We spent five full days and five full nights with our five month old son in Hong Kong. We had to make some changes to our traveling style, but we still had an absolute blast, saw some sites, and ate plenty of awesome food! For anyone else who might be ambititious enough to travel here with their little one, I thought I would put together a quick summary of what we found worked for us.
MTR (Hong Kong Metro)
Use this. Use it a lot. If you’re used to mediocre subways in a variety of cities, clear your brain when it comes to the Hong Kong MTR. It’s clean. It’s easy. It’s fast. It’s cheap. In addition to all of that, it’s extremely accessible for people in wheel chairs or people with strollers.
We used the MTR multiple times per day. We were always able to find elevators (lifts) to take us up and down floors, which kept us from having to carry the stroller up and down stairs or use escalators too much. When you arrive at the airport, you can buy a round-trip Airport Express ticket that includes unlimited MTR rides for three days. The word “subway” in Hong Kong is used in reference to tunnels that cross intersections underground. Those are also useful, and most of them have elevators as well. Unlike a New York subway station that might end up being a summer sweat box, all of the MTR stops and trains are very well air conditioned.
Lodging: Confirmed Suite at the Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui
This was awesome. I opted to not write a full blog post about the hotel room and the experience, but it was a great hotel in a great location with a great room. The hotel has a nice lounge that we utilized for what I would call a “Continental Plus” breakfast. There was always a great selection of pastries, cereals, and a few hot items. Additionally, they would whip up eggs to order on request. The lounge was open for basic soft drinks all day, and there was a happy hour with a fair selection of food and alcohol from 5:30PM to 7:30PM everyday. We did use the lounge as a dinner replacement one night when we were pretty exhausted and the baby was sleeping. It worked for us, but Hong Kong is full of good food so only do this if you have to. The view from the lounge is magnificent. After five nights, it never got old.
We used a Diamond Suite Upgrade to confirm a suite at the hotel, and this made our life easier. They gave us a pack ‘n play for the baby, and the suite had multiple areas that we could close doors and section portions off. At home, Zachary sleeps in his own room, and we sleep in the next room over. Here at the Hyatt, we had a similar situation where he slept with double doors between us, giving both he and us the feeling that we were sleeping in separate rooms.
We LOVED the Tsim Sha Tsui location of the hotel. We went to Hong Kong Island via MTR our fair share, but in terms of just hanging out, finding some local food, and enjoying the malls, Tsim Sha Tsui was a total blast. We had great metro access, nearby museums, and fun local neighborhoods like Mong Kok to explore.
Baby Friendliness at Malls, Metro Stops, and Other Public Locations
Before leaving on our trip, we were concerned about what Hong Kong might be like with a baby. Would there be places to change the baby’s diaper? What about feeding? What if we went out on an excursion and he had a massive poop explosion? Hong Kong is covered with luxury malls. It seems like there’s one every few blocks.
Almost every mall had exceptionally clean bathrooms, and most of them also had special rooms dedicated to baby changing and feeding. Some of the nicer ones even had bottle warmers. Between every mall having feeding / changing zones and all the metro stops being ultra baby friendly, we found it super easy to be mobile in Hong Kong.
Dim Sum Crazy
My wife and I are huge dim sum fans. We knocked down four dim sum restaurants in five days: Tim Ho Wan, Hello Kitty Dim Sum, Paradise Dynasty, and Din Tai Fung. Yup. We nailed it. I never thought I’d be able to utter the words, “I think I’ve had enough perfect dumplings,” but after five days, I said it :-). We got into a bit of a rhythm with the baby toward the end of the trip. There were two ways we would dine:
- Sleeping baby: This is great.
- Awake baby: This is less great, but we figured it out.
When Zachary was sleeping in his stroller, which has a great recline for a compact stroller, we were able to dine in peace and have a mostly normal adult dining experience. When he was awake, we learned the “new normal” for us, and while it isn’t the same as having a nice dinner together, we made it work. We would just pass the baby back and forth, entertaining him as needed, and we realized by our final meal at Din Tai Fung that this was actually just fine. We still were able to have conversation, eat our food, and enjoy the experience. It took us five days to figure out a rhythm for eating out with the baby, but we made it happen!
