When the weekend comes along and we don’t have any baseball practices, birthday parties or play dates, it’s time for a family field trip! Recently on one such free Saturday, my family ventured out to the Hong Kong Monetary Authority Information Centre. There is usually one main requirement for our family field trips: ice cream must be included! Luckily, an ice cream shop was right next door in the ifc mall, providing a perfect pick-me-up before visiting the museum. Aside from the informative aspect of attending any museum or exhibit, there are two pretty cool draws to the HKMA Information Centre: spectacular views and free entry!
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority is responsible for maintaining monetary and banking stability in Hong Kong, but what people don’t know is it’s also a pretty cool museum! On the 55/F, the HKMA’s information centre provides the history of banking and Hong Kong currency since its start in 1842, when the Treaty of Nanking was signed and Hong Kong became a colony of Great Britain.
As a bit of background: there are three banks here in Hong Kong that issue the money: Standard Chartered Bank, Bank of China, and The Hongkong Shanghai Banking Corporation Unlimited (otherwise known as HSBC). Currently, Hong Kong has three different years of banking notes: the 1993 series, 2003 series, and 2010. That’s what we’re using day in and day out with every cash transaction we make in HK!
Have you ever noticed how cool the ten dollar note is? The one that you can see through. Well, it’s actually made of plastic! One of the exhibits at the HKMA Information Centre displays the life of a polymer note (that’s the name of the plastic substance). When those plastic tens with the see through section are finished, they are scrapped into tiny pieces and those leftover scraps are then reused to make other plastic items. This was pretty interesting to my son as you can see from the photo above!
The entire HKMA Information Centre is very easy to navigate. It’s a small little exhibit which makes it a perfect in and out visit. There’s a vast wall on one side covered with a timeline, but what really stands out are the windows — the views up on the 55/F are amazing! When you tire of learning about Hong Kong’s money, you can simply gaze across to the peak or out onto the harbour.
As promised with our family field trips, ice cream is included. After visiting the museum we headed back to i-Scream for a scoop of gelato. With the kids happily occupied, mom had a little time to go browse the new J.Crew store nearby (the store is where the McDonalds used to be!). After my short shopping jaunt, we headed to the Fusion Deli at city’super to pick up our picnic lunch. This is the perfect inexpensive spot to choose a healthy option for the entire family: I chose a veggie salad while the rest went with sandwiches.
IFC has a wonderful roof terrace that looks out on the Kowloon side. There’s comfortable seating on floor P4 alongside a beautiful herb garden. Plus, there’s enough space for my 10-year-old daughter to race around and release some energy as well as cool off in the cold water spray and little pond.
Finally, the last treat is for the parents. While the kids enjoyed a little ice cream, the hubby and I were after something a little more decadent: a scrumptious cappuccino from Fuel which is on the third floor back in the southwest corner of ifc. A coffee drink from Fuel is like having a sincere Italian cappuccino experience—please trust this coffee snob!
All in all, a visit to the HKMA and ifc is a family outing with something for everyone. It’s a quick little museum visit with a yummy lunch and shopping included in the mall. For slightly older kids —mine are 10 and 12—this is the perfect field trip especially since my children are beginning to have a real appreciation for money (but more importantly spending it!)
All Hong Kong residents and most travelers passing through Hong Kong can easily identify the ifc mall. When you are in the northeast corner of ifc, near the i-Scream gelato shop, you can look right out those windows and see Two ifc. At the base of this building is the entry for the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. From i-Scream, take the elevators down to the ground floor, cross the parking entrance and you have arrived at the base of Two ifc. Once inside, simply show the desk to the right an identity card, and they will give you a pass to head up to the information centre. You’ll then be ushered into an elevator and whisked to the 55/F!
Hong Kong Monetary Authority Information Centre
Where: 55/F, Two ifc, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong
When: Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-1pm, Closed Sundays. Guided tours are available at 2:30pm Mon-Fri and 10:30am on Saturdays.
How Much: Free entrance
ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong (MTR Hong Kong Station Exit F)
I Scream Gelato, Shop 1104, ifc mall
J. Crew, Shop 1026-1028, ifc mall
city’super, Shop 1041-1049, ifc mall
Fuel, Shop 3023, ifc mall