Chungking Mansions: Alone, Scared and Stupid

Chungking Mansions in Hong Kong

Among other things, Hong Kong has a reputation for being one of the safest places in the world. That is unless you find yourself spending a night in the notorious Chungking Mansions. Alone.

You might be wondering how I ended up in what is known as the ‘Ghetto at the centre of the world’ given its reputation? Well the answer is simple. I didn’t do my research.

While a lack of research can be an enthralling way to travel from day to day, I soon learnt it can also come back to bite you in the bum.

One quick look on Google and there’s enough horror stories to make even a cockroach recoil and sprint in the opposite direction.

What I didn’t know is, Chungking Mansions is an amalgamation of guesthouses, electrical shops, food stalls, foreign exchange offices, but is also where you go for prostitutes, drugs, or illegal passports.

Obviously I wasn’t privy to any of this before booking, I just saw a cheap place to stay in what is an unfathomably expensive city and clicked ‘book now’.  I know what you must be thinking, how stupid can one person be? And the answer is, impressively stupid.

In my defense I did do some initial planning. I read a review of budget-friendly places in Hong Kong on the Guardian and selected one they’d listed in Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon. I figured if I liked the place I would extend my stay, and if I didn’t at least I was only going to be there for two nights.

In my mind, I was being extremely sensible.

But that decision proved to be the wrong one. Of course it was. After my two nights were over I asked the receptionist if she could extend my stay only to be told they were fully booked. Bollocks. It was a weekend; how did I not anticipate this?  Naturally, I’d gloss over the event of this scenario by hoping for the best. Now I had to face the music.

Because check-out time was drawing near, I didn’t have much time to look around on the internet so I logged onto the Agoda app and searched for the nearest accommodation to me since I liked the area where I was staying.

A lot of the places cropping up were advertised at horrifically expensive prices, money I simply didn’t have. Clearly they had been hiked up for the weekend. I took a few screen shots to evidence my dismay. For a bed in a 4-bed hall prices were coming in at £583, and a night in Chungking Mansions was still rocking in at over £100 a night.

Hotel prices in Hong Kong

In the end, I narrowed down a few hotels and guesthouses which all seemed to be located in a place called ‘Chungking Mansions’. I was a little perplexed to see so many hotels located in this one place calling itself a ‘mansion’ but I wasn’t concerned enough to investigate further before picking one of the hotels at random since there were all near clones to each other.

Chungking Mansions wasn’t far from where I already was which reassured me that it must be okay because the area I was staying was very nice and more importantly, I felt safe. If anything, it was in an even more desirable location on Nathan Street, the most popular street in the whole of Tsim Sha Tsui, the Oxford Street of Hong Kong.

However, at no point did I consult Google for more information about where I was spending the next following nights. I just packed up my bag and left it with the hotel receptionist to put in storage, and told her I’d be back in the evening before heading to my new accommodation.

I spent the whole day sightseeing. The city had exceeded my expectations. In my imagination I thought it was going to be a concrete jungle obsolete of soul and character but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s multifaceted, you just have to be willing to explore.

Sure, Hong Kong is a mecca of skyscrapers, but there’s also parks, beaches and mountains thrown into the mix.

It was during the late afternoon that I received a phone call from my friend to see how I was getting on, and before ending the conversation I said I was going to be staying at Chungking Mansions.

It wasn’t long afterwards that my phone began ringing again.

My friend had called back but this time the tone of his voice was different.

“Chungking Mansions! Are you crazy” He bellowed down the phone.

“Huh, what do you mean?  What’s wrong with it?” I replied confused.

“People have died in there, it’s not safe. The whole building is a health hazard and it’s a hub of criminal activity!”

“What?”

“Didn’t you check out the reviews before you booked?”

“Kind of, a review on the Agoda app said it was ‘a paradise among chaos’’’

“What about the other reviews?”

“Look, I’ve messed up, but I’ve paid for it now so I have to go. I can’t afford to book elsewhere”.

“Please will you promise me one thing?”

“What?”

“No matter how busy the queue is for the elevator, please do not get the stairs inside Chungking Mansions”

“Why?”

“It’s where all the drug dealers hang out”

I’d be lying if the conversation hadn’t made me weary, but I told myself my friend was over-reacting and had read too much junk on the internet.

City lights in Hong Kong

After sightseeing it was getting dark so I decided the time had come to head towards my accommodation and stop delaying the inevitable. I collected my bag and walked over to Chungking Mansions. Immediately I realised I’d walked past the building the day before when a man had tried to sell me a suit which I politely declined.

Chungking Mansions on Nathan Street in Kowloon, Hong Kong

Upon entering a cacophony of sound, sights and smells hit me like a ton of bricks. The entrance didn’t lead to a reception as I had imagined. This was a full-blown indoor market that sold anything and everything.

