Family-friendly activities around Hong Kong, extracted from kidsGo! Hong Kong
By Mio Debnam, illustrated by Tania Willis
Visiting Hong Kong? You’re one of nearly 30 million lucky people who travel to Hong Kong each year, to enjoy the sights, food and shops that HK has to offer. But HK isn’t only for tourists – it’s fun for families planning a ‘staycation’, too!
Take the New Territories for example – there’s a joke among the expats in Hong Kong that it’s so far away that you’ll need a passport to get there, but actually these days, it’s just a short and easy trip on the MTR. Over the last few decades, the NT has become very built up, but there are still quite a few interesting corners.
For example, you can take a lovely walk in Tai Po Kau – a lush forest Nature Reserve – where, if you walk quietly, you’ll be able to see a wide variety of birds, and some macaque monkeys too. After your walk you can go examine some trains at the Railway Museum or learn about Chinese Opera, and see some vintage toys at the Heritage Museum… Or you can visit our favourite Shatin spot – The Ten Thousand Buddha Monastery!
If you visit the monastery though, do wear walking shoes, as it’s a real climb! It’s worth the effort though, and there are 500 gold statues of Buddha’s followers by the side of the steps, cheering you on as you walk. Each statue is different, and looking at their sometimes hilarious expressions makes the climb go quickly.
At the top is a courtyard with a red pagoda, as well as the main temple building which houses nearly 13,000 statues of Buddha – each one is a little different. Climb the pagoda to see the view, then have a cool drink at the café before walking up some more stairs to the next level. The statues that line this path are a bit odd but interesting – look for the guy with arms coming out of his eye sockets!
People often call Hong Kong a concrete jungle, but in fact about three quarters of Hong Kong is countryside, and there are lots of lovely wild walks. Some, on Hong Kong Island, are only a few minutes taxi ride away from the busy city streets. If you want a real getaway though, you should take a ferry to one of the Islands, such as Cheung Chau, where you can have a seafood meal, go cycling and visit a cave which legend has it, was the hideout of Cheung Po Tsai, the most famous pirate to rule the South China Sea.
Lantau, the largest island in Hong Kong, is interesting to explore too. It’s not only home to Disneyland and the Big Buddha, it has lovely beaches where you can swim, learn how to surf, or kayak. If you like, you can even stay the night, in a Red Indian style teepee (page 33) set up by the beach!
Tai O in western Lantau is also worth a visit. This quaint fishing village, which is known for its stilt houses and its canals is sometimes called ‘The Venice of Hong Kong’, though it’s a bit more rundown than the Italian city!
The Peak, the markets (there are night markets, touristy markets, food markets, a jade market, a bird market, a flower market and even one for tropical fish!) and Ocean Park are other popular attractions, but what if it’s just too hot or too rainy to stay out all day?
Well, you can visit a museum, such as the History Museum, go ice skating, or experience the thrill of car racing at the Sideways Driving Club. The simulators at the club are the same as those used by professional Formula 1 drivers for training, so the experience is very real, but a lot safer!
We’re out of space, and we haven’t even mentioned all the delicious food there is to eat, the interesting walks you can do, the junk trips you can take and all sorts of other things, but don’t worry, you can read about all this and more in kidsGo! Hong Kong.
Mio Debnam is currently working as a writer/editor, having ‘retired’ from the world of journalism, where she worked as the Editor in Chief of two daily children’s newspapers for several years. Over the years, she has had stories and articles for both adults and children drafted, as well as a middle-grade fantasy novel, four picture books and several educational readers. She’s also the author of a new series of travel guidebooks for curious children: kidsGo! New York, London, Hong Kong, Sydney, Bali and Phuket in 2011 by Haven Books.
Text © copyright of Mio Debnam and kidsGo! Travel Series (an imprint of Haven Books)
Illustrations © copyright of Tania Willis and kidsGo! Travel Series (an imprint of Haven Books)
Reproduced here by Sassy Mama with the permission of Haven Books Limited