What, oh what, to do with the young ones in the summer? They’re out of school, bored and begging for a little entertainment. Forget the obvious (and expensive) choices like Disneyland or Ocean Park: Hong Kong is brimming with much less expensive yet equally enjoyable activities for kids.
Spend a Day at Kowloon Park
Cost: Free, excluding pool and sports centre.
Opening Hours: Varies
Formerly an army fortress, Kowloon Park is home to some of the most tranquil gardens in Hong Kong, and it’s a great place to enjoy the rain from under two hundred metres of covered walkway. Listen to the pitter patter of precipitation falling on a canopy of trees. Kids will love the enchanting Chinese Garden, which boast a two-tier lotus pond surrounded by a rock cascade.
No day at the park would be complete without a trip to the Kowloon Park Swimming Pools (opening hours vary. See here for details). This pool complex gets 800,000 visitors annually and can accommodate almost 1,500 swimmers. Inside there’s an olympic size pool, a diving pool and two training pools, while outside there are three resort-style outdoor pools, a toddler’s pool and a sunbathing area for the grownups. Admission is HK$19 for adults and HK$9 for the kiddies.
Summer sports are a great way to keep the kids busy during summer break. Just nearby to the park is the Kowloon City Sports Centre, which has multiple courts for almost every sport you can name including volleyball, netball, badminton, squash and table tennis. It also has a dance room, martial arts room, and fitness room. The centre offers a variety of programs for kids of all ages. See website for details. Open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
The park also boasts a good-sized aviary with about 40 species of birds, including macaws, flamingos, swans and parrots. Kids will love the maze garden. Every Sunday from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the sculpture park, families can catch Kung Fu Corner - a free demonstration of the lion dragon dance and several disciplines of martial arts, among other things.
Every Friday, a group of birdwatchers meets in the arcade of Kowloon Park from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. It’s free and fun for everyone (especially for those early-to-rise kids - expect a long afternoon nap!) This event is jointly organised by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society, so it’s high quality and worth the hassle of getting up early.
Take Advantage of a Bang-Up Deal on the Hong Kong Museum Pass
Cost: HK$30 for a weekly pass. Long term passes vary, as low as HK$25 for a half-year pass. See website for details.
Opening Hours: Varies
Sounds boring, right? What kind of kid likes museums? I don’t even like museums. Don’t be too quick to dismiss this classic afternoon activity. Hong Kong’s many museums are very high quality, and both fun and educational for children of any age.
Far more than building after building and hour after hour of looking at ancient relics in glass cases, these museums are inexpensive and cover a wide range of subjects including science, space, coastal defence (delightfully and unexpectedly kid-friendly) and correctional services.
The museum pass includes admission to the Hong Kong Museum of Art, the Hong Kong Museum of History, the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, the Hong Kong Science Museum, the Hong Kong Space Museum, the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence and the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Museum. (Admission to special exhibitions like the Stanley Ho Space Theatre incur an additional fee).
Not included in the pass are some sweet niche museums like the Hong Kong Railway Museum, the Maritime Museum, the Racing Museum and - perhaps less interesting for kids but a great choice for adults who like this sort of thing - the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware.
Get Creative with an Arts and Crafts Project
Cost: Fits any budget.
Opening hours: Any hour of any day!
What better summer activity than an arts and crafts project - good for hours of fun in the comfort of your own home. Martha Stewart has some particularly pleasing craft projects for kids available on her website and there is a seemingly unlimited number of pinboards with great ideas for kids on Pinterest.
You’d be surprised how much fun you can have with paper plates, a glue gun and some construction paper. If you want to really get suited up for creativity, check out some of Hong Kong’s craft stores.
Man Luen Choon Chinese Stationeries is a dream for any craft lover and stocks all manner of pigment and brushes, ceramics, books, craft supplies and yes, stationery. It can be a little tricky to navigate if you can’t read chinese characters, but the incredible selection at Man Luen Choon promises to be worth the effort.
The K11 Design Mall is another can’t miss for anyone craft-inclined. On the 3rd floor you’ll find artJam, where you can buy art supplies or join painting sessions, among other activities. One floor up is the HKID gallery, which features more craft supplies along with handmade arty things made by local artisans.
If you’re really stuck, Hong Kong has 57 Jumping Gyms and there’s always Snoopy’s World, bowling at Whampoa World, and for those who can afford it, Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park. Every kid’s got to do it once, after all!
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