If you’ve let slip that there is a Disneyland in Hong Kong you might as well take the kids there on day one to get it out of their systems. Actually, HK Disneyland is excellent. It may be smaller than its sister parks, but it’s friendly, immaculate and the food verges on the nutritious.
As well as all the regular rides, like Space Mountain, Buzz Ughtyear and Autopia, there’s an arboreal adventure in Tarzan’s treehouse and the jungle cruise has been spiced up with geysers and erupting volcanoes. Mickey opens the doors at 1000 and it’s a piece of cheese to get there on the slick Mass Transit Railway (MTR) to Sunny Bay, followed by a ride on the Disney train.
If Disney doesn’t appeal, hop on a fast ferry to Cheung Chau island I gawping at Hong Kong’s towering skyline as you slip out of the harbor.
For lunch, pick and mix from live seafood tanks at restaurants along Cheung Chau’s waterfront, then enjoy a meal overlooking the tangle of junks in the harbour. Back in Hong Kong, ride the Central-Mid- Levels Escalator, a 792-m long conveyor belt that moves around 40,000 people through the city each day For another ‘moving’ experience ride the tram up to the Peak for spectacular views across the city. The PeakTower has viewing platforms, shops, restaurants and even a Madame Tussaud’s waxworks. Catch the Star Ferry across the harbour to Kowloon and haggle for knick-knacks at Temple Street Night Market, while snacking at the street stalls.
For breakfast, try authentic dim sum at City Hall Maxim’s Palace. With children aged 10 and over, head out of town on a full-day jolly with Fast Pursuit Craft Adventures. Barely 20 km from Kowloon, the rugged Sai Kung Peninsula is fringed by a maze of islands and inlets that are inaccessible to all but the smallest craft You’ll spend the day careering through the archipelago in a speedboat and sea kayaking along a dramatic coast of sea caves, arches and deserted beaches.
Hikes on nearby peaks are also possible. With younger children, take a three-hour boat trip off the coast of Lantau island in search of bubble gum-pink Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins. Hong Kong Dolphinwatch operates trips every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, with pick-ups in Hong Kong Central and Kowloon.
Take the MTR toTung Chung on Lantau island, from where the Ngong Ping 360 Skyrail whisks you 5.7 km up to the giant TianTan Buddha statue on Lantau Peak. At 34 m high, it is the world’s largest seated, outdoor, bronze statue of its kind. Climb the flight of 260 steps that leads to the great Buddha, then visit the nearby Po Lin monastery.
The touristy Ngong Ping Village has several attractions, including ‘Walking with Buddha’, a multimedia exhibition where you can follow the path to enlightenment of Siddhartha Gautama – the man who became Buddha. Kids will love the shows at The Monkey’s Tale Theatre, based on traditional Buddhist Jataka tales like The jackal who saved the lion. The streets of Ngong Ping, meanwhile, are patrolled by jugglers, Kung Fu experts and other entertainers. The Ngong Ping Tea House offers traditional Chinese tea ceremonies and copious cakes, while the Po Lin monastery has vegetarian meals.
In the afternoon, visit the Wetland Park, a 64-hectare nature reserve where you can learn about conservation at the huge visitor centre, with its interactive computers, wildlife models and wetland simulations. Alternatively, head to Ocean Park which has everything from sharks, orcas and giant pandas to a Dragon Rollercoaster. Back in the city, watch the Symphony of Lights I a sound and light spectacular put on by skyscrapers on both sides of the harbour, then tuck into good-value Cantonese food at The Jade Garden.