A reader recently reached out to ask some questions about traveling around Asia with a small child. Since I have encountered a number of these issues in my own experience and questions like my reader’s remain, I thought it was a good time to revisit some of these items.
When we are going out in Bangkok and HK, is the backpack (carrier) alone enough or do we need the Pockit stroller and the backpack when we are out?
Traveling around busy cities like Bangkok and Hong Kong with a small child can easily be done with a baby backpack (or carrier). The only reason I would bring my Pockit stroller along would be if you were going to be strolling through one of the mega malls or visiting Hong Kong Disneyland. For certain outings like those, I would opt for my stroller. The sidewalks in these cities are crowded and sometimes quite narrow when sharing the road, in these instances a stroller can seem awkward and pesky, I would go for a carrier for walking around the cities.
How was your transfer between airport and hotel in both cities, especially Bangkok? How long did it take and what did you use? i.e train, taxi.
For us, we opt for the “least amount of work” way and take taxis from the airport to our hotel. Transfers by train can be done in both cities from the airport, but for us, the lugging bags with a child doesn’t sound like something we want to do after a long flight.
In Hong Kong once you retrieve bags and exit the secured area, we usually stop at an ATM for cash and then proceed to the taxi stand. Depending on where your hotel is, there are three different colored taxis and each color represents which parts of Hong Kong they service. We really love the Hyatt Sha Tin for its peaceful retreat away from the bustle of the city.
This hotel is located in the New Territories which is serviced by Green taxis, and while it is not in the heart of HK, it is still well connected by train. Red taxis will take you to most places around Hong Kong and from the airport they service Kowloon. Blue taxis will take you Lantau Island (home of Disneyland, convention centers, great shopping and the airport) which is the only place in Hong Kong they operate. All taxis are metered and you should expect some extra charges to be added on for a “leaving the airport fee” “tollways” and baggage. For our hotel located about 45 minutes from the airport, we usually pay around $300HKD while areas of Kowloon will probably cost closer to $220HKD. Uber is also present in Hong Kong, but during our last visit in June, we found it was difficult to use. Connecting with drivers and finding the correct meeting points was not always clear.
In Bangkok it is imperative that you tell your driver to turn the meter on before driving anywhere. (This rule applies to leaving the airport and all around Thailand) Some drivers will try to negotiate a rate with you, others may just drive to your destination and demand you pay whatever price they come up with, if a driver refuses to turn the meter on, get out of the taxi and find another one.
Do you have recommendations on where to go or visit?
Here are a few of our favorites things to see and do in these cities.
Shopping malls are epic in Asia generally, and Hong Kong doesn’t disappoint. The IFC in Central is a popular stop. The Lady Markets, Temple Street night markets and other areas are similar to what you will find throughout Asia for night markets, but a sight to be seen all the same. Some of it is plastic knock-off USB memory sticks, but there are also key Hong Kong souvenirs to be had. You can’t go to Hong Kong without stopping by at least one.
Victoria Harbour is beautiful on its own, and the star walk on the Kowloon side adds some Kung Fu glitz to the already stunning view of water and cityscape. Grab the Star Ferry from either side for something close to $.25 and ride across the water. We have always wanted to try High Tea at the Peninsula hotel near the star walk on the Kowloon side, but haven’t had the chance.
The Peak overlooks the Harbour and can be accompanied by a picturesque trolley to the top weaving through the streets and trees that line the steep climb up. Our favorite time to visit is at night when the lights of Hong Kong skyscrapers brighten the sky.
Lantau Island and Ngong Ping Cable Cars are fun to see and do, as well as a small but robust climb to a towering Buddha statue. Hong Kong Disneyland is also located on Lantau Island and is worth a visit, especially with kids.
Mega-malls are perhaps the most epic in Bangkok when compared to the rest of the world and steep competition in Asia. Our favorites are Terminal 21 for themed boutique shopping, MBK for local wares, and Central Embassy for mid-range to high-end international brands – though it’s hard to pick just three.
The Chao Praya River weaves through Bangkok and is worth a look. Take a long tail cruise and visit the floating markets.
The Grand Palace is lovely but beware that it has been traditionally a prime spot for tourist scams outside the gate. A ten minute walk from there will bring you to Wat Pho and the Reclining Buddha. Nearby China Town is also fascinating, unique and sprawling.
Markets and street vendors are everywhere, grab some grilled or rotisserie chicken cooked right before your eyes – the best of which comes from a giant clay pot. If you find yourself in Bangkok on the weekend, get lost in the Chatuchak market.
Both cities are full of things to see, do and eat – this list couldn’t possibly be comprehensive. Perhaps commenters can add their picks as well.
How did you deal with food for your daughter? What did you feed her?
This is probably one of the most common questions I get asked. It may sound so simple and I know all kids are different, but we feed Lucy what we eat. One of the easiest and most universal foods that always comes to mind for me is noodles. Our daughter loves noodles and we can find them all over the world. We also look for other easy foods like Broccoli (or Bok Choy), grilled fish and meats, breads and fruit. Currently our three-year old’s favorite meal is Xiao Long Bao.
My husband and I may get a bit more adventurous and try street foods and spicier cuisines, but for the most part we haven’t had any real trouble finding food that our daughter enjoys too. Since the beginning we would tell her that she should try everything and then decide what she likes. Fortunately for us, this has worked well so far! If all else fails, there are plenty of staple foods and familiar food chains that can be found in both Bangkok and Hong Kong alike. Here is a post I wrote a couple of years ago that touches on this topic.
Eating around Bangkok and Hong Kong:
Find Hong Kong Waffles and if you can, enjoy them warm. Some will come with different fillings or may be served with ice cream, either way this is a treat not to miss.
The famed Michelin-Starred restaurant Tim Ho Wan now has multiple locations and in our experience has shorter wait times in Central at the Hong Kong station location. The dim sum is good and it’s almost a must-do just to say you ate here, but my suggestion is to grab some BBQ Pork buns and head back out as there is so much good food to eat in HK.
For Xiao Long Bao you can find multiple Din Tai Fung restaurant locations (not only in HK) and a Singapore chain called Paradise Dynasty. Both spots specialize in steamed soup dumplings and noodle soups.
For Bubble Tea fans, our favorite is Share Tea – a Taiwanese based tea chain that you can find all over the city. Walk up order your favorite tea with bubbles or without and you’re on your way.
Sijie Sichuan in Hong Kong is not only our favorite place to eat in the city, but undoubtedly my favorite place in the world. This spot was once a private kitchen, came recommended by a local who handed us the phone number on a torn piece of paper. It is now a store front restaurant with two locations. If you are up for authentic Sichuan style food, go hungry and don’t forget to order the Cold Sesame Noodles to start. (It is a good idea to call ahead and reserve a spot.)
Food courts in malls are a real thing. I am not talking about Sbarro selling dry pizza that they throw in the over for a minute to make it edible – this is more like an indoor hawker center with small time vendors each specializing in a few dishes.
Pick up some Mango Sticky Rice anywhere. When we lived in Thailand we didn’t do this enough, but made up for it in spades on recent trips including my daughter and I spending the summer there.
Street food (check out this option for Thai Street Food, off the street)
You can also find Din Tai Fung (famed inexpensive Michelin-starred xiao long bar – soup dumpling restaurant) in Bangkok. We ate at either Apinara or Nara with Matthew in Bangkok for the Park Hyatt Bangkok opening. Both are great options for affordable, delicious Thai food in a comfortable setting.
Perhaps Rabbits was also as much a culinary treat as it was an experience.
What would you recommend for this reader to do, eat, and see in Hong Kong and Bangkok? Any traveling parent advice that you might add?