A Night at Hong Kong’s Notorious Chungking Mansions

By Mark Wiens 36 Comments
Chungking Mansions in Hong Kong

Picture a group of muscular Nigerians in tank-tops and flip-flops, a Sikh man in a freshly wrapped turban, an entire Filipino family, a group of African mama’s dressed in traditional West African dresses and dragging blue and red plaid gunny sacks, a couple of Japanese tourists sporting “Hello Kitty” with rolling suitcases, Indians in overly fitted bell-bottom tailored pants and tightly knitted shirts, a Caucasian world traveler in hunky hiking boots and a worn out rucksack, Somali’s in their long dresses, and Arabs in their keffiyeh checkered scarves…

Within the multitudes, everyone is attempting to sort out some form of business, searching for a way to send something back to their far-off homes and families.

Under these circumstances, everyone is in need of money exchanges and they are plentiful.  People shout on their mobile phones in fifty different languages trying to take care of things while others calmly spectate the scene.

All unpleasant aromas are blotted out with the aid of glorious Indian curries filling the air.

Interested in daal and a chapati, a Bollywood DVD, a second hand Blackberry, a tailored suit, a fake rolex, or computers by the bulk?

Put everything under a single roof and you’ve got the Chungking Mansions in Hong Kong, representing the world coming together.

The Chungking Mansions are a series of 5 towers, each 17 stories tall and conveniently located in the hectic Tsim Sha Tsui district in the heart of Kowloon.

The buildings are in a golden location, mere minutes walk from the Star Ferry to Hong Kong Island and directly on the Kowloon traffic vein of Nathan Road.

“It’s not exactly the place you want to take the family on vacation.”

People come to Hong Kong to handle business and the Chungking Mansions are the same.  Fake watches, tailored suits, hustled mobile phones, and hashish are shamelessly offered, if not rudely pushed upon passerby’s.

The entrance is at all times filled with loiterers, chitchatting and discussing something, or maybe shouting something on phones.  There is always a myriad of interesting sites and sounds.  Many newcomers enter the structure straight off the Airport Express and wander around the Chungking Mansions, rolling their suitcases with gloomy eyes.

Entrance to the Chungking Mansions


The Chungking Mansions were built in the 1960’s as apartments.  Under the corruption of lousy management, a span of different ownership, and a landslide of age, the building has since been deteriorating.

Elevators at Chungking Mansions
What are you looking for?

A few efforts of mass clean-up and an improvement on the fire hazardous conditions and the Chungking Mansions are still positively throbbing with International life.

No spitting!

The mine-shaft elevators that service the businesses and 90-100 guest houses in the mansions are far from luxurious with lines stretching into the hallways at all times of people waiting for a lift.

About 5000 people continually live in the building but over 10,000 people pass through on the daily.

The head office

The Chungking Mansions have a roller coaster history of up and down security and fire safety.  With tight corridors, narrow escape routes, and jam packed with people, a fire scare would surely cause horror.

Chungking Mansions
The escape plan at Chungking Mansions
Some restaurants on ground floor

There are a host of delicious smelling eateries serving mostly Indian delicacies.  The curries and deep fried samosas fill the stuffy air with vibrant flavor.

In the Chungking Mansions you won’t find restaurants like Lin Heung Dim Sum, but you will find a scrumptious array of some of Hong Kong’s finest ethnic eats.

Get ready to eat!
Need a suit? Chungking Mansions has you covered
Money exchange
Internet cafe
Snacks, straight from India
Stores filled with everything

Within the passageways and back staircases are the moist decaying bowels of the Chungking Mansions.

Just like in dark movies, driblets of water fall from the ceiling, the piping system looks like it could burst at any moment with raw sewage, and the electrical system looks like it could ignite into flames at any second.

Chungking Mansions
Walking in the hall of Chungking Mansions
The old piping system
More scenes of Chungking Mansions
More scenes of Chungking Mansions
And Indian home doorway

With little choice due to soaring hotel room prices in Hong Kong (I visited the same weekend as a few world events and expos) and a yearning for adventure, I picked out a guest house on 5th floor of Block B, a place called the Guangdong Guest House / Super 7 Hostel (2 guest houses, same owner, same floor, I’m not even sure which we stayed in, felt the same) in the Chungking Mansion.

Super 7 Hostel
Mr. Simon To
Block B 5th Floor B2
40 Nathan Road
Tsimshatsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Amidst the chaotic Chungking Mansions, the Super 7 Hostel was a quiet and clean oasis.  The room which included a private bathroom was micro-sized with little room to maneuver, but the bed was comfortable and clean.  Simon, a mid-aged Chinese man walked around with a fanny pack and grin on his face while taking care of the facilities.

Still expect to pay $20 – $30 USD per person / night

Here’s where I stayed for a night

Here was our lovely view when we drew back the curtains for a peak out the window…

The view from my window

Great view!!

Despite the overall poor conditions of the premises at the Chungking Mansions, the scene and international atmosphere were buzzing with character and truly spectacular.

Staying at the Chungking Mansions is not the most glamorous thing I could think of doing, but a browse through the first couple of floors during the day is a gripping activity of “Asia’s World City” within Hong Kong.

Check out my photo essay of Hong Kong.

