A trip to Disneyland is a dream for many children. For Australians, a trip to LA to visit the original park is a long way to travel. Australians have the advantage of Asia on our door step and with the influx of all things western, we now can travel to Hong Kong to experience a quintessential childhood bucket list item of a visit to Disneyland.
In April 2019 we spent a week in Hong Kong and decided to include a visit to Hong Kong Disneyland as part of our activities. Here are some useful tips for your family visit.
I am sure you have all heard the phrase that the journey is as important as the destination and Hong Kong Disneyland takes that ethos to heart with the amazing Disney Express Train. We were delighted to find a dedicated train service that takes you to the Disney doorstep, but even more surprised when the train turned up and it was actually Disney themed.
All the kids onboard absolutely loved it, taking selfies with the Mickey windows and checking out all the intricate details of the Disney train. The train is absolutely a great way to get to the park.
All the Classics
If you have visited any Disney Park around the world there are a few staple attractions that you expect to see. It’s a Small World for example takes you on a slow boat ride past displays from all over the world while the song runs on repeat - the tea cups spin making both young and old giddy - and space mountain takes you on an epic fast roller coaster ride through pitch darkness.
Having also visited Disneyland Parks in LA and Paris it was nice to recognise some of the classic rides and enjoy them in another country.
When you enter a Disneyland you are welcomed by a familiar main street that flows guests into and out of the park that is lined with stores and cafes ready to take your tourist dollars. If you are after anything Disney branded, you are going to find it here.
The stores have every imaginable item from key rings to Christmas decorations, dressing gowns to slippers, hats to sunglasses, cups to glasses - you name it you will find it in a store on Main Street and it will be Disney branded.
If you are a Marvel fan, you are going to enjoy your visit to Hong Kong Disneyland. Unique to this park are the Marvel attractions.
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Nano Battle officially opened March 31, 2019 - we visited in April allowing us to be amongst the first to experience the new attraction. An attraction for all ages this interactive ride uses laser technology to get you in amongst the action whilst competing against your fellow riders as you shoot at targets to earn points.
The park opened the Iron Man Experience in 2017 and has plans to continue the expansion of the Marvel Super Hero action to create an ultimate hub for fans. There is plenty of Marvel entertainment to keep guests entertained as well as a wide range of merchandise to purchase.
Great for Families
One of the benefits of a visit to Disneyland is that they offer entertainment for both young and old. The rides are more catered for younger families (and the grandparents that no longer seek thrills) and whilst there were a few thrill rides for our adventurous crew, there were a lot that our 9 and 12 yo were happy to pass on.
However the mix of thrill, rides for the young, interactive and walk through entertainment meant there was a good balance of activities to cater for all ages.
For the main part everything in the park was spoken in English. The only exception was a Jedi stage show that was bi lingual - and although we had no idea what words were being spoken we still managed to follow the story line and understand what was going on.
We had a fun day at Disneyland Hong Kong and would recommend a visit on your itinerary to this city. Have you been - what were your highlights or tips for a visit?
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
Note: Itchy Feet Family were guests of Hong Kong Disneyland.
When planning our trip to Hong Kong I met an expat who suggested we must include a visit to Ocean Park. I had never heard of the Park, but was intrigued to visit the location that she spoke so fondly of that held so many fond childhood memories for her.
Ocean Park is a full day of fun and thrills - an action packed theme park popular with both visitors and locals - this is one busy attraction in Hong Kong. More than 140 million people have visited the park since it opened in January 1977.
We visited in April 2019 as guests of Ocean Park and were blown away at just how much was on offer at this expansive park. Whether young or old, all ages were attracted to this park where your entry fee provides access to a world of shows, animal encounters, thrill rides, amusements and entertainment.
The fantastic thing about Hong Kong is how accessible everything is through the expansive rail system - the MTR. A dedicated stop at Ocean Park means that no matter where your Hong Kong hotel is located, accessing the park is simple.
Tourists can purchase a 24 hour travel card for the MTR, however we found it was actually more cost efficient to simply purchase single trip tickets as we went. The only downside to that was the need to have cash at the station to use the ticket machines - and the machines did not take large notes.
