Oct 9, 2018

4 Educational Off-the-beaten-path Places in Hong Kong to Visit with the Kids

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"In every walk with Nature, one receives far more than he seeks."
- John Muir

Hong Komg is probably an extremely familiar (and popular) holiday destination with families in Singapore. There is the shopping, the yummy food, night markets, Ocean Park and of course, Disneyland. But did you know that there is another side to Hong Kong? One that is nature-related and educational for the kids.

During our last visit to the island with friends 2 years ago, we were determined to show the kids a different side of Hong Kong on this trip.

A Geopark formed from volcanoes?

A hiking trail with breathtaking views?

An island to escape from the bustle of city life?

We did them all, and it was one of the best trips of our lives. And that was from the KIDS!

Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark

Personally, this is a must-visit place if you are visiting Hong Kong with the kids... because who knew that Hong Kong was home to volcanoes millions of years ago???

Located in the East and Northeast New Territories, the park includes the Sai Kung Volcanic Rock Region and the Northeast New Territories Sedimentary Rock Region and showcases Hong Kong’s timeless and beautiful landforms.

And when say landforms, I really mean these remarkable natural wonders.

These are hexagonal rock columns which were produced by a series of violent volcanic eruptions in Sai Kung 140 million years ago.

We started our learning journey at the Volcano Discovery Centre located at Sai Kung Waterfront Park. Getting there was straightforward as we just had to take Bus 92 from the MTR Diamond Hill Station.

We then booked our 'East Dam Half Day' Tour from the reception counter at the centre (HK100 for adults & HK95 for kids under 12). There are three time slots per day and you can book them ONLINE if you wish to reserve the tickets beforehand.

The tour took us to High Island, which is deemed to be the easiest location to view the park’s remarkable geological heritage.

As you can see, kids will be able to walk and observe the marvellous landforms along the walking path such as the hexagonal rock columns, faults, distorted rock columns.

And it was simply breathtaking.

Until the kids decided to climb on the rocks, that is.

Don't worry, they were actually less than 1m off the ground. LOL.

Do note that there are no food stalls so do pack along some snacks in case the kiddos are hungry. But these bunch of kids, they were too busy soaking in the views of the reservoir.

There is even a sea cave, which was formed by wave erosion. Nothing like having a Geography lesson right before your eyes!

We ended up spending 3.5 hours and I would totally recommend visit the Geopark. It will be an enriching experience especially for the kids since we do not have such natural landscapes in Singapore.

Wilson Trail (Stage 2)

The Wilson Trail is a 78 km long-distance hiking trail in Hong Kong, offering some of the most spectacular nature views along the way. It consists of 10 sections, or stages, and includes the famed Dragon’s Back (Stage 8) which won TIME magazine's Best Urban Hiking Trail in Asia.

Of all the 10 stages, the 6.6km-long Stage 2 trail is probably the most suitable for kids given that its terrain isn't that daunting. In fact, its difficulty level is labelled as Medium and so with 8 kids in tow, we decided to conquer it.

Our starting point was at Hong Kong Parkview (Take bus 6 or 66 from Exchange Square in Central, Admiralty MTR) and it was great that the trail was well-marked throughout.

Making a steady climb along a spur, we trekked past low shrubland, past old wind-bent pines and came face to face with this.

The view of the quarry was simply too beautiful for words.

There are 2 significant uphill pushes (with lots of steps) throughout the trail so kudos to the kids for pushing themselves to the limit and completing it.

But with views like this, sore legs are worth it.

Seriously, my photo doesn't do justice to the majestic views we enjoyed on the trail.

We completed the trail in about 4 hours... and yes, even Ale (she was 6 years old then) walked every single step of it! The kids were real troopers, that's all I can say!

For all the tough terrain, the views and fresh air were totally worth it. From the Kowloon skyline to the breathtaking old quarry view, it was truly a side of Hong Kong I never thought I would experience. Glad that we conquered it!

Cheung Chau Island

If you prefer less strenuous activities but still wish to get away from the usual bustle of city life, then hop onto a ferry and sail away to Cheung Chau Island for a day trip.

It is a pretty small island, which means its attractions can be covered on foot within a day. There are beaches, temples, short hikes, cafes and restaurants on the island. But its main highlight is during the annual Cheung Chau Bun Festival, a week of colorful celebrations held normally in May.

There are no cars on the island, so cycling - there are bike rental shops near the jetty - is the way to go if you are adverse to walking.

One of the sights we visited was the Yuk Hui Temple, also known as Pak Tai Temple, which was constructed in the 1700s.

The Chinese temple was made to honour Pak Tai, the god of the sea in the Taoist religion. Plenty of Instagrammable spots within the temple, in case you are wondering. Heh.

Or there is always the playground for the kids to expend some energy.

Or Tung Wan Beach, a place where the kids shattered the tranquility of the island. 😂

Located on the opposite side of the island, I read that the beach is usually less crowded than other beaches in Hong Kong. Which it makes for a great place for a swim and sun tan.

If you are there during the summer, that is. We were there in December so the kids were just content to play with the sand.

For me though, I loved walking through the backstreets of the island and admiring the historic architecture of the buildings. We stumbled onto this very old shop among the quaint houses and treated the kids to some ice cream!

Childhood memories are definitely made of these.

The island is also dotted with numerous seafood restaurants so going hungry is never going to happen.

We settled on a particular seafood restaurant for lunch... not because we read rave reviews about its food online but because one of the restaurant aunty was game enough to dab with the kids.

But the food was pretty good too so everything worked out fine in the end.

Lamma Island

We visited Lamma Island during an even earlier trip to Hong Kong, in 2013 when Ale was only 3 years old. Oh my, how time truly flies!

Situated 3km off the south west coast of Hong Kong Island, Lamma Island is Hong Kong's third largest and has a population of around 5,000 of which the vast majority live in its two main villages, Yung Shue Wan and Sok Kwu Wan. And the island is home to one relatively easy trail hike that even young kids can tackle.

The Family Trail links the two largest villages, Yung Shue Wan in the north and Sok Kwu Wan in the south and is about 3km long. It takes about 90 minutes to complete. There are slopes to climb along the way but the entire trail is along concrete paths so it makes the walking a tad easier.

You can even stop by Hung Shing Ye Beach along the way, a sandy beach that partially sheltered by trees and as far as I could tell, it is a favourite haunt of foreign tourists. The sand is not the finest around but at least it is clean. There is a beach café overlooking the beach and barbecue area with ample shower and changing rooms.

There are some uphill pushes along the way but again, the views will make up for the aching legs.

We even passed by some caves which were termed as Kamikaze Grottos. During World War II, the occupying Japanese troops were reputed to have hidden speedboats in the caves which would launch a suicidal attack on the Allied Forces warships if they passed by.

And at the end of it all, reward yourselves with a seafood lunch at Sok Kwu Wan!

You can read more about our Lamma Island trek HERE.

So the next time you are in Hong Kong with the kids, do stray away from the usual sights and sounds and visit a different side of the city. You might be surprised how much the kids will love it!

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