Dining out with children can be challenging at times. They like to be entertained and it is so easy to simply place an electronic device in front of them to keep them quiet in a restaurant.
However on a recent dinner out on the Gold Coast I managed to keep the kids entertained with the help of a large wheel of parmesan cheese and a flame thrower!
Salt Meats Cheese is a family owned Italian restaurant on the Gold Coast that every Wednesday night serves up a special pasta dish - cheese wheel pasta.
Apparently a very authentic way of cooking pasta in Italy, the restaurant makes a presentation of the process which had us all fascinated.
A large wheel of parmesan cheese on a presentation table was rolled up to our dining table and a flame throwing butane can used to heat the inside of the cheese to soften it. A bowl of pre-cooked freshly made spaghetti then taken from the hot pan and put into the cheese wheel to be tossed.
As the hot spaghetti jumped around in the cheese wheel the pasta picked up the melted parmesan to flavour the dish. Amazing!
A bit of bacon added on top to finish the dish and cheese wheel carbonara pasta was served! For extra flavour we also tried one tossed in pesto, which was also done on the presentation table in front of us.
As Australians we have a tendency of adding lots of ingredients into our pasta dishes, Salt Meats Cheese dishes were simple yet so full of flavour proving that sometimes less really is more.
Once the cheese wheel presentation was completed the kids also enjoyed the opportunity to return to the simple art of a blank piece of paper as a canvas to draw, which at the end of the meal they proudly pinned to the restaurant wall. Look out for the drawings we tagged @ItchyFeetFamily!
While the adults enjoyed eating the pasta - the kids tucked into freshly made wood-fire oven kid’s meal pizzas - which we followed with a nutella/peanut butter calzone AND a serve of nutella filled donuts. YUM!
The restaurant offered a great vibe for families, when Miss 10 spilled her water all over the table there was plenty of ambience in the restaurant that no-one heard the commotion or even batted an eye lid!
Thankfully there were no electronic devices on the table to be ruined - just a paper canvas that needed to be started over.
Itchy Feet Family
*Itchy Feet Family were guests of Salt Meats Cheese. For more details about the restaurant visit www.saltmeatscheese.com.au
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.
Hobart is a fantastic city - I can’t believe it took me 44 years to visit this gem! Having never visited before I have now been twice in two months and I am looking for my next opportunity to return.
In June we took a family cruise from Sydney to Hobart for the dark MOFO festival that included a 48 hour stopover, in August we took advantage of new direct flights from Adelaide and indulged in a weekend girls trip.
As first time visitors to this southern city we were keen to pack in as much as possible on our short city breaks.
If you are looking for a reason to visit - and ideas for things to do while you are there - here are a few suggestions.
Red Decker Hop on Hop Off Bus
A great way to acclimatise yourself with a city is to take the Red Decker hop on hop off bus tour. This is a sure fire way to make sure you see all the major highlights of a city when you are short on time.
The double decker bus provided a loop of the city that takes you to locations including the wrest point casino, through battery point, past the Cascades Brewery and women’s prison, back through the city and then across to the Botanical Garden.
We opted for a 48 hour ticket and of course you can get off and on at any of the stops that spark your interest.
The advantage of a tour like this is the commentary that comes with it that offers a good insight into facts and figures about the city and a lesson on the history.
Walk to Cascades Brewery
If you are after a city walk, head uphill from Salamanca to the Cascades Brewery. A four kilometre route will take you through South Hobart (SOHO) past the heritage cottages and vintage stores to arrive at the Brewery visitor centre where you can enjoy a well deserved drink.
During winter you can enjoy a glass of mulled cider with a serve of chicken wings - and if the sun is shining there is plenty of seating in the outdoor gardens to take in the views.
Of course there are also brewery tours that you can take to see the back end operations to the Cascades brews.
Operating every Saturday, the markets are a fun way to spend your day meandering through a collection of market stalls offering local products and produce. From soy candles, to gin, pashminas to potatoes there is a wider variety of stalls to wander.
The open air markets operate from 8:30am to 3pm and have been lining the streets of Salamanca since 1972.
