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Regardless of what your budget is, the best places to stay in Hong Kong really are a matter of opinion. Each area has their pros and cons, but since the city has great public transportation, it doesn’t really matter too much where you stay. Below I’ll highlight the most popular areas and give you a breakdown of what to expect.
Central – This may be the financial core of Hong Kong, but Central is an attractive place to stay since it’s located near Lan Kwai Fong and Victoria Peak, two of the most popular spots in the city. Lan Kwai Fong is where expats and locals go to drink, club, and eat while Victoria Peak will give you breathtaking views of the city. Other notable attractions nearby include Man Mo Temple, the Mid-Levels Escalators, and the International Finance Center.
One MTR stop west of Central is Sheung Wan. This area is a good alternative to Central since it’s only a 15 minute walk away, but has many budget friendly hotels.
Tsim Sha Tsui – Located at the base of Kowloon (the mainland of Hong Kong) is Tsim Sha Tsui (commonly known as TST), a popular spot for tourists. The biggest draw is most likely the proximity to Victoria Harbour which will give you stunning views of the Hong Kong’s skyline. You’ll also be able to access the Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong’s version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Other attractions nearby include Nathan Road which is famous for its neon signs, restaurants, and shopping options.
Brand name hotels including the Sheraton, Peninsula, and InterContinental can be found in TST, but there are also plenty of “cheap” options available since many hostels and low-budget hotels are located in the Chungking Mansions. This may sound appealing, but you should only seriously consider staying here if you have no budget.
For those who prefer Airbnb.
Mong Kok – This is the area I stayed during my last visit to Hong Kong and it’s where I recommend people who prefer Airbnb to look first. As a mainly residential area, there are plenty of Airbnb options. It’s also within walking distance of the Temple Street market and Langham Place which is a good contrast between old and new Hong Kong. I should note that Portland street is where a lot of prostitutes hang out, but it’s still a safe area to stay.
Wan Chai – Wan Chai is mainly a commercial area, but the appealing part about staying here is the fact that many hotels and Airbnb rentals are cheaper than those in the neighboring area of Causeway Bay which is arguably the best place to shop. The only attraction of note is the Golden Bauhinia Square which is located outside the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, but jump on the MTR and you’ll be able to get anywhere fast.
What will $200 in fact still get you on Shanghai Street?
Golden Lake brothel at night…
One of my most popular posts ever on Comme les Chinois , was when in March 2008, I re-posted on a friend’s article on a friend’s impression (as a passerby) of Shanghai Street in Kowloon.
Why was it so popular? Because Shanghai Street, along with Portland and Reclamation Streets in their Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tei portions (between Shantung and Dundas) are often synonymous with the sex trade and is home to one of Hong Kong’s most well-known red-light districts. Day or night, as seen in the previous pictures, brothels operate as if prostitution was legal in Hong Kong. You walk around these streets at any time, and you will notice lit-up signs in flashy pink, or the red/pink neons hanging outside on the street or inside the staircase leading up to the establishment.
Perhaps most shockingly comes the “price list“, where the Chinese girl goes for HKD250 (CAD35) and the Malay or Filipina girl will make your wallet lighter by HKD200 (CAD28).
The Mong Kok red-light district is in fact just one or two blocks away from flashy Langham Place, a commercial complex that opened in 2004 and whose unavowed goal was to “sanitize” the neighborhood west of Nathan in Mong Kok. In terms of urban renewal, Hong Kong has used this stratagem before, in the early 90s with Times Square (????) in Causeway Bay and more recently with the apm shopping mall in Kwun Tong, which opened in 2005. While Times Square was a huge success, developing a largely residential area into the location to be for brand-name shopping in Hong Kong, it is still to early to tell if this would have the same effect on Langham Place’s surroundings.
A walk in the neighborhood (during the day) is quite uneventful. The area mostly has home renovation, and construction material, and metal shops, with a brothel at about every 50-100 meters. Ah-suks (uncles) working in the businesses look at you funny, but what seemed to be pimps, left you alone as you took a quick picture of their premises (without them in there, of course).
As it provides an “essential service” in a city of about 7 million souls, the Hong Kong government should leave this part of the city alone, as long as the triads don’t start shooting each other in broad daylight.
Home renovation and green light.
And now, on a cultural note… In Chinese, “ordering chicken” (??), like in getting chicken from a Chinese BBQ shop, is slang for patronage of female prostitutes. So, “ordering goose/duck” (??) is the patronage of male prostitutes…