Taking Kids with Autism to Visit Ephesus

Taking Kids with Autism to Visit Ephesus pin

With 250,000 inhabitants calling the place home at the height of its popularity, Ephesus in Turkey was once a prominent city in its own right. The town was also the epicenter of the cult of Cybele which later produced one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis. Ephesus was additionally a seaport and a prominent trading stop, but the ruins are now located several miles inland.

Taking Kids with Autism to Visit Ephesus sea

Time and the forces of nature have clearly worked their combined powers on this destination and, as a result, it has taken over one and a half centuries to bring this once thriving place back to life. Archeologists have currently uncovered less than 20% of the city. However, there is plenty to see here for traveling families who love history.
Taking Kids with Autism to Visit Ephesus ruins

 

What You Will See

Library and Terrace House

Impressive restoration efforts have taken place at the library, once home to a vast collection of documents, and Terrace House, which houses some beautiful mosaics. Travelers should also keep an eye out for one of the oldest advertisements still in existence and what passed in those days for upscale bathroom facilities. Another point of interest is the town’s theater. It dates back to 200 B.C. and until recently bands used it as a venue for large rock concerts. Nowadays, only smaller acts can use the facility in keeping with the ongoing preservation efforts at the site.

Taking Kids with Autism to Visit Ephesus entrance

 

Seven Sleepers

Travelers might find interest in the plight of the legendary seven sleepers imprisoned in the nearby hills. According to legend, as a result of their beliefs, the local emperor forced these individuals to leave town. Unfortunately, the emperor also decided to imprison them in the cave they now called home. The only reason they didn’t notice their imprisonment is because their nap lasted almost two hundred years. Upon waking, they found their entire town had become Christian. The sleepers died shortly after this revelation. The cave on the slopes of Mont Pion where they supposedly slept remains a tourist attraction to this day.

Taking Kids with Autism to Visit Ephesus rest

 

Mount Nightingale

The house where the Virgin Mary possibly spent her final years sit on Mount Nightingale (a.k.a. Mount Koressos). A Catholic nun rediscovered this site in the nineteenth century, claiming she saw the place in a vision. While the Catholic Church has issued no official verdict on the matter, several Popes have visited the site, and the ruins do date back to the time of Christ. Even travelers who aren’t religious frequently mention in Trip Advisor reviews that they found the place “peaceful.”

Taking Kids with Autism to Visit Ephesus candles

 

The building itself is comprised of a small chapel area and a room off to the side where the lady is believed to have slept. Of course, the ground’s well-kept gardens contain a well whose holy waters are said to have miraculous healing powers. It stands to reason that those who choose to have a drink do so at their risk. This site nonetheless makes an excellent stop for travelers heading back to Selçuk after a day’s sightseeing at Ephesus.

Taking Kids with Autism to Visit Ephesus mary

 

Location, Hours, and Admission

From May to October, Ephesus is open between the hours of eight am and seven-thirty pm. The rest of the year the ruins shut down at five pm. New guests are admitted until an hour before the site closes, so there is plenty of time to get here.
Taking Kids with Autism to Visit Ephesus mosaicAdmission prices are currently thirty Turkish liras for adults and twenty for students. Of course, the best place to stay for those who plan on seeing the ruins is the nearby town of Selçuk.

Taking Kids with Autism to Visit Ephesus home

Ephesus sits in Turkey’s Central Aegean region. Although taxis to the site can be arranged for about fifteen Turkish liras, it is still much cheaper to use the minibusses available for about four lire per person during the busier portions of the year.

Taking Kids with Autism to Visit Ephesus pottyThese conveyances leave from Selçuk every fifteen minutes. Travelers who bring their vehicles should also know that parking at the site costs approximately eight lire.

Taking Kids with Autism to Visit Ephesus table

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Ephesus is home to many vendors selling food and drink. However, these services are expensive when compared to what is available nearby. Travelers should instead bring beverages and snacks.
  • It is a good idea to wear sturdy, comfortable shoes so that everyone can walk around the city with ease.
  • There is little shade on the site. Therefore, parents may want to take along items that will protect them from the sun’s rays. We recommend broad-brimmed hats, parasols, and high-powered sunscreen. Parents can also arrive early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the heat.
  • Visitors to Ephesus may want to hire a guide to avoid missing out on anything.
  • Ramps to the house on Mount Nightengale are provided for disabled guests. However, anyone who attempts to get up the mountain in a wheelchair will probably need assistance from another member of their party.Taking Kids with Autism to Visit Ephesus statue

Taking the Family to Istanbul Turkey

 

 

taking-the-family-to-istanbul pin-turkey

As a city that has sat at the crossroads of Western and Eastern civilization for centuries, Istanbul has a lot to offer visitors. The sprawling metropolis now exists in both Asia and Europe on either side of the Bosphorus Strait. Of course, the city once known as Constantinople used to be at the forefront of Christianity until the Ottoman Turks conquered it and subsequently converted the inhabitants to Islam. However, travelers of all faiths are welcome these days.

Taking the Family to Istanbul Turkey fresco

Grand Bazaar

An incredibly popular spot with visitors to the city, this undercover market, started in the mid-1400s. Today, it is one of the world’s oldest still operating markets. The Grand Bazaar took three hundred years’ worth of work to complete.

Taking the Family to Istanbul Turkey sky

The marketplace remains in much the same shape today as it was in those days. The narrow lanes still form a labyrinth that houses a wide variety of merchandise. Shoppers can easily spend hours or even days perusing the goods. Bargaining over tea is still the fashion here, though it has gone out of practice in other places.

The Grand Bazaar is open between eight-thirty am and seven pm on a daily basis except for Sundays and on holidays. Travelers arriving via public transportation should get off at the Vezneciler metro station or the Beyazıt-Kapalı Çarşı tram station.

Taking the Family to Istanbul Turkey cat

Turkish Baths

There are five historic Turkish Baths or hamams in the city of Istanbul as well as numerous modern equivalents. The traditional baths include a fifteen-minute scrub administered by a staff member of the same gender as the one bathing. This experience costs around eighty Turkish Lire in public bath houses but will cost a bit more at local hotels. Of course, guests should bring some cash to tip the attendants upon departing the premises.

Taking the Family to Istanbul Turkey blue

Men can often get away with wearing nothing but the towel hamam visitors are given as long as they avoid flashing anyone during their trip. Ladies should leave on their swimsuit bottoms for the entire process but be aware that going topless is typically considered acceptable behavior. In some hamams, it is deemed acceptable to bare more and in others covering up is encouraged.

Topkapi Palace

Once the Ottoman Turks took over the city, this is where they made their home for the next four centuries. Eventually, the rulers moved out, but the site functioned as an auxiliary unit with the royal mint, the library, and the Treasury remaining present in the building for some time after that. The palace is now a museum and a UNESCO site.

Taking the Family to Istanbul Turkey ceiling

Although the palace has hundreds of rooms, only a few important ones are currently accessible to visitors. As is the case with many former royal residences, a lot of history took place here, and there is subsequently much to see. Some but not all of the gems from the royal treasury are on display in the public areas of the palace. Other treasures found here include the sword and cloak said to have belonged to the prophet Muhammad.