I looked at my address, where the heck was Block E? I walked further into the building complex, waded through crowds of people and scanned my eyes to the side of the walls and spotted a sign for Block C. Below the sign, I was looking at something I feared – a huge queue for the elevator – and in the queue was a security guard patrolling the length of it.

You know shit is real when there’s a security guard leading up to the block of guesthouses. But better to be safe and in the queue than take the stairs and risk rubbing shoulders with drug dealers and whatnot.

But I was searching for Block E so I carried on further into the complex, pretending not to register the men swooping up beside me to whisper words into my ear. I never caught a full sentence but I can only presume it was an offer for something illegal, otherwise they wouldn’t have been so clandestine in their approach.

Trying my best to simply hold my shit together I wasn’t prepared to get my camera out which is a shame because this place is packed with character and shows a revealing side to globalisation. But doing the job for me is photographer Bennett Cain from NegativeSpaces.com who has taken a series of compelling photos.

Inside Chungking Mansions

Inside Chungking Mansions, also known as the Ghetto at the centre of the world'.

Chungking Mansions

© Bennett Cain

Finally, I spotted a sign for Block E and to my relief there wasn’t a queue for the elevator. Maybe the review was right, it really was paradise among chaos. I had made it without so much as a graze on my knee.

Or so I thought…

Once I got up there I soon realized each block led to a variety of different guesthouses so I had to navigate which one I’d signed up for.  Reportedly each night there are 5000 people sleeping within the cracks and crevices of Chungking Mansions. It’s difficult to fathom but when you see the size of the rooms and corridors you’ll soon realise how it’s all possible.

There’s no such thing as health and safety. You don’t even want to think about what might happen if a fire broke out. On one occasion when this did happen a Danish tourist was killed after he became trapped inside.

Whilst thinking about the sheer scale of this place I found Cynthia’s Inn, the name of the guesthouse I was staying. After pressing the buzzer I envisaged being greeted by a little old woman called Cynthia, but now that would have been far too idealistic, wouldn’t it?

Instead a slim Indian man with a moustache opened the door and ushered me inside to his tiny reception.

After signing my name on a register he looked at me, smiled, put his hand on my arm and said, “Don’t worry, you’re safe here”.

That was it. Now I wanted to panic.

Telling me that I’m safe without giving him a prompt to do so is for him to openly admit that being here is like sitting on the precipice of my own grisly murder case.

But appreciating the gesture for the kindness it was intended to be, I managed to muster an expression of thanks whilst pretending I didn’t know what he could possibly be referring to – I mean, this place was a dream.

And it was going to get even better.

Checking in consisted only of writing down my name and address, at no point did he ask to see my passport or check if I was who I said I was. It’s therefore no surprise that this place is a magnet for illegal immigrants.

Before asking where my room was he handed me a set of keys and said, ‘These are your keys, you’re staying in another block so I’ll call my nephew to take you”.

“Which block?”

“Block C”

My memory flashed back to the huge queue I’d seen as I walked into the building. There really is no escaping some things after all.

His nephew appeared. Sorry, I mean his ‘nephew’, and we jumped into the elevator together.

We joined the end of the queue and soon after two Australian guys got in line behind us. Just one quick glance and I could see they were high as kites. I tried to keep myself to myself but every time I spoke to the young man escorting me to my room, dumb and dumber realised how entertaining it was to begin imitating what I was saying. I wasn’t ready for an altercation so I pretended they were invisible the best I could.

Between the mess of the evening, I enjoyed a minute of happiness when the security guard threw the Australian guys out of the queue after they stole an onion bhaji from one of the stalls running parallel to the elevator. Whoever said having munchies is a bad thing, is totally wrong.

After about twenty-five minutes of waiting in line we made it upstairs. I followed him past several doors running down a long corridor until he stopped at a door at the far end and punched in a few digits into the lock before it clicked upon.

The door opened onto another narrow corridor that had 5 or 6 different rooms. It was laid out like my old university dormitory, only much dingier.

He stopped on the corridor and asked if I had Whatsapp, since there wasn’t a reception in this block and also no telephone, he said I needed to use Whatsapp to let him know if I needed anything.

I give him my number and then it was around this point that he started to give me a few compliments. Now was not the time and especially not the place for someone to be hitting on me.

The best part came when he pointed to my room, and then he pointed to the one next to it which we were standing in front of, and he said, ‘And this is my room”.

Brilliant. Things could not get any better.

I told him thank you for everything and scrambled into my room, locking the door behind myself.

What had I got myself in to? And more importantly, what exactly was this place?!

