Before kids, the world was one giant invitation card. Whether it was a three-day ultra-marathon through Laos, a week-long Tokyo exploration or a 10-day Australia adventure hiking through the Blue Mountains, the main questions to answer were can we afford it and do we have enough vacation time?
Post kids, those questions are still important. But there are a hundred others besides. Will they have the right kind of food? Are there doctor or pharmacy facilities nearby? Are there enough kid-friendly activities to keep them entertained for a week? Does the hotel have cots? High chairs? Lifeguards? Whisky?
Hong Kong might not appear at first glance to be a family-friendly destination. But having lived here for eight years, four with kids, I now rate it among the best cities in Asia for travels with toddlers.
This enormous aquatically themed park near Aberdeen has rides, animals, shows, games, restaurants and a huge aquarium. You could go two or three times and still not see everything. Head to the far side via the cable car for a less crowded experience and more animals to look at. Kids two years and under are free, 3-11 years HK$240, 12+ years HK$480.
The sandy bays of Sai Kung are wild and pristine, but remote. Far better for families is a quick trip to Lamma Island’s Hung Shing Yeh Beach, with lifeguards, a jellyfish net, ice cream stalls, restaurants and picnic tables.
Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens
Tucked among the roads and skyscrapers of Central is this meandering, 5.6-hectare menagerie. It houses orangutans, gibbons, tortoises, meerkats and all sorts of birds. Entry is free and its location above Lan Kwai Fong means you’re just a few minutes’ walk from many pubs and restaurants.
Indoor play centres
If the weather’s uncooperative, head to one of the many play centres dotted around the city, from the 45,000-square-foot SuperPark in Kowloon to the Ryze trampoline park in Quarry Bay and the FunZone in Kennedy Town – a giant jungle gym where kids get a sweat on while mum and dad kick back in a Wi-Fi-stocked cafe.
Public swimming pools
Hong Kong has 44 public swimming pools, many of which have shallow kids’ pools with slides and waterfalls. They’re clean and rarely too busy. Bring sun lotion and towels.
With a biblical theme, this park on Ma Wan Island is a fun day out taking selfies with life-size animal statues, walking through gardens and gawping at reptiles and amphibians in the main exhibit, housed in what the park claims is a full-scale replica of Noah’s ark. There’s a hotel on site too and various sciencey things, such as a Solar Tower, where you can witness realtime activity on the sun. HK$168 for adults, HK$138 for kids (3-11 years) and seniors (65+).