Traveling with young children to Hong Kong – Disneyland

8 May

Many friends and family alike have asked me on how do I travel with young children? Going to the mall unassisted is pretty normal and traveling on the car is no big deal either. Strangely what amaze me is going on a holiday with young children, which involves flights make many put-offs the idea. The first few things that come into their mind is a lot of hassle and the amount of stress managing the young children outside their comfort zone. Not many would even consider of taking their kids along when they go for scuba-diving trip. I’ll leave Scuba-diving Trip with Young Children tips in my future post. For me, my parents brought us, their children for family holiday every single year since I was 6 months old and it has always been wonderful experience each time (thank you Dad and love you loads!). I don’t remember the part or even feel that we were a hassle to them during holidays. Of course when I grow older I became a bit of a handful to them compared to my other 2 sisters. I was also their asset as I have a built-in GPS in my brain and speak some languages. My mom loved me most when I assisted her in bargaining in local language. It’ll be in my ‘to-do’ list to learn and memorize some basic local phrases before I travel to a foreign country. It sure guarantees some savings (in cash & time) and put smile on many faces.

Planning is very important. I believe in Pareto’s 80/20 rule. 80% planning and 20% execution. Furthermore as a Working-From-Home Mom who works for her husband, I do not get fix salary. I have to manage the family’s financial and I need to be resourceful when it comes to savings. Every cent counts. Flight cost will normally be between 30-40% of the entire holiday budget. I would either wait for MAS Travel fair, which happens in February each year or my latest favorite is skyscanner.com. It’ll scan for the cheapest flight tickets available. Try it and you’ll love it. Air Asia promotion does not work for me anymore. Firstly, it is a bit challenging to purchase holiday tickets 6 months in advance when you are running your own business. Clients’ schedule will determine our availability. Besides, during this economic condition, consumers are gaining when it comes to traveling by air. We are getting competitive rates from full-service airlines. We would definitely opt for full-service airlines whenever we can since we are carrying a lot of equipment like scuba-diving, camera and stroller. For the sake of this post, I’ll share my experience planning for our 1st official family holiday of 4 to Hong Kong recently and insert some examples of my previous family holiday experience.

For the super-low flight tickets, we did not get the preferred traveling flight time, which is during the day. We traveled to Hong Kong on a night flight and return on an early morning flight. Little did we realize that it was a blessing in disguise where the kids were sleepy during both flights and it was not as stressful as we expected it to be. What I like about full-service airline is you may request for bassinet for baby to sleep in and choose your seats without additional charge. The bassinet really helped my husband and I to rest for a while when the baby was sleeping. I talk to both my kids a lot, especially the older one so that he won’t get nervous or experience anxiety built-up when there are changes in air pressure or even bad weather while flying. I also ensure that I breastfeed my baby during take-off and landing to avoid any discomfort. Another thing I’m trying to avoid during family holiday is to bring any of the kids’ toys or games. We even left our laptop, which also means no work please. We just relied on Blackberry only. Some of the parents may find it to be more convenient to calm their kids down or even keep them occupied by giving them iPad to watch videos on YouTube. What I really want them to achieve is to get out from their comfort zone, open their eyes and start embracing the differences they are experiencing from their daily lives. You can start with People Watching activity in the airport. Just be prepared to answers all the why-s. It’ll definitely get your brain ticking and send some tickles to your soul listening to your kids’ respond.

Next is lodging. I guess that I don’t have to make a point here again that Online Booking is much cheaper than walk-in and last minute booking. But then again, I would recommend that you read travelogues, blogs and review websites of the places that you are planning to visit. For me, I’d be spending time reading reviews from tripadvisor and a few others I found from Googling months before the actual traveling date. This would help me plan my iterinary and budget. Once you have confirmed, do place your booking at least a month before or your budget will increase by about double for lodging. I frequent agoda.com, booking.com and hotels.com. It is important for me that these websites do not charge additional booking fee and display the actual cost before making any payments. Make sure you crosscheck with these hotels official websites so that you are not missing any special promotion initiated by the hotels. For last minute bargain, you may visit latestays.com but options are limited.

For a place like Hong Kong and my scuba-diving trips, we would prefer to stay in a 4-star rated hotel and above when traveling with our kids. Totally opposite of what we would have chosen before having them. This is important due to the standard size of a room and its facilities. Not many 3-star hotel has standard room which can fit 2 adults and 2 young children comfortably with their luggage. For this Hong Kong trip, we even decided not to bring stroller and rely on 2 baby carriers for the kids – Boba Wrap and Boba Carrier. Space and Mini Bar are important to us, as we need to do some basic cooking in the room. We did not want to waste time looking for Halal restaurants in Hong Kong and therefore here is the list of the food that we brought along.