To visit both the palace and the harem area is thirty-six Turkish Lire for those over the age of twelve. Admission is free for children. The museum is open from nine am to six pm from the middle of April to October. It closes two hours earlier than the times above between the months of November and mid-April.

Taking the Family to Istanbul Turkey interior

Hagia Sofia

Although the present structure dates to 532 AD, earlier churches had been built on the same spot. The current building started off as a Byzantium church in and continued as such for a little over a thousand years. After the conquest of the Ottoman Turks in 1453, the Ottomans turned it into a mosque. Hagia Sofia became a museum in the 1930s and remains so to this day.

The former religious house is known for its ancient mosaics and other works of art that date back centuries. Travelers should plan to spend several hours taking in everything this place has to offer, but they should also keep in mind that that the museum can be crowded at times.

Taking the Family to Istanbul Turkey castle

Buying online tickets is a good way to avoid the lines upon entry. Admission is free for children and 30 lire for those over the age of twelve. The site is open from nine am to four pm from October to the middle of April. From then until September, the building remains open until six pm.

Blue Mosque 

Also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, this religious edifice was constructed between the years 1609 and 1616. While many of the opulent decorations from earlier years have since been removed, the building retains a great deal of its original charm.

Taking the Family to Istanbul Turkey building

It is also still used as a fully functioning mosque. Therefore, women that want to view the site will be required to cover their heads with a scarf to obtain entry. Travelers of all faiths and genders should also keep their arms and shoulders covered as well. Cover-ups and veils are provided for those that have arrived without them, but anyone that is worried about the cleanliness of these garments may want to bring clothes to wear instead.

There is no admission charge for visiting the mosque, but the site often gets crowded, and travelers will want to plan accordingly.

Taking the Family to Istanbul Turkey floor

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The most difficult part of planning a trip to Istanbul is finding a time when the weather is pleasant. The city is known to fluctuate between temperature extremes. The months of September, October, May, and June are considered the best time to visit.
  • Travelers will want to bring along warm clothing and an umbrella any time they visit.
  • Those making their way to the city should double check the weather reports and adjust their packing lists accordingly.
  • Those at the Turkish baths who find the prospect of being bathed by someone else alarming can always scrub themselves. This choice will also save around 25 lire per trip.
  • The events and attractions that have lines offer no accommodations for autism.
  • The food in Istanbul might be spicy, which can be a problem for kids with food sensetivities.
  • The Topkapi Palace features a lot of walking areas. Parents should make sure everyone wears comfortable shoes.
  • The Topkapi Palace can get crowded. Parents should try to arrive at times when it isn’t as busy, usually early in the morning or late in the day.
  • At the Blue Mosque, parents should make sure kids stay quiet out of respect.
  • Most of the areas in Istanbul are not interactive. Parents should make sure kids know what they can or cannot touch.
  • Topkapi Palace is vast, so parents might just want to see the highlights.
  • Haggling is a way of life in Istanbul, so parents should check prices before buying anything.

Family Trip to Lantau Island

 

Spending The Day In Lantau with Family

For traveling families that visit Hong Kong, taking a day trip to Hong Kong’s largest outlying island, Lantau is recommended. Apart from Disneyland Hong Kong, the island Lantau is famous for its untouched nature, luscious green valleys, and the giant outdoor Buddha statue.

This island of fishing people, Hong Kong’s largest, has grown into a tourist hub with the Tung Chung New Town, Lantau Link, Ngong Ping 360, and Hong Kong International Airport.

Spending The Day In Lantau with Family shaolin

Getting There

To get to Lantau from Hong Kong, the best and fastest method is to take the Tung Chung metro line to the island. Subways in China are well organized, clearly labeled and color coordinated so one shouldn’t feel any anxiety if this is their first time traveling. If worst comes to worst travelers can always try to ask someone for help.

Transportation

There are plenty of interesting ways to get around while in Lantau. We felt it would be pertinent to list some of these methods here, both for water and land transportation.

Spending The Day In Lantau with Family skyline

Ferry in Discovery Bay and Water Taxi

Tourists can use the ferry services provided by New World First Ferry to get around Lantau. This ferry service runs between Mu Wo and Central. It takes about 30 to 50 minutes to make a trip.

Travelers can also enjoy a 24-hour ferry service operated by HKR Internation Limited. These ferries run between Pier 3 in Central and Discovery Bay, with a 25 minute travel time.

Spending The Day In Lantau with Family sky

One can also utilize inter-island ferry services on a Kai-to. A kai-to is a small ferry that links the smaller islands and the mainland.

Travelers who are looking for something a little different can use a traditional water taxi aka the walla walla. These water taxis typically depart from Cheung Chau Island.

Taxis

It is important for travelers to know the three types of taxis available in Hong Kong. The taxis are color coded according to their service areas. The red taxis travel the urban areas. The green taxis service the New Territories. Finally, all Lantau Island taxis are blue. These blue taxis take travelers anywhere on Lantau Island as well as to the Hong Kong Airport and Hong Kong Disneyland.

Spending The Day In Lantau with Family ocean

New Lantau Bus 

For bus services, the New Lantau Bus provides island transportation. There are many bus routes, nearly all of which end at Mui Wo pier and Tung Chung.  Depending on the destination, fares can range from three dollars to forty-three dollars.

Cable Car

Travelers seeking a relaxing transportation method can enjoy a cable car. One such cable car is the Ngong Ping 360, a gondola lift operated by the MTR. This cable car runs over Tung Chung Bay between Tung Chung and Ngong Ping. The Cable Car now offers Crystal Cabins with see-through floors.

Spending The Day In Lantau with Family cable

Permits for Dangerous Roads

Lantau Island has many dangerous roads, particular in the southern areas. Those with vehicles need a temporary permit to travel these roads. These have a strict use time limit of eight am – seven pm, and are only available on the weekdays.

What to See

Ngong Ping Plateau

The Ngong Ping Plateau is a great stop with access to a lot of interesting sights. Visitors can find the Po Lin Monastery here and enjoy its famous vegetarian restaurant, the Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Restaurant. The best way to get there is to take the Ngong Ping 360 from Tung Chung.

Spending The Day In Lantau with Family tree

Once travelers get off the cable car, they can explore the tourist street in Ngong Ping Village. Here, visitors can enjoy some familiar favorites like Starbucks before heading out to explore.

Giant Buddha

This 34-meter tall statue is a sight to behold on the island. The Giant Buddha, also known as the Tian Tan Buddha, is one of the five large Buddha statues in China. Interestingly, this statue is the only one of the five that faces north, while all other others face south. The statue sits on a lotus, which sits on a three-platform altar, and is surrounded by six bronze statues offering gifts to the Buddha, called “The Offering of the Six Devas,” which symbolize the Six Perfections.

Spending The Day In Lantau with Family buddha

Travelers can explore the three floors under the statues. These levels, called the Halls of the Universe, of Benevolent Merit, and of Remembrance, feature relics. One of these relics is the supposed cremated remains of Gautama Buddha, which can only bee seen by those who purchase an offering for the Buddha.

To see the Buddha up close, travelers need to climb 268 steps or drive up the winding road for the disabled. The journey is well worth it as travelers can get fantastic views of the island.

