Family trip to Hong Kong
February 10, 2017 5:46 PM   Subscribe

Family of 4 traveling to Hong Kong this year, late spring/early summer. We'll have 5 days and are looking for suggestions of where to stay and what to do.

We've got two boys, 8 and 10. We'll probably have five days. Some preliminary considerations:

- I'm looking at AirBnB, but I'm not sure what areas of Hong Kong we should stay in. Nightlife isn't important but don't want commutes to eat all our time
- We'll want to spend some time at a beach
- No Disney on this trip
- We're not interested in shopping beyond some cool tshirts/magnets
- Museums, temples, palaces are good
- So are fun cafes and restaurants
- Interested in doing the BBQ Goose. Is this a drawn-out affair?

Is AirBnB a good bet? Did anything exceed/fail to meet the expectations set by the various travel sites?
posted by the christopher hundreds to Travel & Transportation around Hong Kong (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Anywhere in HK with a decent (in HK terms, noting it's not really a "beach" destination) beach is going to be a relatively longish commute from anywhere more lively. Around Central I think would be a good compromise for all your interests, notably because it's a nice area with good restaurants and cafes and things (especially Lan Kwai Fung and Mid Levels), and its a relatively easy commute from there to most other areas. There isn't too much in the way of temples and museums, but nothing decent in this category is in a place that is suitable to stay anyway.

Given you have children, then yes, Airbnb is probably a good bet, especially if it has a pool. If you had less I would say just go for a hotel, as there isn't a huge price differential in HK between the two.

Take the ferry to Mui Wo on Lantau Island, and then the bus to the Big Buddha and Tai O water village. You can then take a ferry from there back to Tung Chung and get the MTR back to your accommodation. It's a decent hike, but you seem to be interested in more cultural aspects, and this takes in alot of that.

Repulse Bay is a popular beach, and is on the way to Stanley, which seems to attract some, although personally I don't think it's worth it. On that same side of HK Island, you have Aberdeen Harbour - if you walk along there, someone will offer you a sanpan ride - take it up, it's a nice experience, and you will get some cool photos and see the jumbo restaurant also.

There is also the usual things - the Peak, the lightshow, etc.

Final advice - DO NOT STAY IN WAN CHAI.
posted by ryanbryan at 6:42 PM on February 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

There are a couple islands that do not permit cars except for some miniature utility vehicles, Cheng Chau is one, I think Lamma is the other one I've been to. They have walking paths all around, good for kids with excess energy, and are a nice break from the crowded streets and concrete canyons of Central, don't go on the weekends. Ferry from Central.

Escalator to mid-Levels is kinda like a Disney ride. It starts at Queen's Rd and goes up to Conduit Rd and from there you can walk downhill to the zoo.

Star Ferry for the short ride between HK and Kowloon, the "2nd class" entrances seem to be downplayed but besides being slightly cheaper, it involves less stairs.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:40 PM on February 10, 2017

I usually recommend the Bishop Lei International House. It's in a decent location-- you're up in the midlevels but very close to the central escalator, the prices are fine and they have some larger rooms for families.

If you go for Air bnb, I'd look for Sai Ying Pun close to the MTR or Sheung Wan-- then you're a little in and a little out. If you don't want big commutes, then MTR access is the most important thing.

Some tips:

Don't bother with the Peak tram unless you are a real fan of long lines or old trains. Just take a bus or a taxi up and take a walk around Lugard. The Lugard Road circuit is 3-ish KM and most of those spectacular views you see of Hong Kong are from there.But really, I would avoid the Peak tram.

Visit at least one of the islands. With kids, I'd say Lamma. Take a ferry from the center. There are beaches on lamma and some nice not-too-difficult family walks and you can also rent bicycles and try fresh seafood.

PMQ-- the Policeman's Married Quarter in Hong Kong is a heritage site with many small Hong Kong designers and artists with small shops and restaurants. There are also usually displays and activities for kids, so it's a nice stop.

Stanley is worth a visit. There's beach, there are temples, and there is shopping. You can taxi or bus from the main Island drag.

The Star Ferry is genuinely cool. Man Mo Temple is also nice and there are some good Tin Hau temples on the Kowloon side.

The kids might enjoy the cable cars to Big Buddha, but if you don't go early then the lines can be terrible. If you go up to Big Buddha and it isn't too terribly hot then you can walk down through all the monasteries back to Tung Chung.

This book is a really nice guide for short family hikes.

There is good food everywhere. I have no idea what Goose BBQ is, so I can't help you there. Ping me when you know where you're staying and I can send some restaurant tips through if I have them. (I host people for work a lot, so I have a file.)
posted by frumiousb at 9:09 PM on February 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

Bbq goose is devine and the many times I had it no more drawn out than ordering bbq duck (not peking, just regular) or pork.
posted by smoke at 2:31 AM on February 11, 2017

The public transport is easy and excellent in HK so nowhere is much of a hike except for those island and beach bits. Go see the giant Buddha, get the bus rather than the cable car unless you really want cable car. It's scenic but the queue was about 2hrs when I was there in November. Go to the peak by bus. That bus ride is pretty scary from the front of top deck! If you're just after souvenirs and don't want to haggle, there's a little mall at the peak and it's got the same junk as the markets but all ticketed and reasonable.