Tickets for Ocean Park are priced at HKD$498 (approx AUD$90) for visitors aged 12+ and provide entry and access to the majority of attractions. You can purchase your tickets online, at the gate, or at a 7-eleven.
Locals told us they too love to visit Ocean Park, particularly on their birthday when they receive free entry to celebrate their special day!
Navigating the Park
Ocean Park is an expansive attraction spread across a mountainous area. Located on the southern side of Hong Kong Island, Ocean Park covers more than 91.5 hectares of land and has more than 80 attractions.
There are two distinct areas of the park - the Waterfront and the Summit - the two areas are connected by the Park’s 41 year old cable car, providing breathtaking views of the South China Sea, and the Ocean Express, a funicular train system.
I have to be honest it was a bit overwhelming the expansive size of the park - and as my navigation skills are not the sharpest I did find it a bit of a maze. However it meant there was constantly something new around every misguided turn I took!
The Park provided a printed map upon arrival and there was an app that was useful to help us navigate our day. Look out for the e-coupons available on the app - a great way to save a bit on your food and drink costs for the day. And the park is all hooked up with free wi-fi to keep you connected and posting all you favourite snaps of the day to you social media channels.
We opted to take the cable car up to the Summit as soon as we arrived - an option that proved a smart one as in the afternoon the line up to take the journey down the mountain was huge! The four minute funicular train journey is capable of taking 5,000 people per hour and had more capacity at the end of the day when we were tired and ready to leave.
So we are a family that loves a good roller coaster and Ocean Park did not disappoint us there!Thrill Mountain homes rides such as the Hair Raiser, Arctic Blast, The Flash, Mine Train and Raging River that have you speeding through loops and around corners at speed.
Our favourite had to be the Mine Train, set on the side of a cliff, this ride gave an option to include a virtual reality headset. It was one of the most bizarre experiences I have ever had and takes your thrill ride rollercoaster to a whole new level.
For those not seeking loops and drops there were plenty of other lower adrenaline options to entertain including a ferris wheel, bumper cars, tea cups and the like.
As well as offering theme park rides and activities, Ocean Park is renowned for its animal husbandry, conservation and research. As proud South Australians we were delighted to see the Adventures in Australia attraction that highlighted none other than South Australia! Featuring a koala, laughing kookaburra and a rare albino wallaby, it was interesting visiting our local flora and fauna in Hong Kong.
Add to this the giant pandas, birds of prey show at the amazing bird theatre, a polar adventure featuring both south and north pole encounters, and an amazing aquarium - there is plenty of animal encounters to be had at the park.
Have you been to Ocean Park? What was your highlight of the visit? Leave us a comment with your suggestion.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
* Itchy Feet Family were guests of Ocean Park for our visit in April 2019.
If you are heading to Hong Kong, like me, you may be surprised at just how much there is to do in this city with kids. Our expectations were exceeded on our April 2019 visit where we found so many fun things to do. Here is a selection of 15 things you may want to consider for your Hong Kong visit with kids.
Hong Kong Disneyland
All kids love a visit to Disneyland and a visit to Hong Kong Disneyland is just as fun as the original park in the USA. Easily accessible via MTR the experience begins when you step on board the Disney train that takes you to the Park.
Unique to the Hong Kong park be sure to try out the Marvel attractions - Ant-Man and The Wasp: Nano Battle! and the Iron Man Experience. You can also meet and greet with Iron Man as well as be transformed into the hero yourself at the Stark Expo which has an interactive game that uses motion-sensor technology to put you in the armour of your super hero.
The park has all the features we love of Disney Main Street, It’s a Small World, Space Mountain, spinning tea cups and plenty of other attractions to fill a complete day for both young and old.
If you love roller coasters, thrill rides and amusements you will want to spend a day at Ocean Park. From cable car rides, to virtual reality roller coasters on a mountain top to dodgem cars - Ocean Park is the ultimate amusement and entertainment park for all ages.
Be aware - this place is HUGE! It is spread across a vast mountainous area and is a bit of a maze to get around. And there is so much to do from the rides to the shows to the animal displays - there is no way you can get through everything in one day. The park is a very busy attraction so be prepared to spend some quality time lining up in queues unless you opt for the fast pass.
