Saturday, October 18, 2014

Travel Tips: Planning a Trip to Hong Kong (With Kids)

I am frantically planning our upcoming trip this November to HongKong.  I am extra stressed because this trip will mark a lot of firsts in our lives:

1.  First Time to travel without a yaya (nanny)
2. First out of the country trip of my 2 year old Sky (although she has been to Singapore while inside my tummy but that does not count lol)...and
3. First time for my children to see Disneyland (extra pressure since I overhead Sasha lighting a candle to Papa Jesus and wishing she would see Disney someday--that time I showed her a picture (see lang sabi e) thinking it will be enough but it just made her more eager )

It has been 20 years since I last visited Hong Kong.  That time the "adults" with the money did all the planning and the paying so this feels like a first for me too.

It will be the nth time however that I do all the planning--thinking, budgeting, booking etc  (Jun is like a 3rd kid who just follows my lead).  I remember the last time I felt lazy to plan ahead, we ended up wasting our tickets to Genting.

So with less than a month to go, I made sure I am ready : Read all the tips and blogs on Hong Kong with family, asked friends and relatives for recommendations and booked all that needs to be booked.

I am writing this so I do not forget and to help others who are planning as well.  This is a compilation of the numerous tips I got.  Hope it will be as helpful to other parents as it is to me.



Tips for families travelling to Hong Kong from the Philippines:

1.  Things to bring when travelling with a kid and a toddler:

a.  Passports / IDs - I will copy a friend's idea of preparing IDS with my kids name, my contact info and my hotel add which i will let them wear.
b. Printed copies of bookings - flight confirmation emails, hotel confirmation emails, etc
c. Sunscreen - I've gotten a lot of reports that it's sunny ...and when its cold you do not notice. Better be protected.  Remember the sun will always shine wherever you go.
d.  Jackets - By the time we get there, the weather will be cooler
e. Hats - Aside from the fact that it helps protect my kids from the sun and rain, it also looks cute on pictures :)
f. Umbrella - You are not allowed to hand carry one in the plane so bring one in your luggage or buy a cute one over there with a large design that says : i love hk
e. Stroller - We have a foldable, umbrella type model that is light to bring and carry.
f. Bottles / Milk / Bottle cleaner - Sky drinks 6 full bottles of milk in 2 hours...
g. Vitamins and medicine - always comes in handy.  I get Scotts because my kids love them.  Paracetamol, cough and colds meds, ointment and mosquito repellants are also a must whenever we travel.
h. Charger - Because you have to take pictures.
i Comfortable foot wear - Everywhere I go, I bring my havaianas in my bag
j. Money - (pesos, hkd and usd)...Make sure you also have changes for tips, buses etc
k. Calculator - If you are as OC as me when it comes to budgeting, this comes in handy.  It is also an easy way to communicate money matters in a non-english speaking country.


2.  Know the conversion rate for budgeting purposes.

But stop converting and just enjoy (within your budget :)

As of Oct 16, 2014:

1 HK = 5.80 php

(round it off to P6.00)--better have extra than be short

3.    Inform your bank if you are using your credit card abroad.

This is important since after all the fraudulent cases banks are more careful in allowing the use of cards when travelling.

BPI has the lowest foreign exchange service fee of 0.75% (on top of the exchange rate)

Click here :  bpi cards details  to know more about it.

4.  Wait for a promo flight and get a significant discount.

 I got mine last year and a round trip ticket for  the 4 of us came out only to be less than P4,000/head.  I was trying to get a ticket for our new yaya so she can come but her ticket would have been more than double ours so I said, never mind.  (mag painting na lang sya sa bahay (my yaya has too much time)

5.  Overnight parking or cab?

Overnight parking in NAIA 3 has increased by 600%.
It is now 300php/24 hours and a fee for every hour thereafter.
So for our 4 day trip it may not be very practical.

I always am doubtful of cab drivers.  But airport taxi is P70/flag down and I remember being charged P600+ for a coupon taxi from the airport to Mandaluyong.

So I am still thinking of a safe and better way to get home.

6.   Have pesos (local currency) ready for all the fees before flying and when you get back.

Terminal Fee: 550php
Travel Tax: 1620php
Travel Tax for kids below 12 years old:  810php plus 200php processing fee
Travel Tax for infants below 2yrs old: 200php

So for me, jun, sasha (5) and sky (2) total:

Terminal Fee : 550 x 4 = 2200
Travel Tax: 1620 x 2 plus 1010 x 2 = 5260
Total:  7460php and you have not even set foot on abroad yet.

