Your insider’s guide to Hong Kong

Five family days out in Hong Kong

Experience Hong Kong’s playful side with plenty of fun for all the family

Words: Kate Farr

While Hong Kong has a reputation for being a business-focused, bustling place, away from the concrete and the neon, you’ll find that the city is surprisingly family-friendly. We take a look at five excellent options for fun days for the whole tribe.

Ocean Park

Long before Mickey and his friends set up home in Lantau, Ocean Park offered the original – and some say best – Hong Kong theme park experience. Sprawling across 92 hectares on Hong Kong’s Southside, the park offers thrilling rides, an oceanarium, animal exhibits, a funicular train, the city’s second-longest escalator (the longest being the Central-Mid Levels escalator), and even its own cable car. Visitors with nerves of steel can ride the Hair-Raiser, Arctic Blast and Dragon rollercoasters, while younger siblings will enjoy the gentler-paced Sea Life Carousel, Balloons and Clown-A-Round rides. Aside from the thrills and spills of the fair, Ocean Park’s main draw is its animal population, with koalas, penguins, a sizeable aquarium and the real stars of the show – the park’s giant pandas, Ying Ying and Le Le. Top tip: arrive early, as the park tends to be busier in the afternoon.

Ocean Park, Aberdeen, +852 3923 2323

Kadoorie Farm

High in the rolling green slopes of Tai Mo Shan – Hong Kong’s tallest mountain – Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden (KFBG) has been helping locals and visitors alike to appreciate a slower pace of life for over fifty years. Spread over 148 hectares of lush farmland, some 1,800 feet above sea level, the farm bursts with native plant and animal life. Parents will appreciate the tranquillity of the dense forest, themed gardens and organic fruit and vegetable terraces, while little ones run in the butterfly garden before bonding with the farm’s cute piglets, playful macaques and docile pair of working mules. KFBG runs a regular programme of educational talks, guided walks, workshops and eco-tours suitable for all ages, all of which promote sustainability, conservation and animal rescue and rehabilitation.

Lam Kam Road, Tai Po, New Territories, +852 2483 7200

Hong Kong DolphinWatch

For more close encounters of the animal kind, it’s well worth setting aside half a day to tour the waters off Lantau Island’s northern coast with Hong Kong DolphinWatch. Providing eco-tours to safely view Hong Kong’s famous pink dolphins since 1995, DolphinWatch is one of the very few tour providers that adheres to a strict operational code of conduct that puts this already critically-endangered mammal’s safety first. Although the dolphins appear pink in colour, the species is correctly known as the Chinese white dolphin – their striking colour comes from blood vessels located very close to their skin’s surface. With trips running every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, a year-round average sighting rate of 97%, and a “go-again” guarantee that lets you join another tour free of charge in the unlikely event that you don’t spot any dolphins on your trip, this is an experience the entire family will remember for years to come.

Note: DolphinWatch image by Kate Farr

The Big Buddha

Proving that the journey can often be half the fun of a day out, you could tackle a trip to Tian Tian Buddha (colloquially known as “Big Buddha”) by bus, taxi or car. However to do so would be to miss out on the thrill of riding the 5.7km Ngong Ping cable car – Asia’s longest bi-cable ropeway – from Tung Chung all the way to the Ngong Ping Plateau, where Buddha claims his rather majestic seat. Choose from either a standard or a glass-bottomed cabin, then sit back and soak up the unparalleled views of Hong Kong Airport, the South China Sea and swathes of the largely untouched North Lantau Country Park from above. Arriving at the cable car terminus, you’ll enter Ngong Ping Village, a themed attraction with shopping and dining options, although we think the best food is to be found a little further on, at Po Lin Monastery’s on-site vegetarian restaurant. Take time to explore the monastery’s elaborately decorated halls, before ascending 268 steps to pay your respects to the 34-metre tall, 250-ton Buddha, who serenely watches over Lantau Island.;

Hong Kong Global Geopark

Part of UNESCO’s Global Geoparks Network, Hong Kong Geopark spans over 150 square kilometres of the north-eastern New Territories, offering dramatic coastline to explore. Hewn from 140-million-year-old volcanic rock, the park’s stunning hexagonal rock columns, rugged arches and other unique geological structures are unlike anywhere else in the region. Although many of the Geopark’s sites can be accessed on foot by a network of wooden boardwalks, one of the most enjoyable ways to explore is by boat, with regular tours led by geologists available to book via Sai Kung’s Volcano Discovery Centre. If you’re looking for a day out that is as educational as it is enjoyable, and that enables you to explore some of Hong Kong’s most spectacular hidden gems, this is hard to beat.

Volcano Discovery Centre, Sai Kung Waterfront Park, New Territories, +852 2394 1538


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