After sharing my Hong Kong shopping haul a couple weeks ago, a lovely reader – Hi Grace! – asked if I could share some tips as she would be going to Hong Kong in September. Although I am not from Hong Kong (my parents are but I’m a true Scottish lassie!), I have holidayed there plenty of times – as a young child, grumpy teenager and as an adult. In fact, I have been to HK for the last 8 years in a row – the lure of the cheapo shopping and yummy food haha!
Anyway, this year’s trip to HK was different as we had a baby (who was a mere 3 months old then!)…AND we survived…AND rebooked our flights to spend another week in HK so it must have been good!
Here are 10 tips for travelling in Hong Kong with babies and young children :-
1. First of all, you need to survive travelling there and my top tip is book an overnight flight. Bunty was asleep before take-off! She was like a total angel and did not make a peep. I didn’t have to pacify her at all. Did I gloat like a proud mum? You betcha! But yeah, if you are worried your child may need pacifying due to the air pressure or general grumpiness, pack all your pacifiers – dummy, milk bottle, blinky, paracetamol, whatever – in your handbag for easy access.
2. Keep calm and carry on! Just a gentle reminder to remain zen throughout your travels. Kids have some weird mummy sensor and if they know you are stressed, they get stressed too. If your kid has a meltdown, now is not the time for YOU to have a meltdown. If you’re on the plane when it happens, remember that there’s alcohol in the drinks trolley 😛 And if it happens when you’re out and about in HK, don’t worry because Hong Kong-ers walk so fast that they probably didn’t even notice!
3. Hong Kong is NOT pram-friendly. Leave the big prams at home & bring a baby carrier or buy a small, cheap stroller. I have noticed that in Australia and UK that it’s very common for parents to have those BIG ASS PRAMS – it’s like, the bigger the better! We’re guilty of that too. We have an Uppababy Alta which is amazing but not for HK. HK is crammed full of people and spaces are tight. And HK-ers do NOT care if you have a baby – they WILL push you out of the way if you are too slow. For Bunty, we splashed out on an Ergobaby carrier and let me tell ya, my husband carried her for 8 hours straight AND carried the heavy nappy bag and he’s still alive! And in HK, you WILL do a lot of walking! In some big malls, they will loan you a baby stroller. But I didn’t actually see many strollers on the streets. On the way back to Australia from Scotland, when we stopped off in Hong Kong again, my mum INSISTED we bring back a cheap Mamas & Papas stroller to use – we used it once in HK and it was more of a nuisance than anything.
4. Bring a couple pairs of comfy shoes. As mentioned before, you will do a lot of walking in HK. And if you are using public transport, some of the stations don’t have escalators or lifts going UP, so there a lot of stairs too.
5. If you intend to use public transport, buy your Octopus card(s) at the airport. Children under 3 do NOT need to pay. Children aged 3-11 will need a Child Octopus card. There are no ticketed fare options. In Melbourne, we have the MYKI which can (excuse my French!), GTFO!! But the Octopus is like WOW! You can top up at all 7-11 stores (one in every corner guaranteed!) and you can even pay for goods with your Octopus card. If you have any money left at the end of your trip, you can get it refunded to you. The MTR (Mass Transit Railway) system in HK is very fast and efficient with English signs…but it’s hard to get seats. Even in Priority Seats for the elderly, disabled & pregnant – they will sit there & look at their phones & pretend not to see you. It is also extremely crammed during peak times. There were only 2-3 kind souls who offered their seat for my husband who had Bunty in the Ergobaby carrier for our 2 week duration and we used public transport multiple times a day.
(Note : There are no legal requirements in Hong Kong for babies and children to have car seats so hold onto them tight when you’re in taxis because some cab drivers drive like maniacs!)
6. Baby change facilities are a rarity. Even at Hong Kong airport, the only baby change facility was a change table in the ladies toilet next to the hand dryer – so inconvenient. And so sexist! My Husband changes the nappies 90% of the time because he is pretty hands-on. In Hong Kong malls, some had no facilities whatsover and some had one room with long queues. Here are some I took note of :-
– K11 Shopping Mall in Tsim Sha Tsui – THE BEST baby change facilities – baby wipes, baby powder and even scales! Unfortunately, Bunty didn’t need a nappy change or a feed when we were walking around here. And yes, I HAD to take a photo of it!
– Langham Place in Mong Kok – ask at the Information Desk because you need a key to get access to a tiny room which has one crappy chair.
– New Town Plaza in Sha Tin – a spacious room with bottle warmer, some wipes, comfy seat – but beware of long queues
– Tai Po Mega Mall – a big area so 3-4 parents can change nappies at the same time with a separate feeding area
7. There usually is at least one children’s toilet cubicle in the Ladies section (not sure about the Men’s toilets) so if your child is desperately needing the toilet, you do not need to wait in line like the rest of us. I also noticed that in some cubicles, there are child seats in there while you do your business.
8. Breastfeeding indiscreetly in public is a no-no. It is culturally not acceptable to be so “open” in Hong Kong. I think a lot of Chinese people use formula as they go nuts over tins of formula milk and people from China go to HK to stock up!!! Anyway, if you do have to breastfeed, like I did, try and cover up. Unless there is a baby room, you may have to breastfeed anywhere you can. I did it at cafes and restaurants with a cover over me and there was one time where the waitresses all gathered round to watch, snigger, point and talk about me! Yes, they did! They don’t think that is rude…weird huh!
9. Keep the kids amused at malls (and enjoy the air con!). Most malls have an amusement area for children where they pay to play games on machines to win tickets to redeem stuff. My 6 younger siblings and I used to go to these places a lot and waste money haha. Sha Tin’s New Town Plaza has Snoopy’s World (pictured above) which is free entry but it wasn’t that exciting.
10. Have fun! There are plenty of tourist attractions in Hong Kong which are family friendly – Hong Kong Disneyland (stay for the fireworks!), Noah’s Ark, Ocean Park, etc. Avoid going at weekends if possible as queues will be HUMUNGOUS. Even during the weekdays, they are crazy busy too.
Hopefully these tips have been helpful if you are going to Hong Kong with kids. If you have any other travel tips, please include them in the comments section. Happy holidaying 🙂