You have a couple of days to explore one of the greatest cities of the world, limited amount of time because you are travelling on business, and a curious teen who wants to be entertained. Does it sound familiar?
I experienced this in Hong Kong trying to compile a list of places interesting both for me and my 13-year old. I would not be able to manage without advice from my local friends, and now I want to share this list with you.
With great amount of kids’ attractions, aquarium, zoo, and many great observation points, Ocean Park offers tons of excitement both to kids and to their parents who alternatively can have fun or enjoy some rest while offsprings are busy.
You will definitely need a full day there to take the most of it, so plan your visit to the Ocean Park on weekend or a day-off. Reserve some time to enjoy both the Waterfront and the Summit parts of the park connected by the Cable Car.
Hong Kong Disneyland
If you are a Disney fan, you will find a full range of the world famous attractions in Hong Kong Disneyland, located in Penny's Bay, Lantau Island.
Surprisingly, all of my Hong Kong friends advised me against spending too much time there. It’s not that the theme park is not interesting, but if you want to experience something unique that can be seen only in Hong Kong, then it’s not your choice.
For those of us who prefer calm and peaceful atmosphere, Victoria Park located in the busy Causeway Bay region can be a perfect option.
If you are lucky enough, you will have a chance to attend one of the numerous local festivals held regularly in Victoria Park. But locals rate it most as an activity center. Many sport venues offer possibility to play soccer, tennis, basketball, or join a fitness group by your choice - of course, if you are not on a brief exploration tour.
If Victoria Park is great for fitness activities, Victoria Peak Garden that originally was a Governor of Hong Kong's summer residence, is famous for its walking paths, picturesque views, and wonderful playgrounds for kids.
By visiting Peak Garden situated a short walk away from the Peak Tram terminus you will mark the highest point of Hong Kong island off your to-do (to-see) list!
Consider also botanical gardens:
Easily accessible for tourists, safe for swimming within the specially designed area, with great selection of shops and restaurants, Repulse Bay was number one recommended option for beach activities in Hong Kong island.
Shek O Beach
“Big Wave Bay Beach” is situated on the south-eastern part of Hong Kong Island. It’s especially popular with windsurfers, but also is famous for its prehistoric rock carving, which is a declared monument.
The beach is shark-safe (provided with shark prevention nets), swimming is allowed March through November during specified hours (9am - 5pm usually).
Visiting Some Small Island
Cheung in Chinese means "long", Chau in Chinese means a bay/beach, which usually found in an island, so people call this island Cheung Chau because it has a long beach on both sides of the island. It’s one of the most popular island retreats in Hong Kong especially famous for its sea food.
The most prominent event to visit in Cheung Chau with teens is its annual Bun Festival held in May, and the most popular spot is a pirate hideout Cheung Po Tsai Cave.
For more information about the outlying islands and other great outdoors in Hong Kong I was advised to consult the website officially managed by the state tourism department: http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/see-do/great-outdoors/index.jsp
Victoria Harbor Tours
Visiting outlying islands, going to theme parks, and lying on a beach are all the kind of activities you can afford when you have a day off to explore the great city. But still Hong Kong offers a lot of attractions for a couple of hours! The most favorite one advised to me was a harbor cruise that you can take from the Star Ferry Pier in Kowloon Point.
There are different cruise options available, so you can choose one that is the most appropriate depending on time, weather, season.
One more great point of view to the Harbor - the Hong Kong Observation Wheel near Central Pier!
- Official information about the harbor tours: http://www.starferry.com.hk/en/Introduction
Have a Glimpse of Local Life
Do not forget to spend some time simply walking the streets in the busy city downtown. When I asked where to go for a couple of hours just to see the local life itself, the North Point was recommended to me.
Tasting Local Cuisine
And for sure even a brief introduction to Hong Kong would be absolutely incomplete without its cuisine! Downtown streets offer a wide variety of spots with traditional meals, but to my mind it’s wise to start tasting only if you are accompanied with a local friend: sometimes dishes are too specific for a stranger. The win-win option for the first-comers is desserts!
Ice cream, jelly, waffles with fruits, chocolate, jams, cookies, all sweet and amazingly delicious! Before trying more sophisticated options like snake soup or pigeon heads, we were advised by our local friends on ordering desserts and teas as the most safe option, and never were we disappointed with them!