Hong Kong’s gorgeous south side is a real hot spot for families, what with the lush greenery, sandy beaches, hidden shopping gems and fabulous food. We’ve compiled a quick guide to the very best of the Sassy South and for those who rarely venture far from Mid-Levels, you may be surprised at just how much there is going on.
Ok, so it’s a bit of a cliché, but few things will work better than pizza when it comes to incentivising little people to suffer a morning’s shopping. A perfect post Stanley Market pit stop, this branch of Pizza Express is light and airy, with fabulous views over Stanley Bay from all three levels and alfresco tables for maximum people-watching potential. Little guests are well catered to with highchairs, kid’s menu and paper menus with crayons for scribbling a masterpiece. The Junior Club is good for frequent munchers as it offers a buy six, get one free deal along with birthday gifts and invitations to special events. For a special occasion, why not try a Pizza Making Party and get the youngsters to make dinner for Mum and Dad for a change?
Address: 90 Stanley Main Street
Opening Hours: Daily, 11.30am to 10.30pm
How to get there: Pizza Express is along the promenade, between Stanley Market and Murray House. Take a taxi to the promenade or jump on buses 6, 6X or 260 from Central.
Sassy Mama Extra: If pizza’s not really your thing, Stanley Main Street offers a fabulous selection of dining options, so just saunter on down the lovely promenade.
TAI TAM COUNTRY PARK BBQ PITS
Make the most of the great outdoors and spark up a barbie at Tai Tam Country Park, one of the south side’s most pleasant locations. A short stroll downhill from Parkview, to the left down a small paved lane overhanging with trees (conveniently located opposite some well-tended restrooms) is a huge open space with numerous agreeably spaced BBQ pits. There is plenty of room for the family dog to run around and for the kids to play games in sight of the adults. Best of all there is a Fusion by Park n Shop at Parkview so you can pick up all the supplies you need before heading into the park.
Opening hours: 24 hours
How to get there: Take a taxi as the mini bus and bus stops at the bottom of Tai Tam Reservoir Road so it’s quite a hike up to the entrance. Hourly parking available at Parkview while there is a small, metered car park located near the entrance.
The perfect brunch spot for the whole family, Top Deck is something of a Hong Kong institution. From the exciting sampan ride across Aberdeen Harbour to the large decked area for letting off steam between courses, Top Deck has child-friendly down to a tee. Part of the Café Deco Group, the menu includes all the usual favourites such as seafood, pastas and burgers, along with an international buffet option at weekends, ideal for the pickier eaters in the group. There’s a dedicated play area, highchairs and for a large family group try booking one of the cabanas or tented tables on the deck. The only thing that remains to do is to play a couple of rounds of ‘Which yacht would you pick?’ between courses!
Address: Shum Wan Pier Drive, Wong Chuk Hang, Aberdeen, Hong Kong
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Friday, 12pm to 12am, Weekends and Public Holidays, 11am until late
How to get there: The only way to travel to Top Deck is by sampan. Either hire your own from Aberdeen harbour or take the free sampan shuttle from Shum Wan Pier Drive in Wong Chuk Hang, accessible by taxi.
The Daddy of all Hong Kong theme parks (Disney being a mere pretender to the throne!), and celebrating its 35th birthday this year, Ocean Park is an entire day of entertainment for the youngsters in one easily accessible spot. With exciting rides, live shows, animals and a fabulous aquarium, there’s an amusement to suit everyone. The park is currently running a series of 3 or 4 day long summer camps teaching kids all about animal and sea life conservation and allowing them to get up close and personal with a variety of cuddly and scaly creatures. Alternatively, for a total immersion experience (pardon the pun!), the whole family can spend a night camping under the sea at Ocean Park’s aquarium and get 25% off admission to the park for the following day. For the truly committed, annual membership passes are available. Check out our review of their newest attraction, Polar Adventure, here!
Opening Hours: Daily, 9.30am to 8pm
How to get there: Citybus route 629 runs a direct service to Ocean Park every 10 – 20 minutes throughout the day from Admiralty MTR and Central Star Ferry bus stops. You can also hop on bus 973 from Tsim Sha Tsui or 170 from Shatin.
Anna Tam opened Colour My World in 2000 and ever since has been inspiring young artists and nurturing self-expression with classes in art, music, dance and drama. She creates an environment to capture creativity through an extensive series of fine art, theatre and related creative workshops, catering mainly to slightly older kids of 7 and up.