Spending The Day In Lantau with Family statue

Tai O

Tai O is a fishing town in the northwest part of Lantau Island. This place features stilt houses or homes on the water that tourists come from all over the world to see. Tai O is a historic town, existing for over three centuries, and one can see living history with the townsfolk’s use of traditional fishing boats, though fishing is dying out in the area. Travelers can move through the town’s narrow footpaths and alleyways and experience the interconnected community of the area.

Spending The Day In Lantau with Family sea

Visitors can try salted fish, a traditional Chinese dish, or shrimp paste. Adventurous travelers can try the local dried seafood, like fish skin or stomachs. They can also explore the Tai O Market and bring back a souvenir. Tai O is mostly a relaxing, tranquil place where travelers can rest after a long day or between other locations of interest.

For a fee, some residents can take groups out on boats for a sea trip. Travelers can see rare Chinese white dolphins and other aspects of sea life.

Spending The Day In Lantau with Family food

Temples

Tai O is home to several temples dedicated to various gods and figures. While in Tai O, we saw two of these temples, the Kwan Tai Temple and the Hung Shing Temple.

The Kwan Tai Temple is a place of worship for the locals of the island. Built during the Ming Dynasty in 1488, this temple is in the center of the village of Tai O. The temple is elaborately decorated, dedicated to the god Kwan Tai, of War and Righteousness.

Spending The Day In Lantau with Family red

Hung Shing Temple was built in 1746 by villagers. Many locals in Tai O worship sea gods, especially since Tai O is based on the water, and Hung Shing is dedicated to a sea god.

Shaolin Kung Fu Performances

Shaolin Kung Fu is one of the oldest styles of Chinese Martial Arts. It was first practiced in the Buddhist Shaolin Temple. When we visited, we saw an incredible Shaolin performance, and we have a video of it at the end of this article.

Spending The Day In Lantau with Family perform

Other Attractions

Lantau Trail

Travelers looking to enjoy the scenery can enjoy one of Lantau’s many national parks and trails. The most famous of these is Lantau Trail, featuring natural stone steps and dense woodland. 

Tung Chung Fort

History buffs will love visiting Tung Chung Fort. This fort, built in 1817, helped hold back the opium trade and defend against pirates. In WWII, the Japanese army occupied this fort, and in 1979 it was listed as a historical monument of Hong Kong. Visitors can see its six old cannons.

Spending The Day In Lantau with Family egg

Trappist Haven Monastery (Our Lady of Joy Abbey)

Roman Catholic monks live in the Trappist Haven Monastery, officially known as Our Lady of Joy Abbey, at Tai Shu Hang to this day. The Trappist congregation was established in the nineteenth century and is still going strong. This monastery is known for its Trappist Milk, though the factor is today location at Castle Peak, Yuen Long. Visitors can see free roaming feral cattle, the descendants of the animals released after the onsite dairy farm closed.

Spending The Day In Lantau with Family ship

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Hong Kong is in a sub-tropical climate, which is hot and frequently humid. We suggest that parents pack plenty of light clothes that can easily be layered as well as comfortable walking shoes and umbrellas.
  • Many of Lantau’s must-see locations are outdoors, so we suggest parents pack sunscreen, sunglasses, bug spray, and plenty of water.
  • Parents of kids with temperature sensitivities should visit during the cooler seasons.
  • Many of these attractions have tours. We suggest signing up for these and purchasing tickets ahead of time.
  • The Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Restaurant is cheap, and kids can often eat for free. The bathrooms are out the back of the restaurant.

Top Tokyo Spots for Kids with Autism

 

Top Tokyo Spots for Kids with Autism pin

 

Tokyo is a great travel destination for families visiting Japan. Parents looking for an international city that features cultural experiences, natural wonders, and amusement parks should put Tokyo on their bucket list. After having enjoyed the city’s sights on our latest Asian adventure, here are our top autism-friendly spots for traveling families.

7565403988_d507929801_k-001Disneyland Tokyo and Tokyo Disney Sea

Parents looking to incorporate a bit of Mickey Mouse into their Tokyo vacation should visit Disneyland Tokyo and its sister park Tokyo Disney Sea. Filled with thrill rides and shows, these two Disney parks are sure to deliver a fun-filled experience for the entire family.

Though Disneyland Tokyo is similar to its US counterparts, Tokyo Disney Sea is unique. Tokyo Disney Sea boasts an ocean theme with gondola trips and the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride.

Top Tokyo Spots for Kids with Autism views

Tokyo Sea Life Park

This place is a fantastic way to acquaint children with sea life from different oceans around the world. Kids will marvel at the unique sea creatures indigenous to various bodies of water, colorful fish, sea horses, and sharks. Also, they will be more than likely to get a chuckle out of the bird antics in the penguin exhibit. The Sea Life Park is located just across from Disneyland in the Kasai Rinkai Park so it should not be too hard to find.

Top Tokyo Spots for Kids with Autism statue
Odaiba

Odaiba is an artificial island rising out of Tokyo Bay. This island is a hub of all things futuristic, as it was originally meant to showcase futuristic living much like Epcot in Florida.

Today, Odaiba features attractions like the Daikanransha Ferris Wheel and Sony Explora Science. Kids will love the arcades with the most up to date games, and parents will savor the views from the Fuji TV building. Everything from state of the art electronics to futuristic architecture will enthrall all family members. Not to be missed is the Rainbow Bridge beautifully lit at nighttime.

Top Tokyo Spots for Kids with Autism temple

Ginza and the Sony Showroom 

Ginza is a shopping district, the closest thing Japan has to Times Square in New York City. There are numerous upscale boutique shops and posh department stores where children and parents alike can deck themselves out with high-end fashion. Geeks will enjoy a short tour of the Sony ExploraScience building with its interactive activities, and hands-on demonstrations.

Top Tokyo Spots for Kids with Autism sony

 

Edo-Tokyo Museum

The Edo-Tokyo Museum gives visitors a walk through the history of Tokyo. Travelers get a rare glimpse the origins of a city from a unique perspective. Here, guests can visit scaled models of buildings that re-create important events in history from the beginnings of Tokyo to the war-torn aftermath of World War II. The museum ends with a modern rendition of Tokyo built to scale. Children will love this up close and personal view of one of the greatest cities in the world.

Families can get English speaking personalized guided tours for free, an excellent feature.

Top Tokyo Spots for Kids with Autism diorama

 

Sensoji Temple

This location is the city’s most famous Buddhist temple. It is also the oldest. However, the structure that currently stands there is relatively new despite its ancient history. This fact is because WWII bombings nearly destroyed the structure.

Having been rebuilt, Sensoji is a serene space for Buddhists to practice and live out their faith. The street leading up to the temple is lined with souvenir shops and restaurants that families can enjoy. Parents will want to keep their children close to the main gate to avoid crowds. However, once inside, parents can introduce their children to a culture like no other. Those visiting at six pm can hear the regular ringing of the bells.

Top Tokyo Spots for Kids with Autism lamp

 

Tokyo Tower and Skytree

Parents can explore the Tokyo Tower, a communications hub found in the Shiba-Koen district of Minato. The Tower’s construction was inspired by the Eiffel tower and stands as the second highest structure in all of Japan. Families can ride the escalator to the tower’s observation deck or climb its 600 steps. Just below the Tower is FootTown, a four-story building with museums, eateries, and shopping areas.

