most certainly. Is it worth the two and a half hours too queue up for the cable cars? That is entirely up to you and it often depends on the company you’re travelling with.
That’s right we waited two and a half hours before we finally got onto the Cable Cars, and if we hadn’t pre-purchased our tickets through Klook (where we saved quite a few dollars), we may have taken the bus over to Ngong Ping Village instead, which I can assure you is another and cost-effective option for when you are looking at what to do in Hong Kong with kids. Even though we travelled on quite an overcast day, with a few of our views hindered, the views and scenery were quite brilliant throughout the half-hour approx. journey over the highlands to the Village on the other side.
We ventured over and above the Hong Kong Airport and saw the planes coming and going, we saw the great views of the harbour below, the mountains above and soaring Tian Tan Buddha as we started to descend into Ngong Ping Village. The Cable cars was worth the money for sure, a pity about the queue’s, but in Hong Kong those things can’t always be helped. At least on the way back, the queue’s only last around about 45-minutes, which felt like a hundred-metre dash compared to before.
Ngong Ping Village
The Ngong Ping Village is the first thing you’ll see once getting off the cable cars, even better at ground zero, Ngong Ping a beautifully designed tourist village that has a range of activities, entertainment, restaurants, and retail/souvenir shops spread-out through the busy pedestrian thoroughfare that is buzzing with happy tourists.
The best view from the streets of the village will be seen when you’re walking through the main village and the Tian Tan Buddha stands large in front of you, only a few hundred metres away. On the day I was there, it looked sensational amongst the mountain backdrop, with the thick white cloud surrounding the large buddha statue.
Tian Tan Buddha
We saved the best for last, the Tian Tan Buddha, which sits on top of 268 steps. You’ll think on first vision there is a lot more steps to encounter and your tiring legs feel every step as you begin the climb, but I am assured it stands at the number 268. You only have to go back until 1993 when Tian Tan was completed in construction, so it’s certainly a short history in time, and the large buddha statue was made to harmonise relationships between man and nature.
Like the Monastery, it’s free to go up the steps to the buddha and take in the gorgeous views around the area, there is an entrance fees if you wish to go inside the exhibition halls, which includes a meal in the restaurant to further enhance your Tian Tan Buddha experience.
We elected not to pay the entrance fee, much like most other travellers who venture to the Buddha, instead we took in the Tian Tan buddha up close, taking a few a photos of the surrounding areas, including the large buddha above and admired a few of the sculptures that are awaiting at the top of the steps that always represents something meaningful and looks a masterpiece. I do recommend the Tian Tan Buddha when you visit Hong Kong.
Disneyland Hong Kong
They say Disneyland is the happiest place in the world. It’s hard to argue with such a statement, because a Hong Kong Disneyland trip is certainly an epic day out for the whole family and is worth the price of the admission fee.
Once again, we paid for our family package tour to Hong Kong Disneyland, using the Klook travel App to purchase our tickets and meal vouchers which had us saving around $400HKD for the day. An absolute bargain and is a very useful way to pay for adventures, not only in Hong Kong but throughout many Asian destinations.
It was the first time we had visited a Disneyland of any sort and it certainly lived up to expectations from start to finish. The day begun at 10am and finished in the dark amongst the stunning lights after 8pm. We got there with ease by train, getting off at the at Sunny Bay MTR and taking the Disneyland express train to the Disneyland Resort station. The Octopus Card will get it done for you.
Once you get through the main gates, which didn’t take too long at all, you struck by the main village, which hosts a lot of souvenirs stores, restaurants, café’s and any major street parades that take place during any part of the day. In the background, you’ll notice the famous Disneyland Castle and because we were there in the month of December, the Christmas decorations were out in full force and that would only get better at night.
Where do you start when you go Disneyland, it really is hard to say? On this day, we went to the left and ventured through many themes like Toy Story Land, Fantasy Land, Grizzly Gulch and Tomorrow Land. We waited in line for a few rides, watched a few magnificent shows with the Lion King performance absolutely a standout and we used our meal voucher pass for lunch and dinner. Many times, during the day, it’s great to wander around and capture the magnificent architecture, landscapes and the bubbly atmosphere that we were surrounded in. It was a great day and more often or not you’ll be tempted come back for a second day which is possible with a two-day pass.