Avenue of the Stars
Los Angeles has Boulevard of the Stars - Hong Kong has Avenue of the Stars. Located along the harbour, walk along the waterfront promenade where hand prints of famous entertainers that have helped make Hong Kong the Hollywood of the East feature.
Redesigned and reopened in 2019, Avenue of the Stars features more than 100 hand prints and whilst you may not necessarily know who they are - it is a fun activity to do. If nothing else, it is a great stroll along the Victoria Harbour where you can take in the waterfront and skyline in all it’s glory.
We have tried a number of observation wheels around the world - the London Eye, Singapore Flyer, Melbourne Star, the Wheel of Brisbane - and Hong Kong also delivers with its own version - the Hong Kong Observation Wheel. And the best part of this wheel is it is so cheap!
At just 60HKD for a family of four you get three laps of the wheel. This had to be some of the cheapest entertainment in this city. The 60-metre high ferris wheel provides some great views of the harbour and city and is conveniently located on the Central harbour front.
Yum Cha with a Trolly Lady
Traditional Yum Cha, where the trolly lady circulates the room with her culinary delights, is a fading tradition. However there are still a few restaurants providing the timeless experience that can be found if you look.
We visited Admirality Plaza for our unique experience. Not one of the trolly ladies spoke any english so it was a game of roulette pointing and grabbing what looked interesting and giving it a go. The kids had a blast chasing the trolly ladies down and taking their pick hoping to get a winner.
Whilst it’s not quite Central Park New York, if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the people and the concrete - Kowloon Park offers some greenery and respite from the hustle bustle.
A large public park with an area of some 13.3 hectares, Kowloon Park is located in Tsim Sha Tsui. As well as plenty of green park spaces the area also offers sporting facilities, a bird lake and aviary, pool complex and an avenue of comic stars.
If you like flowers - a visit to the flower market could be added to your agenda. A jungle of exotic blooms, the area in Mong Kok is filled with rows upon rows of stalls and shops showcasing amazing blooms and scents.
While you are there the bird garden is also in close proximity so you can pair your feathers and flowers on this outing.
Whilst this may not be a quintessential Hong Kong experience on first glance - there is some fun to be had trying out the local additions on a Hong Kong McDonalds menu. Every country has their unique twist on a local dish so why not give it a go.
The best thing about this is that with the fantastic McDonalds touch screen ordering system it has never been easier to order your McDonalds in a foreign country. Switch the online screen to english and you know exactly what you are ordering. Popcorn milkshake anyone?
Walking Food Tour - Whampoa
If you are after some Hong Kong street food a great way to discover the local delicacies is with the help of a local. Humid with a Chance of Fish Balls offer walking foodie tours through the neighbourhood of Whampoa where not only do you get to taste the culinary delights of the neighbourhood streets, but also walk the pavements of the locals and visit their frequented spots.
Try fish balls from a street vendor, egg pancakes with pork floss, learn how to order traditional noodle dishes, visit the wet markets and take a stroll through the courtyards of a public housing estate. Read a full review of our walking tour with Humid with a Chance of Fish Balls.
Walking Food Tour - Central
If you want to discover the best spots in Central Hong Kong - try a walking foodie tour with Hong Kong Foodie Tours. Discover the best parts of Central, enjoy amazing wontons, cozy dim sum and wrap it up with a hot and fresh egg tart. A walking tour with a local guide takes you into the pockets of a neighbourhood you otherwise may not have ventured and you fill your belly along the way!
For some of the best views of Hong Kong you have to head up the hill to Victoria Peak. From Central you can take a local bus - no 15 or mini bus no 1 - that winds up the hill to this amazing look out point. There is also a funicular tram that can take you to the vantage point - however it was not in operation for our visit in April 2019.
Coffee with a View
Upon arrival take a walk around and enjoy the views, grab a coffee from Pacific Coffee and sit and enjoy some of the best views you can get from a coffee shop anywhere in the world. If you are lucky enough grab a seat by the window and sit and soak up your surroundings.