The Tower was initially constructed for television and radio in 1961, but when Japan transitioned to digital television, the Tower was not tall enough to support the change. Therefore, the Tokyo Skytree, the tallest structure in all of Japan and the world, was built in 2012 in Sumida.

Top Tokyo Spots for Kids with Autism wedding

Studio Ghibli 

Founded on June 15, 1985, by directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, Studio Ghibli is the number one Studio for Japanese animation. It is based in Koganei, just outside Tokyo. The studio is best known for its films such as My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and Princess Mononoke.

Production at Studio Ghibli is currently temporarily halted with Miyazaki’s retirement, but travelers can still visit the Studio. Check out the small cafe ‘s bamboo straws and unique ice cubes.When we went, the lack of commercialization in the studio struck us especially. Studio Ghibli is nothing like US Studios, and visiting is more of a journey into the creation of anime movies and the process behind it. This visit is more recommended for older kids.

Top Tokyo Spots for Kids with Autism ticket

Hama Rikyu

Hama Rikyu is a beautiful garden park at the mouth of the Sumida River. The park was originally the home of a feudal lord in the Edo period but opened as a park officially in April of 1946. A seawater moat circles the entire park. Visitors can enjoy matcha tea and sweets at the teahouse in the garden’s center. During the New Year, travelers can also see falconry and aikido demonstrations at the park.The park is a relaxing spot for kids to run about and enjoy the outdoors in what is a very busy metropolis.


Top Tokyo Spots for Kids with Autism park

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should be aware that landmarks and entertainment venues in Japan are quite autism friendly and will go out of their way to accommodate personal needs.
  • Always ask before purchasing tickets if there are any discounts for disabilities.
  • Japan is a polite society, so advise your kid to say please and thank you and use their inside voice.
    Parents should ask for the complimentary guided tour of the Edo Museum
  • Though the theme parks here don’t  use the same disability pass like in the US, the staff does a superb job of accommodating autism
  • Noise sensitive kids should avoid visiting the Sensoji Temple around six pm when the bells ring quite loudly.

 

Have you taken your child to Tokyo? What are your thoughts?

 

 

Tokyo Shopping with Family

Tokyo Shopping with Family pin

Shopping in Tokyo is vastly different than the experience most of us are familiar with in the United States. Most of the city’s shopping areas are comprised of walkable streets or portions of streets. Others have grown around areas, with heavy foot traffic such as train stations or temples. When it comes to purchasing souvenirs, the products available run the gambit from cutting-edge electronics to inexpensive tchotchkes. For those traveling to the Japanese capital for the first time, here are our favorite spots to explore.

Tokyo Shopping with Family akihabara

 

Akihabara

The shopping venue enjoys the reputation as the place to go to for anything and everything electronic. Akihabara began as a group of small shops which supplied do-it-yourselfers with specific electronic components. The area later experienced increased demand for consumer-ready, out-of-the-box products.

While the small, very specialized shops continue to thrive, large mainstream stores, such as the massive Yodobashi Camera store, now comprise the majority of the shopping experience.

 

Tokyo Shopping with Family akihabara electronics

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Discuss with your child in advance the items that you are looking for to purchase and how much you are willing to spend. The area is filled with many bargains, and one might find themselves tempted to buy unnecessary things that can’t be returned.
  • Make sure at all times that your child is next to you so they don’t press any buttons or break any items.
  • Parents might want to explain ahead of time to older kids the concept of the Maid cafes since they might ask questions about girls in odd uniforms standing on street corners.

Nakamise-dōri

Nakamise-dōri is one of the oldest shopping areas in the city and continues to be one of the most popular. This shopping area begins at the Kaminari-Mon gate and ends at the foot of Asakusa’s Sensoji Temple. The area is famous for tourist fares such as figurines and T-shirts, along with several shops selling local food. With over ninety shops to explore, this venue is always busy, so parents should be prepared to spend several hours walking around.
Tokyo Shopping with Family fried mochi

 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Visitors should arrive early in the morning since it gets mobbed with tourists and school kids in the afternoon.
  • THE food to try is the sweet and fried mochi balls.

Harajuku

The concept of this area is different than anything found in the States. or Europe.
Harajuku is comprised of two parallel streets filled with shops selling  Japanese designer clothing.

The uniqueness of Harajuku is the choice of the fashion genre. Though the area may look awkwardly designed is an efficient way for parents and children to shop together. Omotesando street is famous for its upscale apparel boutiques while counterculture and youth apparel dominate Takeshita Don.

 

Tokyo Shopping with Family clothes

Autism Travel Tips:

  • This place caters mostly to fashion oriented young people, especially teenagers.
  • If your child is not particularly interested in fashion, then make sure they have adequate electronic entertainment while other family members shop.

Shinjuku

Travelers can find the Shinjuku shopping area around Shinjuku Station, the world’s busiest train stop. Flagship stores of many major electronic and fashion retailers can be found here. Also, there are additional shopping opportunities in the underground areas.

Shinjuku is also one of the largest entertainment districts in Tokyo, with a huge selection of clubs and restaurants to enjoy. With such a diverse array of shopping, entertainment, and dining options, anyone is sure to have an enjoyable experience.

Tokyo Shopping with Family shoes

Autism Travel Tips:

  • One of the worst intersections in Tokyo is in Shinjuku, where pedestrians can cross in eight different directions simultaneously.
  • For families with kids that are not interested in shopping, there are several cat cafes in the neighborhood that will delight all members of the family.

100-Yen Store

The 100-Yen store is Japan’s version of the Dollar Store. There are many of these stores around Japan, and more are opening every year. The concept is the same like in the US; the company buys in bulk and can sell their products at a reduced price. As in the United States, it is not the best place to purchase electronics, but the 100-Yen store is perfect for T-shirts, souvenirs, and sundries.
Tokyo Shopping with Family city

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should set a fixed budget when shopping since one might be tempted to buy things that are not necessary.
  • The store sells toys and souvenirs that are great to use as budget friendly rewards for kids with autism.

Have you visited Tokyo with your children? What are your shopping tips?

 

Taking the Kids to Tokyo’s Edo Museum

Taking the Kids to Tokyo's Edo Museum

The famous Ueno Park in Tokyo, Japan is home to several major museums. Among these is the Edo Museum, a national icon for Japan and prized building in Tokyo. This museum is easy to spot while walking because of its unique elevated structure and shape modeled after an old storehouse in the Kurazukuri style.

Taking the Kids to Tokyo's Edo Museum building

Located at 1-4-1 Yokoami, Sumida, the Museum focuses on Tokyo history during the Edo period from 1603 to 1868. The venue opened in March of 1993 with the purpose of passing on the history and culture of Edo-Tokyo to future generations through interactive exhibitions and preservation of their collection of over 590,000 items. When visiting the museum, visitors can learn more about the 400-year history of the city; from the time  Tokugawa Ieyasu, established his government in Edo to present day Tokyo.

Taking the Kids to Tokyo's Edo Museum structure

The concept behind the  Museum was that it would become a center for the creation of a new future for the city as well as a place to educate tourists. However, we discovered the best part about the venue is how it encourages interaction between the locals and visitors.

