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Julianna asks (edited for clarity): My husband and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary in 2017. And the traditional gift for 20 years is China. I think they meant dishes, but I am going to re-interpret it as a trip to China. So March of 2017 (My kids Spring Break) we are going to try to do Hong Kong with the kids for week. The boys are 12, 14, and 15. They are experienced travelers but haven’t been to Asia.
I have two questions about the trip:
- Should I use an award booking service? My dates are very specific and we’d prefer to do business class for such a long trip.
- I’m not sure about booking award hotel rooms in Hong Kong for the week. I’m super nervous about picking the wrong neighborhood, or one that isn’t convenient, since I know nothing about Hong Kong. We’re Disney fans, so we’ll make a visit while in Hong Kong, but that’s all I know so far about our visit. Any neighborhood recommendations? Condo or Apartment rentals better than hotels?
I’m really glad Julianna asked a Hong Kong question as I left the topic incomplete. While answering her specific questions I’ll also address some of my thoughts about visiting Hong Kong with kids. I know many of you have also visited Hong Kong with kids and I encourage your thoughts in the comments.
Booking Award Tickets: Should I use a Service?
I went back to Julianna to get some more info before answering in detail. Based on her answers, I’m advising her NOT to use a service. Here’s why:
- She lives in flyover country but has tons of Southwest points and a companion pass so easy access to most gateways.
- Hong Kong is a hub for discount airline Dragonair so really easy to reach from other cities in Asia. Both outbound and inbound segments can be “just get over the pond” based.
- Her main currency is Ultimate rewards points so she also has lots of options as far as which programs she can use to book. She can then use the UR points to pay for the discount air flights as well if needed.
- Her kids are old enough that’s it easy to “split the team” into groups of 3 and 2. In fact, I’d assume it when searching.
- Minimum, you’re paying $100/ticket for a service. $500 is a lot of money when you can play with so many variables.
- Here’s a post about my experience about booking award tickets to Asia.
Hong Kong: Hotel Rooms or Apartment Rental?
In my experience Hong Kong hotels are more like Japan than like South East Asia both in cost and in size. Our suite at the Hyatt Regency slept three easily but would definitely wouldn’t have fit five. A family of five would definitely need two rooms.
With that in mind I’d lean towards an apartment rental. In Asia I find the best search term to be “serviced apartment”. My guide to family hotel rooms is based on Europe but the tips will work for Asia as well.
As far as location: Hong Kong has an fantastic metro. As long as you’re on the main parts of Hong Kong Island or Kowloon (just take a look at the Frommer’s neighborhoods at a glance for an idea) you’ll be fine. Even a ride to HK Disney, which is basically an outer suburb, is only 45 minutes from Tsim Sha Tsui.
Hong Kong Things to Do with Kids
Angelina and I talked travel recently (as bloggers often do) when she mentioned she didn’t love Hong Kong. I correctly surmised it’s because it’s she hadn’t done it with kids. Julianna’s kids have never been to Asia and Hong Kong is a perfect place to dip their toes into the pool without too much culture shock. It’s a great mix of London and Shanghai: foreign but a bit familiar. Some of my favorite activities include:
High Up: Victoria Peak is well worth the visit. The tram is a judgement call: lines are both long and claustrophobic and you’re not guaranteed either a seat or a view. You could just as easily take a bus or cab to the top. The walk down can be lovely but the heat is no joke. Carry lots of water! The views from Sky 428 terrace are pretty much the same as the others, but the audio tour was worth the price of admission. Each kid got a headset with a numbered guide. They could then match the building in front in them to the map to the history. The kids got so much out of the audioguide.
High Tea: I can’t think of a better place to get your Brit on. I recommend Cafe Deco at the top of Victoria Tram (for the views, the jazz era vibe, and the kids play area so you can relax). Another great one- for sheer volume- is the weekend afternoon tea buffet at the Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui. It’s simply overwhelming!
High Street: Besides the myriad of markets (The Bird Market being one of my faves) I wouldn’t sleep on clothes shopping-even for boys. Deal Kid picked out a bunch of T-Shirts with random English sayings that no one else in his school has! “Thinking Too Much Causes Problems” is an especially big hit.
Easy daytrips from Hong Kong
High Seas: A day trip to Macau is a must with a week in Hong Kong. I’d even consider a night or two in Macau as we regretted not having more time there. One mistake I made was not buying my ferry tickets out in advance- I then got stuck buying business class tickets which were totally unnecessary.
If Hong Kong is London then Macau is Porto: it has much more of an outpost than a capital feel. Some of the original Portuguese architecture remains as do tinges of Portuguese cuisine. Macau gets more press for its casinos but the Deal Kids and I found more fun in the outdoors. We took a cab to Fort Guia and hiked to the top of the fortress. We then strolled back down to the cable car then into the flower gardens.
What are your Hong Kong faves with Kids? Please share in the comments.
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