Around since 1977, Hong Kong’s most popular marine-life theme park is also the largest in Asia. Featuring animal exhibits, thrill rides, nature walks and an oceanarium, the park mixes education and animal conservation with a hearty dash of fun.
Animals on exhibit include giant pandas, dolphins, seals, arctic foxes, koalas and penguins. Ride admission is restricted mostly by height, with plenty of child-oriented rides available, especially at Whiskers Harbor to the north. In addition, visitors can move between the two main sections of the park via a scenic cable car ride.
Book a boat tour to watch Hong Kong’s marine mascot in its natural habitat. The Chinese white dolphin (sousa chinensis) is found in coastal waters around the Indo-Pacific ocean. The ones around Hong Kong Lantau Island, near the Pearl River estuary, are noticeably pink in color, which is why they’re unofficially known as pink dolphins.
Naturally playful, the dolphins are sure to be a hit with young children. Expect to see dolphin behaviors like breaching (leaping out and diving back into the water with a splash), spy-hopping (lifting their head out of the water to observe their surroundings) and swimming on one side. Hong Kong Dolphinwatch has been running tours since 1995 and trips run three times a week on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday mornings.
This 60-hectare wetland reserve is located in the northwest New Territories. Containing freshwater swamps, mangroves, a butterfly garden and a crocodile enclosure, it’s a great place for kids to observe and learn about the importance of wetland conservation and how wetlands support biodiversity.
The park also includes a bird-watching platform, which is equipped with telescopes and is best visited in winter, during which migrating birds from the north (including many endangered species) flock to the wetlands.
During summer, Hongkongers flock to Repulse Bay. Located in the southern part of Hong Kong Island, Repulse Bay Beach is a sandy, crescent-shaped paradise with calm, azure waters.
There’s a children’s playground at the back of beach, and the area is dotted with cafés, ice cream shops, barbecue shops and restaurants. What’s more, it’s a few steps away from Hong Kong’s biggest beachside shopping mall, The Pulse, which includes plenty of kids clothes and toy shops.
Located on the northern slope of Victoria Peak, the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens can be easily reached by bus. It was founded in 1871, making it one of the oldest zoological and botanical gardens in the world. The sculptures, fountains and greenhouses create an extraordinarily serene and beautiful environment.
The gardens contain over 900 tropical and subtropical plant species, while the animal exhibits include around 240 birds, 70 mammals and 20 reptiles housed in the Aviary, Mammal Enclosure and Reptile House respectively. Visitors will get the chance to see rare and exotic species including the Ring-tailed Lemur, the Bornean Orangutan and the American Flamingo.
Hong Kong Disneyland is the city’s other major theme park together with Ocean Park. Situated on reclaimed land on Lantau Island, it opened in 2005 and, despite being smaller than other Disney parks, still offers families plenty of fun and Disney sparkle.
The park is split into seven regions, including classic areas like Main Street, Adventureland, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland. The two Hong Kong-exclusive sections comprise the Grizzly Gulch (set in a mining town in the American Old West) and Mystic Point (set in a dense rain forest where supernatural things happen). Children are bound to enjoy highlights such as Festival of the Lion King, a live stage musical, and the nightly fireworks show called Disney in the Stars.
Hong Kong Geopark is a geological park dedicated to the conservation of Hong Kong’s unique geological formations. The park comprises two main regions: the hexagonal rock columns in Sai Kung made of volcanic rock, and the sedimentary rock formations in the northeast New Territories.
Free tours of the Geopark sites are available on a regular basis. Alternatively, families interested in a more adventurous outing can book a kayaking and hiking adventure day in Sai Kung’s Geopark. The adventure day includes activities such as kayaking, hiking, snorkeling and a speedboat tour.
Set in the northern slopes of Tai Mo Shan in the central New Territories, Kadoorie Farm was established in 1956 to give agricultural aid to poor farmers. Today, it’s no longer primarily a farm but a conservation center, animal rehabilitation center and botanical garden. There are greenhouses, vegetable gardens, aviaries and animal enclosures where rescued animals are cared for. Expect to see animals such as wild boar, eagles, monkeys and waterfowl.
The summit of the mountain, Kwun Yam Shan, stands at over 1800 feet above sea level and gives visitors a stunning view of the valley below. It’s a 1.5 hour uphill hike to reach the summit on foot. Alternatively, there are shuttle bus stops at various points on the hill.
This branch museum of the Hong Kong Heritage Museum is quite small, but sure to cause excitement among school-aged budding train enthusiasts. It was converted from the former Tai Po Market train station, which was built in 1913 in a traditional Chinese architectural style.
You can take a look at the old ticket office, antique lever signaling system, train platform and railway. The main attractions, of course, are the historical train carriages where kids are free to roam and climb.