Hobart knows how to style a bar - there are some amazing venues to enjoy a classy cocktail in a chic setting.
In Salamanca you will find a great selection including The Den, The Botanical and The Whiskey Bar and don’t forget to head over to the Henry Jones Hotel and visit the IXL bar for rosemary infused glasses filled with tasty cocktails.
If you love Modern Art, you are going to love MONA. If you have no clue about modern art, you will still enjoy a trip to MONA! The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) is the jewel in Hobart’s Crown and a must see activity.
The adventure starts when you board the camouflaged catamaran from the Brooke Street Pier and take the 25 minute fast ferry ride to the museum. If you don’t like the water, there is also a bus service to use as an alternative.
Upon arrival be prepared for an assault on the senses as you take the spiral staircase down into the underground tunnels of the museum. Download The O app and be guided through the exhibits with all you need to know by the phone in the palm of your hand.
Stop and enjoy a drink in the funky bar, visit the mechanical replica bowel depositing smelly outputs, explain the fish bowl with a knife in it sitting on a chair or just ask the question - what the MONA?
If you are after a picturesque setting for a long lunch head to the Brooke Street Pier and settle in at the Glass House restaurant. The floor to ceiling glass walls provide an uninterrupted view of the waterfront where you can gaze at the country side and watch the MONA fast ferries pull in and out on their journey from the pier.
Enjoy a three course meal, matched with a glass or two of Tasmanian wine, for a long lazy lunch.
If you are visiting in winter it is highly possible there will be snow fall on top Mt Wellington which is the back drop to Hobart city. A great way to get amongst the snow is to take the Mt Wellington Explorer Bus tour to the summit which sits at 1270m above sea level and provides spectacular views of Hobart. The tour bus leaves Hobart city regularly for the 2.5 hour return journey.
If it is snowing, the only way you will get to the summit is if you are on the Mt Wellington Explorer Bus. This tour operator has exclusive and unique access to the road that leads to the summit that is otherwise closed during snow. On the morning we visited our small bus of tourists were the only people on the summit. The fresh snow was untouched providing a unique experience for the kids who had never experienced snow fall before and were able to make their first snow angels.
Stay in Salamanca
If you are staying for a city break to enjoy the highlights of Hobart you really don’t need a car if you stay in the heart of Salamanca. We stayed at the Salamanca Wharf Hotel which is an apartment style boutique hotel right in the heart of all the city action.
Walking distance to everything you need for a weekend city break, the Salamanca Wharf Hotel provided great quality accommodation and fantastic service from friendly staff.
For a unique room, stay in the penthouse loft and enjoy the balcony views of the city. As this is an apartment hotel it features a kitchenette and laundry facilities which are always useful for families.
Have you visited Hobart before on a short break? What were the highlights of your city stay?
Itchy Feet Family
*Itchy Feet Family were hosted by Red Decker Hobart, Mt Wellington Explorer and the Salamanca Wharf Hotel.
South Australians can feel right at home and still get away from it all when they embark on an Adelaide staycation. A holiday in your home city or state provides an unexpected and affordable getaway from routine and reality.
Hotels.com offers many Adelaide accommodation options online. There’s also fun-filled suggestions for capturing all that Adelaide and surrounding regions have to offer.
Wine lovers are spoilt for choice in this premier wine state. The Adelaide Hills, Clare Valley and world-renowned Barossa Valley are a stone’s throw away and provide access to renowned wineries, including Penfolds, Hahndorf Hill, Wirra Wirra, Bremerton, Mt Lofty Ranges and endless boutique vineyards, offering cellar-door tastings.
The kids can also feel fulfilled, educated and enlivened at a selection of tourist attractions that are right on your doorstep. The Adelaide Zoo, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide Botanic Garden and pet-friendly Adelaide Himeji Gardens provide hours of child-focused sightseeing, events and activities.
Venture further afield to a range of metropolitan beaches, including the historic, family-friendly Glenelg and Brighton beaches.
Chocoholics can get their cacao fill at Australia’s oldest chocolate-making company, Haighs.