Before arriving I decided I would drop my bags off before going out for dinner, but that was out of the equation, there was no way I was going out for food if it meant using that elevator again.

All this might seem dramatic, I don’t blame you for thinking so, had I been with a friend my experience of Chungking Mansions would have been very different and I wouldn’t be writing any of this. Instead of feeling scared I would have been laughing at the situation. But safety in numbers was something I didn’t have.

Once I’d endured the ordeal of getting to my room I was too scared to even contemplate leaving for the pursuit of food so I jammed one of the single beds up against the door and crossed all my fingers and toes that I’d make it through the night without any unsolicited visitors.

The room itself was tiny, worse than I expected in every conceivable way. The towel was wet and stray hairs greeted me on the bed and in the bathroom.

Bathroom inside Chungking Mansions

Calling it a bathroom is an extremely generous assertion when you consider it was the size of a shoe box. The toilet and sink was positioned almost directly under the shower so you could effectively brush your teeth whilst having a shower and going for a crap. I’m sure none of you decent folk would choose to do that, but if you wanted to test the theory, you’d find I speak the truth.

Bathroom inside Chungking Mansions

What disturbed me the most were the holes in the ceiling, whilst I was having a shower I glanced up and I had a vision of the young man next door spying on me like Norman Bates. But the last thing I wanted to think of was a scene from a horror movie so I scrubbed my body like I was trying to erase the thought.

Inside Chungking Mansions

If there’s one thing that brought comfort to my mind it was a random sticker of Buzz Lightyear on the wall.

Buzz Lightyear

But Buzz wasn’t going to get me out of this situation. There was no way I was going to spend longer than a single night in this place so I turned to my facebook page and put out a plea asking for help with alternative accommodations. A few minutes later the angel that is Megan from MeganStarr.com put me in touch with one of her friends called Kam who gave me some tips.

That night was a long night. I slept in my clothes just in case anyone did try coming into my room in the middle of the night. These aren’t things you need to do in safe places or when you’re travelling with friends but when you’re by yourself in Chungking Mansions, there’s no such thing as being too safe.

My paranoia wasn’t helped by reading articles online about the rape victims of Chungking Mansions before I slept. I also learnt that Indian and Nepalese prostitutes are held against their will here.

I questioned why the police don’t get more involved but I was told that it’s safer to have something like this in the open where it’s easier to monitor instead of closing this place down, only for it to relocate and for the corruption to continue under a deeper layer of Hong Kong’s underbelly. It’s sad, but true.

In the morning I raced outta the building quicker than I could say my own name. Sadly, I didn’t stop to see whether or not the best Indian curry can be found inside the maze of Chungking Mansions as claimed, but I do remember thinking it’s nowhere near as sinister in the daylight compared to nightfall. And that’s why I would recommend you visit Chungking Mansions during the day. Socially, it’s a fascinating place, I just don’t advice any females to stay the night alone. Even if you have a black belt in karate.

The following evening, I met up with Kam and immediately she drew me into her crowd of friends as though I was an old buddy she hadn’t met up with in years. Spending an evening with her was exactly what I needed after still feeling the sting of the night before.

Kam made light of the situation by saying everywhere else you go will now feel like paradise, and she was right. Everywhere did feel like paradise.

I hope one day I can repay the favour to Megan and Kam. You guys helped a girl in need and I won’t forget it!

Have you had the pleasure of staying in Chungking Mansions before?

1st photo © worksthatwork.com



A travel & culture blog specialising in Scandinavia and the Arctic, peppered with the rest of the world in between.


'Chungking Mansions: Alone, Scared and Stupid' have 50 comments

  1. January 4, 2016 @ 10:35 am Simon

    Ha ha – just browsed at this but will give it a good read tonight. We stayed in the Chungking Mansion for…. 3 hours. Accepted our losses and booked the BP up the road after a couple of hours deliberation. I wouldnt mind it by myself I guess – but my girlfriend did not feel safe in there for many reasons! Fire hazard anyone?

    Reply

    • January 17, 2016 @ 5:47 pm Shing Yoong

      Haha 3 hours, love it. Tell me about it Simon, there are so many reasons for wanting to leave this place, and a fire hazard is one of them!

      Reply

  2. January 4, 2016 @ 11:55 am Andrea

    What a nightmare! I’d heard about that place before but I wouldn’t dare go, not even with a friend I don’t think! This is one of those times it’s worth going over your budget to find a place where you feel safe. At least you had a memorable experience though. 😉

    Reply

    • January 17, 2016 @ 7:37 pm Shing Yoong

      You made the right choice Andrea!! Haha, yes, I won’t forget this place anytime soon 😉

      Reply

  3. January 4, 2016 @ 4:38 pm Silvia

    Lol at the cockroach recoiling in fear, except not actually because this sounds way too scary for laughs. Ugh what a situation (that I can easily see myself getting into – this is a good reminder to make the effort to research) but I guess it’s nice that now everywhere you stay ever again will feel like paradise! Goodness.

