As promised, here is the video of the Hong Kong Independence Day 2012 Fireworks. We didn’t get to stay at the waterfront of the Victoria Harbor but still had a great view of the show. Read more about our experience celebrating Hong Kong Independence Day here.
On our recent visit to Hong Kong with kids this past summer, we did it in a way that many probably scoff at especially if they used to the fast pace of visiting multiple tourist attractions in one day.
After some research and looking at what to do in Hong Kong with kids, we decided to have a rough plan but also allow for some flexibility if we get too tired.
Our first day in Hong Kong we only had a few items on our to-do list (like visiting the Nan Lian garden) but after an early morning flight from Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok, we decided to just forget it and took a quick nap in our room at the Citadines Ashley and headed out at night.
And we were in for a big surprise. As we walked out of our hotel and headed toward Nathan street, we noticed several detour signs and lot of polices. I vaguely remembered at our check-in that our hotel reception mentioned something about firework. Hmm.. It was hard to pay attention when you were sleepy. With the street closure that allowed us to be able to walk the street that typically fills with cars and buses. When would we be able to take this shot in the middle of the street in Hong Kong?
Asking around we found out that it was the Hong Kong Independence Day. The Hong Kong Independence day is July 1 which is the day that Hong Kong was transferred back to China. As a special administrative region (SAR) of China, Hong Kong has a different political system from China and for family planning to visit Hong Kong from the USA it means one good news. No need for Chinese VISA which can cost upward to $200-$300 for your family.
There was a firework celebration planned at the Victoria harbor where we headed anyway. So we went with the crowd and headed to the Victoria harbor.
We didn’t realize how big of the event was until the start of the fireworks show. It was amazing and they pulled out all the fancy fireworks to celebrate the national day. One down side though it kinda ruin our experience with the Symphony of Lights the next night.
With the amount of people who came out to watch the firework, it was surprisingly orderly and safe. We saw the policemen everywhere directing the human traffic as we moved along the Salisbury road. With a few detour, we were back on Nathan road and headed back toward our hotel.
Less than 30 minutes after the final firework was fired to the sky, the street was clear and back to normal business. It was a fun night out for all of us to participate in the celebration of Hong Kong Independence day.
Now most of you probably wonder where are the pictures of the firework. Well, being an amateur photographer and yet want to use manual mode, I managed to capture zero good picture for the firework. However, thanks to our resident videographer, Mr. Rojo, we will put up the video later.
Hong Kong is a bustling metropolitan that I consider comparable to New York City of the East. With only 426 square miles and over 7 million people, it’s one of the most dense population city. So when we planed our family trip to Hong Kong, we knew we couldn’t expect the accommodation to be anything near what we used to in America.
Luckily, my sister has visited Hong Kong several times so she pointed us to the right direction. We chose to stay in Kowloon side to reduce cost and easy access to many night markets. After comparing to a few options, we booked a room with Citadines Ashley Hong Kong serviced apartment for under $200 a night. I considered it’s a great value for this big city.
Comfortable Room for the Whole Family
The room at Citadines Ashley is not the typical hotel room with bed and table. It’s a small serviced apartment with extra sitting area that can be converted into additional bed at night time. This is nothing new to many of the family sized room we have stayed but the best part for this room is the partition that allows a little bit of privacy. The partition allowed us to be able to put the kids to sleep while we caught up on late night movie.
Even though, the room size is probably not bigger than typical hotel room we used to in America, but the arrangement and the design provides a sense of space and we didn’t feel like we were on top of each other. Every nook is creatively used to maximize the space.
Another plus for this room is the small kitchenette completed with small refrigerator, microwave, sink and stove top. But we hardly used the kitchen though since there are so many food for us to try in Hong Kong. But it’s still nice to be able to store fruits and drinks for late night snack.