  • 1kg of rice
  • pasta
  • a can of pasta sauce
  • 2 cans of Tuna Deli
  • Brahim’s Instant Dishes
  • 3-in-1 Milo drinks
  • packet milk
  • bottled baby foods
  • small boxes of cereal
  • small packets of cookies and biscuits

Of course some of the food above are not allowed to be brought into countries like Australia and New Zealand. So always make sure you check on the restrictions before hand. We used to bring Maggi instant noodle in Mug and packets of instant porridge but did not do it this time as we need all the energy from real carbohydrates to manage the kids and travel. Other supporting tools we brought were:

ü  mini rice cooker

ü  can opener

ü  plastic plates

ü  plastic utensils

ü  10cmx10cmx5cm plastic container (you never know when you’d need it)

ü  some rubber bands

ü  extra plastic bags (again it’ll definitely find its way to solve your traveling problem)

ü  packets of antibacterial wetwipes

ü  small washing sponge with dish cleaning liquid

Besides all the reasons mentioned above, we chose to stay in a 4-star and above hotels because of their free shuttle services. I’m not sure about you but I certainly appreciate every single aspect I can save at to compensate the ‘convenience’ fee I had to pay. L’hotel Island South is really a value-for-money hotel. They offer free shuttle between hotel and Hong Kong Station and some places of interest in between! We saved at least HKD100 on transportation during our stay there by simply taking their free shuttle. They have schedules for you to manage your time and the shuttles are frequent too. The Ocean World is only 5 minutes away from the hotel.

Before arriving in Hong Kong, I read so many reviews. Most of them warned me of the long wait during check-in at hotels, unfriendly staff who could not speak good English and also the crowd could be pretty rude. Throughout the entire stay in Hong Kong, there was not even once we encountered this problem. We were either lucky because we checked-in during odd hours and the staff was really friendly and helpful, or my basic Cantonese and very few words of Mandarin (with a bit of Chinese look) coupled with a sincere smile guaranteed us a smooth journey? Whatever it was, we thank Allah for being very kind to us.

After a good night rest, we begin our Day 1 adventure in Hong Kong by visiting The Peak. The Peak tram was a nice ride and I can reassure you that my son experienced all modes of transportation you can find in ‘My 1st Book of Transportation’ during this family holiday. On our next trip here, we are definitely walking down the scenic route along the park. We took a double-decker bus ride down and head straight to the Masjid Ammar & Osman Islamic Centre canteen in Wan Chai for lunch. It was the best Hong Kong Dim Sum I’ve ever tasted and all the food there was so delicious. They have a few Halal restaurants around Hong Kong but we were not too keen of Middle-Eastern or Indian food in Hong Kong! I’ll have my mamak food when I get back to Malaysia. Later we took a taxi straight to the Stanley Plaza before walking by the pier to Stanley Market. It was a beautiful sunset. I like the architecture of the Murray House. Unfortunately or fortunately the shops there close around 7pm. I only managed to shop a few clothes for the kids. Back at the hotel, while I prepare the dinner, we would recall back what we did today with our son before he hits the bubble bath. He would highlight what he enjoyed most, ask us more questions on what he saw and remind us what else he was looking forward to in this trip. After dinner, everybody would be sound asleep.

The Hong Kong MTR has so many offers for the tourists especially where you can save on transportation cost. We saved 40% on return Airport Express ticket by purchasing it using our HSBC Credit Card. Since my son is not 4 years old yet, he did not have to purchase ticket. We used the Airport Express when we 1st arrived in Hong Kong to get to Hong Kong Station and return on Day 2. After staying for 2 nights in L’Hotel Island South, we moved to Novotel Citygate Hotel on Lantau Island. Novotel offers free shuttle too between hotel and airport. The hotel is connected to Citygate Outlet Mall if you are planning to do some shopping and also the MTR station. It is so convenient. We took a quick walk around the mall and ended up buying boxes of Lego sets. I love Lego and my 2 boys enjoy it as well. Lunch was back in the room before we head out to the city by MTR this time. We bought our Octopus card at the Tung Chung station. It was a 40-minute ride to the city but it was a good time for the kids to nap too. By the time we reached Hong Kong Station, they were all charged-up and ready for a sightseeing ride on the Hong Kong Tram or ‘Ding-ding‘. Hong Kong is like any other city where we were fascinated by many modern buildings. Then it was Star Ferry ride across to Victoria Harbor. It was great watching the sun setting by the harbor. We even took a stroll along the Avenue of Stars before the Symphony of Lights Show begins at 8.00pm. It is the largest permanent light-and-sound show in the world. Be there latest by 7.30pm if you want to get a seat along the pier. The show lasted for about 15 minutes. After that, we went for window-shopping along the famous roads there before taking the MTR back to hotel. A stroller would definitely help towards the end of the day but Boba Carrier was to the rescue where my hubby carried our son on his back on the way back. He was too exhausted to walk by then.