    Reply

    • January 17, 2016 @ 7:42 pm Shing Yoong

      Research is king Silvia! I think so many people have been lured in to Chungking Mansions by the cheaper prices… little did they know…

      Reply

  4. January 4, 2016 @ 7:38 pm Brad n San Diego

    Shing, so glad you are ok and Megan could help you out. Whew, close call (at least in theory). Sometimes in life though seeing some of the worst helps you appreciate the rest. Sorry though you’d had to find out the hard way that Paradise isn’t always paradise, and that research is now your best friend. Many more happier travels in the new year ! …. (Brad in San Diego) …. stay safe out there !

    Reply

    • January 17, 2016 @ 7:51 pm Shing Yoong

      Hi Brad, thanks for the message. I know, I was really lucky to receive Megan’s message and to meet someone from the city the following do to laugh about it with. Haha completely – research is now my best friend!

      Hope you’re having fun times in San Diego my friend.

      Reply

  5. January 4, 2016 @ 9:54 pm Charlie

    Oh shit this sounds like the worst thing ever! True what you say about being alone — this kind of experience is one that’d totally freak me out on my own, but with Luke or a friend I probably would’ve laughed and brushed it off as a bad night. I’ve not been to Chungking Mansions but I’ve always had a very romanticised notion of it (despite knowing it’s grim) because of the film Chungking Express which is absolutely love (highly recommend if you like foreign films) — but this has totally shattered my illusion.

    Reply

  6. January 4, 2016 @ 10:53 pm Mike | Earthdrifter

    These things are bound to happen once in a while as there isn’t always time to research everything. What a raw, hard-core, place. Maybe visiting the chaos during the day and trying to find that curry place is what I’ might try to do if I make it Hong Kong.

    Reply

  7. January 4, 2016 @ 11:17 pm Wesley

    Oh my god that is a gorgeously vivid description of one hell of a night. Fuck, I’m a man (more or less) and I wouldn’t want to spend the night there, not even with friends! Good thing you got our when you did, also, 25 minutes for an ELEVATOR! Looking back with all of your possessions still intact, is it an experience you regret? The hotel that I just booked on Booking.com in Singapore for my aunt, dad and me was suspiciously cheap as well… *goes to check more reviews*

    Reply

  8. January 5, 2016 @ 7:16 am jenny@atasteoftravel

    OMG Shing…I can’t believe you stayed there! I would have turned tail and run the minute I saw the queue for the lift! But it did give you an experience that you have written beautifully about! Hong kong is an amazing city in more ways than one!

    Reply

  9. January 5, 2016 @ 5:58 pm nikund patel

    Even i stayed in cm in feb 2015 . It was like a horror movie kind feeling .

    Reply

  10. January 6, 2016 @ 12:40 am jon osman

    So scary; you barricaded the door, everything sounded so chaotic and aggressive like something from some society collapsed world. But still , it’s brave of you to keep seeking new experiences, i never even heard of this place till your article.

    Reply

  11. January 7, 2016 @ 11:33 pm Richard

    I did the same as you first time I went to HK – I stayed in an okayish hotel for the first two nights, then checked into a cheapie in CM. a local lady I was sitting next to on the plane recommended it to me and it was ok – very small, a bit dirty but very cheap (this was 2007). I’d second the recommendation to watch Chungking Express (if you can handle it) – it’ll make you want to stay there again!

    Reply

  12. January 9, 2016 @ 5:59 pm Pam | a Blonde around the World

    OMG!!! I did exactly the same in Athens though, I booked THE-CHEAPEST place I found and ended up in the same sort of ghetto. Solo female traveling is not easy sometimes 🙁

    Reply

  13. January 11, 2016 @ 2:29 pm Megan

    im so glad i finally got the chance to sit down and read this experience. what the heckkkkkk dude. this sounds like some ordeal id get myself in actually. i never have that bad of luck booking accommodation, luckily, but i end up in sketchy parts of town more often than not. im really glad you made it out alive and didnt get harrassed by any prostitutes or drug dealers 😛 come to think of it, the ‘mansion’ sounds like frankfurt on a normal day….

    totally random, but if you want a good laugh, read the user comments for hotel carter in new york city. it has kept me entertained for hours in the past: https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Hotel_Review-g60763-d93421-Reviews-Hotel_Carter-New_York_City_New_York.html

    Reply

  14. January 13, 2016 @ 7:15 am Victoria@ The British Berliner

    OMG! That is a nightmare that I wouldn’t wish on anyone and knowing my luck I’d praobably wander in thinking “oooo! pretty lights” or something! Thank goodness, you’re safe and your instincts were put on alert blocking the door and the like. But most importantly, thank goodness for other wonderful bloggers such as Megan and Kam who came to your rescue.
    What a story!

