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Hong Kong Family VacationA Family's Hong Kong Adventure
By now, you’ve probably met that worldly and sophisticated friend who grew up in Hong Kong. Visit with your kids – and you’ll know exactly why. Hong Kong is an expat haven, where high-fliers relocate with their families to a world of international schools with fancy international friends, live-in nannies and the all-around good life. Hong Kong is the perfect fusion of high-brow British culture and exotic Asia. A trip with your children will broaden their horizons while also enriching your own experiences.
Hong Kong Hospitality
Hong Kong is known for its luxurious accommodation, which, happily, will also cater to your children. You can’t go wrong at the Mandarin Oriental or The Peninsula, but for location, facilities, value, and service, our money is on the Four Seasons. Just when you thought you would never be able to pack light with your kids, the Four Seasons steps in to make your travel logistics a whole lot easier. There are, of course, all the customary welcome toys, child-size robes, and bedtime milk and cookies. But here they take it up a notch by providing you with diapers, toiletries (a kid’s gotta look good), pint-size blankets, pillows, infant bathtubs, dehumidifiers, sterilizers, and bottle warmers. Already your bags are 10 pounds lighter. Does your little tyke like to tear up a room? No worries. Your room can be child-proofed so that they’re safe and sound while watching the latest Disney flick from the hotel’s personal library. And of course, in true Four Seasons style, these amenities are entirely complimentary – yes, free.
The Four Seasons also has one of the most gorgeous infinity pools in the world, inviting your kids to take a splish-splash after a day of sightseeing. And, the hotel’s location is perfect, in the IFC complex and just steps from the Star Ferry.
The Sights, the Sounds, the Smells
Hong Kong is a family-friendly destination, with sights, sounds, and smells that will stick in your kids’ minds probably forever. The Star Ferry between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon is a big thrill, and not just for the little ones. It’s a quick ride in the harbor, but it gives you the chance to soak up the formidable skyline. And, this isn’t just a boat to nowhere. Kowloon offers a full day of family activities, including the Hong Kong Museum of History – educational and fun – and Kowloon Park, where the kids can run and play to their heart’s content. Also not to be missed are the Kowloon Bird and Flower Markets, which will transport you to colonial times with what seems like endless stalls of birds of every type and beautiful bright flowers.
Speaking of beautiful images, one of the most stunning views is from the top of Victoria Peak, which is reached by tram. With a 360-degree view of the city, this is where your little ones will feel like prince and princess of the world. The view is incredible – but the road there less so: You’ll have to navigate lots of mediocre chain restaurants like Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and plenty of tzotchke vendors. Our advice is to bring your own snacks. Afterwards, stop by Hong Kong Park at the base of the tram for more play time and then take a walk through the Central Markets, which is another only-in-Hong Kong experience. Here, you’ll stumble upon alleyways between soaring skyscrapers as you explore a hidden city of exotic fruits, fish – yes, this is where the smell comes in – and signature silk PJs and other souvenirs. For higher-end shopping, stop by Shanghai Tang where the kids will love picking out cool Hong Kong mementoes.
Depending upon the age of your kids, the main sights can take you two to three days. What kid doesn’t love a theme park? For silly fun, head to Ocean Park, with excitingrides, shark exhibits, and games; and, also pop in to the Middle Kingdom next door, which explains Chinese history via Chinese acrobats and replicas of temples and shrines.
Dim Sum it Up
Food in Hong Kong will be a whole new experience for children. Get them psyched by reading Dim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin, which introduces them to Asian treats. The kids will love Luk Yu Tea House, a traditional, low-key dim sum restaurant where the locals still outnumber tourists. Make sure to come early for lunch, before the crowds descend. For higher-end dim sum, join Hong Kong’s elite families at Fook Lam Moon. The dumplings may cost a modest fortune, but they’re some of the best you’ll ever sink your teeth into. Chinese takeout back home will never taste quite the same again.
The hotel restaurants also do an excellent job of appealing to kids, whether it’s for picky eaters who want plain pasta or the adventurous willing to crunch into fish heads. While you’re in Kowloon, make sure to stop for oh-so-British high tea at The Peninsula. Kids will delight in the menu – hot chocolate, milk, or herbal tea, along with a tower of beautiful sandwiches and desserts. Teach your kids the art of fine dining at Mandarin Grill, or at Caprice and Lung King Heen at Four Seasons, both of which have three Michelin stars. While the Four Seasons gently states that children must be three and older to dine, if your brood is well-behaved, they’ll usually make an exception. We’ve brought our cutie in the Baby Bjorn for an early dinner and were graciously welcomed. Give your older kids a peek into the rarefied world of private clubs by having the concierge arrange for lunch at China Club. It’s a grown-up scene all the way, but nothing your little world travelers can’t handle as long as they’ve cultivated their table manners.
Until We Meet Again
After a few days and a glimpse into how the expats live with their families, you will totally get Hong Kong and its appeal. Your kids will always remember the exotic markets, the fun of dim sum, and frolicking in the parks. Thanks to you, wise parents, they’ll have expanded their horizons – and probably picked up a few words in Chinese along the way. It’ll be tough to say goodbye to the good life, but your kids will say, until we meet again.