For families, there is nothing worse than trekking out to a particular place for a day out, bringing all the paraphernalia required for travelling with children, not to mention the children themselves, only to find the opening times, details or directions you were given were wrong or incomplete.
That’s the view of Cindy Miller Stephens, an expat mother-of-three who spent a number of years meticulously documenting information on parks, museums, beaches, markets, hikes/walks and other venues and activities throughout Hong Kong. She always enjoyed referring friends and business acquaintances to unusual or far-flung outings to enjoy with their children, and was eventually encouraged to compile all of her information into a book. The result was Hong Kong for Kids: A Parent’s Guide. Now released in its second edition, the comprehensive guidebook is expanded and fully revised for 2011.
Attention to detail is what makes this book so valuable. It covers everything from how old the children should be to visit each venue, where the nearest kid-friendly food can be found and even whether or not a baby-changing table can be found nearby!
“Hong Kong can be a very difficult place to navigate, especially with children in tow. However, once someone has shown you the way, it becomes very clear,” Cindy says. “Hong Kong for Kids attempts to be a friendly ‘door opener’ for resident families and visitors.
“Hong Kong is a wonderful, challenging and fantastic place to explore for families with children. The biggest obstacles between families and a great time out will be eliminated by this book – namely, how to identify and then locate a fun-filled outing.”
Each chapter is a self-contained resource which includes: addresses, websites, phone numbers, directions in Chinese for taxi drivers, detailed descriptions of the venue, age ranges, every kind of available public transportation – MTR, bus, tram, ferry, taxi, walking – detailed driving directions, contact details for educators, nearby child-friendly restaurants, special programs and tours and things you need to know that are only word-of-mouth.
For people who drive in Hong Kong, the book is a remarkable resource, giving explicit directions that cannot be found anywhere on the internet or on road maps. Even where to park and when not to bring a car are covered.
The author and her children have visited every destination in this book at least once, often with other parents and their children as well. The venues selected for inclusion are only those that were found to be worthy of a visit. Every site has been family-tested to eliminate the possibility of hauling children around Hong Kong only to be disappointed once they arrive. The book is not about rating venues, it is about identifying the best things that are currently here to be explored.
“Hong Kong has changed so much in the last few years,” Cindy says. “It never used to be known as a child-friendly city but all that has changed. The breadth and depth of things to do in Hong Kong with children has sparked the expansion of this book to include 30% more destinations as well as a complete overhaul of the entries that were included in the first edition.
“For the first edition of Hong Kong for Kids, there was a need to include an icon which depicted whether or not the venue had seated toilets or squat toilets, which can be very difficult for kids to use. This icon has been eliminated from the new edition, as 99% of the locations listed now have sit-down toilets! Hallelujah! This is just one indicator of how far Hong Kong has come in a short time in terms of its new-found family friendliness.”
The author’s family has spent the last 10 years discovering Hong Kong and they feel that few cities offer a more exciting or diverse list of options for families than this city. But it’s not only parents who have found the thorough details and directions useful.
“Many people have purchased this book and used it to help their family and friends who are visiting Hong Kong to get around and find great spots to experience, whether or not they have children,” Cindy says. “In fact, the title might have been: Hong Kong for Kids and Grandparents and Out of Town Visitors and Residents!”
About the author: Cindy Miller Stephens is an American who has lived in Hong Kong for 15 years. As a child she was an expat living in France and travelled the globe extensively with her parents, visiting Hong Kong for the first time in 1977. Cindy writes about Hong Kong while raising her three daughters ages 6, 10 and 13. She lives in Hong Kong.
Format: Paperback, 140mm x 216mm, 424 pages, with 38 colour maps
Published: November 2011
Cover price: HK$148 / US$18.95