I visited Hong Kong as part of a 3-week Asia/Pacific tour, which included Singapore and New Zealand. I had read various things about wheelchair accessibility there, and while I was confident enough to go alone, I was still a bit skeptical about the challenges I would encounter. Hong Kong still has several barriers to full accessibility, but the city (and technically a Special Department of China) has made great strides towards improving accessibility. I thoroughly enjoyed my 4-day stay and met some amazing people in the process! Here’s my list of top wheelchair accessible things for visitors to do while in Hong Kong, China.
1. Victoria Peak. I think a visit to the peak of this mountain tops most to-do lists for Hong Kong, and it’s easy to see why. The views of Hong Kong’s massive city skyline are unparalleled from the vantage point of 552 meters up. There is technically a tram that goes up the side of the mountain, but that’s not wheelchair friendly. You can either take a wheelchair taxi (call Diamond Cab), which will cost you about HK$900 (roughly US$100) for a 3-hour hire, or take the bus. If you choose to use Bus 15 to go to The Peak, it will take at least 40 minutes, possibly an hour if there are road works or traffic jams. On the other hand it is an interesting route with lots to see and of course being a simple public bus it is extremely cheap, just HK$9.80 per person and half price for children. At the Peak you’ll find a huge shopping mall complex, and while it’s all accessible, you’ll need to take a series of elevators to reach the viewing area. You can pay roughly US$6 to go up to Sky Terrace 428, which is a large unobstructed platform at the top of the mall. Just be prepared to “pay” for the view by pushing and shoving your way through a huge throng of people vying for viewing space.
2. Ngong Ping 360 Gondola and Village. If you are even remotely afraid of heights, you may want to stop reading now and move on to #3. Seriously. Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car is a 25-minute scenic ride that connects Ngong Ping plateau with the town of Tung Chung. This hotspot of Hong Kong tourism is where you can feast your eyes with the panoramic vistas of Lantau Island and beyond. For HK$210 (about US$24) you can purchase a round-trip ticket up to the plateau and catch amazing views of the South China Sea, the Hong Kong airport, and beautiful mountain vistas. For an extra few dollars, you can ride in a Crystal Car with a full plexiglas floor (again, not for the faint of heart).
Once at the top, you’ll roll out of the car into Ngong Ping Village for many accessible opportunities to eat and shop. Past the village you’ll pass through a huge gate and the Bodhi Wishing shrine to the high steps leading up to the famous Big Buddha. You can’t reach it, but the view is great from below. You can then continue to the beautiful Po Lin Monastery. Again you can’t enter due to steps, but the courtyard is very pretty and a lovely place to relax with lunch from nearby vendors. The easiest way to reach the cable car station is to take the metro to the Tung Chung station and roll for about 7 minutes to the terminal behind the metro exit.
3. Kowloon at Night Walking/Rolling Tour. This is easily one of the coolest city tours I’ve ever taken. I got a recommendation for the Good Evening Kowloon tour by Walk in Hong Kong from fellow wheelie Srin Madipalli, and it did not fail to blow my mind. Olivia, my tour guide, brought a small portable ramp with her to help me get up on curbs and into some, um, unique places along the way. We visited a century-old fruit market for a blend of hilarious urban tales and exotic fruits. We also saw the overwhelming lights and sounds at Temple Street market and rolled into an old-school singing parlour that only lives on in this part of town in between enjoying a very local dinner. I also had my fortune told by a bird (you have to see it to believe it) before we capped off the night with more local food delights. The stories are absolutely unbelievable, and the sights at night will make you feel like you saw the real Hong Kong. You will meet your guide at the Yau Ma Tei metro station to start your unforgettable evening tour.
4. Hong Kong Disneyland. For the record, I live in Orlando. I’ve been to Walt Disney World dozens of times in my life, and to Disneyland and California Adventure twice. However, I had never been to a Disneyland park in a foreign country, and curiosity got the best of me. Despite being half a world away from the original House of the Mouse in Anaheim, California, Disneyland in Hong Kong retains the corporation’s commitment to making sure the theme park is as accessible as possible for people with all kinds of disabilities. Although Hong Kong Disneyland is the smallest of the world collection (and by smallest, I mean tiny), this means you can easily see the whole park in a day and with minimal arm or battery power. Several of the rides are technically wheelchair accessible; however, for their own legal or safety reasons, they will make you transfer into a manual wheelchair (provided by the park) in order to go on these rides. There are designated wheelchair spaces for the parades and all shows like Festival of the Lion and Mickey’s Philharmagic. Despite the park not having nearly as much stuff as the US parks, the Cast Members were so nice and helpful (considering I was alone and needed them to push my chair onto the ride vehicles) and I had a blast! For my wheelchair user’s guide to Hong Kong Disneyland, click HERE.
5. Hong Kong Museum of History. If you’re like me, you know little to nothing about Hong Kong’s history other than the fact that it used to be controlled by the British. The Hong Kong Museum of History looks deceptively small from the outside, but inside it has several floors of impressive exhibits that educate visitors about everything from Hong Kong’s natural history to the influx of various immigrants over the centuries to the brutal occupation by the Japanese during World War II. One of my favorite parts was learning the details about how the transition occurred from British control to Hong Kong’s return to Chinese hands – the “One Nation, Two Systems” doctrine and how that’s working today. You could easily spend several hours here (which is nice on a hot, cold, or rainy day), and the entire museum is wheelchair accessible (including separate toilets). Admission to “The Hong Kong Story” is free, and I just paid a few dollars to see the temporary (and impressive) exhibition about the Silk Road. The Museum is about a 15-minute roll from the East Tsim Sha Tsui metro station. It’s also right next to the Hong Kong Science Museum, which I didn’t get to see because it was closed that day, but is also wheelchair accessible.
6. A Symphony of Lights. This was the first thing I did after flying into Hong Kong and dropping my stuff off at my hotel in Kowloon. The Symphony of Lights multimedia show has set the harbour ablaze every night since 2004, and is recognized as one of the world’s most spectacular light shows. It has become the signature icon for Hong Kong, showcasing the vibrancy and glamorous night vista of the city. A new edition of the show was unveiled in December 2017, with even more exciting elements and a new soundtrack performed by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. Iconic buildings on both sides of the harbour unite to form a harmonious canvas for a sensational multimedia extravaganza, with a myriad of searchlights, lasers, LED screens and lighting working in symphony to put together a nightly spectacle that transforms the Hong Kong skyline into an outdoor audiovisual feast. You can listen to the show’s music at the harbourfront areas near Hong Kong Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui and near Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai every night at 8pm. Or, download the show’s new mobile app to tune in to the music anywhere you like!
Are you ready to visit Hong Kong in your wheelchair? Contact me at Spin the Globe/Travel and ask me how I can help you get there!