While the parents are sipping premium Pinot, Shiraz or Eden Valley Riesling in the Adelaide Hills and beyond, the kids can also savour the freshest strawberries at Beerenberg Farm before a family visit to Melba’s Chocolate Factory.
For some much-needed rest in between the exciting sightseeing, dining and cultural attractions in abundance, Hotels.com offers a range of Adelaide accommodation options to suit all tastes and budgets.
Staycationers can choose to stay in five-star style at the Intercontinental Adelaide. Located in the city’s vibrant heart, this premium accommodation option provides the ultimate luxury in first-class suites, guest rooms, facilities and dining options for discerning families.
The Mayfair Hotel also offers five-star appeal, a central Adelaide base and all mod cons in one of the city’s newest and most lavish accommodation options.
If you’re planning on a seaside staycation, Glenelg beachgoers can relax in luxurious comfort and family-friendly facilities at the Stamford Grand Adelaide Hotel. With enticing family package offers and a chocolate high tea that staycationers of all ages will savour, a visit to the Stamford Grand is worth getting excited about.
Back in the Adelaide heartland, access all the city attractions with a mini or maxi break at the five-star Hilton Adelaide. With the cream of the city’s dining destinations, including Chinatown, Central Market and Gouger Street, on your doorstep, epicureans will be spoilt for choice.
Peppers Waymouth Hotel is another central and premium Adelaide accommodation option. The feature indoor heated pool with its CBD outlook through heritage bay windows, heart-and-body warming on-site sauna, state-of-the-art gym and 24-hour room service are the makings of staycation heaven.
Every day is a holiday when you and your family embark on an Adelaide staycation, with a little expert guidance from Hotels.com.
*This article was written in partnership with Hotels.com
Family time is incredibly special and precious. The nature of modern life means that we often spend family time in front of devices and screens instead of out and about enjoying adventures together, so it’s important to get away. A staggering £6.4 trillion is spent in the travel and tourism sector every year – but where to go? What to do? And how do you keep everyone in the family happy?
If you are heading to the UK, we have found three exciting places to take the family to create memories that none of you will ever forget.
1. The Yorkshire Coast
The perfect family break requires a blend of comfort, outdoor adventure and relaxation. The Yorkshire coast has all of those things and if you get the weather, it is one of the most beautiful spots on earth.
The beaches, caves and hidden coves of Flamborough, the history and culture of wonderful Whitby and the charm of Filey are all worth visiting and that's without even touching upon the incredible wildlife on show at Bempton and the revival that Scarborough is enjoying.
There are some fantastic cliff-top walks which will get the children away from their screens for a few hours. There are excellent restaurants, some of the best fish-and-chip shops in the country, and if the children claim they are getting bored, you have got the Flamingo Land theme park just up the road.
2. The West of Scotland
This is a truly stunning part of the United Kingdom with great cities, incredible lakes and mountains, and a wondrous coastline. Start your family trip in Glasgow, where you can soak up all this magnificent city has to offer – including incredible theatre, music and culture, fantastic restaurants and things to do.
Once you have visited the many brilliant places in Glasgow (don't miss the Kelvingrove Art Gallery or the Transport Museum by the way) drive an hour north to Loch Lomond. It is a place you can easily fall in love with. There are lots of spots to camp around the shore and the views are just magnificent.
Pack the car back up and drive up to Oban on the coast to catch the ferry across to the Isle of Mull. There you can soak up some history and Scottish culture. Take plenty of spray for the midges if you are going in May or June and you will have an incredible time.
Famous, of course, for its historic castle and its role in the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Windsor is a brilliant family destination. Of course, the castle is the centrepiece and the tour around it will delight all ages. But the parks around Windsor are also fantastic for children and for having picnics in the sunshine.
Stop by 'The Two Brewers' pub in the shadow of the castle for the best lunch in the town and then to keep the kids happy with a trip to Legoland, which is just 10 minutes up the road.
What would your top three locations in the UK be to take the family - leave us your suggestion in the comments below.