Getting There

Travelers can get to the Museum by bus, taxi, train or walking depending on from where they are arriving. The most common mode of transportation is the subway. The subway in Tokyo is relatively easy to navigate so families should have no issues in figuring out how to get around. Visitors can either take the  JR Sobu Line to Ryogoku Station and exit out of the West exit or take the Oedo Line to the Ryogoku Station and get off at the A4 exit.

Taking the Kids to Tokyo's Edo Museum street

Museum Highlights

The museum offers a permanent exhibition that showcases original objects and replicas dating back  400-years. The exhibit is interactive; featuring videos in multiple languages, performances, and activities for all ages. Furthermore, various dioramas and life-sized displays show the city of Edo through the different centuries. Several times a year the museum hosts special exhibitions on its first-floor. Furthermore, offers hands-on classes, traditional Edo Haku theater, and a traditional culture experience program for foreigners.

Taking the Kids to Tokyo's Edo Museum side

Edo

We enjoyed a private tour led by a museum volunteer docent. He took time explaining the different areas to us and answering all our questions.

We started by crossing a full sized replica of the Nihonbashi Bridge back to 1590. That year, Tokugawa Ieyasu entered the Kanto area and established Edo as his home base.
Ieyasu, who became the ruling shogun, worked diligently to turn Edo into a capital worthy of the shogunate. He commissioned moats, roads, temples, shrines, and permanent living quarters for the building of his army. Our sons admired the detailed scale model replicas of the chain district and the Edo Castle.

Next, we were off to checking out how the ordinary people lived in the 1600s. Most people lived in houses called “Na Gaya,” which resembled a tenement type of row of houses. We found it interesting that as early as the 1600s Japan already had an established printing and publishing industry to distribute information. We also learned about the economic patterns that emerged in Edo; from migrant workers seeking work to the transportation of goods from Japan’s various regions. It was at that time that the city’s main thoroughfares (still in use today) Shinagawa, Itabashi, Senju, and Naito Shinjuku stations were established. Furthermore, it surprised us to discover that though Japan was mostly closed to foreigners during its Edo period, it still maintained connections with the Netherlands, China, and Korea.

Tokyo

The museum charts the gradual decline of the Edo shogunate and rise of Meiji Restoration after Matthew Perry’s fleet arrival in Uraga.
The exhibit has several sections describing Japan’s transition from isolation to the westernized country we know today.

According to the displays, the city experienced two catastrophic events that shaped it for decades to come.
After the 1872 fire, the first of these events, they reconstructed the neighborhood  Ginza as a westernized fireproof city.
The second was the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. The quake that killed 70,000 people triggered a large-scale reconstruction project that transformed the city’s streetscape and helped develop Tokyo’s suburbs.

For us, as Americans, the sections of Tokyo during the war and post-war were most memorable.
Our sons learned what it was like for Tokyo’s citizens to not only survive the WW2 air raids but the severe shortages under the Allies occupation after the war. The last area of the exhibit traces the recovery of the city that by 1955 had built multiple cooperative housing complexes and had its citizens saving up for the “three sacred treasures” – black and white TV, washing machine, and refrigerator.

Taking the Kids to Tokyo's Edo Museum ship

On a Personal Note

Our English speaking guide, Mr Iohiro Yamamoto, was a polite and eloquent man in his 80’s. He walked us through the exhibits, describing Japanese history throughout the ages as we looked at the beautiful dioramas.

When we finally reached the WWII section, our guide sat down and said he wanted to apologize.
When we asked why he said he felt the need to apologize to us as Americans for what his country did to ours over 70 years ago.

He proceeded to tell us he had witnessed the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki as a young boy but bears the U.S. no ill feelings.
We were brought to tears.

Needless to say, it was one of the most powerful moments in travel we have ever experienced as a family.

Taking the Kids to Tokyo's Edo Museum shoes

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The museum does provide wheelchair accessibility. Those with wheelchairs will come in on the ground floor and take the elevator to the sixth-floor exhibition. If the wheelchair does not fit in the museum (Japan has smaller walkways than other countries), visitors can borrow one from the museum on the first or sixth floor.
  • A downside of the museum’s design is that while a majority of displays are easy to see from a wheelchair, one cannot access the screens due to the small walkways.
  • The museum does not provide raised guide blocks for the visually impaired.

Taking the Kids to Tokyo's Edo Museum roof

  • This museum takes anywhere from an hour and a half to three hours to walk. Even though the venue is air conditioned, parents need to prepare kids for extensive walking.
  • Families can request a complimentary English speaking guide at short notice.
  • .While some of the exhibits can be touched, most are untouchable. Parents should make sure their kids are mindful of what is ok to touch.
  • It is best to visit later in the day because the museum often hosts school tours.

Taking the Kids to Tokyo's Edo Museum dress

Taking Your Kids With Autism to Bangkok Thailand

 Taking Your Kids With Autism to Bangkok Thailand pin

Here at Autistic Globetrotting, we believe that there’s no substitute for personal experience. While most of the articles here detail our personal travel experience, in this post we interviewed Yumi Yasuyama about her recent trip to Thailand.

 

Taking Your Kids With Autism to Bangkok Thailand family

Photo Credit: Yumi Yasuyama

How was the flight?

This time we flew with Thai Airlines. We couldn’t get a flight with Japan Airlines because it was peak season, but even so, the Thai Airlines flight was crowded.The flight was 6.5 hours from Chūbu Centrair International Airport to Bangkok. The service was excellent. The flight stewardess gave Aki, my son with autism, a lot of papers and colored pen markers so he wouldn’t get bored.

Where did you stay?

We stayed in the  Sukhumvit area at Grande Centre Point Terminal 21 Hotel. We were looking for a very convenient area especially because Aki has autism, not to mention ADHD, a panic disorder and food issues. I chose this central location so that if Aki had some meltdown, it would be easier to rush back to our room.

As always, I emailed the hotel before booking and explained our situation. The hotel gave us connecting rooms and even upgraded us to a room with a kitchenette.

Furthermore, they put us on a less crowded floor, and every time we showed up in the restaurant, lobby, pool, spa or fitness center, the staff was quick to give us assistance. We felt like we were given V.I.P treatment.

Taking Your Kids With Autism to Bangkok Thailand swimming

Photo Credit: Yumi Yasuyama

What the highlights of the trip? 

Aki wanted to ride an elephant, so it was our primary purpose. We made inquiries online and planned a visit to an elephant camp.Also, the original plan included visits to some temples and some public markets. When we were there, most of the temples were under construction, which was quite a disappointment for us.
Also, it was too hot at 39℃ to be outside. So we ended up visiting the Indian district of Bangkok, had made-to-order tailored suits and shirts for the boys, and tried differThaimassages.We found the people in Thailand very helpful and friendly. They didn’t even ask for tips, but their services were fantastic.

Taking Your Kids With Autism to Bangkok Thailand pool

Photo Credit: Yumi Yasuyama

Did you encounter any particular issues?

In the hotel, the communication was not a problem since everyone spoke English.Outside it was a little more of a challenge, but we were able to communicate through gestures, a little bit of English, pointing to pictures, and a Google Translate App. It was fun, and the boys giggled every time they understood us.
Overall we had a great experience even the street vendors were polite. At night we did wander into some districts where there were bars, but we still felt pretty safe.