Just Perfect Amenities we Need
It would be nice to have a pool or a gym. But to be honest, we hardly use those amenities when we visit a city. With so many things to do in Hong Kong, our short visit was already jam packed with fun activities. However, there are certain amenities that we love and couldn’t live without but hardly standard for most accommodations naming free Wi-Fi. It’s always a pet peeve of mine having to pay extra for free wifi when we know how easy and cheap it is to provide as a complimentary service. So I’m happy that Citadines Ashley doesn’t skim on this essential feature.
The rate that we booked also come with free breakfast for 3 guests each day. So we were able to save on top of the room rate by having breakfast at the cafe.
Great Location for Exploring Hong Kong with Kids
No matter where you stay, the best advice I could give is to find your accommodation near the MTR station. Then you won’t have to worry about the long walk back to your room after a full day of sigh seeing in Hong Kong.
Our apartment is located on Ashley road which is less than 5 minutes walk from the Tsim Sha Tsui station. It made a whole world difference for us in term of exploring the city even at night time. With the convenient of quick walk we even ventured out to the Temple Night market after dinner. Walking along the busy Nathan road at 10pm was an experience we couldn’t easily find from other cities.
So for family who looks to find great accommodation but not yet ready to embrace the whole hostel thing, Citadines Ashely is definitely one worth looking into.
Hong Kong is a fun cosmopolitan to visit especially with kids. We took a trip to Hong Kong last summer during our month long family trip to Thailand. With great public transportation system, it is a great Asian country to visit especially if you don’t have much experience traveling outside the US. English language is widely used by locals and all the public signs. So there hardly is any language barrier to overcome yet the culture is vastly different from the West.
We stayed for only 4 days and 3 nights. It’s enough to explore this small island but I wouldn’t mind stay a bit longer to allow us more time to explore each area. There will be more detail posts on fun things to do in Hong Kong with kids. But the most memorable experience we had in Hong Kong has to be the various type of transportation we tackle in these 4 days.
Plane – Air Asia
We flew Air Asia, the popular low cost airline in Asia, to Macau. Why Macau you ask. We picked Macau mainly because Air Asia ran the promotion at that time that we were able to purchase tickets from Bangkok to Macau for about $100 per person. Can’t beat that. Plus Macau is a popular day trip from Hong Kong that we already planned to visit so it worked out quite well.
With low cost airline, everything is very efficient and minimal. We pre-ordered food online since the flight was in the break of dawn and we knew we would be hungry by the time we were enroute. Self check-in kiosks are lined up and free for passenger. With no luggage and only carry-on, we saved additional fee. It’s weird to think that when the airlines in the US announced the plan to charge for additional fee to select your seats, there were many outcry from travelers but here in Asia, Air Asia has done it for years and yet people just accept it with no complain.
The flight was uneventful. It was way too early to start the trip but I have to praise my kids that they were just going along with no complain. Once we landed in Macau International Airport, we took a taxi to the ferry terminal to Hong Kong.
Ferry – Turbojet from Macau to Hong Kong
There are a few ferry companies that service Macau – Hong Kong at Macau Maritime Ferry Terminal and we chose to go with Turbojet since they have more schedule time and run on a more frequent basis. If you stay in Kowloon island, you can also take a ferry directly from Macau to Kowloon but there will be less frequent services. When we arrived at the terminal, we had only 15 minutes but luckily we made it on the ferry even after the immigration and custom. But don’t worry if you miss the ferry, you can catch the next one.
If you are prone to seasick, it will be best to take motion sickness medicine. The ride is smooth but this is an hour long ride. For me, I would rather sleep than battle the seasick. The kids were much better than me so I’m glad we can keep the kids entertained with new DSi games. With the combination of comfortable seat and dramamine, before I knew it we had arrived at the Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal.
Train – MTR
I wouldn’t call myself an expert in mass transit system but by far Hong Kong is one of my favorite city in regard of mass transit system. The Hong Kong MTR is clean, efficient and easy to navigate. Plus the underground system that connect various exit/entrance within the MTR makes it easy to travel around regardless of weather. Each stop in MTR in the city center area has at least 3 or 4 exits that will take you closer to your destination without having to walk above ground at all.