While at the peak you can even enjoy a visit to Madame Tussauds wax museum. There are some amazingly life like wax figures and although there is a large section of eastern actors that we did not know - there were plenty of western personalities including Marilyn Munroe, David Beckham, Lady Gaga and more that we recognised and enjoyed taking selfies with.
The creations of Madame Tussauds are extremely life like and are fascinating to see - and for those that like activities there were also interactive displays including a fashion show runway and a dance-off game that kept us involved.
Lantau Island Cable Car
If you are after amazing views and are not scared of heights, the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car to Lantau Island is an absolute must do in Hong Kong. The 5.7km cable car ride takes you from downtown Tung Chung to the peaks of Lantau and the views along the way are spectacular. For an ultimate experience the crystal cabin provides a glass floor for uninterrupted views on the journey.
Tian Tan Buddha
Upon arrival into Lantau you are greeted by the Tian Tan Buddha perched high on the hilltop reached by a 260 step stair climb. The Po Lin Monastery adjacent the Buddha can also be explored and there are plenty of food and drink vendors to enjoy a meal atop the mountain.
Have you visited Hong Kong with kids? What were your highlights and must see attractions for this city.
Share your thoughts in the comments below if you have other must see or do activities for Hong Kong.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
If you are heading to Hong Kong on your holiday, you may choose to include a side trip across the waters to Macau. And here are some tips on how to get there.
Direct from Hong Kong International Airport
If you are arriving at Hong Kong International Airport, there is a ferry service direct from this location. Follow the transfer signs to the Sky Pier and you don’t even need to clear customs or collect your bags. You can purchase your ticket at the terminal, show your baggage tags and your bags are automatically transferred onto the ferry for you to collect at the other end.
For those who want the simplest option, and happy to pay a little extra for this service, it is a great option. This service is operated by TurboJet and you confined all the details on their website here.
However, the down side to this option is that the ferry’s don’t depart very frequently. For example we arrived into Hong Kong from Australia at 5:20pm - the earliest ferry option we had from the airport was 10pm. So if you are like us and don’t like sitting around waiting for things, there are some alternative options.
Taxi to the Ferry Terminal
The ferry terminal in Hong Kong has ferries departing to Macau around every 15 minutes. So if you are impatient like us you may want to consider getting yourself here instead of waiting at the airport.
Take a taxi from Hong Kong International Airport - there are three lines for taxis at the airport and you want to take an Urban taxi to Sheung Wan Ferry Terminal. Depending on the traffic (we were commuting about 6pm on a Thursday night) the trip takes about 30 minutes and cost us approx 350 HKD.
Upon arrival at the ferry terminal purchase a ticket from the TurboJet ticket counter - ferries leave every 15 minutes so you can simply take the next one.
We were travelling in the evening so the fares are slightly more expensive 880HKD for two adults and two children, however there was no luggage service at this time of night so we were able to wheel on our own luggage and did not incur any luggage fees.
When we returned from Macao to Hong Kong we took a 10am weekday ferry - the fare was slightly cheaper but we had to check our large luggage and pay a fee for those.
Arrival to Macau
Upon arrival in Macau you will need to go through passport control however it is a very simple, pain free process. To get to your hotel, there are taxis available or you may want to check if your hotel has a shuttle bus service. There are lots of free shuttle buses around Macau that take you between the large hotels and the ferry terminals. You may even be able to get a bus to a nearby hotel if your hotel does not run a service - and then walk or taxi from there.
Anyone for free tickets?
So if you are planning a trip in 2019 there is a fantastic offer for free tickets - yes free. To claim you must simply be an Australian or New Zealand traveller. Tickets are available in both directions between Hong Kong and Macao and valid for travel until the end of the year - 2019.
A limited number of tickets are available - to claim yours simply email email@example.com and let him know that Itchy Feet Family sent you!
I hope you find these tips helpful (we travelled in April 2019 and unfortunately did not know about the free ticket offer when we travelled!), if you have any further advice leave us a comment.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
Hong Kong is heaven for foodies - on our recent trip we were salivating at all the options available - but had no idea where to start.
