Surviving Hong Kong with Preschoolers, Or Maybe Not

It was our first family trip with our two preschoolers and we came back with bulkier arms and thigh muscles. And also a much higher tolerance towards the many challenges thrown at us. This was our first family trip to Hong Kong, including Disneyland Hong Kong, Ocean Park and some shopping around Hong Kong. Unfortunately, this trip has also stretched the father’s limit and he is rather persistent that we will not have any more overseas travels until the girls hit Primary school and learn to be more independent.

If you are planning a trip to Hong Kong with your children, especially those age below 6, here is a quick “survival guide” from our personal experiences. What works for us may not be what you agree or want to do, but I hope some of the tips will be useful for you! Tips include must download apps, how to save time with Changi Recommends and ways to occupy your preschoolers.

Family Survival Guide for Travel to Hong Kong with Preschoolers

Tip #1 – Bring lots of snacks

Because when the little ones’ mouth (and tummy) is full, they usually behave better and has more energy to keep on moving, or dancing, or some may say “to irritate the hell out of us parents”. #truestory

Tip #2 – Hop onto buses and trams

Hong Kong is well connected via MTR and most travellers usually opt for that, but with our two girls, they were happier and with less whining when we take the buses and trams. Probably because they get to see what’s going around instead of the dark tunnel throughout their journey in the trains. Well, except for the train to Disneyland which they would gladly ride a few times I’m sure.

Download the MTR and Hong Kong Tram mobile apps, they were very handy during our trip. Including features like trip planner, ride timing, route and costs.

Tip #3 – Rent strollers or bring a super lightweight one

We knew Hong Kong will be a trip with LOTS of walking, and it includes LOTS and LOTS of stairs! We wouldn’t be able to carry our two girls plus the stroller when we climb the many stairs. So we chose to leave our stroller at home and we rented strollers at the two parks we visited. Its HK$100 per stroller per day but it’s so totally necessary! Unless you have got super strong arms and legs. If you have a compact and lightweight stroller that you can simply sling on your shoulder and still able to carry the kids with both hands, then do BRING IT!

We had to carry the girls a lot still cos they were forever complaining that their legs were tired lah, sleepy lah, feet pain lah… 101 excuses lah. But when we pop a can of Pringles, they could run and jump around me just to get a piece of chip! Oh well…

Tip #4 – Stay Indoor (unless it’s Winter)

We were there mid-November and assumed that the weather would be cool enough to just keep walking. But we were sooooo wrong! The sun was blazing like hell and we always ended up sweaty after a day out. The next best option was for my hub and I is to take turns to rest and shop. While he goes shop for his stuff, I’ll chill at a cafe nearby with the girls. They can nap on my lap or be kept entertained with the TV in the cafe or their favorite videos on YouTube Kids.

Another indoor option is to check out cat cafes. Our girls love it! *Bring linen roller!

While he goes shop for his stuff, I’ll chill at a cafe nearby with the girls. They can nap on my lap or be kept entertained with the TV in the cafe or their favorite videos on YouTube Kids. Then we will head back to the hotel where he will look after the girls while I shop till I drop! Ha! Recommend to stay near malls and places you want to shop so you don’t have to travel too far.

We stayed at Holiday Inn Golden Mile which is very accessible via train and lots of shopping around.

Tip #5 – Stay connected

On this trip, we had with us 2 iPhones and 2 iPads, with lots of video watching, photos and videos upload for backups and the many apps and maps we used to find out ways around. I think it would have burnt our mobile bill if we opted for data roaming loh! I got us a ChangiWifi at $5/day for use in Hong Kong, allows you to connect up to 6 devices at any one time and offers very good connectivity throughout our travel around Hong Kong, even when underground!

[box]Promotions for ChangiWifi for Our Readers
Book your ChangiWifi router from Changi Recommends with the following promo codes at special prices:

  • thelovingmum5 for travels to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand at S$5/day
  • thelovingmum8 for travels to China, Malaysia, Vietnam at S$8/day
  • thelovingmum12 for travels to Europe and UK at S$12/day

Click here to find out more.

The promotion is valid for travels by 31 March 2017.[/box]

Tip #6 – Playground means rest time

Yes, we are overseas and should spend more time doing things that we don’t get to experience in Singapore, but when there is a playground nearby just go! Our girls spent the most time while we were at Ocean Park at their children’s playground. And this was also the time where we parents get to take a break, sit and cool off. They loved the playground so much they didn’t want to leave!

