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Hong Kong Two Days with 8 year old

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We will be in Hong Kong staying at the Sheraton Towers in Kowloon for 3 nights and two days (including December 31). Our private guide will be giving us a half day tour through Hong Kong Island including Victoria Harbour, Wanchai, the village of Aberdeen and a sampan ride through the bustling floating village. We are also supposed to travel by tram to the summit of Victoria Peak. This is what was suggested by our tour operator but shold I revise?

We love to eat, shop (mid-range) and markets, do walks and explore. I would appreciate comments about the above guided tour part and suggestions about what to knock out and or include. Also what to do with the remaining 1 1/2 days.

Thanks.

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    I think you would enjoy going to Lantau to Big Buddha. The ride there is the experience! Take the subway to the last stop (past Hong Kong Disney). There is an outlet shopping center right by the subway station.

    Then, get on the sky cable ride (about 30 minutes each way) up to Big Buddha. There is shopping/dining/trampolines at the site. It is not necessary to climb the many stairs to the top of Big Buddha to have a good time (we did not do it) but you can still have a nice walk around, have lunch or snack, shop a bit, and then hop back on the sky cable ride for about 30 minutes back down.

    You can ride in a cable car that has a glass floor (we did not opt to do this) but for extra dollars. Can't recall the price, but maybe 40-50 more HK dollars per person to ride in the glass floor cable car. Depends on how you are about heights and if you like looking straight down from way up high! (the waiting line was longer for glass bottom)

    Shopping is interesting in Kowloon. We went to the night market(s) but were not impressed. Nothing like what you can find in Bangkok! We really did enjoy the multitude of shops selling perfumes and cosmetics, and the shoe shops with a wide variety of styles and prices.

    Good you are staying on Kowloon, because in my opinion, there is more to do there after dark. Hong Kong city is much more business oriented and up-scale. Kowloon is more interesting (or it was for the two of us... women).

    I was just in Hong Kong about a month to 6 weeks ago. The weather was fabulous.

    Carol

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    This is what we did with our 3-1/2 days in Hong Kong. I think there's plenty to do to fill your 1-1/2 days, and your 8=year old will love it.

    HONG KONG

    Hong Kong Day 1

    Got up around 8:15. Went to Starbucks for free WiFi so I could call DD. Took Star Ferry to Hong Kong Island ($5 HKD for both of us) Walked about 8 miles (possibly not exaggerating ) all over Central -- including Sheung Wan, Li Yuen Street East and West (junky market stuff), mid-level escalator, Hollywood Road (antiques - really), Man Mo Temple (fantastic - loads of people burning incense and paper), Lok Cha Tea Shop, Upper Lascar Road (Cat Street) - lots of junk/secondhand stores Soho, Western Market, Victoria Peak (by tram), lunch at a local busy dim sum place. At the peak, we had tea and shared a piece of marble cake at Pacific Coffee (of which there may be more than Starbuck’s). Walked by well-known buildings such as Jardine House, Bank of China Tower, HSBC, Central Plaza, Legislative Council Building, Governor’s Mansion, Bonham Strand, Deveoux Road West, IFC Mall.Had a drink and a nice chat with the bartenders at Bourbon Street, then dinner at Café de Paris next door.
    Took Star Ferry "home" ($5 HKD). Got back a little after 10.
    Cold at the peak, not warm, but not as bad “down low”.

    Hong Kong Day 2 - all day in Kowloon -- all the markets -- Ladies Market, Bird Market, Jade Market, Flower Market, wet market. Lunch at Aberdeen. Ice cream at Gelare - fabulous. Went back to Hong Kong Island for dinner - pretty unexceptional salad, pizza and pasta. The town is overrun with people there for the Rugby 7s.

    Hong Kong Day 3 - took bus 260 to Stanley. Wow, the bus was amazing. Seemed new, exceptionally clean, and the route through Central, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, Repulse Bay and Stanley is fantastic. Wandered the market, had a nice lunch at Ocean something on the water. Bought some scarves at the market. Back in town, took the ferry back to Kowloon. Ate dinner on Knutsford Terrace. Couldn't decide where, finally picked an Australian bar - pretty bad. Walked back.

    Travel day. Had decided to take the Airport Express shuttle and Airport Express. Had scouted out where/how to pick up the shuttle the night before. Came within 5-10 minutes. Chatted with a nice couple from Boston (he had been in Vietnam illegally during the 70s ("peace movement") and got arrested and kicked out). At Kowloon Airport Express Station, so easy - bought our train tickets (we knew to get the "group of two" - best price at $140 HKD for 2 people traveling one way). Then we could check in and dump our bags - amazing setup, still don't know how it works. Train smooth as ever. Airport is phenomenal -- looks like the international terminal at SFO but about 10 times the size.