In what ways did you find Thailand similar to Japan?

The people in Thailand are very honest. I left some tips for the staff in the hotel for making our beds, and when we got back to the rooms, the money had been left there on the top of our pillows.

Aki lost his bag in Bangkok, and we didn’t know where, but somebody found it, saw our hotel room key and brought it to the hotel lobby. We had already given up hope on ever finding it, but when it was returned,  the money inside was untouched. Sadly, since the kind person who returned it never left their name, we couldn’t thank anybody.

Taking Your Kids With Autism to Bangkok Thailand night view
Photo Credit: Yumi Yasuyama

In what ways did you find Thailand different from Japan?

The foods were different in Thailand compared with Japan. They add a lot of spices. The boys giggled every time they tried new foods.We tried noodles, BBQ, and Thai curry. Their fruits were superb! We even found this Steak House right outside our hotel where they served Angus prime ribs which were delicious.

Tackling the congested traffic was challenging for Aki; especially with loud horns and motorcycles driving in the opposite lanes.

One of the sad differences was seeing some young girls, very young much younger than our boys who are 17 and 18, in the alley at the night district in Sukhumvit acquiring customers while wearing their very sexy outfits. I’m glad my son didn’t ask for clarifications as to what these girls were doing.

What souvenirs did you bring home?

Aki bought some fridge magnets, dried fruits, and chocolates that he gave to his teachers.Our other son got these scorpion keyholders and a Bulgari leather belt. He didn’t go crazy shopping this time. I was quite impressed.
We visited a gem factory, and my mom bought 23k earrings as she thought the prices were lower than in Japan.

Taking Your Kids With Autism to Bangkok Thailand elephant

Photo Credit: Yumi Yasuyama

What is your fondest memory?

My favorite memory is of visiting the Safari Park; riding the elephant, seeing so many giraffe and tigers up close and touching them. Seeing my boys communicate with the local vendors using sign languages and trying to get discounts is a close second.

The best part was that Aki didn’t have any meltdowns.We traveled with some friends this time, and they did help me a lot with the boys.
Sometime in the near future, we would like to go back and visit some of the Thai islands and stay longer . This visit was way too short.

Yumi Yasuyama lives in Aichi-Ken, Kariya City, Japan and is a mother to two sons, one of which (Aki) has autism and ADHD.She and her sons share their family adventures on their Facebook page called-Adventures in Autism. In this interview, Yumi sheds light on what motivates them to travel as well as describing the different challenges associated with planning their trips.

Five Sensory Activities for Families in Kyoto

SinceFive Sensory Activities for Families in Kyoto pin

Kyoto, located on the island of Honshu in Japan, was the imperial capital of Japan for over a thousand years. Now known as City of Ten Thousand Shrines, Kyoto is famous for its museums and festivals. We checked out some of these sites on our most recent trip to Kyoto and have created this list of five sensory activities that are perfect for families and travelers with autism.

Five Sensory Activities for Families in Kyoto river

 

Once in Kyoto, it is relatively easy to get around, since the city has an excellent public transportation system, making it easy to hop on a bus, train, or subway. Kyoto also has taxis, which are reasonably priced, and the city is quite walkable and bike friendly. Any way you choose to get around; it likely to be a safe experience!

Five Sensory Activities for Families in Kyoto pond

Nijo Castle

The building of Nijō Castle began in 1601 and was completed in 1626. It is now one of seventeen historical monuments in Kyoto that are designated by UNESCO as  World Heritage Sites. The Castle boasts an outer wall area and an inner wall area, which demonstrate the social system at the time when only the most notable guests were able to enter the inner area. The inner area consists of the Ninomaru Palace which is built almost entirely of cypress and filled with elaborate gold leaf woodcarvings, as well as gorgeous wall paintings. Visitors should check out the magnificent gardens on the property, where they will see the pond and groves of cherry and Japanese plum trees.There is plenty of room to walk around and explore, and there are English guides available, but it’s not a very interactive place for children.

Five Sensory Activities for Families in Kyoto red

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should prepare their child to remove their shoes at the entrance. If they’re not comfortable with that, they won’t be able to enter the castle.
  • The castle can get crowded and stuffy in some rooms, especially in the summer time. Parents should bring a mini fan and water for kids that are temperature intolerant.
  • Five Sensory Activities for Families in Kyoto gold castle

Iga Ueno, the Ninja Palace

Any kid interested in Ninjas will enjoy the Iga Ueno! The Iga school of Ninjutsu was one of Japan’s most famous Ninja schools in the feudal period. It has since been turned into a Ninja museum. One of Japan’s greatest poets, Basho Matsuo, was born here, so the site includes a museum and his birth home.The interactive aspect of this palace is impressive. The Ninja Experience Hall will show visitors the tools that Ninjas used and a video about how stealthy Ninjas were.

Five Sensory Activities for Families in Kyoto pond

Autism Travel Tips:

  • There is Ninja show that most kids will enjoy. However, parents should bring earplugs along because the show is somewhat noisy.

Tea Ceremony

For those visiting Japan, a must-do is participating in a traditional tea ceremony. This ceremony is a favorite activity in Kyoto, so there are several places to go for a tea ceremony. Most services run relatively the same – a little bit of education before and during the ceremony, and a relaxing experience sipping tea in the traditional Japanese way. The prices are typically around 2000-3000 yen per person.

Five Sensory Activities for Families in Kyoto statue

Autism Travel Tips:

  • As some of the customs may be different than what a child with autism might expect (taking off shoes, sitting on the floor, doing things in a certain order, sitting quietly)attending a  Tea Ceremony is something that parents might want to research the topic ahead of time. Parents should check out our YouTube video below to get an idea of what to expect.

Meet a Geisha

Kyoto is the place to go to meet a traditional geisha. Despite popular urban legends, geishas are NOT prostitutes but entertainers trained in traditional Japanese dance, tea ceremony, and other traditions. It can be quite expensive to attend a geisha (geiko) or maiko show, but since they mostly live in Kyoto, it is possible to spot one on the street.

Five Sensory Activities for Families in Kyoto geisha

 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should make sure children do not make disparaging remarks about the customary costume and heavy makeup.
  • In Japan, there is a higher level of politeness/etiquette observed; parents should help their child be mindful.

Day Trip to Nara

Nara is worth its own post, so be sure to check our separate about it for more information. Nara was Japan’s first capital, designated in 610, and is home to some of Japan’s largest and oldest temples. It is about an hour outside Kyoto, so it is not hard to see some amazing temples and gorgeous gardens. Travelers should tour Naramachi, an old merchant town with some interesting old houses and have fun feeding the wild deer roaming freely around the area.

Five Sensory Activities for Families in Kyoto deer

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Families should bring plenty of hand wipes, as visitors will either touch or be touched by the wild deer.
  • The deer are persistent and can chase, stalk, or nibble on the belongings of guests. Parents should prepare their child for this as it can be frightening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four Family Friendly Attractions in Guangzhou China

Four Family Friendly Attractions in Guangzhou China pin

Are you taking a trip to China with your family? Are you having trouble deciding where to go that would entertain not only yourself but also your kids? Have no fear dear travelers, for I know of a fantastic destination. This place is full of culture and life. It is rich with history and plenty of activities to do as a family. I have visited this country before but I will admit that I have not visited this particular city and sorely regret missing out on the opportunity. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the wonderful area of Guangzhou China.

