Don’t you just love Hong Kong in the fall!? With the weather finally (finally!) cooler and more or less humidity-free, getting out ‘n about with the family is more fun that ever. Hankering to play outside? Here are a few of our top playground and park picks in HK, Kowloon and the New Territories, not to mention a few bonus playgrounds at some of our favourite family-friendly beaches.
Hong Kong Park
We love Hong Kong Park, with its fabby six-level outdoor kids play area, fascinating Museum of Teaware and conservation corner with rare dragonflies and wild squirrels. Best of all is the fully stroller accessible 3000 sq. ft. elevated walk-through aviary, home to more than 600 birds from 80 species. This is the place to while away an afternoon, and kids from infant to teen will find something to entertain them here. Sassy Mama tried and tested tip: the aviary is pretty much watertight, making it a viable escape-the-apartment option even on the wettest and windiest Wednesday.
Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens
Once you’ve exhausted the various delights of Hong Kong Park, skip across Cotton Tree Drive for an amble around Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens. Still slap bang in Central with some gorgeous views of the city skyline, this oasis of greenery and calm will give you a bit of respite from hauling a pushchair around the shops. There’s an outdoor playground, a lovely fountain, shady walkways and a kiosk for grabbing a quick snack, (or head across the road to Park n Shop at Coda Plaza if you need full-blown picnic supplies). For budding botanists, the hothouse with its exotic blooms, the outdoor herb garden and native Bauhinia garden will amuse. Little zoologists will adore the furry and feathered fascination of Orang-Utans, Macaques, Turtles and Flamingos.
Caine Road and Caine Lane Playgrounds
A favourite spot for Mid-Level mamas and their wee ones, Caine Road Playground is a great spot for socialising and always jumping with playmates and parents! On the flipside, you’re bound to run into someone you know up here on a bad hair day, so if you don’t fancy hitting the makeup bag before the monkey bars or that holey old hoodie is just too comfy to ditch, head across the road to the far quieter Caine Lane Playground with a book and let them loose with a ball in the large outdoor play space.
King George V Memorial Park, Sai Ying Pun
Fancy a kick about or time to shoot some hoops? If your wild beasts are bored of being caged and you live out West, head to King George V Memorial Park, just off Hospital Road in Sai Ying Pun. There’s a seven-a-side hard surface football pitch which is free of charge to use, as well as a basketball court.
Mount Austin Playground, The Peak
If the spectacular view, vintage tram ride, yummy food and stunning Sky Terrace aren’t enough to keep them amused *sigh*, then a good old-fashioned playground is bound to. With swings, slides, tunnels and bars, this classic play area should buy mama some view-gazing time (perhaps with a takeout latte from nearby Pacific Coffee?)
Victoria Park, Causeway Bay
All hail Queen Victoria! The biggest park on Hong Kong Island rules them all, being easily accessible by public transport, having football pitches, basketball courts, a swimming complex and tennis courts as well as 19 hectares of space to wear them out in! The jewels in the crown? An awesome model boat lake and five, yes, five children’s playground areas dotted around the park. If they can still keep their eyes open after all that, the marvelous and underused Central Library is just across the road so go and pick out a bedtime story.
Quarry Bay Park
Heading further east, this park has all the usual playground and sports facilities plus a lovely waterfront promenade along the harbour and a cycling track to boot. A scenic setting to help them ditch those stabilisers and get pedaling!
Lai Chi Kok Park
Head up to Lai Chi Kok for a full day of family entertainment. For starters, the three playgrounds, one of which is specifically designed for toddlers, will let them blow off steam and that’s before you get started on the football, basketball and gateball courts. So far so good, but how about a roller rink and a skateboard arena for showing off some skills? Or chess boards and peaceful themed gardens for more sensitive, reflective types? We nearly forgot to mention the jogging trails, snack kiosk and Amphitheatre. And last but not least, the huge swimming complex just across the road with children’s, diving and lane swimming pools, some of which are heated in winter so useable all year round. Pack a picnic and hop off the West Rail line at Mei Foo.
Pop into Kowloon Park for a surprising amount of bird life right in the middle of ever-bustling Tsim Sha Tsui. The park’s lake plays host to 18 different species of feathered friend including some rather fabulous flamingos, the nicely landscaped aviary contains colourful parrots and macaws, and conservation corner is designed to promote the habitat of Hong Kong’s indigenous wild birds. Other than ornithology, facilities include football pitches, extensive gardens, an ornamental maze, and a playground with a difference. Crafted from the restored fortifications and cannon emplacements left over from the park’s prior incarnation as the British Army’s Whitfield Barracks, Discovery Playground is suitable for Major-Generals up to the age of 13. Also on site is Kowloon Park’s huge aquatic centre with several indoor and outdoor pools and Kowloon Park Sports Centre with sports halls and courts galore.
