Hong Kong for All Ages

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Hong Kong for All Ages
From theme parks to light shows, junk boats to movies, pirates to artists and animal encounters, Hong Kong keeps a family occupied in unexpected ways.
Photo courtesy of the Hong Kong Tourism Board
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    Museums for Kids
    Museums in Hong Kong engage as well as they educate. Notably, the Children’s Discovery Gallery at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum includes eight interactive play zones and galleries for kids ages 4–10. Learn about and play with locally made toys in the Hong Kong Toy Story, or dress as a fiddler crab and dance with wetland animals in the Mai Po Marshes exhibit. Exhibits on legendary martial artist and actor Bruce Lee and a reconstructed Chinese opera house complete with the performers’ dressing tables, robes, and hair accessories might also grab the attention of older kids. There's an ocean of stuff for families to enjoy at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum, from model ships to exhibits on pirates, while at the Hong Kong Space Museum in Tsim Sha Tsui, the Omnimax planetarium takes center stage: Chairs recline, lights dim, and kids are transported into the constellations.

    Photo courtesy of the Hong Kong Tourism Board
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    A Hong Kong Walking Safari
    Adventure awaits kids on Hong Kong's outlying islands. The trek around teeny tiny Sharp Island off the eastern reaches of the New Territories is a great way to take a gander at Hong Kong’s fascinating volcanic rock formations (in one place, the rocks look like a bunch of pineapples), with time factored in for some swimming at Hap Mun Bay Beach. Sections of the gorgeous 62-mile MacLehose Trail, which winds across much of the New Territories from Pak Tam Chung to Long Ke, are great for families and can be tackled in less than an hour: a trek to the Tai Mo Shan waterfalls (from Kam Sheung Road MTR) and along a well-paved stretch of the MacLehose (from the Pak Tam Au bus stop) through ambling countryside to the village of Chek Keng, with stunning views along the way.
    Photo by Ela Suleymangil
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    Ferries, Trams, and Escalators
    It's not just about taxis and buses in Hong Kong—there are lots of fun ways to get around the city that will keep kids entertained along the way. Hong Kong's century-old tram system (affectionately known as the "ding ding" because of the bell rung at each stop) is a great way to get around. The six routes make more than 100 stops, so it's easy to hop on and off at whim. The five-minute rides across Victoria Harbour on the classic Star Ferry boats are a fun, quick, and cheap adventure with skyline views thrown in for good measure. The Central–Mid-Levels Escalator is the most unusual mode of transport. The world's longest covered outdoor escalator system, it rolls from Central through Soho and finally arrives at the Mid-Levels, where you can hop onto the Peak Tram to get to the top of Victoria Peak.
    Photo courtesy of the Hong Kong Tourism Board
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    Theme Parks, Old and New
    Hong Kong Disney is ideal for families with younger children because it’s so wonderfully compact. Not only is it easily walkable, there's a tram that runs between the six main themed sections. For something more old-timey, the 40-year-old Ocean Park keeps children smiling with retro rides like bumper cars, a Ferris wheel, and flying swings, as well as a huge aquarium and resident penguins. Heading back to the future, the world’s largest permanent sound and light show is a good reason to postpone bedtime. At 8 p.m. each night, A Symphony of Lights illuminates 44 buildings on both sides of Victoria Harbour with a spectacle of colored lights and laser beams. For the best views, stake out a spot at the Avenue of Stars in the Tsim Sha Tsui district, or on the promenade of the Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai. Bring your kids on a dinner cruise—the Symphony of Lights Harbour Cruise (by Star Ferry's Harbour Tour)—for a chance to view the show from all angles as you circle the harbor.
    Photo courtesy of the Hong Kong Tourism Board
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    Hiking and Biking
    Hong Kong has more family-friendly hiking and biking options than you'd imagine. Bicycle around the scenic (and very flat!) waterfront promenade that wraps around Tolo Harbour to soak up views of mountain peaks as well as the ultramodern architecture of the Hong Kong Science Park. To use feet instead of pedals, trek along a section of the Dragon's Back trail system—one of the most popular segments follows the undulating ridge on the southern end of Hong Kong Island, between Wan Cham Shan and Shek O Peak. The walk isn't strenuous, but the stunning views of land and sea will impress.
    Photo courtesy of the Hong Kong Tourism Board
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    Beach Time
    A day at the beach is a family standby. And with so much coast to choose from, families in Hong Kong don't even need to leave the city limits to escape urban life. Crowds gather at the Repulse Bay Beach, located in an upmarket residential neighborhood, to spend the day building sandcastles and the evening watching the sunset. Visit the peninsular village of Shek O for beaches with excellent water quality, changing rooms, and lifeguards on duty; arrive early to claim a spot on the sand. For a more active option nearby, head to Big Wave Bay for surf lessons. Or explore Discovery Bay, a mini valley of boulders, waterfalls, and natural pools of water that seems to pop out of nowhere amid the urban landscape of Lantau. The beautiful bay of Sham Wan in the south of Lamma Island is a tiny off-the-radar beach where Hong Kong’s endangered green turtles go to nest (to protect them, the beach closes between June and October).

    Photo courtesy of the Hong Kong Tourism Board
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    Family Eats
    Hong Kong has plenty of elegant fine-dining restaurants, but there are also many casual options for families, with fun decor and food both kids and adults will enjoy. Who doesn't love a great bowl of noodles? You'll notice the huge carved dragons on the walls of the Dragon Noodles Academy when you enter, but quickly everyone's attention shifts to the restaurant's delectable handmade noodles. With some of Hong Kong's best dim sum on the menu, this cozy 1950s Shanghai–style café with snug wooden booths is perfect for the whole brood. So is this place: Many call it Happy Valley Dim Sum (formally, the name is Dim Sum The Art of Chinese Tidbits), and everyone swoons over classics like succulent panfried shrimp and chive dumplings.
    Photo by Emily Chu
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    Souvenir Shopping for All Ages
    There's something for everyone in Hong Kong's many shops, markets, and malls. Stanley Market stocks just about everything under the sun, including cute kids' costumes as well as toys, backpacks, and clothes. Similarly, the Lanes in Central offer a potpourri, from Chinese outfits for the kids to trinkets, T-shirts, watches, and more—all in a casual setting where you won't have to worry about the kiddos talking too loudly. Teens will especially appreciate the quirky vintage souvenirs at InBetween, from film posters to '70s mugs, funky jewelry, sunglasses, and phone cases with Hong Kong themes.
    Photo courtesy of the Hong Kong Tourism Board
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