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    Hi, I'm new to the forum and I live in Hong Kong (been here for 6 years). All that has been suggested is great and you'll get to see a lot of the main tourist spots for Hong Kong.

    If you're in Hong Kong with an 8 year old and he/she hasn't been to Disneyland, I think it would be fun. My niece and nephew have been each time they have visited and have loved it.

    You'll be here in December so the weather should be nice (not too cold, and definitely not hot and humid).

    Your half day tour will give you a quick tour of Hong Kong Island. The "bustling floating village" is not what it used to be in the 60's/70's. To be honest, there isn't much in Wanchai by day... it tends to come alive by night with the bars and hookers. During the day you'll see lighting shops, small bathroom supply shops etc. I'm guessing they've put it on the tour because you need to go pass the outside of Wanchai to get to Aberdeen.

    Public transport in Hong Kong is one of the best in the world, and very easy to use. You will need a lot of change OR you can buy an octopus card from their customer service desk at the airport. An octopus card is like a debit card - you put money on to it and every time you hop on a bus, or train, you place it on the debit machine and it deducts the fare or recognises where you are, then when you get off it deducts the fare.

    If you want some authentic restaurants on Kowloon side, I'm happy to recommend some.

    I live in the New Territories, out of the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.

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    My thoughts and suggestions are as follows:

    1. You really do not need a tour to see Hong Kong. The main tourist areas are quite compact, public transport is excellent and cheap (as are taxis), signage is in English and English is widely spoken. All the items on your tour itin can easily be done on your own, and IMO, some of the items on the itin are not worth doing if you only have 2 days. The tour seems to have been compacted into a half day, which is quite a lot to fit in that short amount of time. I have some specific comments on the tour below, but my first recoo is that you not take a tour and just do this on your own.

    2. I have to say right off that spending 2 days here shopping would be, IMO, a waste of time. Unless you are looking for antiques or some very unusual items that you can’t get at home. I am not sure where you live, but having lived in the US and Europe myself I can say that the shopping here for clothing and other like items is not any better (and in some cases is worse). The days of finding a Chanel suit for US$40 are long gone, as virtually no cloting is made here any more; you need to go to Bangladesh to find that now. You can fit in souvenir shopping at various places like Stanely market, the Wan Chai or Peel Street markets, or just go over to Chinese Arts and Crafts near your hotel and spend an hour, see http://www.cacgift.com/. (Shanghai Tang also near your hotel is anote rgood one, but more expensive and far less pf a range of items, see http://www.shanghaitang.com/shanghaitang/index.jsp). I odn’t think you mean to fly thousands of miles to go to the Body Shop or the Kate Spade outlet in Tung Chung. If you do, then you might want to skip the rest of my post, because it won’t discuss shopping.

    3. On the other hand, spending 2 days here eating is an excellent use of time. There are something like 10,000 restaurants here, of all cuisines and in all prices. You will be spoiled for choice. Look in guidebooks, on the web, get the Michelin guide, or send me an e-mail at ciceronehongkong@live.hk for my list.

    4. I have lived here more than 10 years and there are still places I have not been, so really with only 2 days it will be a matter of what to cut out rather than what to do. Click on "Destinations" above, and then scroll down to Hong Kong. A helpful description and basic itinerary suggestions will come up. The Fodors guide book to Hong Kong is excellent. Frommers.com also has a website with similar info and their guidebook is pretty good. You can get the 6-page fold-out paper Luxe Guide, see http://www.luxecityguides.com/; however there is very little sightseeing advice in it, it is mostly upscale shopping and restaurants. Also check the Hong Kong Tourism Board website at http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/ for other ideas, as well as the Leisure and Cultural Services Department website at http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/en/home.php to see all events and museums offered by the government. Finally, please Search this board for my list of personal reccos called “Cicerone’s Reccos for What the Locals Do for Fun in Hong Kong (Hint: We DON’T Go to those Awful Night Markets....)” this should give you some ideas for what to do, including a list of walks and some sources for more walks. http://www.fodors.com/community/asia/cicerones-reccos-for-what-the-locals-do-for-fun-in-hong-kong-hint-we-dont-go-to-those-awful-night-ma.cfm

    5. You will be here for Christmas, so the skyscrapers will be decorated, as will all the malls and shops. The view at night is quite festive. If you have a harbour view room at the Sheraton, you should get a good view of the decorated buildings, if not, be sure to walk the esplanade on the waterfront across the street from you hotel, and also try to get a look from the Hong Kong Island side, as buildings on your side of the harbour will be decorated as well. One “winter” activity which would be fun for your daughter would be to take her ice skating. There are several indoor rinks here, all in shopping malls. The Elements Mall would be closest to your hotel, but you can also find rinks at Festival Walk Mall and Megabox Mall. All of these are on the subway line, and are easy to reach. One of you could do some shopping while she skates.

