Every Thanksgiving week, we travel outside of the US. It’s one of the best and cheapest weeks to leave the country and go to a place that doesn’t celebrate. Last year we went to Taipei, this year to Hong Kong. We used miles for the airfare for the 3 of us, a nonstop 14 hour flight from LAX on American Airlines. For hotels, we used points (Marriott and Hyatt), making the most expensive part of our trip free! If you aren’t playing the points and miles game, you are missing on a ton of free travel! I used points from my SPG Luxury Card to cover the hotel, Marriott offers 5th night free on all award bookings which makes it a great deal! Our flight left LAX at midnight, which meant Milana slept for over 10 hours. If you don’t already own a 1st Class Kid Travel Pillow, I highly recommend getting one! It’s the reason Milana can comfortably rest on our long hauls. While many airlines allegedly ban them, we haven’t had a single issue and we fly a ton on all different airlines! We got to our hotel by 9 am (and thanks to my status, our room was ready!) and left our things and went out for the day. Came back around 7pm, went to bed and woke up on Hong Kong time the next day. No issues with jet lag and we were all adjusted from day one, even with the 16 hour time difference. We also lucked out with the weather! It was in the 70s and sunny the entire week, not a single cold day and not a single day of rain! We had 7 days and I would say that is more than enough to spend in HK. If you have more time, I would split it between HK and another place as you can easily see the majority of the city in a week. There are several playgrounds at the massive HK airport, so be sure to check them out on the way home!
We used trains and cabs to get around the city. The cabs here are very cheap! Just a couple of dollars for a 10 minute ride so we used them when the train station wasn’t nearby. We had our Mifold with us and I would recommend a seat for your child given how crazy the drivers are in Hong Kong! The trains are super easy to use too. The lines are color coded and it’s very simple to get from one place to the other. There were times that we had the train to ourselves, however I would say that the majority of the time it was so packed, you could’t move! I remember hearing that about Tokyo, but we always had empty trains in Tokyo. Not the case here! So be prepared to be squished in like a sardine. And also unlike our experience in Tokyo and Taipei, where people politely waited for everyone to get off and boarding, that is not the case here. They will push your child the ground to get on first! Same with seats-even the “reserved” seats weren’t given up for the elderly or pregnant women, like the sign suggested. It reminded me more of the NYC subway (though this one was super clean unlike NY!) than our other experiences in Asia. But the trains were clean and efficient so we used them a lot, while keeping Milana close by our side. I also don’t recommend strollers in this city. We didn’t see many locals with them (lots of baby wearing and kids that were able to walk, walked). There are random staircases everywhere and it’s so crowded, I can’t imagine navigating one!
We split our stay between the Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View Hotel and Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui. At the Renaissance, we got upgraded to a club level room with access to the lounge and some amazing views, which were even more amazing at night. It was a big lounge, with 3 levels of seating and a ton of free food and drink options should you want a snack without having to go out and pay for things. We also got free breakfast (we got to choose from the lounge or restaurant) and we chose the restaurant. The breakfast buffet was massive, with a ton of options. It would have cost $100 USD per day for the 3 of us to eat there, so my status alone saved us $500! Normally we go out to eat somewhere local however being up around 6:30 meant that not much was open in the city, Hong Kong is definitely a late kind of place! So we ate breakfast then headed out for the entire day.
The Renaissance is less than a 10 minute walk to the train (all indoors), making it a great location for getting anywhere in the city. One of the best parts about the Renaissance was that it had a massive playground right on site. The playground is for hotel guests as well as the neighboring apartment buildings, meaning there were lots of local kids to play with! The hotel also had a heated outdoor pool, but we didn’t have time to use it while there.
Our second hotel was the Hyatt Regency in Tsim Sha Tsui. This hotel was in a phenomenal location, you walked out and were surrounded by a ton of dining options, stores, sights and parks. The train station was directly across the street, making it an even more convenient location.
