This week for our family fieldtrip we found ourselves in the Toy Library, part of the Hong Kong Central Library in Causeway Bay. If you missed last week, we were all aboard the Fireboat Alexander Grantham, and you can read about our experience here.
This week the intrepid field-trippers were: two thirty-something mums (actually we’re both nearly 40 and slowly coming to terms with it,) and two very busy little girls; Gracie, 2 ½ years and Charlie, knocking on 3.
This trip was also suggested by mummy-in-the-know, Laura from Maya Kids, who was quite flabbergasted when she found out that I had never been to the Toy Library, so I thought I better put best foot forward and address this gap in my parenting, pronto.
I’m not sure whether it’s the name “Toy Library” or my vivid imagination but I had expected something on a much more grandiose scale than what we found on the second floor of Hong Kong’s Central Library in Causeway Bay. But don’t get me wrong, what we found wasn’t bad, it’s just that my imagination had run away with itself a tad and I had expected massive wooden floor-to-ceiling shelves of toys, row upon row, so big you wouldn’t know where to begin and so big that you would need to climb those ladders on runners to get to the top shelf (of course this would be completely impractical for a toddler). Instead the toy library is a glass-enclosed room on the children’s floor of the main library, really much like an indoor playroom, in my book (no pun intended).
Although I was a little disappointed that the Toy Library didn’t live up to my imagination, the most important members of our reconnaissance team, Gracie and Charlie were not disappointed at all. They jumped for joy when they entered the glass room and enjoyed every moment of their 45 minute allocated slot.
Hits: Clambering around the life size, two-storey doll’s house; making cakes with the toy electric mixer in the kitchen area; sticking Velcro vegetables and fruits on trees; and playing with Thomas the Tank Engine train sets that you can borrow (I think I actually enjoyed this more than they did, especially the engineering feat of getting the points on the tracks to change automatically).
Need to know before you go: Prior reservation is vital. Phone up at least a couple of days in advance to avoid disappointment. If you show up unannounced you may get in if they have space. If not, you may have disgruntled family members on your hands as they will be able to see what they’re missing through the glass walls and a gentle trot around the library floor may not suffice!
Once inside, you can borrow up to two toys per child, choosing from the toy catalogues kept on the main desk in the Toy Library. Toys must be returned at the end of the session and you just need to leave your name to borrow a toy (no library card is required).
If you’re hungry: There’s a “Delifrance” café on the ground floor with an outdoor patio – ideal if you’re worried about food throwing or your tots tearing up the indoor space.
Library opening hours: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday – Sunday: 10am – 9pm. Wednesday: 1pm-9pm
Public holidays: 10am – 7pm
Closed: The Toy Library has a few quirky closing hours. It’s closed on Tuesday mornings (10am-12pm) and Thursday afternoons (2-4pm) for school visits.
It’s also closed daily for cleaning between 2pm-3pm and on Thursdays from 4-5pm. Also closed New Year’s Day, the first three days of Chinese New Year, Good Friday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
The library closes at 5pm on New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year’s Eve, Mid Autumn Festival and Christmas Eve.
Cost: Admission is free!
Age: Suitable for up to 8 years
Sessions last for 45 minutes and only one session per child per day.
How to get there:
By tram: Take the tram heading east from Des Voeux Road in Central or Queensway in Admiralty. Exit the tram at Causeway Road when you see Victoria Park on your left and the Central Hong Kong Library building will be on your right (look for big beige building with gold writing).
By MTR: Take the Island Line to Tin Hau station, take exit B, and make a right on to Causeway Road head towards Victoria Park. The park will be on your right and you will see the library ahead on the left across the street.
Hong Kong Central Library, 66 Causeway Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong.
Tel: 2921 0386 (Toy Library reservations).
Map: Available here.
And a big thank you to mummy-in-the-know and event planner, Laura, who suggested this family field trip. Laura’s company Maya KIDS have plenty more ideas on how to entertain little ones for a day or a party, so just drop her a line at email@example.com if you need more inspiration.