With huge population who use MTR daily, there seems to be little chaos going on. People walk fast but stay on the right side and follow the arrow to avoid collision. Slow walkers like us were past by commuters and locals alike. One of the first thing we did was to purchase the Oyster card, the rechargeable smart card that can be used with not just the railway but buses and various retail shops as well. Fares are discount when used with the Octopus card but there is a deposit fee that you will get back once you return the card. We decided to keep 2 of our cards as a souvenir, quite inexpensive souvenir I must say.
Cable car – Ngong Ping 360
A trip to Hong Kong won’t be complete without visiting one of the popular destination in Lantau Island, Ngong Ping and the Giant Buddha. Our last visit to Ngong Ping was over 5 years ago so things have been improved. They have introduced the crystal cabin, the clear bottom cable car. It wasn’t as scary as I thought and it made a fun ride up to the Ngong Ping village. With the length of 5.7 km between Tung Chung and Ngong Ping, the 25 minutes ride was fun for the whole family. The view from the cable car was amazing to be able to see the airplanes took off and landing at the airport, the ships in the bay and the Giant Buddha became more prominent the closer we got to Ngong Ping.
Escalator – Central Mid Level Escalator
I know it might sound weird to be so excited about riding the escalator but the Mid Level escalator is more than just a typical escalator. It’s the world longest outdoor covered escalator systems. And with Mr. Z who is chasing after anything and everything with title world longest, largest, biggest from the Guinness book world record, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to check it out. Plus it’s a chance for me to redeem myself. See, the thing was when we were here 5 years ago we tried and failed to find the central mid-level escalator. In order to put my shame to rest, I came with more information and determination.
The central mid level escalator is a system of multiple escalator connected via the covered that provide a better commute for locals linking Central and Western district. The 800 meters in distance ride up the hill was fun and easy but make sure you have a plan on how to get back because there is no down escalator. However, you can easily catch a bus or taxi at the top or like us just walked down. It was fun and easier than I thought until we left our tripod behind at one of the coffee shop and had to went up and down again!
Double Deck Tram – DingDing Hong Kong Tram
Just the name itself, DingDing, I couldn’t help but had to add that to our itinerary when I planned our Hong Kong Trip with Kids. The double deck trams run on a double track along the northern coast of Hong Kong Island from Kennedy Town to Shau Kei Wan. The fare is HK$2.30 for adults, HK$1.20 for children under 12. It’s a bargain for a way to sit back and enjoy the city for a little while. The blending of old wooden seat, turnstile, antique open-air bus and cityscape provides the great contrast of Hong Kong.
Incline Railway – The Peak Tram
Another popular tourist attraction in Hong Kong is none other than the Peak. And there is no better way to enjoy the full experience of the Peak by riding the Peak Tram. The view as the tram made it way up the cliff is breathtaking. We visited on the weekend and Hong Kong holiday so the line was long and the queue was crazy. I wish they have a better system on getting people to board the tram. So with that, my experience was prejudice by long wait, crowd and quick ride but it was an must-do experience nonetheless. So my advice will be plan to go during non-weekend or holiday to avoid crows and long line.
Ferry – Victoria Harbour Crossing with Star Ferry
Another fun transportation experience that not only affordable but awesome was the victoria harbour crossing with Star Ferry. It’s one of the best way to enjoy the view of Hong Kong from the Victoria Harbour without costing a fortune. For as little as HK$2 per adult, we enjoyed a ride with Hong Kong island skyscraper as a backdrop. Just a note, the octopus card is also accepted here.
So here you have it, our adventure in all types of transportation in Hong Kong. It was one of the most memorable experience we had in Hong Kong. Just to be able to move around the city with ease and with so many options make me want to go back there again!