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday, 9.45 am to 6:45pm. Saturday, 9am – 5pm.
How to get there: Take the Shum Wan direction after exiting the Aberdeen tunnel. 1st Floor, Room 08-10, Aberdeen Marina Tower, 8 Shum Wan Road, Aberdeen. Use the tower entrance next to the Jumbo Pier or if you are coming from the Aberdeen Marina Club Carpark, look for the lift lobby for the Ice Skating Rink.
HIKE DRAGON’S BACK
Time magazine didn’t call this Asia’s top urban hike for nothing – the view of the South China Sea, remote islands, and Shek O village is sublime. Winding across the ridges of Shek O Country Park, this lovely hike is manageable for older kids or if you’ve got a little one in a backpack – given the sections of stairs and steep climbs it’s a tad more strenuous. Be sure to cap off the hike off with a pizza at Black Sheep or some yummy Chinese and Thai food in Shek O village.
Hike Essentials: Level: Moderate; Distance: 10km; Time: 3 Hours
Starting Point: Shek O Road near To Tei Wen Village
Finishing Point: Shek O Village
Click here for Map and Directions
SOUTH SIDE BEACHES
Ok, so Hong Kong may not have the unspoiled vistas and miles of golden sand that the Philippines does, but with most beaches within 30-40 minutes of Central by public transport, it’s certainly more convenient than a flight to Cebu! In particular, the South Side gains the official Sassy Mama stamp of approval for child-friendly beaches in the Big Bauhinia. You can hit the surf at Big Wave Bay, with board rentals available from various locations. Or maybe the relative peace of Chung Hom Kok beach is more your cup of tea? Stanley itself is well served for sand, with St Stephen’s Beach and Stanley Main Beach a hop, skip and jump away from Stanley Main Street. And that’s all before you even consider ol’ favourite Shek O, with its excellent facilities and yummy Thai restaurant in the rotary. All of the beaches mentioned have toilets, changing facilities and either picnic spots or cafes nearby.
Opening Hours: 24 hours
How to get there: The Leisure and Cultural Services Department has all the addresses on their website. They also have an enquiry line covering all the Island South beaches – 2555 0103.
HORIZON PLAZA, AP LEI CHAU
This behemoth of an outlet centre covers a whopping 28 floors, but we suspect that kiddos will run out of patience way before that! So be selective and start on the 6th floor with Indigo Living, whose Indigo Kids range of children’s furniture, bedding and toys will keep Mama happy while Junior makes the most of the kids play zone.
Push on to floor 19, where Toys Club will help you to restock that toy box and provides a good range of fun and educational toys and games for kids of all ages.
Then it’s a quick hop up to the 21st floor, where Pedder Street favourite Bumps to Babes have a huge warehouse of all things baby and child! Stock up maternity items, baby essentials, children’s toys and anything and everything else you could ever need for the whole clan! Warning: it is virtually impossible to leave B2B with just the item you came for, so be prepared (or hide your credit card!)
Finally, finish up at TREE on the 28th floor where you can browse the gorgeous collection of eco-chic adult and kids’ furniture before retiring to the family-friendly café for a restorative latte! Kids are offered a free baby-chino and mini cupcake every time you visit, so that should keep them entertained for, oh, about 12 seconds! There’s also a great kids play area that may prove to be more of a diversion while parents take the weight off their feet. Get even more tips on our favourite outlets here.
Address: 2 Lee Wing Street
Opening Hours: Daily, 10am to 7pm
How to get there: Any taxi driver will know Horizon Plaza, or take bus 90 from Exchange Square to Ap Lei Chau terminus followed by a 5 minute hop on the free Horizon Plaza shuttle bus.
Moving a little further South, Valerie Chow’s designer kid’s boutique Mama Kid has added a second location to their Central base, this time down at Stanley Plaza. Expect funky, quirky and well-designed children’s clothes and accessories that are a whole world away from Mothercare! With a great range of books and some lovely wooden toys, this is well worth a look if you’re having a chilled day out in Stanley.
Address: Shop 103A, Stanley Plaza, 23 Carmel Road, Stanley
Opening Hours: Weekdays, 11am to 7pm, Weekends, 10am to 6pm
How to get there: Bus 6, 6X and 66 all leave from Exchange Square and stop at Stanley Plaza, or take the 973 from Tsim Sha Tsui.