Being a parent in Hong Kong has its challenges — space, school fees and high rents to name just three, but it’s also wonderful place to raise a family. The opportunity to enjoy weekends at the beach, go for hikes in the jungle and have friends from a myriad of different countries and cultures all make this vibrant city a wonderful place for children to grow up. Mawgan Batt picks out 50 reasons to love having a family in Hong Kong.
We live in a city of contrasts – huge skyscrapers dominate the landscape, but the backdrop of mountains and lush green vegetation also gives us the chance to be close to nature. Here are our favourite Hong Kong family activities:
1. Celebrating the Lunar New Year with dragon dances, fireworks, street parades and lion dances.
2. Experiencing the thrill of the roller coasters at Ocean Park.
3. Taking a sampan ride from Sai Kung to enjoy a picnic on a remote beach far from the crowds.
4. Hiking to Tai Long Wan beach for a night under the stars.
5. Picking out fresh seafood for lunch at a restaurants on Lamma Island. Try Rainbow Seafood Restaurant, Sok Kwu Wan First Street, Lamma.
6. Taking the cable car up to the Big Buddha.
7. Roasting smores on the open fire and camping in the Teepees at Palm Beach on Lantau Island.
8. Enjoying a day at sea on a junk. Try Jungle Jane for a day of sea-based adventure: www.hongkongyachting.com/jungle-jane
9. After school visits to the beach for a picnic, swim and to watch the sunset. South Bay and Deep Water Bay are perfect spots for watching the sun go down.
10. Playing hide and seek amongst the trees and pagodas of Victoria Peak Gardens.
11. Ding ding! Kids love to watch the sights and sounds from the top of tram. An hour of entertainment (or two if you make the return journey) all from just $2.
12. Spending a rainy afternoon at one of the free public indoor playrooms located across Hong Kong. We love the one in Stanley Sports Centre.
13. Taking in the spectacular lightshow on an evening cruise on the Star Ferry.
14. Spending a hot summer morning cooling down on the ice at one of the city’s skating rinks.
15. Walking amongst beautiful birds at the Hong Kong Park aviary.
16. Watching out for pink dolphins on the Hong Kong Dolphin Watch tour. To book a tour, contact Hong Kong Dolphin Watch www.hkdolphinwatch.com
17. Shopping for Hong Kong themed toys and trinkets at Stanley market.
18. Discovering the hidden beauty of Chi Lin Nunnery and enjoying delicious dim sum lunch with a view over the waterfall.
19. Heading to Stanley for the Dragon Boat festival and cheer on the paddlers.
20. Stepping into Hong Kong’s colonial past with a visit to the Museum of Coastal Defence.
21. Touching, seeing and experiencing science at the Science Museum in Tsim Sha Tsui.
22. Swimming, sliding, splashing at one of the city’s public outdoor pools. We love the slides and pools at Pau Yue Kong in Aberdeen.
23. Discovering the wild side of Hong Kong at the Geopark in Sai Kung. Take a boat trip to view the dramatic rock formations, caves and explore the ancient volcanic landscape. Book at tour at Countryside Adventures: www.adventuretours.hk
24. Bouncing away the morning at one of Hong Kong’s purpose built trampolining parks – Ryze in Quarry Bay or Bounce in Kowloon.
25. Whizzing over the ramps at the Hong Kong Jockey Club BMX track.
26. Rattling up to the top of Victoria Peak on the Peak Tram.
27. Taking the ferry to Lantau island and enjoying lunch at Lantana or Mavericks on Pui O Beach – don’t forget your bucket and spade!
28. Enjoying fresh seafood and discovering the village on stilts at Tai O on Lantau.
29. Scooting along Bowen Road between Mid Levels and Happy Valley.
Family life in Hong Kong is made easier with our wonderful domestic helpers; apartment living means ready made friends for the kids; and short commutes means more time together as a family. Here’s why we love the Hong Kong lifestyle:
30. It’s so small. Getting around is quick, and cheap.
31. You can give birth in a public hospital and leave with only a $200 bill – payable with an octopus card!
32. Domestic help makes it easier for both parents to work without the typical childcare challenges. For all the rules and regulations, visit: www.gov.hk/en/residents/employment/ recruitment/foreigndomestichelper.htm
33. It’s a melting pot of cultures. The whole family will have friends from all around the world in no time at all.
34. It’s so easy to escape the city and enjoy one of hundreds of trails in the 44,300 hectares of country parks.
35. New sporting opportunities – dragon boating, stand up paddleboarding or even Tai Chi. Many companies have their own dragon boat team, but if not, contact the guys at BuzzDragon www.buzzdragon.com
36. Varied nightlife – make new friends in LKF or host a dinner party in a private dining room – there’s something for everyone. For a special night with friends, try the private dining room at Pomegranate Kitchen in Wong Chuk Hang.
37. Take on a new career direction – networking is easy, and the startup community is vibrant. Heels and Deals is the city’s leading women-only networking group and hosts regular events throughout the year.
38. By the time you and the family leave Hong Kong you will be fluent in Cantonese – ha! How many expats leave Hong Kong able to string more than a few words together? Buck the trend and sign up for lessons at Hong Kong Language School: www.hkls.com.hk
Hong Kong offers every type of cuisine imaginable, from street-side dai pai dongs to three star Michelin restaurants, from local specialities to exotic fusion experiences, family dining has never been more exciting.
39. Don’t miss out on the famous egg tarts from Tai Cheong Bakery at 35 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central.
40. Kids will love choosing dim sum from the traditional trolleys at City Hall. 2/F, Low Block, City Hall, Central.
41. High tea is a Hong Kong institution – our favourites are The Peninsula (but be prepared to queue) and Café Gray Deluxe, Admiralty.
42. Pull up a plastic chair at one of the city’s dai pai dongs and dig into a steaming dish of noodles or a local dessert – kids will enjoy a bowl of sago and coconut. Try Sing Heung Yuen, 2 Mee Lun Street, Central.
43. Jumbo Floating Restaurant in Aberdeen offers a uniquely Hong Kong view and a vast weekend brunch. To get there, head to Sham Wan Pier Drive, Wong Chuk Hang, and enjoy the sampan trip to the boat.
44. The free flow champagne brunch at Zuma is the ultimate family weekend dining destination with a playroom to keep the kids entertained and freeflow bubbles for parents. Levels 5 and 6, The Landmark, 15 Queen’s Road, Central.
There are few places as well-connected as Hong Kong and we’re on the doorstep of some of the world’s most interesting destinations. Here are our favourite spots for a few days away with the family:
45. Less than three hours flight away, Chengdu is a great family friendly destination with stunning temples, beautiful parks, and the chance to get up close with cute and fluffy pandas.
46. For the ultimate easy getaway at just over an hour’s flight away, Da Nang has all you need for a few days of rest and relaxation by the pool.
47. A trip to Niseko with it’s large number of family-friendly slopes, oodles of fresh powder and incredible food makes for a fun-filled week of ski-based adventure.
48. For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, head to Myanmar and take a hot air balloon over the temples of Bagan.
49. Escape the city just for a night and head over to Macau. Enjoy a day of swimming pool fun at the Galaxy Hotel, meet famous cartoon characters over breakfast at the Sands or enjoy a day of relaxed colonial style at the Grand Coloane Resort.
50. Expat Parent- the really useful magazine! Since we launched in May 2014, we’ve tried to make sure every issue is full of all the best parts of Hong Kong – the people, the places and everything in between. We look forward to many more issues in the future.