Day 3, rise & shine. The day we’ve all been waiting for – Hong Kong Disneyland! After breakfast, we dragged our entire luggage to the Tung Chung MTR station to alight Disney Resort Line at Sunny Bay station. We wanted to just hire a cab but the hotel staff recommended that our Disneyland Magical Experience should start from the Disney Resort Line. It was sure worth it. The moment Disney Resort Line train arrived, we all got so excited with the deco and start looking for Hidden Mickeys (you’d know what it is if you watch Disney Channel with your kids). The train rides were short. Outside the station, we just had to walk a bit to the shuttle bus station, which will get us to the Disney Hollywood Hotel. We did not have to wait long before the bus started moving and soon after we arrived at the Disney Hollywood Hotel. There are 2 hotels within Hong Kong Disneyland. The other one is Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel with Victorian decoration and concept. I prefer Disney Hollywood Hotel as it feels livelier and have the Disneyland ambience. The hotel’s policy is no check-in before 3.00pm so we just registered ourselves, bought our 2-day passes there and left our luggage at the storage area. They were very efficient handling many guests there. The lobby has TV area playing Disney Junior channel (of course) and Disney Toy store to keep those waiting occupied. If those were not enough, all the staff had Disney character stickers and cards to give away to the guests and even that got my little baby excited already before going into the park itself.

It was around 12 noon and we were ready to enter the Disneyland Park. If you did not bring a stroller, you can rent it here at HKD 60 with HKD100 as deposit. Since we were traveling with our young children, we did not bother to line-up in long queues just to take pictures with Disney characters. We had to prioritize and ensure that we cover the exciting ones by the end of these 2 days. There will be some pitstops for ice-creams (almost after every ride), toilet and nursing break. You’d so love the Minnie Ice-Cream and Mickey Waffles was my favourite. For lunch, we did not have much choice but at least they have 3 halal stores located at Tahitian Terrace close to Tarzan’s Treehouse. The highlight of Hong Kong Disneyland is definitely the Toy Story Land! My son screamed and jumped in joy the moment he saw Toy Story Land. It was amazing. Suddenly everything became giant and we humans became so small, like being in Toy Story Land. My family and I would normally go on holidays during Spring or Autumn when it is not so hot or not so cold. We would also try to avoid any unnecessary surcharge during peak seasons. Not to mention too the crowd you have to battle through. Nevertheless, we had to wait 45 minutes for our turn on the Parachute Ride. It was my son’s 1st thrill ride and his expression was priceless. He was lucky too as for every ride where his baby sister could not ride, he got to ride it twice. Once with his Babah and another with his Mama. His favourite ride was Buzz Lightyear ride, where he got on it 5 times! As the sun setting down, we were all so exhausted and heading back to our hotel room already. Fortunately we got a good tip online to pay a little extra to watch the fireworks at 8.00pm from the comfort of our hotel room. I really love the hotel’s deco. From the room slippers, Mickey ears paper cups to ToyStory Alien towel wrap.

Day 4 – energy was recharged and we were ready for Disneyland again. After check-out, we left our luggage at the storage area and took a stroll around the hotel. It was really beautiful and peaceful too. We took some pictures before heading back to Disneyland. This time we were determined to complete all the rides and shows. My son was wearing Disneyland Lanyard with Disney character pins for Pin-Trading, which I collected from Disneyland Paris. I thought that it’d be a nice tradition to pass it down to him and get another set of lanyard and pins for his sister too. He was really thrilled except for the part where some of the pins keep on falling off. We watched many shows on the second day, hence we were not as tired as the day before. We even managed to watch the Parade at 3.00pm and stayed on for a closer view of the fireworks at 8.00pm. We took our time washing-up after the show finished so that we did not have to battle the crowd leaving the park. It was a peaceful walk back to the shuttle bus station and back to the hotel. Since our flight back to KL will be early in the morning, we did not want to spend much on our final night accommodation. Hence, we decided to take a taxi to stay at Gold Coast Hotel, which cost us 1/3 of a night stay in Disney Hotels or any Airport Hotels. That is inclusive of return taxi fare!

