Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hong Kong, Macau & Shenzhen China with kids.

Posing with Tinkerbell at Hong Kong Disneyland
A junk on Victoria Harbour                                                                   The Grand Lisboa Macau

We all had a great time in Hong Kong. Fantastic place for a family holiday. This time six of us went. My hubby and I, his mum, our two youngest and one of the teenagers. The twins were three turning four, the teenager fourteen. Hong Kong is synonymous with hustle bustle, good shopping and food. It really does deliver all those things but has so much more as well. It was excellent in terms of attractions that suited all the members of the family. We also felt pretty safe doing them as well, which I felt was important with the kids along of course. Another one of those cities where you can just go-go-go (i'm renowned for it in my family, and I drive everyone nuts!) and not run out of things to do. I will say that I didn't find an abundance of natural beauty in Honkers to get excited about it (with a few exceptions)... it was the man-made attractions really that make it an extremely interesting, dynamic and diverse place to visit.

Yes there are a lot of peddlers /touts offering suits, bags and copy watches, but I never really found them a problem. In my experience they never jostled my kids, were reasonably polite and took no for an answer eventually. I have certainly found far pushier ones in other countries.

One of the best things about HK was its close proximity to Macau and Mainland China for daytrips. I will cover those destinations to... here we go.

Where we stayed

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Golden Mile. Chris and I and the twins in a premier family room and Chris' mum and our teenager in a premier twin. I highly recommend this place. I will stay there again on my next visit. I would suggest the premier floors if the budget allows, as they were more modern, non-smoking and probably quieter than the lower floors. This place CANT BE BEAT for location. Right in the heart of Kowloon in Tsim Sha Tsui the commercial and entertainment district. Hong Kong IS NOT cheap. I found this place to be middle-range and pretty good value in terms of facilities and location. It depends on your budget and desires of course. Literally just down the road you have much grander hotels on the harbour with amazing views, but the prices are also pretty amazing too. Once again, we don't holiday to sit in the room. We didn't have views, but the room was modern, clean, not smelling of smoke and right in the middle of all the action. The nearest MTR is only 2 minutes away, it has a 7-eleven across the road and is surrounded by countless nightclubs, bars, restaurants, shops and shopping malls etc. The markets aren't far away either (though too far to walk with kids catch the MTR). The Star ferry and Avenue of Stars is just a short walk away. We walked with the kids, shopped and did sight-seeing all over this area without a problem. It was so convenient. You are so spoilt for choice in this area. The Hotel itself has 4 restaurants and a bar and kids eat for free. It also has a gym, roof-top pool and sauna. This hotel IS however next door the the infamous Chungking Mansions.

The ChungKing mansions is the cheapest ammodation in HK, therefore is the ethnic heart you could say. Subsequently it has lots of cheap food outlets like curry houses, shops and other services. It IS a bit of an eye-sore, and we had a clear view of it from our room. It didn't put me off at all. I found it fascinating and it provided a nearby money exchange and an extremely interesting place to explore. I LOVE that sort of thing. It's why I travel - to see things so completely foreign to home! Some say there is unsavoury types hanging around, and yes we did see interesting foreign characters about, but we certainly didn't get bothered at all. My husband and I were the only ones out late at night anyway, and we still never had anything to worry about. In general I always felt pretty safe in Hong Kong, and its widely considered to be so and has a good police presence. You can't beat a bit of common sense though. 

What we did!!

Mall Shopping

Hong Kong takes its shopping SERIOUSLY. You name it, it is for sale pretty much here. From high-end designer goods to cheap 'knock-offs', its got it all. It's been at the crossroads of global trade for over 150 years and it means business. If you stay at Holiday Inn, Miramar Mall is very nearby. It has 100 upscale boutiques, speciality stores, bars and restaurants over 6 levels. It was great. But there are others... OMG there are others.. Here's a few I thought the most interesting, but there are plenty more:

Landmark: The poshest of them all with the biggest pricetags. Drool over Louis Vuitton, Versace, Dior, Helmut Lang, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino, Coach, Prada, Tiffany - it goes on and on. Everyone on the famous catwalks of the world has a store here pretty much. This isn't my level of shopping sadly, but it's still nice to look and dream!