The Hyatt also had a massive outdoor heated pool (as well as a smaller toddler pool) and several smaller playgrounds on site. We did have time to use the pool here, and Milana loved it!
THINGS TO DO
Now before heading here, buy your tickets online to skip the long queue! When we arrived, the line was all the way around the building and this was before the first tram even arrived. We had tickets so we walked right up to the tram line and went right up without waiting. This is a must while in Hong Kong, the ride up is really cool and you get some nice views of the city.
There are lots of things to do while up there as well. We really wanted to visit the Trick Eye Museum (free) and it was great!
Hong Kong Park
Across the street from the tram ticket line, is Hong Kong Park. This park has a massive playground and lots of walking trails and ponds, including one with turtles! It’s a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the busy city.
This park is also in the middle of the city, but not as nice as Hong Kong Park. It’s close to the Hyatt so we walked through it one day while exploring the area. You will quickly forget that just beyond the perimeter, is a very busy city!
Tian Tan Buddha
Now while we enjoyed seeing it, it’s not something I will recommend doing especially on very busy days/holidays. We went in the afternoon after purchasing tickets from Klook. When you do this, you get to skip the massive ticket line however our line was still one hour long. Then another hour just to board the cable car. Then, on the way back down, the line was 2 hours long just to board the cable car! And there was no other way to get down (the buses had already left for the day). So unless you enjoy waiting in lines, I would honestly skip this or find another way up because the cable car was not worth the wait at all. Unlike the many temples we have visited in other parts of Asia, this was built for tourism so not very authentic. You can easily skip this and head to something more authentic without the massive tourist crowds. Look up the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, we ran out of time but it’s a much better option!
Now we live near the CA Disneyland and have annual passes. However daddy doesn’t and he goes once a year with Milana. Last year was Tokyo, this year was Hong Kong. This was by far the best Disney experience we have ever had! If you’re familiar with Disney in the US, you know the lines and crowds are insane, regardless of when you go. This place was deserted! We heard that the lines were non existent, but I had a hard time believing that after our experiences at the US parks. Sure enough, it’s true! The longest line in the park was 15 minutes and that was for Space Mountain. We got to go on almost all of the rides without any lines, it was such a fun, no stress day. I highly recommend visiting HK Disney over any of the other parks if you want a stress free Disney experience.
Tsum Tsum Christmas Market
We happened to be in Hong Kong when they had a Christmas market dedicated to Tsum Tsums and it as super cute! I know there are different events throughout the year, so make sure to research special seasonal events so you don’t miss anything.
This place was awesome! It’s the last stop on the red line, and the walk to it is all covered/inside. D Park is a massive indoor mall, dedicated to all things kids. There were some stores but the majority was activities. They had an indoor playground (free), lots of arcades, play cafes, art classes, and pretty much anything your child could possibly want. Definitely worth checking out, especially if you happen to be here during not so great weather!
As most Asian cities, Hong Kong is filled with markets. There are many to choose from and they are all so similar, just find one near where you are staying. One of the most popular is the Ladies Market. This is a massive market, with lots of vendors selling mostly things and not food, though there were lots of food options in the restaurants nearby.
Another market was right by the Renaissance, the Toy Market. Here you can buy all sorts of things but mostly toys, hence the name.
One morning, we walked over to the Science Center (very short walk from the Hyatt). Milana’s admission was free and it was $2.50 USD for adults, making it a very inexpensive outing! For that price, it was surprisingly nice, with lots of hands on activities for kids. The upper left was for younger kids, with lots of things to play with and explore. Definitely recommend checking it out while here!
Of course, one of the best ways to get to know a city is to just walk. We walked all over and explored so many different neighborhoods!
Yick Cheong Building
This is one of the most popular buildings in Hong Kong. It’s been featured in movies and tv shows, and is one of the most densely populated buildings in the world. We stopped by for less than 2 minutes to snap some photos and left. There are signs all over saying photos aren’t allowed and I saw why. There were these Instagram chicks with legit wardrobe changes that set up shop and kept changing outfits and posing for hundreds of photos! This my friends is why they don’t want visitors. Walk through the courtyard, snap a pic and move on. Don’t be one of those people who stays there for hours changing outfits. It was a good lesson for Milana, as I explained to her not be one of those girls when she grows up!