    Reply

  15. February 1, 2016 @ 8:59 am Heather @ Ferreting Out the Fun

    Wow, Shing. You are a braver woman than I. Were any tears shed because I would have been a sniveling mess! I also would have skipped showering/crapping/tooth brushing LOL! Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers. And at least you got one hell of a story out of it!

    Reply

  16. March 22, 2016 @ 10:16 am Thomas

    Wow this article is WAYYYYYY overboard.
    First of all i’m in the same condition as you, i’m an alone european in HK.
    Maybe there are difference between the blocks, i’m in Block A, 11 th floor. I have a small room yes but it has all commodities and it feels nice, its being cleaned everyday and the sheets are also changed everyday.
    The room is clean and tidy.
    Of course there are some indian people selling drug and guesthouse rooms downstair but just ignore them, they wont do anything to you. As someone from europe i’m used to see minorities so i didn’t give a fuck, asian tourist as scared shitless tho i can understand them.
    I’ve came back there at 3 in the morning and everything was fine, i also took the stairs a number of time…
    All in all some guesthouse are good, just check the rating on website like booking.com and you’ll be OK.

    Reply

    • September 6, 2016 @ 7:05 am Shing Yoong

      To write as a male and tell me that my article is way overboard is a ridiculous response Thomas. You’ve already outlined that your room was clean and tidy whereas mine wasn’t. You’ve outlined that you were not approached whereas I was approached several times within only a few minutes.

      I already stated that had I been with friends I would have felt safer and laughed off the experience. But ultimately, I wouldn’t recommend this place to a solo female traveller because it does attract some unsavoury characters and that is something you cannot deny. If you’re a male, or a group of friends, then yes by all means experience ChungKing Mansions because it’s an incredibly fascinating place.

      “As someone from europe i’m used to see minorities so i didn’t give a fuck, asian tourist as scared shitless tho…” – What a stupid comment.

      Reply

    • October 7, 2016 @ 7:43 am Kellie

      I have to agree with Shing on this one.
      I am also a solo female traveller from Australia and stayed here for one night a few nights ago. (Stupidly, didn’t research either. I had being staying in Hong Kong for a week so assumed all areas were going to be some what safe regardless of price)
      I was constantly harassed by men. On three occasions I was followed and asked “Can I fuck you”, “I want to fuck you” and when I told them to leave me alone they would get really aggressive.
      Your experience may have been better Thomas, but unfortunately for females alone it isn’t the best place to be and that should be publicised…

      Reply

      • January 6, 2017 @ 1:19 am Shing Yoong

        Hi Kellie, I’m sorry for the late reply but thank you for commenting in this thread and backing my thoughts. Gosh, your experience sounds even worse than mine given what some of the men said to you and their aggressive response.

        Glad you only had a night there and handled the situation the best you could. For people thinking about staying in this place as a solo traveller, it really does matter whether you’re a male or female and I wouldn’t recommend it for the latter…

        Reply

  17. April 5, 2016 @ 6:07 am Will

    I read through your post and enjoyed it …… Chung King has actually been cleaned up quite a bit, so it’s actually a lot safer and cleaner now compared to the past, which is where most of the scare stories are coming from. In fact any hint of illegal activity will draw the attention of security staff – give it a try and hang around an area doing nothing for more than 15 minutes and you will be asked to leave.

    Nothing actually happened to you in Chung King mansions or even in the confines of your room to make you feel under any real threat of danger. So you were really just freaked out by stories from the internet and the warnings of your friends ….. Many of these stories are told by people who have a limited amount of experience staying in Chung King or have heard 2nd or 3rd hand stories from friends of friends. The owner of the guest house probably saw that you were obviously nervous and offered you some word of comfort.

    Reply

  18. April 30, 2016 @ 7:41 pm 777

    The Lord of War is up for release soon. Word on the street is that a few friends of his are living in Chungking mansions.

    Reply

  19. August 2, 2016 @ 3:06 am Alex

    From 2008 to 2010 I stayed in Chunking Mansion a dozen times at dozen different guest houses because I could never find the same one twice. The were all as clean or cleaner than your average hostel. Some rooms were small, and others were even smaller. Most had windows, some were coffin sized with a hole cut out for an exhaust fan. I would never book in advance as the prices get lower as it gets later. The touts on the street start getting desperate after dark and will give you half the price they did at 10am.