Po Kong Village Road Park
A short hop from Diamond Hill MTR station is Po Kong Village Road Park, one of the very few public spaces with enough room for budding cricketers in Hong Kong. With a huge artificial turf pitch that can also host rugby and 11-a-side football, the park boasts two batting practice areas and a 1000-seater spectator stand. Cricket not their cup of tea? Try the 1km-long raised cycling track, or the purpose-built BMX course with plenty of awesome ramps for daredevils. For littlies, there are three playground areas with lots of fun equipment, and a beginners’ cycling area away from the bigger kids where they can build their confidence on two wheels. Bikes are available to rent at the park, making this a very easy day out.
Jordan Valley Park
A little harder to reach, but well worth the effort is Jordan Valley Park in Kwun Tong. Formerly a landfill site (but don’t let that put you off!), these days the 6 hectare site is a great urban park. There are two large children’s playgrounds, extensive gardens including a rare-for- HK large central lawn, although the star attraction here is the racetrack. Two, to be precise, but these aren’t run by the Jockey Club! Jordan Valley’s radio-controlled car circuits are international-standard and can host major racing events, so if you’re tired of the kids (and let’s be honest, Dad) running that Monster Truck into the skirting boards, pack them off to Kwun Tong!
Ma On Shan Park
Ma On Shan Park sits on the waterfront at Tolo Harbour and has a lovely view of the surrounding mountains. There are extensive playground facilities here, a large lawn, an adventure maze and an attractive Mediterranean-style Plaza area. There’s also a display detailing Ma On Shan’s mining past, which gives an interesting insight into the area and its development.
Tai Po Waterfront Park
Coming in at a huge 22 hectares, this is one of the biggest parks in our SAR. As with Ma On Shan Park, the Tolo Harbour setting provides a pretty stunning backdrop and the park’s striking spiral lookout tower makes the most of the view. There are playgrounds, a gateball court, bowing green and a large model boating lake. Kids will love the creepy crawlies at the Insect House (even if Mama’s not so keen!) and best of all is the 1.2 km long promenade, which takes advantage of the lovely setting and provides a nice level space for cycling.
Snoopy’s World, New Town Plaza
After a full day of best behaviour at the shopping mall, what better way to reward them than with a trip to the somewhat eccentric Snoopy’s World? Sitting atop New Town Plaza is Asia’s only Peanuts-themed playground and there are giant models of all the familiar characters, a canoe ride and six fun zones to explore. It’s entertaining, it’s quirky and it’s very Hong Kong!
Penfold Park, Sha Tin Racecourse
A park with a twist! Penfold Park is situated right in the middle of Sha Tin Racecourse and offers an interesting new perspective on the track. There’s greenery aplenty and wild birds flock to its lakes. Head to Fo Tan station on the East Rail Line and combine a visit with a trip to racecourse, although do note that the park is closed on race days.
Yuen Long Park
Built on natural woodland, this is a beautiful park with over 800 trees and landscaped gardens. A 7-storey pagoda at the top of the park houses an aviary with over 30 species of bird, and doubles as a lookout tower. Below the pagoda, a waterfall garden provides a home for fish and offers a peaceful place to wander. There’s a large children’s playground, two football pitches and a gateball court, as well as a designated conservation corner providing a home for dragonflies, wild birds and butterflies.
A number of our favourite HK Island and New Territories beaches have small playgrounds, stretching your day out at the seaside that little bit further. We like to think of it as value-added fun for all the family; once you’ve slathered them with SPF 50 and bought a round of ice creams you’re free to have a little snooze. Bonus!
On the Island, check out Shek O, Big Wave Bay and Repulse Bay beach playgrounds if you prefer plenty of facilities around. Chung Hom Kok and Turtle Cove beaches are a little quieter so you won’t have to referee any arguments about whose turn it is on the slide. Heading north to the NT, Trio Beach in Sai Kung is as good as it gets. The sparkling white sand is pretty clean for Hong Kong and the small playground is a fun diversion if the beach gets boring. Although we think a BBQ at one of the on-site pits might prove to be even more of a draw.
Thanks to our Sassy Mama contributor Kate Farr for this fab roundup.