With kids, I'd stay on the island, its less hectic but has plenty of "real" Chinese HK. There are patches that are very drunk-expat & overpriced Mexican food, but it's easy enough to avoid these strips. We stayed in an air BnB on Bridges St. It's a long street & part of it is a bar strip but it also has a quiet end. Message me if you want details. It was two bedrooms, one with a double bed, the other with a bunk and it had a great rooftop that you'll have to yourselves pretty much all the time. This is also at the top of the giant escalator. If you're staying on the mainland, stay close to one of the big metro stations, just to reduce changing. We stayed at a gorgeous hotel with an amazing pool in Mongkok. Room for 4 was reasonable. Again, message me if you want me to dig up details.pretty much all hotels have a free shuttle from the airport.

There is lots to eat everywhere. You'll have no trouble finding delicious food. Don't forget to look up! There are great dim sum places and nicer restaurants that are still cheap by western standards above street level. Chinese people take kids to dinner all the time so even if it has table cloths, it'll be kid friendly. Really easy places to eat with kids are the chains & little noodle or BBQ places. You'll see them everywhere.

My favourite tip that you didn't ask for is to take advantage of the in-town airport check in if your flight is hours later than check out time. It is awesome.

Have a great trip!
posted by stellathon at 2:54 AM on February 11, 2017

I am going to recommend staying at the Metropark Causeway Bay, on the edge of Tin Hau/Tai Hang, or around there, because:

- it's reasonably priced for where/what it is and is often discounted on booking sites like Ctrip and Expedia
- the hotel has a small but nice rooftop pool with an incredible view
- it's right across the road from huge (for HK) and flat Victoria Park, should your kids need to have some run around and be crazy time
- it's a two minute walk from Tin Hau MTR station and a ten-minute walk from the shops/restaurants of Causeway Bay, the retail heart of the island
- Tin Hau's Electric Road and the Tai Hang neighbourhood have a huge variety of Chinese, Asian and global/Western food at all price points as well as some very special little stops like a liquid-nitrogen ice cream place and a funky little temple which is very quiet; Tai Hang is also very small-scale and has narrow, often low-traffic streets that reward a wander
- buses that stop nearby (and green minibuses, which are just dangerous enough to be thrilling to your kids!) can whisk you over Wong Nai Chung Gap to beaches in the Southern District; different buses outside will get you to the airport

As far as your other ideas:

- achieve primary-school-transport-nerd nirvana by visiting the Maritime Museum in Central and then taking the HKD $2 Star Ferry
- my favourite beach on Hong Kong Island is Shek O - take the MTR to Shau Kei Wan and get bus 9. Put the kids in the front seats of the upper deck - you'll hit a few branches and get an amazing view. There are a few little cafes and easy restaurants nearby and you can rent umbrellas. Stanley combines beach with shopping and food - a nice day out if you can't get to an island
- dim sum is everywhere but the Maxim's Palace location at City Hall (Central MTR) has bilingual trolleys so you can see what looks good - it's great for kids and the City Gallery, all about urban design and with kid-friendly exhibits, is in the same building
- meet your children's Lego needs and spend your entire life savings at In's Point near Yau Ma Tei MTR
- the most visually impressive/monumental temples in the urban area are Wong Tai Sin (MTR Wong Tai Sin) and Chi Lin Nunnery (MTR Diamond Hill) - Wong Tai Sin is usually rather active and Chi Lin is far more serene; don't miss the lovely Nan Lian Garden right next to Chi Lin
- Lamma and Cheung Chau Islands are both nice days/afternoons out but Peng Chau is a bit more rustic and much smaller; all are car free
- for me, the best way to do The Peak/views is to taxi up, do the Lugard Road circular trail (all paved and with some great banyan trees!), and then walk down through the jungle along the very steep Old Peak Road to Soho/the escalators for dinner.

Other mid-range to nice hotels with roof pools are Cordis in Mong Kok - a VERY BUSY neighbourhood but perhaps this is Stellathon's place?! - and Hotel Jen in Sai Ying Pun (right near HKU MTR).

Finally, consider the weather and air pollution - expect the full grossness of a tropical summer with very high humidity and temperatures with an extra layer of nasty smog on top. It would be unrealistic to plan a day of all-day outdoor exploring without stops for air conditioning. Do something cultural in the morning, air-conditioned lunch, home for a roof pool/chill time from, say, 2-5, then out for trinket shopping and dinner? Happily there's a frigid supermarket or 7-11/Circle K on every corner to dip into and cool off in.
posted by mdonley at 4:19 AM on February 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

« Older Micro work angst : "One volunteer! No, not you!"   |   Poppy? Illuminati? Viral marketing? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.