Tip #7 – Exhaust their energy

Playground, bouncy castle, jumping up and down trying to reach for snacks, and any activity that can let them focus their energy even for that 5 minutes is worth doing. Especially when you are ready to head back to the hotel and call it a day with the kids. 90% of the time they would have KO when they are back at the comfy hotel.

Tip #8 – Skip the queues

Our girls HATE to queue. We were waiting in line for photo taking session with Mickey and Minnie which they had wanted to do when we showed them videos before the trip. When I saw the queue it looked like a 10 to 15 mintues max. wait according to our experience at Universal Studios Singapore where one family gets some quick shots and leave. I was WRONG! The queue only moved a little after 15 minutes and then suddenly the mice disappeared! With a 2-hour meet-and-greet session, of cos I should have guessed the characters will have to take short breaks in-between or head somewhere to swap the people inside the mascots. But what I didn’t expect was the amount of time they allow each family to spend with the characters! Before you take your nice photos, the character will interact and play with the guests, then they will do 1001 different poses and then more interaction time! This is awesome for paying customers as we get to maximise our money spent on the tickets lah, but seriously?? It is a little too long leh. So we ended up leaving the queue after 20 mins in it. Sigh….

Thanks to ChangiWifi, the girls got to kill time playing Pokemon Go at Disneyland

This tip is not to ask you to buy any express or fast passes lah, but its one way to cut down one of the many queues you will be joining at these attractions. Skip the ticketing queue and enter straight into the parks when you purchase your tickets online. We got our attraction passes from Changi Recommends website which is cheaper than you buy at the door.

[box]Promotion for our Readers
Use the promo code TLM2OFF for an additional $2 OFF, including:

  • All Ocean Park combo deals (Adult/Child Souvenir, Restaurant, Kiosk, Family Combo)
  • Trick Eye Museum
  • Ngong Ping Combo (Crystal Cabin + Meal Coupon)

Promotion is valid till 11 December 2016and for online purchase only. Tickets to be used by 31 December 2016.[/box]

Tip #9 – Get airport transfer

Though travelling via the train from Hong Kong airport to our hotel is convenient and cheaper, we opted for a private driver to pick us up instead. With kids, bulky luggages and tired parents (after three over hours of pacifying the little ones in the plane), airport transfer is highly recommended.

We booked our overseas airport transfers through Changi Recommends, together with a few other services they provide. And I’m so glad I made this choice because when we landed in Hong Kong, my girls were rather grouchy when we boarded the vehicle. The personal pick-up, with a chauffeur to send us right to the doorsteps of our hotel, sure saved us lots of stress and energy.

Tip #10 – Go Uber

For families travelling in Hong Kong, when travelling around, it could be more economical and sensible to ride with Uber. After our not-so-happening-and-damn-tiring first night, we opted for Uber rides for the rest of our trips whenever we have to travel long distance – like from the hotel to Ocean Park.

Hope the above tips are useful! If you are heading to Hong Kong soon, here’s a giveaway for you!

[box]

Win 4 tickets to The Peak Tram

  • For The Loving Mum Facebook fans and Instagram followers only
  • Share this family travel guide to Hong Kong on Facebook, and ensure it is set to public so we can see. Tag 2 friends to share this guide with and hashtag #thelovingmum in your post.
  • Comment on this Facebook post so I know you’ve completed the above.
  • Winner will win 4 tickets to The Peak Tram (2 adults + 2 children, tickets expire 30 March 2017), and this giveaway will end on 2 December 2016 at 11.59pm.

[/box]

Good luck!

 

Activities for Kids at SAFRA Punggol Clubhouse

Whenever there is opportunity to bond with Zara one-to-one, I would try my best to treasure it and enjoy as much as I can. That’s what we did couple weekends ago at SAFRA Punggol – experiencing how a “Little Punggol SAFRA Explorer” was like.

It was time for Zara’s nap but I thought the activities and my companionship would keep her awake and excited. It was so at first, but it didn’t last.

We arrived way too early at SAFRA Punggol, me alone with Zara. The place was packed on a Saturday afternoon – with families and lots of kids! We waited around the lobby area and I could sense the sleepiness kicking in for Zara as the clock ticks by.

