I thought I’d take a brief break in the trip report to hit on some of the typical tourist destinations in Hong Kong. As I’ve mentioned, Hong Kong is difficult to navigate with a toddler due to the crowds – most of our visits to these places were on past trips. These sites are definitely doable with toddlers but try to avoid peak times and be ready to take it slow.
Avenue of the Stars
One of the few sites we managed to hit was the Avenue of the Stars. Basically, the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront is really nice – covering a long stretch starting at the Star Ferry terminal. Hong Kong has a pretty famous movie industry, and the Avenue of the Star’s is Hong Kong’s answer to Hollywood’s walk of fame.
A couple things make the Avenue of the Stars appealing. For starters, the views are amazing. But more importantly, the Avenue of the Stars is incredibly easy to get to – for anyone staying in TST all you have to do is walk! Every night at 8 PM the skyline lights up for the Symphony of Lights, which I find to be a little overrated but still worth a watch.
The major drawback (begin recurring theme) is that it can get really crowded. You often have to wait a few minutes to get an unobstructed view, though once you carve out a spot the view is tough to top.
The most famous tourist attraction in Hong Kong is Victoria Peak. It boasts some of the most spectacular views in Hong Kong. Most people insist you take the tram up – I tend to agree although the crowds are crazy.
I’ve been to the Peak many times – at night for drinks, during the day with family, and everything in between. I never leave disappointed. One thing people don’t necessarily know are there are a lot of hiking trails. You can hike up to the top, but once you get there you can also take short walks (up to an hour).
While these trails are still kind of crowded, they do offer a bit of respite and are great for exercise. You can always cool down in the little mall after.
The Big Buddha
The most distant tourist attraction is also the largest – literally. The Big Buddha is a very impressive…big Buddha. To get there you need to take the MTR all the way to the end of the Tung Chung line and then take a 25 minute cable car. Since you’re going so far out, there is a huge mall and cinema there (just to justify the trip if the Buddha wasn’t enough).
We went here a few summers ago. While the site was impressive, the experience was a little shaky. There were high winds when we were on the cable car which were a little disconcerting (they actually shut it down for awhile). Then after we made it back to the Tung Chung mall (Citygate Outlets) we were hit by a huge storm.
We found out later that it was actually a code black rainstorm – aka stay indoors, government orders. So we didn’t really get any iconic views of the Big Buddha (too many clouds and too many people) and the cable car wasn’t very enjoyable. We did, however, get to catch a movie at the mall!
There are a ton of shopping options in Hong Kong. The Hyatt Regency TST we stayed at is attached to the K11 mall, which is within walking distance to the iSQUARE mall which is within walking distance to Ocean Terminal. A short ferry ride away there is the IFC mall in Central. If mall shopping is your thing, Hong Kong will not disappoint.
There are also local places to shop – local in the sense that its less commercial, though these areas can get quite touristy. The Ladies Market in Mong Kok is very well known and crowded, though you can find a good deal despite the touristy nature. Stanley Market on Hong Kong Island is a long trip, but can be worth it – it’s very unique and there’s a beach nearby in case you are feeling overcrowded.
If you’re the type, you can spend a week in Hong Kong and do nothing but shop. Obviously not my scene but we did enjoy running through the malls (M loves escalators). Prepare for crowds.
There are multiple theme parks in Hong Kong – Ocean Park (the original), Noah’s Ark (for animal lovers and kids), and Disneyland (the mouse is everywhere). We went to Disneyland with M (a post in and of itself), so I’ll talk about the other two a bit here.
Noah’s Ark is based off the biblical story – the theme park has a ton of animals and a gigantic…ark. Ocean Park is part theme park part cultural part zoo/aquarium – I haven’t been there since I was a kid. Ocean Park is definitely the toughest to get to if you have a kid (you eventually have to take a bus or cab). Disneyland is off the MTR and Noah’s Ark is a ferry ride away. We’ll probably hit the other two some time in M’s life…
While Hong Kong’s main tourist attractions are very crowded, most of them are well worth a visit. Work around the crowds as much as you can and you should be fine. If you can only visit one attraction, I’d say the Peak should be at the top of many people’s lists – the views just can’t be beat. In a later post I’ll touch upon places we’ve discovered where you can get away from the crowds. But first, Disneyland!
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