    6. I believe you will be here on December 31, and are in a great location to celebrate the New Year. There are usually (but not always) fireworks at midnight and your hotel location would be excellent for viewing them. In addition, the road in front of your hotel (Salisbury) will be closed from the early evening and becomes a big pedestrian party, quite safe for kids. (Drunken crowds will be over at the Lan Kwai Fong bar area on Hong Kong Island).

    7. The December weather is generally marvelous, sunny and in the 70s F, so take the opportunity to get out as much as you can. Ferry rides, walks around the Peak, a stop off at one of our beaches, meals outdoors (esp Stanley) are a great way to enjoy the weather. The one drawback is that our air pollution is generally worse in the winter, so views on some days may be obscured; that being said some of the clearest days I have ever seen here have been in December, so it will be a matter of luck for you. But temps are good, humidity is very low and there is virtually no rain, something which can’t be said for about 8 months of the year here.

    8. You indicate that you like walks, can you be specific as to whether you mean a stroll, or longer walk or a hike and how strenuous you like you walks to be, and more importantly, what level you think your 8-years old could handle? There are tons of great walks/hikes here, at all levels of ability, but it is hard to advise unless I have more specific info on what would interest you. Something like the Dragon’s Back on Hong Kong Island should be doable by the entire family (this is a popular walk for children) and would let you see a green and different part of Hong Kong. Severn Road on the Peak would be another very easy walk for a child. For a description of some of my favourite walks on Hong Kong Island, see my posts called “Cicerone’s Favourite Hong Kong Walks II: Paradise Found! From Happy Valley to Stanley in High Heels! (Almost) The Tsz Lo Lan Shan Path” and “Cicerone's Favourite Hong Kong Walks III: The Dragon's Back” and “Cicerone's Favourite Hong Kong Walks: Severn Road, The Peak“. You can find all of these posts by clicking on these links:
    http://www.fodors.com/community/asia/cicerones-reccos-for-what-the-locals-do-for-fun-in-hong-kong-hint-we-dont-go-to-those-awful-night-ma.cfm http://www.fodors.com/community/asia/cicerones-favourite-hong-kong-walks-ii-paradise-found-from-happy-valley-to-stanley-in-high-heels-alm-1.cfm
    http://www.fodors.com/community/asia/cicerones-favourite-hong-kong-walks-iii-the-dragons-back.cfm and at http://www.fodors.com/community/asia/cicerones-favourite-hong-kong-walks-severn-road-the-peak.cfm. You can also send me an e-mail at ciceronehongkong@live.hk and I would be happy to send you details of other walks/hikes.

    9. With regard to the itin of the tour in particular you write Our private guide will be giving us a half day tour through Hong Kong Island including Victoria Harbour, Wanchai, the village of Aberdeen and a sampan ride through the bustling floating village. We are also supposed to travel by tram to the summit of Victoria Peak

    You can see Victoria Harbour on your own by taking the Star Ferry over to Central. Do this day and night to get different views. You can also see the harbour by crossing the street in front of your hotel and walking along the esplanade; these are the views in all the postcards. You don’t need a tour for that.

    For Wanchai, see my questions and comments below. For Aberdeen, that is a tough one. There is no “village” in Aberdeen. Aberdeen is a huge suburb of several hundred thousand people living in skyscrapers surrounding what little is left of the fishing harbour. At this point, there are not a lot of people still living on boats, although you can see one or two. It is possible to see what little there is of the harbour by taking the very charming public ferry across to Ap Lei Chau and back, again you don’t need a tour for this. (And Ap Lei Chau has a lovely temple on the waterfront which your tour certainly won’t take you to.) I am afraid the tour will consist of a 20 minute ride on wooden sampan to the Jumbo floating restaurant where you will have an average meal. I am not sure this is worth the time. It is a question to me whether doing Aberdeen on your own is worth the time. (There is a very nice and easy walk down form the Peak to Aberdeen if you were interested, it takes about an hour. I can provide details.) Another way to see Aberdeen is to spend half a day walking on Lamma Island, and then taking the charming kaido ferry over from Lamma to Aberdeen. The Lamma Island Family walk is extremely easy, paved and offers good views. There are some temples and beaches. The walk takes about an hour with no stops. There are some seafood restaurants if you want to have a meal there (seafood is not local and no different form what you will get elsewhere in Hong Kong and watch be encouraged to over order and pay too much).