(Sigh---I pay taxes with a heavy heart after all the news on corruption tsk tsk tsk)

7.  Upon reaching HK find the best way to get to your hotel.

We are booked in Royal Pacific in TST:

There are 3 options:

a.  Airport Express - shuttle K2 - hotel

Fare: 90 HKD / 160 HKD (single journey / round trip) : Adult
         45 HKD / child (sasha) and Sky is free (yehey)

Total if we book AE:  225 HKD or  1350 php for a single journey from the airport to hotel

You can also buy the discounted group ticket which will cost us 190 HKD for 3 or 1140php
       
b.  Bus - hotel

Take the A21 bus to TST for 33HKD/head

Total 99HKD or 594php

(Sky is still free)

c. Cab - hotel

Fare: 230 HKD plus 5HKD per luggage = 235HKD or 1410php

For the travel time and convenience (since we are with a 2 yr old we will probably pick the cab)

8.  Purchase your Octopus Card in the airport 

Buy it from the kiosks near the exit since the people there speak English well and you can ask them for promotions on fare or theme park tickets.

You cannot buy this with credit card so make sure you have HK dollars ready.

A card is 150HKD with 50 refundable upon return of the card.  Unused fare can also be refunded.
Child is 70HKD since their fare is usually 50% lower than the adult fare.

You can use your Octopus card in any means of transportation except cabs.  You can even use it in convenient stores.

9.  Where to exchange money?

a.  I was told to exchange a small amount with your local bank so when you get to HK you do not have to worry.
b.  Then you can either exchange the rest in HK.  The best I read (if you are staying in TST like us) is in Mirador Mansion or in Chung King Mansion (both along Nathan Road)

Be vigilant when you exchange your money.

10.  Be prepared with an itinerary ---places to go, things to see, where to eat.
But do not fret if you change plans as you go along.

11.  Book things in advance on-line - 

Aside from getting a discounted flight, I did this to get discounts with our hotel through Agoda:

Review or Book a hotel through Agoda

Discounts with Disneyland:

Review or Book your Disney tickets/hotel here

and Discounts at Madame Tussauds (where you can get up to 40% off)

Review or Book your tickets to Madame Tussauds here



Happy Trip :)

Note: Feel free to drop me a line if I forgot anything ...








3 comments:

  1. I always bring wipes and a box if ziplock every time we travel.
    Plane snacks and cheap pang-aliw toys and activities (aside from the iPad games and movies, especially for long flights) I like to bring cheap toys so if they get lost I won't feel bad loosing them.

    I also pack a poncho for my son and for us. I think it's easier than an umbrella. A clear one is better for those photo-ops too.

    I pack a change of clothes in ziplock. I sometimes even pack my sons daily clothes in ziplock (again..now u know why I bring a box of it) so I already know what he's wearing for the day and the next.

    Because my son has peanut allergy, aside from the epi-pen and Claritin (spread out in all our bags/wallet) I print out labels for his bag, my bag, any carry-ons and luggage)

    Traveling to hot places, I bring a small spray bottle to keep us cool and keeps my boy entertained while waiting in the long lines (those spray fans in amusement parks are too expensive)

    Bring an empty water bottle or just buy 1 and just refill it there. And if you can, I usually past by a grocery store when we land before going to any park to get better and cheaper snacks. Instead of buying there. Again, ziplock is my friend, I wash and cut them in the hotel.

    Take pictures of your documents in your phone too.

    As for rides, not sure if fast pass is available there, but we would normally first line up on the rides that's the most popular while my husband lines up in the fast pass for the next ride time. He still makes it on time for the first ride and after we are done, we don't have it line up for the 2nd time or if we have to wait we go on to the other rides first.

    In a country that has laws for child seats, you also have to account for that (but I think HK is not as strict), if you're bringing your own or rent. They are normally free in baggage or leave a-la-cart. And if you carry them in car seat covers, you can even pack some of your loot in there.

    Sometimes you can ask the stewardess for milk too. And if they have troubles with the air pressure, I usually give my son a lollipop during take off and landing or those fruit rolls ups coz they are chewing and make their ears pop.

    As for car parking to airport...I sometimes get a family member to bring and pick us up if possible. If not, we do the park and ride just coz of child seats, no car rentals will do that unless we also rent from them.

    And like you said, no matter how much you plan, there's always something to divert your plan. Just enjoy the trip! After all it is the (second, to me) happiest place on earth!!

    Hope some of my tips are useful

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  2. wow thanks for the tips Cecile!!!!!! HUGS

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  3. i like the lining up tip as well as the photo on your phone documents!!! those are super helpful!!!!

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