Four Family Friendly Attractions in Guangzhou China

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is the capital of and the largest city in Southern China’s Guangdong province . You can find the capital on the Pearl River, about 75 miles north-northwest of Hong Kong. Guangzhou is a major national transportation hub as well as a trading port. Due to this, you can find almost anything in the capital, and it has caused Guangzhou to be a part of one of the most populous metropolitan agglomerations on Earth. Here are four destinations in Guangzhou to check out when you visit.

Markets

The markets in Guangzhou are overflowing with goods and produce of almost anything imaginable. All you need to do is find a street and take a stroll. I can guarantee that you will eventually run into a market where the stalls and stores are lined up along the road. The air will rise in temperature due to the steam off of the vendor’s carts selling local snacks and meals. You will also find vegetables and fruit spilling from crates as passersby stop to examine and pick out a few local items for an on the go treat. Live hens will cluck softly to you as you pass. Be warned that the crowds are an easy target for pickpocketing. Overall the atmosphere is one of excitement and thrills as you stroll along listening to people haggle or gossip.

Four Family Friendly Attractions in Guangzhou China

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Be aware that Chinese markets can provide a sensory overload to the western traveler.
  • If your family member with autism is sensitive to noise, be sure to bring a set of noise canceling headphones.
  • Those sensitive to smells might want to skip this adventure or prepare accordingly.
  • Some sights might not be suitable for little kids since the slaughter of animals and fish is done in the open.
  • Bring plenty of hand sanitizer, if your family member with autism is like mine and touches everything.
  • Although the prices are very cheap, the quality control is different than in the states.
  • Be aware there are NO western bathrooms available so have your family memebers use the  facilities in your hotel.

Guangzhou Zoo

Four Family Friendly Attractions in Guangzhou China panda

For the kids, you can take a stop to the Guangzhou Zoo. The zoo holds around 400 species and has become the leader of zoos in China for breeding animals such as chimpanzees, Asian elephants, and giraffes. The main attraction is the pandas. Children can watch as the pandas roam around and interact with the staff. There are also plenty of fun animal performances that allow kids to interact with different creatures while learning about nature and how to care for animals.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Be aware that the terrain is uneven and there’s quite a bit of walking to do. Closed toe shoes, an umbrella or walking fan is recommended.
  • Be sure to bring a bottle of chilled water from the hotel, as well as snacks.

Chang Long International Circus

Another must for you and your children is the Chang Long International Circus. The circus has performers from all over the world. Adult and child performers will perform in the ring. Audiences see dramatically choreographed music, lights, lasers, and fireworks the circus provides. Don’t be surprised if you see an animal or two flying above your head, as animals are integrated into the routine.It is relatively easy to get to the circus, the best mode of transportation is taking the metro which is incredibly easy to use seeing as how the lines are color coded and clearly labeled. About an hour away from the Guangzhou city center, you take metro line 3 to Hanxi Changlong, and there will be shuttle busses that will take you the rest of the way.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • If your child is noise sensitive, bring headphones and sit close to the exit in case it becomes overwhelming

Four Family Friendly Attractions in Guangzhou China man

Pedestrian Street

Another thing that is a must see is Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street. This street is in the Liwan District of Guangzhou. It is one of the busiest commercial streets in China and is a large tourist attraction for restaurants and food. If you are hungry, then I suggest heading here to try some local cuisine. There are plenty of places to eat and if you’re not an adventurous type, don’t worry. Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street holds many places that offer European style food as well.

Four Family Friendly Attractions in Guangzhou China bowl

Even if you are not overly bold, I still encourage you to try some of the more famous traditional food while you’re there, such as dim sum, the dish for which Guangzhou is known. Dim sum is various types of steamed or fried buns filled with ingredients ranging from beef, pork, shrimp or vegetables. Many vendors sell them, and it is traditional to drink tea while eating dim sum. Another dish you should try is roasted suckling pig, a traditional dish typically served at banquets. The technique of roasting and serving this pig goes back over 1400 years ago.

Four Family Friendly Attractions in Guangzhou China food

Guangzhou is an amazing place that you and your family will enjoy. There is so much to do, from taking a night cruise on the Pear River to visiting Yuexiu Park and seeing the famous five goat statue. No matter how long you are there for whether it be for three days or three weeks, Guangzhou will consistently provide you with new and wonderful things to do every day.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • A lot of the stores have a mini workshop in the back of the store in which artisans show how they paint glass and porcelain. Be sure to stop by one of these places.
  • The streets are very crowded, so make sure that you prepare your kid for staying in close proximity to you at all times.
  • This is the best place to buy souviners. Some haggling is in order.

10 Family Friendly Hong Kong Activities

Hong Kong is a diverse city with many things to do for the entire family. When planning a trip, it can be difficult to narrow down your itinerary while still getting the most out of the visit. If you’re planning on visiting Hong Kong with children, here’s a list of family-friendly Hong Kong Activities.

1. Attend the Symphony of Lights

10 Child Friendly Hong Kong Activities

Every night at 8 pm, a short light and music show takes place in the harbor area. You can even see fireworks on special occasions such as Chinese New Year and Christmas. We found the space near Tsim Tsa Tsui waterfront to be an excellent place to watch the entire show for free. Travelers will also want to bring a jacket or sweater with them because the harbor can be quite chilly at night.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • I highly recommended bringing along ear plugs for noise sensitive individuals because the audio portion of the show can be quite loud.
  • Children that have difficulty standing for extended periods of time may benefit from having access to a folding chair or blanket where they can sit down if they need to do so.
  • There is usually a large crowd out to watch the show and people come early to grab the best spots.

10 Child Friendly Hong Kong Activities

2. Ride the Mid-level Escalators

Although escalators aren’t normally what one thinks of as a travel destination, a visit to this place is more than justified. The Guinness Book of World Records has titled this attraction ‘the longest outdoor covered escalator system’ in the world. The entire complex consists of 20 escalators and three moving sidewalks, making the whole structure much longer than any slide at an amusement park.

Traversing the area takes about twenty minutes, but it will go much faster if the kids in your party decide to run up the escalators like ours did. Prospective visitors should be aware that the escalators are open every day between 6 am and midnight, but they change from going uphill at 10 am to going downhill at 10:30 pm.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • We found the area to be the perfect place for our kids to use up some excess energy by running around.
  • The escalators are a good place to investigate the local stores or dine on reasonably priced cuisine.
  • The rush hour here can be extremely crowded and is best avoided altogether. After all, the crush of people can be overwhelming to ordinary people, more so for those with autism.

3. Shop at the Temple Street Night Market 

10 Child Friendly Hong Kong Activities

This pedestrian only street is home to over 100 different merchants, all of whom open their shops around 2 pm. Shoppers can visit a wide array of establishments including snack vendors, old school fortunetellers, and Chinese medical clinics that use time-honored practices to treat their patients. Sporadic opera performances often take place through the market, providing visitors with entertainment while they wander around. Here you can find products such as watches and cell phones as well as accessories and faux designer clothes.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Temple Market is a good place for kids with autism to practice their negotiation skills as there is lots of bargaining at this spot.
  • If the child in question doesn’t mind crowds, he or she might enjoy the impressive opera performances that take place here on a regular basis.
  • Individuals who become claustrophobic in crowded environments would probably prefer to visit the traditional Chinese apothecary stalls, which are sure to delight their senses.
  • Travelers should arrive as early as possible to avoid the hordes of tourists and locals that descend upon the market around 5 pm.