36 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Icariin UK

    8 months ago

    I always wanted to stay at Chunking Mansions. I wonder if they’ve done some serious refurbishment inside since your stay…?

  • bing maps

    1 year ago

    Hongkong is fabulous at night. You will love time in street food and club.

  • vishal kaushik

    3 years ago

    The photos are great, they tell the complete story, what a place

  • Shahir Emi

    8 years ago

    greetings Mr. Mark… i was there in 2013… as a Malaysian muslim traveler, it is good to have an accommodation with all the necessities within walking distance… but somehow, for a Malaysian, to have Indian food, in HongKong, thats another story… hard to find halal food there, so just have to make do with what’s around…

    Have been reading your blog all night, and i like the way you think… will read more… thanks for the input…

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Thank you for sharing Shahir, and really appreciate you reading my blog as well!

  • Ben

    9 years ago

    I’m planning a trip to HK and want to stay in one of the Chungking Mansion hostels. How did you go about doing it? Usually going through customs at the airport they’d make you leave an address of where you’ll be staying…but I’m assuming these hostels wouldn’t take online reservations.

    (Also, how confident were you leaving your belongings in the hostel while out and about during the day?)

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Hey Ben, glad you’re planning to go to Hong Kong. I can’t remember exactly, but I think they allowed us into HK without any hotel reservations, I think it wasn’t a problem – because I’ve been a couple times now, once I stayed with a friend, so no accommodation. As for my stuff, I usually walked around with all my valuables, and left just my clothes. But I think security all depends on what hostel you stay at.

  • Derek g

    9 years ago

    Stayed there Oct 2011. Craziest place I’ve ever stayed…

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Hey Derek, cool to hear you stayed there too. I’ve heard recently that they’ve really cleaned it up and upgraded it, but haven’t been back in a couple years.

  • Eric

    10 years ago

    Nice post and great photos. I stayed in the Chungking Mansions for some weeks and really enjoy the diversity. They cleaned it up a lot since you stayed there and security is also a lot tighter now. It’s not that bad to stay here. The rooms are still very tiny though and the views mostly not that great. It is a place that every explorer in Hong Kong should check out, in my opinion.

    • Mark Wiens

      10 years ago

      Hey Eric, thank you for sharing, glad that they have been cleaned up a bit since I was there. Definitely agree with you, a place everyone should at least visit.

  • ylfriends

    10 years ago

    Wow, you are not only adventurous with your food, but with lodging too!
    I’ve visited Hong Kong a number of times, but I could never dare to stay in Chuking Mansion!
    I went to TST in all of my visits, but I’ve never seen Chuking Mansion. It was funny how they wrote De Luxe Hotel, when it looked like nothing but De Luxe Hotel LOL

  • Nisa & Ulli Maier

    11 years ago

    Yes, the curries there are really tasty. Agree with you that it’s not the place for a family vacation… But still, Chungking Mansions is definitely a place that every adventurous traveller has to visit at least once. We were told that 70% of all used mobile phones that are sold in sub saharian countries pass through this place and a lot of African car dealers also get their connections in Chungking Mansions…

    • Mark Wiens

      11 years ago

      Hey Nisa, yes it’s a must visit destination – it’s almost its own country! Those are some fascinating facts!

  • Mike

    11 years ago

    Glad you stayed there Mark. Great write up and photos! Every time I visit HK I make sure to stay at CK Mansions. My most recent visit, the mansion’s were my home for several weeks. It has gone through a recent exterior reno which at least makes the outside slightly less intimidating! Inside is still the same great bit of fun!

    • Mark Wiens

      11 years ago

      Hey Mike, cool to hear you stayed there too, it really is a fascinating building to explore!

  • Ron Szili

    13 years ago

    I stayed here in 1990, B Block the entire 7th floor had been burnt out. A place I shall never forget…

    • Mark Wiens

      13 years ago

      Wow, it’s probably changed quite a bit since 1990! Thanks for taking a look at my article!

  • Robert Meechum

    13 years ago

    Great Post!

  • Bsheikh@DiscussionForum

    13 years ago

    Thanks for the effort you took to expand upon this post. I look forward to future posts.

  • Sarah Wu

    13 years ago

    Nicly written post about the Chungking building. Yay I still can read Chinese. Anyway I never been to Hong Kong, but hoping to go there maybe next year. 🙂

  • flip

    13 years ago

    i stayed there a couple of years back and it’s so cramped and expensive.. though i ddint mind because i was sharing the room with a friend…

  • Mark Wiens

    13 years ago

    @Chris: Thanks for sharing that link, that’s a vivid article!

  • Zablon Mukuba

    13 years ago

    the photos are great, they tell the complete story, what a place

    • Mark Wiens

      13 years ago

      Thanks Zablon, it was really an incredible place!

  • Chris Mitchell

    13 years ago

    I stayed there too, back in 2003. Your photo essay captures it perfectly – brought back a few memories! You might want to check out my friend Janet’s posts about staying there recently – she is the author of Tone Deaf In Thailand and a great writer

  • Gary Arndt

    13 years ago

    I stayed there and it was one of the most memorable places I’ve ever stayed. Not the best, but certainly memorable.

    • Mark Wiens

      13 years ago

      @ Gary: Definitely, not a place we will ever forget!