We were both relieved when we finally got the activities going together with other family bloggers.

First stop for us was at ARTARY at Level 4 of SAFRA Punggol. ARTARY provides art classes for kids and their space is very nicely done up! Love the interior and how the wall murals make the whole place very whimsical and fun.

2016 Apr 30 - SAFRA Punggol Little Explorer DayWith just less than an hour for this activity, we did our best to create our version of Sunflowers (or “whatever flowers” in our case) by Van Gogh. This was the first time Zara got to do painting work in a classroom setting. I must say her attention and focus was much better than I’d expected. Well I was admiring her concentration with the task on hand until she got bored and tired. 2016 Apr 30 - SAFRA Punggol Little Explorer Day

2016 Apr 30 - SAFRA Punggol Little Explorer DayOnce we’re done painting and got ourselves washed up from all the paints, we headed down to Pizza Hut for a special pizza making session. By this time (around 4pm), Zara’s level of tolerance is almost zero. She refused to walk, refused to wear the Pizza Hut chef hat, refused to take photo… she was just not ready to cooperate at all. 2016 Apr 30 - SAFRA Punggol Little Explorer Day

Until Ah Ma (grandma) came along.

2016 Apr 30 - SAFRA Punggol Little Explorer DayThis girl of mine is also Ah Ma ???. She adores her grandma and would do anything and everything as long Ah Ma is with her. Just look at that smile on her face! It was a relieved for me really, because I was super famished and tired by that time. I was happy to just hang around while Zara enjoys the rest of the day with her grandma at SAFRA Punggol. I took a back row seat being the photographer and videographer for the day. 2016 Apr 30 - SAFRA Punggol Little Explorer Day

Note: Pizza making session is still not available at Pizza Hut SAFRA Punggol at time of this post. You can contact them to enquire about events should you be keen to find out more.

While our pizzas were being baked in the oven, we headed to the highlight of the day. SPLASH!

2016 Apr 30 - SAFRA Punggol Little Explorer Day

When we shared about Splash@Kidz Amaze a year back, that post brought our entire site down because everyone was excited about the first and only indoor water playground in Singapore! We were looking forward to checking the place out since then, and finally we got to step into the real thing! But guess what?

Zara fell asleep!! This poor girl was totally exhausted after all the fun and lack of nap that afternoon, she knocked out after making her jellyfish art and craft. By the time she woke up, it was almost 8pm and the cranky just-woke-up-girl spent less than 10 minutes in the water. I was very upset for her, she had been looking forward to splashing at the playground for a very long time.

If you’ve not been to Splash@Kidz Amaze yet, this video you got to check out.

We will be back soon on a weekend evening, because that’s when the magic and music kicks in. Can’t wait to get splashed and have a hell lot of fun and wet time with my girls. Pricing and party packages at Splash@Kidz Amaze available on their website.

Here’s the list of other activities and things you can do at SAFRA Punggol:

  • Bikes @ Waterway
  • EnergyOne
  • Games Room
  • Manekineko (KTV)
  • Member’s Lounge
  • Yoga Inc.
  • i Darts LAVA (opens early May)
  • Orchid Bowl (opens 5 Jun)
  • The Spa by The Ultimate (opening date to be confirmed)
  • Artary
  • BazGym Gymnastics School
  • LCentral English
  • NurtureStars Preschool
  • Splash @ Kidz Amaze
  • StepUp Learning & Dance
  • Tien Hsia Language School
  • Yamaha Music
  • Stamford Education (opens 1 Jun)
  • Taekwondonomics (opens 1 Jun)

And with so many activities and families, there must be food too! Here are the dining options available at SAFRA Punggol:

  • issho family restaurant
  • Pin Si Superior
  • Pizza Hut
  • Siam Thai Tuckshop
  • Nom La La by Bakerzin
  • Jack’s Place (opens 30 Apr)
  • Culinary Experience Studio Powered by Bosch (opens May)
  • Heavenly Wang (opens early May)
  • McDonald’s (opens 15 May)

SAFRA Punggol is located at 9 Sentul Crescent, Punggol, Singapore 828654 next to Punggol West Loop – PW1 Sam Kee LRT station. You can also take a stroll from Punggol MRT station, which will take approximately 6 to 10-minute.