Friday, June 22, 2012
Hong Kong with kids in tow
It has been 5 years since our last Hong Kong visit. My eldest child was only 2 1/2 when we last went there. He is now 8 and I now I have another child age 3.
This is a long overdue vacation and the first out of the country experience for my 3 year old. As this is already my 3rd time in HK, I braved a DIY travel. I thought it would be difficult running together with a group of tourists with 2 boys in tow, besides we want to go to places not normally included in the usual travel packages.
Some HK tips for the brave souls who want to give a DIY a try.
(1) Subscribe in HK group buying sites and check out for cool deals on food and tours. I got a TGIF 4 course meal through BeeCrazy HK. I was so happy that there were a lot of Kabayan crew working at the TGIF branch we went to. They even gave us an additional free brownie ala mode.
(2) Plan early and book early if you can. But I suggest you don't skimp on paying extra for your seats. You don't want your 3 year old sitted an aisle or two away from you.
(3) Read reviews in the net, before deciding where to stay. We stayed at YMCA Salisbury - Harbour Suite (which was a free upgrade from a Family Suite I initially reserved). Talk about luck!
The room was perfect for my family. The room is spacious big enough for 5 adults, the size is honestly a luxury for an HK hotel and has a spectacular view of the HK harbour!!! More we got a welcome fruit basket for free.
(4) Plan your vacation - if you have kids you should consider including breathers and breaks. My 3 year old's energy is up to 3pm only and then get cranky and sleepy. Our 3pm schedule therefore requires minimal or no walks at all. See related post on our 5days/4nights itinerary.
List all the places you wanted to go to, restaurants you want to dine in and budget per person.
(5) Must if you have kids:
Splurge - Hongkong Disneyland, Ocean Park, Madame Tussaud. If your budget allows you, suggest you stay at HKDL for a night or 2 and have breakfast at one of their fine restaurants.
Budget - Museum hop, Parks (we went to Kowloon Park, which is a 10 minute walk from our hotel - it was the best outdoor playground I have seen to date and entrance to the park is free), Nan Lian Garden, Chi Lin Nunnery, Star Ferry, Double Decker Bus, The Tram
(6) Pack light. You already have kids to look after, tugging additional 4 stroller baggages would be a nightmare. Pack cotton and light weight clothes. Hong Kong weather is a lot like Manila and it is quite humid!
(7) If you have a child less than 5 years old, you should think about carrying an umbrella/light weight stroller. My 3 year old, was asking to be carried the whole time by his poor father. And since his energy is only able to stay up him until early afternoon - we were carrying him most of the time.
(8) Forget shopping at the ladies market if you have kids with you. Really, not a good idea!!!
(9) Carry your hotel's business card (usually with Chinesse translation) wherever you go (they usually have one in the hotel guide inside your room, but you can also ask 1 from the hotel reception area). If your child gets too tired walking or if one of the kids fall asleep, you can take a taxi and refer the driver to the hotel address. Not many taxi drivers muster the English language.
(10) Maps are sometimes better than asking the locals for directions. Locals would just smile at you and point you somewhere even if didn't understand you.
(11) Wear comfortable shoes (the ones with ankle support I think are the best for walking) - but you know that already.
(12) You can buy your HKD in Manila. BDO gives very good exchange rates.
(13) If you plan on using public transportation in your travel, suggest you buy an Octopus Card. An initial credit of HKD200 should be sufficient for a 4-5 days trip. You need one per person, they have different card for adults and kids (kids rate is lower, so be sure to get the right one).
(14) Get a local HK sim, my husband got one each for both of us. This is a lot cheaper that using your roaming phone.
(15) Most of all - don't forget to have fun!