    I never had a problem in the stairs or back alleys of CM. You are right, the place is a real fire hazard and many will die there some day. I learned to find rooms on the 2nd or 3rd floor so I could take the stairs and not have to wait inline for the elevators and in-case of fire.

    The only things I remember being pushed relentlessly were custom suits and shirts. After dark the hookers lined the side streets and most of them were scary looking, but at no time was I ever scared in CM or the area.

    Back then I could negotiate a room for $20-$40 USD, which was much less than anything else in the area except for the other place a block away which is similar to CM but I can’t remember the name.

    I don’t really think a person has been to Hong Kong unless they spent a night or two at Chunking Mansion.

    Reply

  20. September 9, 2016 @ 11:04 am Eve

    OMG! Me and my friend have really similar story! but i thimk because we were 2 it was less scary..
    I think only people who visitied that place can really understand all your descriptions about that place, especially at night 😐

    Reply

  21. October 18, 2016 @ 7:08 am Deepti

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience through this post. I am planning to go to Hong Kong soon and this article really taught me that I need to do my research properly.
    Could you please suggest me some good and affordable places may be?

    Reply

  22. October 24, 2016 @ 9:28 am Lisa

    I stayed at Chungking Mansions with my boyfriend before. I would also not recommend it for *most* solo female travelers, especially those afraid of confrontation. Chungking Mansions is a lot better than it once was. I’ve stayed in a shoebox of a room there before as well as super nice deluxe room (always remember to bargain). None of the rooms were booked online. We did take the stairs (something I wouldn’t recommend doing alone) to avoid the crazy elevator lines and you do see people doing drugs in the stairways.

    Honestly, if you have your wits about you and you’re not afraid of asserting yourself to get people to leave you alone (you will be swarmed by men asking if you need a room, restaurants, clothes, etc. etc.) you’ll probably be just fine, even as a solo female. It’ll be an unforgettable (and affordable) experience for sure (and you’ll have some really interesting stories to tell at the end) but it won’t be pleasant. Nowadays I would just spend extra and go somewhere else.

    Reply

  23. November 4, 2016 @ 5:30 am Harlene

    Thank God nothing happened to you. We just got back from our trip to HongKong and the ChungKing Mansion is where we had our money exchanged. I agree that it looks good in daylight but at night, it’s a nightmare. Before we visited HongKong, I’m planned to book a room at the Chungking Mansion cause it’s a lot cheaper than any other hostel around Tsim Tsa Tsui and it’s socially or widely known. Good thing I did my research and saw a lot of photos (creepy, dirty and not good looking beds and rooms) shared by other travelers. We stayed instead at Granville (Small rooms but definitely clean bed and room). I found the place at Airbnb.

    Reply

    • January 6, 2017 @ 1:12 am Shing Yoong

      Well done on doing your research and choosing an Airbnb – you saved yourself a lot of stress haha! And thanks again for the Airbnb recommendation to help other travellers who might find themselves in a similar predicament, much appreciate Harlene x

      Reply

  24. December 12, 2016 @ 2:41 pm Alei

    Rent a room there for 5 nights. Chose a good rating hostel at tripadvisor or … I forget. But there was some kind of this game there goin on bout accomodation that somehow I didn’t get the hostel that I booked. It’s like the hostel owners there had such agreements of trading costumers. Damn! Actually, well U got what U paid. Lookin at that tiny room, and all the same shits like U uploaded up there. But the bad part was, after staying there for 2 days, unsterilized everything in there, and maybe eating the wrong food, some ramen stall at the street, I got sick. Hi fever. And was alone. Great! So, 2 days around the city, 3 days on that damn tiny hell. Was lucky enough though to survive the journey home. Went to the doctor. Hitted by a virus blah…blah…blah… And a week bed rest. So perfect! And I tell U there’s no place in Hong Kong like Chungking Mansion. A place where I will never… Ever… Ever… Set my feet in there again. EVER… Hahaha…

    Reply

  25. January 5, 2017 @ 4:33 pm Chiz03

    Hi. I’m staying right now here in chungking mansion and I’m a solo female traveler. I have book for 3 nights and I cant stay here any longer.I’m just crying right now cause Im scared. Can any one recommend a better place to stay?

