Introducing guest blogger Mary from This Indulgent Life
After living in a place where you can drive from one side to the other in 2 hours or less, you’d think we’d have visited all there is to see and do in 4 years. But as we gear up to leave Hong Kong we’re realizing we’ve missed so much!
This prompted us to create our Hong Kong family friendly bucket list so we can make sure to experience the most of our temporary home while we can. While we did have some of the more traditional places like the history and space museums and Victoria Peak on our list, we’ve found these not so famous places to be far more enjoyable for young families!
This post is part of our Explore My City series – come and visit cities around the world through the eyes of local parents
Dpark (aka Discovery Park)
One of my favorite places to meet up with friends is Dpark. This mall proclaims to be the world’s first multi-sensory mall and is completely geared towards children. Outside they have an enclosed playground that includes different kinds of drums, slides, climbing poles, and a giant wooden whale that you can climb both in and on! There is even a door greeter ready and waiting with hand sanitizer.
When going outside is too hot there is a large open-air indoor play area for kids to run around in. Depending on when you go, one section looks like a board game and the other section may be interactive games projected on the floor or a large “grassy” field.
One dad came prepared with balloons to be able to blow up and allow his, and my, toddler to play with instead of lugging a ball around. Other parents got creative and took newspapers and rolled them together to create balls. Either way, everyone was running around enjoying themselves in the air conditioning!
When it’s time to eat there are a variety of restaurants from traditional Chinese to McDonald’s and even an Outback! Have a baby that struggles to eat when in crowds? There are multiple rooms set up with comfy chairs specifically for mamas. While it’s mainly for breastfeeding, and so for women only, they usually have bottle warmers provided as well. So even formula feeding mamas can get a quiet space away.
While bathrooms and changing tables can be difficult to come by in most of Hong Kong, you’re well taken care of here. There are multiple spots throughout the mall specifically for changing diapers, including one room with extra amenities. So if you forgot a diaper you sometimes can get one there!
Overall, Dpark is a great place to go when you need a place for your kid to run wild, but you don’t want to deal with the heat and bugs!
Tuen Mun Park
A little further out of the main thoroughfares of Hong Kong lies the city of Tuen Mun. While not much of a destination in general, it does have the BEST public park playground in Hong Kong. Known as an inclusive playground, this newly built multi-sensory playground features multiple areas for kids, a reptile house, and an area for performers next to a pond where you can bring your own remote controlled boat.
In addition to the concrete soccer fields and the large area reserved for kids to learn how to skate and ride bikes, there are two sections to the playground that are sure to provide hours of fun. So pack a lunch and enjoy the day… just beware of the bathrooms…
In the Northern Section, aka Waterlily park, you will find musical instruments, water tables, a splash pad with rain showers, in-ground trampolines, and climbing mounds. This is my favorite section for small children because it’s much easier to keep an eye on them as they run around and what kid doesn’t love splashing in the water! Just make sure to bring extra clothes and a bag to put the wet ones in, we may not have been so prepared the first time lol!
In the Southern Section, or Reptile Fun, you find all the equipment you would traditionally expect at a playground, plus more! From spinning spheres you can sit in, to climbing towers and a large sandpit you can dig for “eggs”, there’s sure to be a something for everyone. Have a child in a wheelchair? They even have equipment specifically for them!
Hong Kong Park & Aviary
This park is much closer to the rest of the tourist destinations, and so an amazing place to stop and relax in between stops. It’s an extensive park boasting of large fountains, a butterfly garden, a conservatory, waterfalls, and even an aviary!
If you need a reprieve from the skyscrapers and the hustle and bustle of the city, then this spacious and green park is perfect. It gives you a chance to really slow down and enjoy nature. One of my favorite parts of the park is the aviary. You start at the top in the canopy and then you take a winding ramp down through the understory and the forest floor to see the different variety of birds you would find in each layer. It’s so quiet and peaceful in there, you just want to stay awhile… well at least if you don’t have a sleep deprived toddler that just isn’t happy with peacefulness.
Next to the Aviary, you’ll find the park’s playground. While it’s not the best playground in Hong Kong, it is pretty awesome. It has multiple levels to accommodate different age ranges. At the bottom, you’ll find a sandpit with multiple diggers. There is even a water spigot to be able to wash the sand off after! As you go further up you find various slides, swings, and tunnels to climb through.
What makes the park a little extra perfect is that it’s right next to the art museum. So before you take the kids in you can let them get their energy out climbing running around. Then after you can let them run around again! So mom and dad get their culture and the kids get their nature and fun! A perfect combination for the day.
Back on Kowloon side is Monkey Mountain where you can see feral monkeys and wild hogs just walking along the road right next to you. It doesn’t take long to get there by bus and while you can take a long hiking path up the mountain, there is a stroller friendly path down the road next to the bus stop that will take maybe an hour and a half round trip if you’re slow like us.
