Five free things to do in Hong Kong with kids
While this special administrative region of China has the potential to be pricey, there are plenty of free things to do in Hong Kong with family. Try a few of these free or low-cost ideas that the whole family will enjoy.
- December 2017
With its designer shops, luxury hotels, and world-famous theme parks, Hong Kong can come across as a little expensive for first-time visitors. And while this special administrative region of China has the potential to be pricey, there are plenty of free things to do in Hong Kong with family. Try a few of these free or low-cost ideas that the whole family will enjoy.
Zoom up a skyscraper in a glass elevator
The sprawling grandeur of Hong Kong is best viewed from above. While a few high-rise office buildings offer visitors (with identification) free access to their lifts and private panoramas, Wanchai’s circular-shaped Hopewell Centre gets top marks for extra excitement.
As the tallest building in Hong Kong until 1989, the Hopewell Centre’s appeal today is the exhilarating 40-second ride visitors take in an exterior glass lift to its revolving restaurant on the 62nd floor. This free express lift starts on the 17th floor, and once inside, passengers are treated to an unbeatable, ever-expanding view of Hong Kong. Open daily from 8am until 2am, kids of all ages will adore this experience.
Location: 183 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai
Our favourite link: Hopewell Centre opens in new window
Enjoy the calm at Man Mo Temple
Despite its image as the centre of capitalism, the residents of Hong Kong are remarkably spiritual. Temples are everywhere, drawing constant streams of devotees with offerings of oranges, chocolates, and even take-away noodles. The famous Man Mo Temple—an intimate, multi-roomed gem hidden in the back streets of Central—provides a great opportunity to let children observe Buddhist rituals, with its giant, smoky incense coils hanging overhead, rows of red lanterns, antique bronze bells, and carved wooden deities. Pledge a small donation to the hospital trust that administers the temple so the kids can light their own incense, or let them shake fortune sticks from a bamboo cylinder to learn what the future holds.
Location: 126 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan
Our favourite link: Discover Hong Kong: Man Mo Temple opens in new window
Board a local bus for a ride of a lifetime
Public transport is an incredibly inexpensive and fun way to sightsee in Hong Kong, and a genuine cultural experience. While Hong Kong’s trundling trams and iconic Star Ferry are top of many visitor to-do lists, the less-touristy local buses are just as scenic and affordable.
Hop on Route 15 from Central (right-hand side if possible) for 40 minutes of panoramic views of Victoria Harbour on the way to the Peak. Alternatively, catch a Route 6 service from Central for a 50-minute, double-decker, air-conditioned journey to the popular Stanley Village, featuring views of the South China Sea and some of the most impressive real estate in town. Nab the upstairs front row seat, if you can.
Location: Central Ferry Pier 5 or 6 to the Peak (Route 15) or Exchange Square to Stanley Village (Route 6).
Our favourite link: Discover Hong Kong: Getting Around opens in new window
Hike across Lamma Island
Hiking between rural Lamma Island’s two main settlements offers plenty of respite from Hong Kong’s sensory extremes. Enjoy a family stroll past tropical greenery, white-sand beaches, Chinese temples, and ramshackle villages.
Lamma Island attractions include a three-kilometre, fully-paved Family Trail that begins at Yung Shue Wan, a 30-minute ferry ride from Central. The kids can enjoy the village’s many colourful restaurants and shops as they stroll to Lo So Shing Beach en route to the island’s other village, Sok Kwu Wan. Here, the family can enjoy a delicious seafood lunch before heading back to Central by ferry, or better yet, jump on an Aberdeen-bound ferry. Once you’re back in Hong Kong, view the remarkable sight of entire fishing families—including children—living on their traditional boats in Aberdeen Harbour.
Location: Lamma Island
Our favourite link: The Lamma Island Family Trail - Hong Kong opens in new window
Discover Hong Kong’s story at the local museums
Hong Kong isn’t very well known for its museums but it should be, especially on Wednesdays when many are free. The Hong Kong Museum of History gives a condensed and easy-to-understand version of 400 million years’ worth of history, from prehistoric times to today’s thriving metropolis. The kids will enjoy strolling down recreated streets lined by shops, admiring traditional costumes, or jumping on a tram.
Next door is the Science Museum, equal parts fun and education presented in over 500 interactive exhibits. Kids can make music with their hands, sit in a flight simulator, throw a curveball, have a bubble race, or marvel at the museum’s four-storey-high energy machine—the largest machine of its kind in the world.
Location: Hong Kong Museum of History: 100 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon
Science Museum: 2 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon
Our favourite link: Discover Hong Kong: Museums opens in new window