Last tips, it is very important to ensure that every family members is well hydrated. Drink as much water and bring along your multivitamins to prevent any sickness like cold and fever. Pack along your basic First-Aid Kit. For us, we can’t leave the house without our Melagel. It is Tea Tree Oil in balm form. It helps as antiseptic, insect repellent and to clear blocked nose. Another balm type I love using on the kids is Badger Aromatic Chest Rub. Besides the tea tree oil, it contains eucalyptus oil and lavender oil too. It helps them to breathe easier especially in flights and at night when it gets a bit cold for them. Do bring paracetamol or Panadol for kids. On the final night in Hong Kong, my baby girl suddenly had high fever at about 11pm. She was very restless and could not sleep. Neither can I. The best I could do was to try comfort her and nurse her non-stop. I took the wet hand towel and put it on top of her head to cool off her body. Of course I prayed a lot too and to His blessings, my baby girl managed to fall asleep and her fever slowly went down. I strongly believed too that due to her strong antibody (we stop vaccination after she turned 6 weeks) she managed to have speedy recovery, Alhamdulillah. At 6.00am when we were ready to leave for the airport, she was as healthy as can be.

I hope that I’ve offered tips that will benefit many of you, especially parents who are planning to travel with their young children.

13 Responses to “Traveling with young children to Hong Kong – Disneyland”

  1. Maiza August 31, 2014 at 11:50 pm #

    thanks for sharing your experiences and lots of tips that surely will help me throughout my 1 week trip to hong kong in 2 weeks time…pretty nervous as this is my 1st time overseas vacation with my 4 kids

  2. Dini September 6, 2012 at 1:21 am #

    Hey dear, Im loving ur blog! This post is definitely informative. I am really impressed with the fact that u can remember every activity that u did in HK and the extensive research u did. Kudos!

    On bringing our kids for a holiday, I totally agree with u. I’m on the same side. I can never leave my kids because my parents never left me when I was a kid. Besides, seeing that happiness expression on their lil face is the best happiness for us parents. That’s what matter most, ateast to me. Thanks for sharing this info. I’m glad I found ur blog:)

    • kureen September 7, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

      Thank you very much for your support, Dini. Do share with your other mummy friends and family. Frankly, I make a point to remember as much detail as possible in line with my strategy to age gracefully – dalam erti kata lain to avoid kes nyanyuk. Hence, I started blogging too. It gets my brain boggling. I love kids and will continue to live the childhood in me 😀

  3. KG August 9, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

    Nice post. im planning to go to HK this year end too with my 3 young kids.
    May i know where to buy the BOba child carrier in Malaysia and how mich will it cost, do u know?

    • kureen August 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

      Thanks so much. I hope many more will benefit from this blog. For Boba Malaysia, you can visit http://www.aboofamily.com for details. The carrier is about rm400-ish range but do check out for discounts and promos from time to time. I think they are having baby expo this weekend at KLCC. Have a wonderful time in Hong Kong and Howdy to Woody & Friends 🙂

  4. Azila May 11, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    Eh got new post and i’m like 2 days late. Interesting and very longgg post. I totally agree with the foods and supporting tools becoz that was the first thing that i listed down when my hubby said we are going to Bali for a holiday. By the way, Im going to add Brahim’s instant dishes to my list (thanx for that). Which dish has a good taste?
    My biggest concern now is whether Azfar will be able to behave for the 3-hour journey.

  5. Jiju May 9, 2012 at 11:54 pm #

    Have always been a fan of your posts kureen. This one is very informative!
    Will definitely use the tips whenever i plan for HK trip!
    Bestnya Toy Story Land!! Zalea got all excited just by looking at the pictures!! Imagine if she was there!! Sure overjoyed! Hehehe

    • assyaishak May 11, 2012 at 8:19 am #

      even i would be overjoyed! probably more than the kids 😛

  6. assyaishak May 9, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    A must-have for us on trips abroad: a few expandable Tupperware/containers: to keep sandwiches made in the morning. it stretches the day longer before the next meal 🙂 AND you can store it flat – doesn’t take up luggage space when it’s not used!

    Very informative post. Love the vintage pics too! Too cute!

    I also want what Aufa ate! Mickey waffles! Droooooolllll.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • kureen May 9, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

      Oh yes, Assya, totally agree with you on the expandable tupperware. Do you know where I can get cheap? I was looking for it and saw 1 in iwannagohome (soooo cool) but it was selling like RM40 and comes with a spork! After thinking it over, I decided to just bring my existing reliable tupperware and fill it with my cans of Tuna. Safe space & money too 🙂

      After this you can share your tips on Gold Coast pulak. Yeeha!

      • assyaishak May 11, 2012 at 8:17 am #

        got it from tupperware but cant remember the price 🙂

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