This week for our family field trip we found ourselves at the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence in Shau Kei Wan. If you missed our last field trip, we were having great fun learning about Hong Kong’s history at the Heritage Museum in Shatin and you can read about our experience here.
This week the intrepid field-trippers were: One mum, one dad and one engergised toddler – Gracie, nearly 3. Once again it was raining in Hong Kong, and we were looking for another indoor activity! Given the success of last week’s trip to the Heritage Museum, I had high expectations of the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence, choosing to ignore its far-from-exciting name (at this point I should have listened to that little voice saying ‘how boring does this sound?!’).
The Museum, formerly known as the Lei Yue Mun Fort, is located in Shau Kei Wan on Hong Kong Island and was built more than 100 years ago, as it occupies a strategic position guarding the eastern approach to Victoria Harbour. It was also an important site during the battle for Hong Kong in 1941. Today it has been carefully restored to show Hong Kong’s 600-year history of coastal defence.
Hits: If your kids are doing a history project at school on Hong Kong, this is an ideal educational activity, starting at the Qing Period, via the Opium Wars, the British Colonial period, The battle for Hong Kong, The Japanese occupation and through to the present day Hong Kong Garrison of the PLA. If your kids love military stuff, they will enjoy the exhibits of big guns, torpedoes, cannons, models in full military uniform and educational videos spanning the different eras. It’s a good indoor activity as the main exhibition is housed in the redoubt (the fort) on a hill and split into 13 different galleries laid out in an easy to follow order. If it’s not raining there’s also the Historical Trail, an outdoor walk taking you to different restored military relics with some fabulous views of Lei Yue Mun and Victoria Harbour. It’s not very busy – we went on a Sunday morning and it wasn’t crowded at all. It’s cheap, and it’s pretty stroller-friendly.
Misses: More appropriate for school age children – so a bit of a miss for us as we were with a toddler who got bored quite easily! Saying that I’m 40 and got a bit bored too… perhaps because I had to listen to a whinging toddler? There’s also a lot of detailed explanations of each exhibit, so best suited to older children and parents who are happy to read and don’t have to chase after errant toddlers. I suppose it’s like the museums of old, more traditional in its approach, as there’s not much interactive stuff, which of course, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, there are some small tables upstairs at the redoubt with a number of computer terminals and pens and paper for scribbling, but our toddler wasn’t entertained for very long by this. I had also read that there were lots of secret underground tunnels and my imagination ran away with me, so I wasn’t too impressed by the few narrow corridors coming to dead ends.
Need to know before you go: Closed on Thursdays!
How to get there: By MTR: From Central or Admiralty take the Island line (blue one) to Shau Kei Wan and take Exit B2. You can either walk north along the Tung Hei Road which will take you approx 15 minutes, or take the easy option and hail a cab which will take 5 minutess and cost you approx $20.
Opening times: Mondays – Wednesdays, Fridays – Sundays: 10am – 5pm. Closed on Thursdays and the first two days of Chinese New Year.
Admission: Adults: $10, Children (aged 4 and over): $5. Admission is free on Wednesdays!
Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence
Address: 175 Tung Hei Road, Shau Kei Wan, Hong Kong. Tel: 2569 1500