    Reply

    • January 6, 2017 @ 12:51 am Shing Yoong

      Hello, I’ve just read your message. I’m not sure if you’ve booked a place already but if you haven’t there is a decent place only a short walk away called InnSight: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g294217-d2656243-Reviews-InnSight-Hong_Kong.html The rooms are very small, but they are clean and you will feel safe. If that place is full then I suggest looking at other more affordable places to stay from this list: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2012/jul/04/top-10-budget-hotels-hong-kong
      Please let me know how you’re getting on, and keep in touch with your friends. In the morning you’ll feel much better (as I did) and hopefully you can enjoy yourself and everything else Hong Kong has to offer x

      Reply

    • January 6, 2017 @ 1:01 am Harlene

      Hi Chiz03! Get out of there right now. We stayed at Amaya’s Place just beside “The One” hotel. Walking distance from Chungking Mansion. Entrance beside the Paisano’s Pizza at Nathan Road. Our host Amaya is so kind. We booked it via Airbnb. Here’s the link: https://www.airbnb.com/users/show/37385532 Her place is small but definitely clean. Check out her place.

      Reply

      • January 6, 2017 @ 1:09 am Shing Yoong

        Thank you sooooo much for replying to Chiz03 plea for help! I am definitely going to update this post and include your Airbnb recommendation – this sort of information is invaluable to anyone on a budget – but most of all solo female travellers. I wish I had used Airbnb whilst I was in Hong Kong but you live and learn, eh?!

        Reply

  26. January 11, 2017 @ 3:21 pm Matt @ GreatDistances

    Thanks for this post. We’ve been digging through tons of Chungking Mansion lodgings tonight and are probably looking elsewhere after reading your story (among so many others, of course!). Appreciate it!

    Reply

  27. February 23, 2017 @ 6:18 pm Aishwarya

    Okay wow. I knew Chungking Mansions was all this and more probably a decade back and assumed the situation must be quite better now. I have booked a hotel at CM in Block-C, for my layover at Hong Kong day after tomorrow and I’m sitting terrified in bed looking for another alternative.

    Reply

  28. March 14, 2017 @ 4:39 am Kathleen

    Hi…
    I’m really concerned about this. I was looking for some photos about Chungking Mansion and I came across this article. I planned to do my first-ever international trip abroad, being a female solo traveler as one of my bucket list. But to my dismay, I booked a 3D2N stay in Chungking Mansion this coming March 24-26, 2017. Right now, as I’m reading your article, I just want to cry! I can’t booked another accommodation since I’m on a budget. 🙁 and I can’t cancel this trip, I’m way too excited to let this pass. But on the other hand, I’m SUPER SUPER SUPER worried.

    Reply

    • March 19, 2017 @ 7:31 pm Shing Yoong

      Hi Kathleen, I’m really sorry for the late reply, I haven’t logged into my blog for a few days. The important thing to know is that whilst I didn’t have a positive experience, other people have; and whilst my accommodation wasn’t good, I’ve been informed there are much better accommodations within Chungking Mansions which you may have booked.

      Whilst I do not think Chungking Mansions is ideal for a solo female traveller, plenty of tourists stay there every night and over all it is getting safer. However, if you’re able to cancel your accommodation I would suggest doing that and booking elsewhere. Lastly, Hong Kong is an incredible city which I hope you’ll agree!

      Reply

    • July 10, 2017 @ 8:50 pm Kana

      Kathleen… how did it go?

      Reply

  29. March 20, 2017 @ 4:00 pm Kyle

    As much as I want to write this article off as a complete hyperbole, I could not.

    I am currently residing in one of the supposedly “cleanest” and most legit hostel within the notorious mansion, Dragon Inn.

    Unlike Shing’s misfortune in landing a pigsty, mine was pretty clean, polished, safe albeit still tiny (Hey, it’s HK!).

    My experiences thus far spending two nights in the mansion were far from dangerous. Went back piss drunk with the lads after a good Wan Chai night, I did not felt the least bit threatened. (The bhajis and pakis can be irritating though but once you tell them to piss off, they won’t do shit)

    Back to the staircases, those backend exits and corridors are not meant to be fuck with. Despite warnings from numerous articles heck even the security guy told me NOT to use the stairs, I decided to just see what’s cooking.

    Crackheads were shooting themselves up, weird creepy turban guy selling “happy samosas”, the icing on this hell cake was two south Asian men sloshing over an Asian coyote. The stairwells were MENTAL! It’s perplexing how security and law enforcements are letting all of this happen in plain sight under the guise of moderating the black market.

    In a nutshell, the Chungking Mansion isn’t that bad of a place. Picture it like La Ramblas in Barcelona, unfairly painted in a negative light just because of one infamous alleyway (in this case, the Staircase).

    Just use the elevator and you’ll have a blast.
    P.S: The Delhi Club serves the best Indian Food in all of HK.

    Reply

  30. May 22, 2017 @ 12:02 am Rian

    I thought I was the only person who was absolutely terrified while staying here! I was with my best friend but I could not imaging staying at Chung King mansions alone. I had a similar experience after booking – my childhood friend who lived in Hong Kong warning me that this place was filled with crime and sex trafficking. Yay.