* Collaborative Post
Why do people around the world leave the comforts of their home to travel? The answers are varied but they almost always have one thing in common – the opportunity to try something new. Travelling exposes you and your family to unique cultures and pushes you outside your comfort zone. But with the costs of airfares, accommodation and tour tickets, travelling has undoubtedly become more expensive. But if all of that is still wanting you to take flight, here are some tips on how to enjoy your holiday without breaking the bank.
Choose a Suitable Destination
The French Riviera (Côte d’Azur) is a beach resort located in the Mediterranean coast of Southeastern France. It’s undoubtedly a beautiful destination and one that’s appealing to many. But it also costs significantly more in terms of airfare and accommodation.
Traveling doesn’t have to stretch your finances to the limit. Other options in the Maldives and Thailand offer similar experiences of relaxing in a bungalow and basking in the sun at a fraction of the cost. And with the amount you save, you may even be able to extend your holiday a few days longer.
Peak season is when more tourists travel, and in Australia starts around December to the end of January. If you can, you’ll want to avoid booking around this time as airlines and hotels generally increase their prices. The difference can be quite significant.
School holidays also cause a fluctuation in prices - consider taking your kids out of school for a week of experiential learning that could never be achieved from the four walls of a class room.
A more cost-effective way to travel is during the off-season . not only do you save on airfare costs, but there will also likely be fewer tourists at your destination.
Create a Travel Budget
A budget is an important part of travelling as it creates a spending plan for your money and ensures you have enough to cover all expenses. Start by creating a basic budget if you haven’t already. It should include expected expenses like airfares and accommodation.
Research your destination ahead of time to find out the costs for any activities you want to do. Then be sure to include that in your budget. Add at least 5% to give your budget some breathing room as unexpected costs will undoubtedly arise.
You can save up faster for your holiday using a high interest rate savings account. This not only means you can reach your budget sooner but you may even have a little more room to spend by the time you’re off to travel.
Compare Airfare and Accommodation Prices
Airfare and accommodation are two of the largest travel expenses. Use comparison sites to compare airfare prices to your destination. Prices vary frequently so book at the right time to maximise your savings.
Another way to save is to book a stay at an Airbnb. These options may not be as luxurious as a hotel room, but if you’re not planning to spend most of your holiday relaxing inside your accommodation, opting for Airbnb may be a cheaper option.
If you are cruising, consider the cheaper inside cabins - the price you save on your room you can spend on shore excursions and onboard activities.
Be Smart About Exchanging Currency
Exchanging money at the airport is extremely convenient. All you need to do is walk up to the currency exchange counter with the amount you want to convert and you’ll receive local currency. However, you’ll end up paying a small service fee and get an exchange rate that’s often much worse than the standard bank rate.
A cheaper way to get local currency without the high conversion fees is to either withdraw from a local ATM or exchange with your bank. Just be sure to order the local currency of your destination a few days in advance.
Buy Travel Insurance
Anything can happen when you’re on holiday. Your flights might be cancelled or your luggage might get lost on the way. Plans vary depending on the provider you choose but most cover unforeseen circumstances including medical emergencies, flight-related problems, and even personal accidents. Even if you don’t end up using the insurance, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
By Guest Blogger Alex Morrison
P&O’s Pacific Explorer is the most recent addition to the P&O Australia fleet of ships and, as with any ship, it has some unique features to explore. If you are booked on, or looking to take a cruise on, the Pacific Explorer here are a few handy tips on some of the offerings available to you.
Pacific Explorer App
The Pacific Explorer App is a must download as soon as you board. If you head to Deck 5 Reception there is a large board near Reception with details on how to download and get online with the App. Once loaded you can see your onboard account, view the itinerary and activities of the day and send messages to your travel companions.
Of course for those that love getting their paper copy of the daily activities that is still placed on your pillow each night - but for those that prefer a digital option I found the app really handy.
The messaging option is also a great way to keep in contact with your family. The one downside is that the app does not have the ability to send push notifications. Consequently the only way you know if you have a new message is if you open the app and check. So unless you are checking your messages at regular intervals it is possible to go some time in between actually getting messages.