What I loved about this adventure was that not only was it completely free, it was full of surprises. When you go, you’re not quite sure what to expect. We were just starting to walk down the water access road when we realized there were a couple of sleeping wild hogs! Some people are lucky enough to see monkeys as soon as they get off the bus, but for us, it took us a while. And right as we thought about giving up, they started showing up.
If you’re not seeing any right away, don’t give up. Just walk down all the way to the end of that road. Past the reservoir and the picnic areas to what looks like a water treatment plant. That’s where we saw so many monkeys! They were everywhere and it had a bit of a Planet of the Apes feel to the area! But we were lucky enough to see babies and a couple walked right along the path we were on, completely ignoring us! We did, however, take appropriate safety precautions.
Ngong Ping Village/ Tai O
One of my favorite places to visit it Ngong Ping Village on South Lantau. It’s not the most stroller friendly place because if you want to walk up to see Big Buddha or the Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas then you have to leave your stroller at the bottom, but the rest is easily accessible via strollers. It’s also a great place for kids because of the wide open spaces and the feral, but calm, cows!
Accessible by bus or cable car, this tourist attraction is also a working monastery and school for monks. It’s also really close to the traditional fishing village of Tai O (my home) making both a great half day trip. You’ll find all sorts of food from traditional street snacks to Subway, shops selling chopsticks and traditional clothes, the best-priced knick-knacks, and even virtual experiences and movies!
My favorite aspects of this experience are seeing the worshippers at the temple, looking out over the mountains at the top of Big Buddha, and the crystal cable car. It is definitely worth the extra expense to get the cable car with the glass bottom versus a standard cable car. I recommend you start in the morning and from Tung Chung or Mui Wo take the bus all the way to Tai O for a quick walk around the village to see the houses on stilts and take a boat tour to try and catch a glimpse of the pink dolphins. Then take the bus to Ngong Ping and explore all they have to offer before taking the cable car back to Tung Chung. You will save so much time as the line for the cable car from Tung Chung can be hours of waiting.
Nan Lian Gardens, Chi Lin Nunnery, and Hammerhill Road Pool
This last idea is another great combination of culture and play. While Nan Lian Gardens and Chi Lin Nunnery aren’t the most stroller-friendly destinations they are free and easy to see in an hour or two plus it shows you lots of traditional architecture and more of the Buddhist religion. While Nan Lian Gardens is pretty, it’s Chi Lin Nunnery that feels like you’re walking into another world. We went during Buddha’s birthday, a holiday in HK, and we even got to participate in the washing of the Buddha.
After walking amongst the traditional gardens and temples, head over to Hollywood Plaza mall for a bite to eat before going to Hammerhill Road Pool. It’s nothing fancy, but it is right next to the gardens and a short walk from the pool. You have traditional Chinese food as well as Pizza Hut and McDonald’s… Just don’t expect Pizza Hut to be what you’re used to back home! It’s almost its own cultural experience.
Once you’ve had a break from the heat and a bite to eat go cool off in Hammerhill pool for a fun experience for kids of all ages. It costs only a couple of US dollars per person (by Octopus card). Not only do they have lockers (for a 5 dollar (HK) coin deposit), but family changing rooms with showers as well! When you get to the pools your kids have many options from water slides (2 different ones for different ages) to splash pads. There are 4 outdoor pools of varying depths to cater to families of all ages. And even though we went on a public holiday it didn’t feel overcrowded. Can’t promise that for every day, but it was definitely a pleasant surprise!
While there are many more amazing places in Hong Kong to see, this Hong Kong family bucket list is sure to please everyone in the family. Not only are they mostly outside the traditional tourist destinations, and so less crowded, but they are also very budget friendly. Next time you’re in Hong Kong, be sure to add these destinations to your itinerary.
About the Blogger
Mary is a mom of one wild little boy and the owner of This Indulgent Life where she helps moms use experiences together to find joy in motherhood and life through podcasts and vlogs.
Growing up she was an avid traveler who dreamed of living abroad and exploring new cultures. But then social expectations and life circumstances seemed to put all her hopes and dreams on hold. Until one day when she realized she didn’t have to live the standard American dream, she could pursue her own calling. This led to her and her husband moving to Hong Kong so she could teach art abroad and now back to the USA to restore a vintage Airstream before traveling full time.
As an expat teacher she had what many dreamed of, a helper at home to give one-on-one care to her son and do housework, but it wasn’t enough. Something was missing. She was tired every day from long hours away and she would come home not wanting to do anything but watch tv. She felt guilty and felt she was wasting not only her own life but the little time she had with her son. But playing with a toddler didn’t come naturally. She had to find her own way to make life and parenting enjoyable again and discovered that experiences together not only fulfilled her adventurous spirit but also brought back the joy in being a mom.
Now she’s on a mission to help other moms rid themselves of the guilt of feeling like they’re not enough and inspiring families to have more adventures together, big and small, to live a more indulgent life.
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