    I remember heading to our block in that dreaded elevator and having men pull out there money and offer to pay me for a “massage.” So my friend and I would get off at a floor above our actual block and then take the stairs down so none of the men would know where we were staying. Reading this now was actually quite comical b/c I just related so much to everything you just explained here. hahaha. But seriously – LADIES BEWARE

    Reply

  31. July 10, 2017 @ 8:45 pm Kana

    I’m so glad that I came across this post. I recently booked a mom and son trip with my 5-year old son to Hong Kong. The reviews for our guest house were just fine and I thought “why spend so much money on a room that we will hardly spend time in”. I just realized today that the guest house is in this building. Yikes!! That would have been a trip disaster. I just called Orbitz and I am going to arrange for an upgrade to another hotel.

    Reply

  32. July 16, 2017 @ 4:01 pm Hong Kong bound ! – CASA SUDARMADJIE

    […] saya berencana untuk bepergian sendiri saja. Apalagi setelah membaca (dan untungnya sempat membaca) artikel tentang horrornya Chungking Mansions di daerah Tsim Sha Tsui, hampir mikir dua kali buat bepergian […]

    Reply

  33. July 29, 2017 @ 5:07 pm Han

    Omg Shing! After going for dinner here with some friends I had to google all about Chungking (don’t worry our friends grew up here and knew the best curry place you referred to). We exited via the staircase just to see if the rumours were true and they were… amazing food and my partner regularly goes to a great barber here but at night, alone, as a female, I don’t know how you did it!

    Reply

  34. August 24, 2017 @ 10:40 pm Cody

    My boyfriend and I just booked a night here after hearing a “recommendation”, and we were in a last minute sort of circumstance so we booked without doing research. I don’t consider myself high maintenance and I am not a stranger to staying in hostels, but wow, what a stressful experience that was. We are moving to China for a year so we had a few very heavy bags, so navigating that place or even finding it, never mind finding where exactly we had booked was a nightmare. Going up and down those hot, tiny elevators with our bags, being told (rudely) we were on the wrong floor and we needed to check in on floor 5 even though our hostel was on floor 7, going back to floor 5 and knocking on the door only to have nobody answer, a cockroach on the wall in the floor’s lobby that thankfully, my boyfriend saw but I didn’t as I was already having a minor breakdown about the heat and small space and being exhausted from our flights… thought maybe we will lug our bags down the stairs and get out of here and the staircases were pretty terrifying. Anyway, we took a loss and booked online into the Holiday Inn next door, and I cannot express my relief to get out of there and into comfortable and safe accommodations. I can only imagine how it was for you as a solo traveller! We will always do our research from now on.

    Reply

  35. September 24, 2017 @ 7:08 am Julienne

    Thanks for this review. Just wanted to ask what hotels/accommodations you’ve been into before and after the Chungking Mansions? 🙂

    Reply

  36. September 30, 2017 @ 10:47 am Andrew

    I’ve stayed there, and the even cheaper Mirador, dozens of times. Solo, and when travelling as a couple. It’s great value, perfectly safe, and yes it’s small. And the bathrooms are very small. I see lots of girls checking in, and they don’t look uneasy. Yes, I’ve seen hookers – I’ve also run into hookers in the lifts of $US300 hotels too.

    Nobody should take this review seriously. Take normal precautions as you would in any city. Avoid looking for trouble. Enjoy your stay and the savings.

    Reply

  37. December 2, 2017 @ 5:46 pm Dianne

    That was such a horrible experience! I’m relieved you were safe. As for me, Chung King Mansions was my first overseas accommodation. I was 17 when I visited Hong Kong last 2015, and I did the same thing as you- I looked for cheap accommodation and did not research VERY well. But a bit of relief, I was not alone, I was with my friend and my mum, but still, we were all women. The first time we entered the ‘mansion’, and then deeper into the hallways, we could already feel the eyes of some men and the chaos, we also got lost finding our Block. The elevator did not have a long line, as yours were, but we could all agree that it was quite small, and could only fit up to 4-5 persons. That was fine as long as we don’t share the same ride with THE dangerous men, thus, seeing the CCTV gave us a huge relief. Once checked in, we were greeted by a nice Indian LADY, thank God. But we’re told to transfer to another block, where her husband, a kind Indian man, gave us a better accommodation, and gave us free coffee. We ended up staying all throughout the booking, and whenever we go out, we always went out together. It was one of my worst turned out best accommodation by far. Personally, I actually may choose to book a room again at Chungking Mansions because my experience wasn’t that bad, if anything it was a rush and I really felt immersed exploring the culture and interacting with different people in Hong Kong, as well as seeing diversity in the races that you do not see everyday back at home.

    Reply


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