During the evening, we enjoyed a few more dazzling shows, The We Love Mickey Street Parade, which was an amazing cartoon sequence on the side of the buildings and the evening tree lighting session gave you a magical touch of Christmas and concluded the long day nicely. You could say it was sad to leave the theme park as the curtains drew on the day, but on the other hand, we were knackered, and it was a sound sleep that night in our Hong Kong hotel room.
Tsim Sha Tsui
There is so much going on in Tsim Sha Shui, it’s little wonder it is one of the most vibrant and busiest tourist hotspots in Hong Kong. Best advice to tackle Tsim Sha Tsui is to get off the train at the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR on the Central red line or come across from Hong Kong Island via the famous Star Ferry and go from there. For now, I’ll go over a few of our highlights in the busy district.
Harbour walk along Tsim Sha Tsui
On this occasion, our harbour walk on the Tsim Sha Tsui side was unfortunately hindered by a lot of construction going on in the area, just about everywhere on the Promenade was closed off. That included famous spots such as the Bruce Lee Statue and the Avenue of Stars which are promptly located as part of the Harbour walk.
The only chance we had to see the Bruce Lee statue was from the viewing point from the edge of the Middle Road’s Children Playground, which is worth a trip up the stair case to see more views across the harbour towards Hong Kong Island. Just because the Avenue of Stars promenade attractions was ruined for us on this trip, doesn’t mean it will be for you, completion is due to be finished within a few months of publication of this article.
Great city Shopping on the city streets
Street shopping may not entertain the kids too much, but once you get off the MTR, you’ll land in a haven of street shopping. Whether it’s window shopping on the city streets or going into one of the malls in Tsim Sha Tsui you’ll find a way to to catch up on some retail therapy. The men will even get asked whether they want to buy a suit by a tailor who’ll be eager for your business.
Harbour City Shopping Mall
A gigantic mall, a fabulous mall, Harbour City is located right near the Star Ferry terminal and over looks terrific harbour views, hence the name.
It’s a mall with the lot, with many brand name outlets, women’s cosmetics, fashion outlets, sports stores and an awesome food court area to grab a feed and an appropriate rest. Be warned, not a lot comes cheap inside Harbour City, that’s not to say you can’t have a good look around and buy a delicious ice-cream that the kids will really appreciate after hours on their feet.
Step out onto the Temple St Market
Starting from 5pm every evening, the popular Temple St Market comes to life, when tourist flock to the large pedestrian street market to look for a bargain, then after have a bite to eat in a number of surrounding seafood restaurants, you’ll see what I mean during your travels.
Temple St Market has a lot of the merchandise you’ll usually find in most famous markets in Asia, local souvenirs such as fridge magnets, mobile phone accessories that are hardly top of the range, microphones, headphones, handbags, a few clothing options ad a heck of a lot more. Just remember one thing, be prepared to barter the price down to save yourself a few more dollars.
A Hong Kong Dinner at Ming’s Kitchen
You’ll always find a great restaurant when wandering the streets of Hong Kong, it’s a food kingdom Afterall. Ming’s Kitchen is a major franchise in Hong Kong with various stores located throughout the city streets. The Ming’s kitchen we ate at is not far from Temple St Market and Jordan Station, but let google maps guide you to the closest restaurant.
The food at Ming’s Kitchen is a mixture of Dim Sum’s, roast duck, assorted Chinese dishes and a whole lot of more yummy Chinese cuisines. The food in the upscale restaurant doesn’t come cheap, but it was a delicious feed with much appreciated ice-cold beer to conclude a very busy day.
That is a recap of the first edition of Hong Kong diaries, kicking off the Hong Kong family trip in fine fashion. The activities certainly mounted up, but that really is only the beginning, in the second edition of Hong Kong Diaries there will be a whole lot more, which includes a trip to Cheung Chau Island and even Shenzhen, which is past the immigration border gates into mainland China.