Harbour City: The biggest of them all. Three (yes 3!) kilometres long, with over 800 shops! Heaven!!! It features more standard (affordable) sorts of stores, a cinema and restaurants covering nearly every cuisine in the world.

Times Square: The busiest and most well-known of them all. Based on the real Times Square in New York. It has big New Year celebrations here. Mainly a mix of American, European and Japanese shops and restaurants.

Market Shopping

Ladies Market

I am a market girl. There are plenty of markets in Honkers - flower markets, fish markets, jade markets and of course markets teaming with souvenirs and fakes etc. Two markets,Temple St and Ladies Market were located not that far from the Hotel near Nathan Road in an area called Mong Kok in Kowloon. Just jump on the MTR or cab it. Mong Kok is officially the worlds most densely populated place squeezing 130 000 people per square km! The Ladies Market is THE BUSINESS!! It is the busiest, and is teeming with curios and knock-offs for both men and women. This is where you get a real taste of the hustle and bustle of a chinese market - soak up the atmosphere! It is expected you haggle, and it can get intense.Temple is a night market selling a lot of gadgets and electronics. It is also a giant open air restaurant. We took the kids all around these markets and they had a great time... especially with all the Hello Kitty for sale! After their visits to Asia my twins LOVE Hello Kitty! There are plenty more markets elsewhere in Hong Kong, but weren't convenient for us to visit from our location.

In general we just loved wandering around Nathan Road and the markets at night. The colour and excitement was amazing!

Star Ferry

A short walk from The Holiday Inn is the Star Ferry Terminal. It costs $HKD 2.50 each way from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island, which is today 35 cents in Aussie money. Do get the better seats up top, it's way more comfortable especially with kids. It is a fabulous journey around the harbour. brilliant sight-seeing. The kids loved it!

The Golden Star

Hong Kong Exhibition centre

 A traditional junk

 The twins attracting some attention!

DHL Balloon ride in view

If you go at night (runs every night) you can witness the Symphony of Lights Show which is spectacular. It involves over 40 building on both sides of the harbour. Perfect for the kids!


The big ticket item in Hong Kong for kids is this famous theme park. It is great theme park for the littlies. Much, MUCH smaller than the REAL Disneyland in Orlando, which is a blessing for younger children and parents! This park is easily done in a day. My twins loved it so much. As for the teenager??? I do think its definitely aimed at the under 10's. I liked it because it was easy for me with the girls, and as a parent appreciated seeing the magic through their eyes. On my own, I probably would have been bored pretty quick, and I don't think the teenager was overly amazed. There was a couple of good rides he liked, but that's about it. There is another park that the older members of the family enjoyed more, but we'll cover that next. This excursion was ALL ABOUT the youngest members of the family - AND THEY HAD A BALL!!

Ocean Park

One of my all time favourite theme-parks anywhere. Its certainly unique and different to any other i've been to. It's huge and predominantly Ocean themed - hence the name. Its actually set against the side of a mountain over 3 different levels. You move between the levels via a cable car and escalators. Although big, I didn't find it a problem with the littlies. We hired strollers from the office so they could rest their feet when tired. I would recommend Mum and Dad wear comfy shoes for sure (although i always marvel at Chinese girls in sky-high heels traipsing around all day seemingly effortlessly!!!) It features fantastic rides for young children, but unlike Disneyland, some awesome and scary rides for us big kids too! It has a beautiful walk-through aquarium, and seal shows. It also has a Panda exhibition - yay! It also has tethered balloon rides (just up and down again) We managed to get everything done in a day, although it's a packed day. I would recommend you take you own snacks maybe as the food here is very authentically 'Chinese'. -unless your kids like snacking on deep fried dried Octopus and Squid (they very well might!).The best thing about this park is the setting and view. From many of the rides you get a fabulous view of the South China Sea and some Islands etc (as your hanging upside down screaming!!!)

To be continued...

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