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Hong Kong's museums

There are dozens of museums all over Hong Kong — great for a rainy day. Many of the museums here are extremely well-thought-out, and a lot of them are excellent for kids.

Museums are also generally quite cheap, typically costing 20-30 HKD per visit.

Public museums in Hong Kong are administered by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department

You can get an annual museum pass that gives you free entrance to all of Hong Kong’s public museums, as well as discounts on souvenirs. An individual pass costs 50 HKD whilst a family pass costs 100 HKD.

Maritime Museum

If you only plan to visit a few museums in Hong Kong, make sure that this one is on the list.

The museum is extremely well-laid out and takes you on a fascinating journey through China’s seafaring history. It highlights the importance of the shipping industry to Hong Kong today and considers what it might look like in the future. It also spares a thought for the evolving maritime environment, and the hand that man has had in affecting this change.

But the star attraction of the museum must surely be the simulation of a ship’s cabin, where you can get a real sense of what it is like to pilot a large ship. The simulation, which was developed by a team at Dalian Maritime University in mainland China, is so realistic that it is difficult not to believe that the whole room is actually moving. The computer can even simulate different weather conditions, such as stormy, sunny and foggy. The simulator includes the whole of Hong Kong, so you can sail anywhere around the coast. Staff are on hand to answer any questions you might have.

Use of the simulator is free, but requires a separate ticket, which you can get from the ticket desk as you enter. You may need to specifically ask for this. The simulator closes earlier than the rest of the museum, usually at around 5pm.

The museum is very child-friendly and there are activity sheets available. The museum also runs regular craft workshops for kids.

Flagstaff House Museum of Teaware

Located in Hong Park, this museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of Chinese tea-making. It features a number of ceramic teapots from different periods around China, and colourful descriptions of the tea-brewing traditions of Hong Kong’s various tribes.

Opened in 1995, the museum owes its origins to Dr Kwee Song Lo, who made his fortune by popularising soya milk in China at a time when poor nutrition was causing a big problem throughout the continent. The company that he founded, Vitasoy, remains one of the largest producers of soft drinks in Hong Kong.

Dr Kwee Song Lo provided many of the early exhibits for the museum, but died just months before it opened.

The museum is located about ten minutes’ walk from Admiralty station.

Museum of Coastal Defence

This museum is housed in a coastal fort, built by the British in 1887 in order to protect the eastern approach to Victoria Harbour. The defences were strengthened during the second world war in anticipation of a Japanese invasion, but they didn’t hold and were eventually overwhelmed.

The fort became a museum in 1993 and now offers a fascinating glimpse into Hong Kong’s maritime history. It is very well laid-out, tracing a logical path through the history of Hong Kong, from the ancient Chinese emperors up to more modern post-war sea defences.

Visiting the museum gives a great insight into the strategic importance of the small enclave of Hong Kong. It shows how, over the centuries, different groups of inhabitants have struggled to defend this small region from foreign invaders. A display focusing on the Opium Wars between Britain and Hong Kong also makes a cameo appearance at the museum.

Part of the museum is outside, where you will find military vehicles and an assorted array of weaponry. You will also be able to enjoy some fantastic views over Tseung Kwan O in the New Territories.

Science Museum

This is definitely a place to take kids. They’ll love the many interactive exhibits and will hardly realise that they are learning. In every room, there are dozens of things to fiddle with, buttons to press and discoveries to be made.

You can learn about how the eye can play tricks on the mind, how the different parts of the body work, why eating well is important and the science behind aerodynamics. Each exhibit has a concise nicely-worded description about why things work in the way that they do. On the upper-most floor of the museum, there is a play area for young children.

The main downside to the museum is that it can get fairly rowdy at times — particularly on Sundays, when kids don’t seem to be properly supervised — so choose carefully when you want to visit.

Museum of History

This museum offers a beautifully-orchestrated journey through Hong Kong’s vibrant history.

It starts with the early geological formation of Hong Kong, meanders through the prehistoric and natural world exhibits, and then tackles the often confusing dynasties and tribes that have prevailed over the region at various times.

You can also learn about the Opium War, the British colonial era and the Japanese invasion.

The permanent exhibition is called ‘Hong Kong Story’, but the museum also has some more temporary exhibitions.

There are some absolutely lovely models that really bring the exhibits to life, perhaps more so than in other museums. Not at all turgid and boring.

The permanent exhibition halls are free, but you often have to pay for temporary exhibitions.

Railway Museum

This open-air museum, which is located on the site of the old Tai Po Railway Station, has many old trains to explore and other locomotive memorabilia.

It is also interesting to see the old station building, which was erected in 1913 in traditional Chinese style and displays some interesting and interactive exhibitions.

The museum is a great place to take train-loving youngsters, as they can run around on the track and on the trains. There are many steps to navigate throughout the museum.

The Railway Museum is a 10-minute walk from Tai Po Market MTR station.

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