A great way to induct yourself into the culinary delights of a destination is to take a food tour. With the help of a local you can explore a neighbourhood, be introduced to all the best foodie spots and know that you are experiencing the local flavours of a destination.
We came across tour company - Humid With a Chance of Fish Balls - who offer an Off The Eaten Path Street Food and Authentic Eateries Food Tour through the Neighbourhood of Whampoa in Hong Kong.
Here are five reasons to consider a walking foodie tour with Humid With a Chance of Fish Balls.
1. Meet the Locals
One of the advantages of walking the streets of Hong Kong with a local is that they know, and are known to, the locals. From being able to walk through the back yards of a public housing estate to witness the afternoon gossip session of the senior ladies, to being served an egg pancake from a legendary local street vendor, to interrupting a family dinner in a restaurant who are happy to clear out to let us in - there is a real local flavour to this tour.
Owner of Humid With a Chance of Fish Balls, and our guide for this tour, Virginia, said when she started the tours she wanted to provide an insight into the origins of the food and why locals eat what they eat - providing something more than just a tasting opportunity.
2. No English - No Worries
A disadvantage of being Australian is that our language skills outside of English are generally limited. When travelling through Hong Kong, although English is widely spoken, there are still a lot of vendors and restaurants that simply do not communicate in English. There is a whole world of culinary delights that would have otherwise been out of our reach had we not had a translator with us.
As a general rule, when walking streets on our own, we never would have even walked into a venue unless there was some sign of an English menu being available. Being able to walk into a restaurant (like the one pictured) where absolutely no English was spoken provided a great experience and brought great rewards of amazing food.
3. Why Else Would You Visit Whampoa?
If you are after a bit of an adventure and like getting off the beaten path - this tour would be for you. As well as the culinary delights and the full belly you get from the tour - you are given an opportunity to discover a neighbourhood that may well be otherwise skipped on your Hong Kong visit.
Whampoa was easily accessed via MTR and upon reaching street level from the station you are greeted with a large ship! Yes, a ship, purpose built to only ever be placed on the land in Whampoa. Thanks to our guide, Virginia, we were given a well rounded history and insider knowledge of the neighbourhood.
As we walked through the area she was able to position us at certain vantage points showcasing the Old and New Whampoa, took us into the back yards of both a public and private housing estate and walked us through the wet markets where the locals shopped daily. We even stopped by a real estate agency where we were given the run down on what all the crazy pricing on their store windows meant and a good insight into the high cost of living in Hong Kong.
4. The Food
Ok, so the main reason for doing a foodie tour is for the food! Well this did not disappoint, we tried things that blew our mind. From the herbal jello with shavings of turtle shell, the bitter tea and pork floss on a pancake - this experience absolutely opened our palettes.
And the venues varied from a modern restaurant, a family owned dessert bar, a street vendor for street snacks and more - we had a real variety of experiences in the tour.
A highlight was a visit to a dessert restaurant. I have always been fascinated by Asian Desserts but never had the confidence to order and try. By being on the tour our guide ordered a selection off the menu, including a shaved ice dish with kidney beans, jelly squares, fruit and condensed milk, allowing us to sample a whole range of new delights.
5. Families, Singles, Couples - all welcome
We travel as a family - 2 Adults and 2 children - and found that the small group opportunity was as suitable for us as it would be for a single or couples. The groups are kept small, we had 10 in our tour, and everyone interacting and enjoyed the experience together.
Being a small group meant we had access to ask Virginia questions along the way and, as it is a walking tour, there were plenty of opportunities in between food stops to get to know more about the city from our guide.
If you are travelling alone - what a great way to meet some other tourists from all over the world.
And for families, we were well catered for and taken care of. Our kids are pretty adventurous when it comes to food - however the spicy rub at the BBQ stall certainly tested the spice levels of our 9 year old. Both the restaurant and Virginia were accommodating providing a less testing level of spice and sharing a milky type candy to cool our 9 year olds tongue that apparently was “on fire!”.
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
*Itchy Feet Family were a guest of Humid With a Chance of Fish Balls Off The Eaten Path Street Food and Authentic Eateries Tour in April 2019.