Oh… And the actual dim sum? It was all awesome. We are repeat customers of Tim Ho Wan and Paradise Dynasty. In terms of Din Tai Fung, I know it’s a global franchise now, but whatever… It’s amazing… We wanted some. And Hello Kitty? It’s funny how certain things take a while to come out. I’ve known my wife for over ten years. Only in the past few years have I come to learn how deep her childhood obsession with Hello Kitty actually was…. And how it still exists! When we happened to walk by a Hello Kitty Dim Sum spot, Katy pretty quickly made room on our calendar for it the next day!
If you have a baby and you’re living in a place with a lot of space, you might have a stroller like the Uppababy Vista. That’s the one we have at home. It’s a pretty great stroller, provided that you’re not needing to pack it into tight spaces or round tight corners. If you have a stroller like this, leave it at home. Get something compact for travel. Our small Mountain Buggy Nano made a huge difference in our travels.
Some restaurants required us to fold it up to eat there. It folds up so small. We were able to navigate our stroller to a remote corner of the packed Hello Kitty restaurant just fine. If we had our larger stroller, there’s no way that would have been possible. We also observed the strollers the other locals had. They all had similar ultra compact strollers. We saw a lot of Babyzen Yoyos here. Hong Kong is baby friendly. Do yourself a favor and make yourself Hong Kong friendly with a compact stroller.
I think Hong Kong is more about experiencing the city than it is about specific sites, but that’s just my opinion, and it didn’t stop us from exploring. The tram to the top of Victoria Peak is quite nice.
Lantau Island with Big Buddha is cool. Taking a ride with the Star Ferry is nice. There are some decent museums. In any case, we did a pretty good job of filling up our itinerary. We found everything to be very baby friendly. Zachary loved the tram to the top of Victoria Peak. This was a situation where quickly folding up our stroller was necessary. Don’t try to bring a full size huge stroller here. It won’t work well.
Zachary loved the gondola ride at Lantau Island as well, and we hiked up to see Big Buddha. That’s quite a hike without a baby strapped to your chest. I was rocking a baby, though. I think I get bonus points for that!
And while we didn’t find the mid-levels escalators to be that interesting, they are stroller friendly, as they aren’t stepped escalators. They’re more like angled moving walkways. That being said, coming down you either need to walk the stairs or meander through the streets on the way down. We did the latter, which took a while with the stroller, but it did enable me to stumbled upon some of the best dan tat (Chinese egg tart) I have ever had…
We brought a large supply of diapers with us on our trip to Hong Kong, Seoul, and Honolulu. We weren’t sure if we would be able to find diapers in Asia, as it was tough to find a lot of information on that online, while we were able to find plenty of articles about diaperless potty training in China. Not even thinking about diapers, we were just wandering through a grocery store in the mall near our hotel on our first day in Hong Kong, checking the place out, and we stumbled on the following:
That’s a lot of diapers. A lot of American brand diapers. A lot of the exact same diapers we use. Granted, they were significantly more expensive, about double the price, so we didn’t regret packing our own supply, and I would recommend that other families do the same, but if you need some diapers in a pinch while you’re there, you’ll be able to find them!
Consumerism & Heads Down in Phones
It has been about five years or so since my last trip to China, and while the consumerism culture was alive and well then, it’s even more of a thing now. We found it to be a bit off-putting, actually. If you ask the concierge what to do, they will probably suggest that you visit a mall. If you are interested in a specific high end restaurant, it’s either in a hotel… Or in a mall… Sure there’s plenty of great street food and small hole in the wall places that we sampled, but culture seems to more and more focus around malls.
Additionally, if you think we have a problem with people having their heads down in smartphones here in the USA, you need to see Hong Kong. Geez. I literally cannot count the number of people who crashed into our stroller because they had their heads down in their phones. And after a crash, there was no looking up to say, “Excuse me.” Business as usual. I’m a smartphone-loving super geek, but c’mon, Hong Kong… Shake yourself! :-).
My previous paragraph was a bit critical toward Hong Kong culture, but honestly this is a small critique. Everywhere we went, people loved interacting with our baby! The hotel staff, random people on the MTR, restaurant employees, etc – Hong Kong is very baby friendly. Add the fact that their public transportation system couldn’t be better for traveling with a baby and yeah… I would totally recommend traveling Hong Kong with a baby! I recommend the city. I recommend the Hyatt Tsim Sha Tsui. I recommend the Tsim Sha Tsui neighborhood as a place to base your trip around.
We were very excited to leave Hong Kong for Seoul, but we were also sad, not knowing when we would have the chance to come back and visit again. Hong Kong, we miss you already!