The Pacific Explorer has two waterslides for both young and old to enjoy. If you are cruising in nice weather and the slides are operating you should give them a go. However one thing worth noting is that there are strict rules around jewellery when sliding. You are not allowed to wear any necklaces and the staff are very strict on this. To avoid the inconvenience of climbing to the top of the ship ready to take a slide only to be told that the thin gold necklace around your neck is not allowed - be sure to remove your jewellery before you leave the cabin.
I have also been told that zips on swimsuits are not allowed so make sure you have zip free swimmers for the kids to avoid disappointment.
If you have a quad share cabin - you may want to consider the luggage you take as there is not much storage space for large suitcases. On other cruises we have taken our bags have fit under the beds - however on the Explorer they don’t actually fit as the beds are very close to the ground. You may want to consider bags that pack inside each other and/or soft bags that can be unpacked and placed under the beds.
If your bags are too large to fit under the bed, try opening them up and sliding them under the bed open in two halves and they may just fit. Otherwise be prepared to take up your wardrobe space with a suitcase.
There is only one powerpoint in the room. It is a dual plug consisting one Australian outlet and one European. Bring a power board/double adaptor and/or European plug to give access to more power for charging all your devices.
Yes there is a hairdryer in the room - however it is a standard against the wall low wattage type. Fine if you are not fussy - but not very powerful if you need a strong hairdryer.
There is no need to bring pool towels as they are provided in your room. The pool towels can be used both on the ship and off shore so that saves packing them yourself. Best of all someone else will wash and dry them for you and give you clean ones every day!
Soaps in the Room
The shower has two dispensers - one with a shampoo/conditioner all in one type liquid, the other a shower gel. For some reason this seems to be a common question from cruisers. I tend to take my own shampoo and conditioner - but it is nice to know there is some supplied should you forget.
Kids Club Registration
If you have kids that are using the kids club there is paperwork that needs to be completed before they can attend. Watch out on your schedule for the registration opportunity (normally on the first day in the Black Circus an hour or so after the emergency drill).
If you miss this sign up it means you are lined up at the door of kids club on the first morning waiting to get your paperwork done whilst other kids just check in and settle in to play while their parent’s are sipping cocktails.
Read my other blog for some handy tips for family cruising.
There are two specialty restaurants included in your cruise fare: Dragon Lady and Angelos. These are both great restaurants and it is best to make a booking for these on the first day of your cruise.
When making your dining times it is worth noting that the main shows are generally scheduled for 7pm and 9pm so you may want to make your bookings for dinner with those show times in mind.
However if you don’t manage to secure a booking, don’t despair as they do still take walk-ins and if you are happy to eat early sitting (5:15pm) or late (8pm) then you can normally get lucky on a walk in.
Tucked away on Deck 12 there is a quiet inside room called the Bondi Room. If you are looking for somewhere quiet - or somewhere to play cards, or a board game, then this is the place for you.
There is also a book exchange and board games (although my most recent trip there were not any board games) located in this room for those looking for some quiet entertainment.
Pacific Explorer does have a thermal suite in the spa area - however it does not really rate compare to the thermal suite onboard the Pacific Aria. The thermal suite on the Pacific Explorer is more a private sauna and steam room located in the ladies and mens change rooms of the Elemis Spa. There are no ceramic thermal beds or relaxation area - so unless you are after a daily steam or sauna you may be disappointed by this offering. However the price point is much lower than that of other ships and it is a quiet space on the ship to escape crowds.
The Nutella Calzone in 400 Gradi restaurant is pretty good! Priced at just $6 it is great value and is enough for dessert for four people. You can get it take away - but I can’t imagine trying to eat it in my room. Even if you don’t dine here for pizza, I highly suggest a dessert stop to try this gem.
Have you cruised on Pacific Explorer? Do you have any ship specific tips to share? We enjoyed a Christmas Cruise on the Pacific Explorer and took the trip from Sydney to Tasmania on the Dark Mofo Cruise and loved both our cruises on this ship.
Itchy Feet Family
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
Penny, an avid Trip Advisor Reviewer, is the author of ITCHY FEET FAMILY. A family of 4 living in Adelaide, Australia, and taking every opportunity to travel and explore the world.