One of our favorite things to do when we travel is finding a local cooking class. Being in Hong Kong, it was fitting to do a dumpling one! Look up Dumpling Class Yau’s Family on Facebook, it’s easiest to contact her there. The first part is going to a local wet market to pick up the ingredients, followed by going to Felicity’s house to make the actual dumplings. To say Milana loved this is an understatement, she took right to it and was really skilled at making them!
Of course, one of our favorite reasons to travel is food! We love eating local food and thankfully have a child that will eat pretty much anything, making it fun to explore culture through food.
Tim Ho Wan
Quite possibly the most popular dim sum place in Hong Kong, so we had to visit! One is opening by our house later this month so we are curious how it compares. While the food was good, we’ve had better dim sum and didn’t quite get the hype. Hopefully ours is better with a bigger menu!
Din Tai Fung
We have visited these all over the world and have one walking distance from our house! The Asia locations seem to have much better menus, they have these mushroom dumplings that aren’t sold in the US that are the best I’ve ever had! So naturally, we had to try the one in Hong Kong and it didn’t disappoint! There are many locations throughout the city, so you are bound to come across one as you explore.
This was such a cute dining experience! They are known for cute dim sum and definitely didn’t disappoint. Not only were they cute, they were good too. The piggies had red bean, the yellow ones had custard and the green ones had matcha.
Hong Kong Old Restaurant
We found this gem towards the end of our stay and would have come every day if we had found it earlier! Some of the best food we’ve had in the city. Their xiao long bao was better than Din Tai Fung’s, and that’s saying a lot! In case you’re wondering why you are presented with two sets of chopsticks, the black ones are intended to take food from the communal plates and then the white ones are to take food from your plate to your mouth. You’ll also have to pots, one filled with tea and the other with hot water. The hot water one is to clean your utensils. I don’t think you can order wrong here, everything was so good!
Superstar Seafood Restaurant
This is another higher end place, similar to the HK Old restaurant. The food was good, but the other was better! They had some cute dumpling options here and Milana is obsessed with the crab and theirs was really good.
What’s a visit to Hong Kong without milk tea? We love tea and stopped at a few places along the way. Share Tea was everywhere (we can walk to one from our house too) and it never disappoints! Milana loves it too, especially the boba part.
This was a little pop up window we stumbled upon while walking around. While in Taipei, we had this warm cheese-egg cake that was amazing! This was exactly like it. It’s the best thing you’ll ever try, fluffy and so good. Definitely try it if you see it!
And of course, a trip to Asia isn’t complete without visiting at least one themed cafe! We happened to visit 2 on this trip. The first was the Hello Kitty Secret Garden. It’s in a very local area, and not so easy to find (tucked away on a side street) but super cute! Not as impressive as Bangkok’s but Milana loved it.
The second was Charlie Brown’s Cafe, near the Hyatt and Science Center. While we aren’t Charlie Brown fans, this was so cute and so well decorated! This is really the only true themed cafe, big in size with lots of cute food options and nice decor. They were surprisingly hard to come by in Hong Kong!
As you can see, there are a ton of things to keep you occupied in Hong Kong! It’s a very family friendly city though quite busy and packed, similar to NYC. We loved our time there and have found getting around easy. English was widely spoken and many of the signs were in English. We do prefer Taipei much more though, Hong Kong felt more like being in the US with the English being spoken everywhere, a ton of expats and tourists from the US, Australia, etc. and just a more US feel than Taipei which was very local with tons of culture. Hong Kong is a great choice if you don’t want much of a culture shock, language barrier, or are a single female/traveling alone with kids. I had no issues getting around by myself with Milana while Dave did his thing and it felt very safe to be there.