    10. IMO the best time to go to the Peak is in the late afternoon so you can then stay through sunset and get day and night views, which are quite different and equally if not more spectacular. Your tour seems to be taking you up during the afternoon, which means that you would miss the night views. I would do this on your own. You could also have dinner on the Peak (my vote would be the Peak Lookout on their terrace, no views but nice atmosphere and good food; but there are other options.) Sunset in late December will be at about 5:45 pm and it will be light for about a half hour after that, so work backward from that. Lines for the Peak Tram could be long, so bear in mind that you also have the option of taking the #15 bus which is also scenic. You could take the tram one way and the bus the other.

    11. Can you find out from the guide what the itin would be as far as Wanchai? It is a large area with lots to see and do, and I would want to know where they plan to take you. By the way, Moderngoddess must live an another Hong Kong than I do, because I find Wanchai to be one of the most interesting areas in town. It is a huge area, about 4 miles square, and the red light district and bathroom fixture street she refers to is a tiny corner of it (They are both found on Lockhart Road, which also has some excellent inexpensive restaurants; try the Chili Club or the Flying Pan for great pancakes and other breakfast items. This area is quite safe, other than perhaps at 4 am when you are unlikely to be there.) Wan Chai has many excellent restaurants (esp the Star Street area and the area of Johnston Road near the MTR), many temples, and IMO the best street markets around. Fruit, vegetables, flowers, dried spices, mushrooms, seafood, century eggs, meat being butchered, live fish jumping around in baskets. Everyone yelling, little old ladies haggling over the price of chicken. Everything from shoes to TVs, to incense and paper money for the dead is on sale. The markets also offer some souvenir items for tourists. I can and have happily wandered these markets for hours. (Peel and Graham Street in Central also has a good market). Wan Chai also encompasses Causeway Bay, without question ground zero if you are a shopper (it also has several interesting temples). Wanchai also includes Happy Valley, which has the race track and a very laid back vibe as well as several good restaurants. On non-race days you can wander the big oval in the middle of the race track, an interesting perspective as it is surrounded by hills and skyscapers.

    12. The Big Buddha on Lantau island will take the better part of a day to see, so with only 2 days I am not sure it is the best use of your time. Only you can decide. You may be sacrificing things like Stanley Market, which can combine a great bus ride, some shopping, a meal outdoors along the water and perhaps some beach time or a walk. Lantau offers some really beautiful beaches and scenery, so if you decide to go to the Buddha, make a full day of it and spend time on the beach or doing a walk or hike in the area. Don’t just go to the Buddha and back. You don’t have to take the cable car, (or you can take it one way), there is a very scenic and far cheaper bus up to the Buddha. There are also some great walks down or up from the Buddha and a nice circuit walk which will give you some good Buddha views. If you decide to go, I would avoid December 31 as it would be quite crowded. Even a weekday during that week will tend to be crowded, as schools are closed.

    13. I am not sure that with 2 days going to Disney is a good use of your time. Esp during the Christmas holidays when you could encounter crowds. I don’t really see the point of coming all the way to Hong Kong to go to Disney, when you can visit far larger and more diverse parks in other parts of the world (e.g. the US). You could consider including something like Ocean Park which is on Hong Kong Island and offers pandas, water rides and a nice cable car trip to get there. (See (http://www.oceanpark.com.hk/f_index.html) But again, with only 2 days I am not sure that this is the best use of your time. If you can give me an idea of your daughter’s interests, I may be able to make specific reccos. Off the top of my head, easy things to fit in which would be interesting to a child would the large aviary in Hong Kong Park, the small zoo just up from Central, a ride on the street tram (upstairs), a visit to the Bird Market, the Gold Fish market and perhaps the Flower Market in Mong Kok, a ferry ride and the #6 bus up and over the mountains to Stanley, perhaps stopping at Repulse Bay to walk the beach to the temple at the end. The Hong Kong History Museum and Science Museum are excellent and not far from your hotel.

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