4. Visit Lantau Island

Lantau Island is a popular day trip from Hong Kong. Travelers often come here to see the Tian Tan Buddha, a statue standing at the height of 34 meters that took over a decade to complete. Although the artwork itself is impressive, the mountainous scenery of the Ngong Ping plateau serves as a lovely backdrop that adds to the Buddha’s overall appeal. Hiking up the long staircase is one way to get to the statue’s base, but there are taxis and buses provided for travelers that are less athletically inclined. Another good stop in the area is the Po Lin Monastery, where lavishly decorated temples and several immaculately groomed gardens fill the grounds.

10 Child Friendly Hong Kong Activities

Easily reached by bus from Ngong Ping, the picturesque fishing village of Tai O is another island attraction worth visiting. Houses that sit high above the ground on stilts provide travelers with excellent photographic opportunities and the live seafood market in town is known for its tasty culinary offerings. Many residents also sell boat rides to travelers who want to see the local colony of Chinese white dolphins.

10 Child Friendly Hong Kong Activities

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The Ngong Ping 360 cable cars that depart from the Tung Chung Station are the quickest and most convenient way to get to Lantau Island. The carriages have glass walls that provide travelers with spectacular views of the surrounding areas.
  • It will take roughly half an hour to get from the station to Ngong Ping.
  • Ticket prices are currently at HK $135 ($17.42 USD) for a round trip ticket or HK $200 ($25.81 USD) for the unlimited Sky-Land-Sea Pass that covers a full day’s transport on the cable cars as well as the local buses and ferries.

5. Stop by the Hong Kong Zoological Park and Botanic Gardens

Dating back to 1871, this spot is home to over 1,700 species of flora and fauna. Most of the garden’s plants are native to the subtropical and tropical parts of the world, but there are some rare specimens in the Botanic Gardens, such as the dawn redwood trees. Although the park doesn’t have any large or exotic animals, kids will still find enough healthy and happy wildlife onsite to hold their interest. Plenty of monkeys, turtles, snakes, and birds make their home here. Since the site is free and open to the public, there’s no reason not to stop by and check it out. Hours are 6 am to 10 pm.

10 Child Friendly Hong Kong Activities

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Although Hong Kong is an exceptionally clean city, be sure to carry a package of hand wipes and a water bottle with you at all times

6. See the Tsing Ma Bridge

10 Child Friendly Hong Kong Activities

Possibly one of the century’s most important construction projects, the Tsing Ma suspension bridge is certainly the world’s longest. It was opened in 1997 to provide a vital link between the International Airport on Lantau Island and the city of Hong Kong. The structure has a total of ten different traffic lanes. Two of these are reserved for trains, and the other six are for cars. Part of the bridge is open to the sky, but there is a section that is enclosed. During periods of intense weather, the Tsing Ma Bridge may close down temporarily. However, it is possible for airport passengers to get from one side of the city to the other using the train. Some road traffic may also be permitted to cross at such times.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Travelers that want to observe the bridge from a distance should stop by the nearby Visitors’ Center on Tsing Yi Street or the Lantau Link View Point for the best panoramas.

7. Have a meal in a floating restaurant

Floating restaurants can be found all over the world. These establishments are usually built on seagoing vessels that are no longer functional or repurposed barges. Businesses of this style became especially popular in Hong Kong in the decades after the Second World War. Around that time, a wide variety of merchants flourished in the marine area known as the Typhoon Shelter. This space later had to be abandoned due to pollution problems. It has since been reclaimed, and old residents are returning, bringing their traditions along with them. One noteworthy old-school establishment in the area is Shaun Kee Typhoon Shelter.

10 Child Friendly Hong Kong Activities

At this floating restaurant, customers sit on the deck of a small boat in the harbor. Food is brought from the adjacent galley ship. Fresh seafood and classic Cantonese cuisine make up most of the menu here, with the spicy crab being the house specialty. Most diners have reported that their meal was quite tasty, but the eatery’s unique ambiance was the main attraction. Yelp reviewer Bernard Y. reports that it is a good idea to place your dinner order before arriving because of availability. Travelers who love a good vintage will need to bring their own wine because it isn’t on the menu. Even so, the cost for dining here generally runs around $50 a person. However, the prices can be significantly higher depending on how many people are in your party and what you order.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Those coming here should be aware that the only bathroom facilities on board are squat toilets. Therefore, it might be a good idea to use the bathroom before leaving the hotel.

8. Go on a harbor cruise

10 Child Friendly Hong Kong Activities

City visitors have numerous options for cruising around Victoria Harbor. Those who are interested in history can even travel across the waters in an authentic Chinese junk, the Duk Ling. These unforgettable 45 minute tours cost around HK $320 ($41.27 USD) for adults and $220 ($28.38 USD) for kids. Travelers who appreciate the historical aspect of the Duk Ling but have budgetary concerns might instead opt for a voyage on the replica junk, the Aqua Luna. This vessel operates a daily shuttle service that runs between 5 different destinations from noon to 5 pm. Passengers are welcome to get on and off the boat at their leisure. This service costs HK $130 for adults ($17.77 USD) and HK $90 ($11.61 USD) for kids that are between the ages of 7 and 11. However, the most affordable cruising option is the historic Star Ferry, which has received a Certificate of Excellence from the folks at Trip Advisor.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Call ahead and verify that the vessel you’re boarding has lifejackets if your child can’t swim, otherwise bring your own.

9. Check out the Hong Kong History Museum

With low admission prices and interesting exhibits, there’s no reason not to stop by this museum. This museum shows how Hong Kong was built literally from the ground up. Children will be fascinated by the many interactive displays at the site. The building is also air conditioned, which is an especially nice feature during the hot and humid summer months. The museum hours generally run from 10 am to 6 pm, but they do stay open an extra hour on Sundays.

10 Child Friendly Hong Kong Activities

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Travelers that are planning to come here should be aware this establishment is closed on Tuesdays and offers free admission on Wednesdays.
  • The nearest stop for those arriving by public transportation is the Jordan MTR station.

10. Get in on the action at Ocean Park

Though it is a more expensive attraction, Ocean Park is an incredibly child-friendly destination. There are plenty of animals to see here such as sharks, pandas, polar bears, and koalas. The grounds even include a water park and numerous amusement park style rides that are sure to keep kids entertained. Ocean Park is usually open from 10 am to 10 pm. Entry tickets currently cost HK $345 ($44.50 USD) for adults and $173 (22.31 USD) for children 3 to 12.

10 Child Friendly Hong Kong Activities

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Visitors will need to bring along sturdy walking shoes and a change of clothes in case they get drenched on the water rides. ]
  • Visitors may want to carry a cooler full of their favorite beverages and snacks so that they don’t have to deal with the high prices found at the concessions stands.
  • It is best to come early to avoid the crowds that appear later in the day.

 

Pin It on Pinterest