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Hong Kong is notoriously expensive for budget travelers and at the heart of that expensive is accommodation.
Overcrowding in the city center has meant even the smallest of hotel rooms in nice buildings are super expensive, and, for the most part, out of our budget.
This led us to the Chungking Mansions. These large apartment blocks are unique, to say the least, but being one of the cheapest options in Hong Kong it was our go-to choice on our recent trip.
But what was it like staying in the famous Chungking Mansions?
It was crazy and possibly a little unsafe but it was an experience and one I would likely do again. With that said, I can understand some people may be a little more reluctant to give it a go.
So in this blog, I will answer some questions about the Chungking Mansions in Hong Kong and hopefully put your concerns at ease!
The Truth About Staying at Chungking Mansions, Hong Kong
Dan and I decided to turn what could’ve been a couple of hour-long layover in Hong Kong to an actual trip. Why only see the airport as a layover when we already flew all the way there? So, we decided to make a small trip out of it and spent 6 days in Hong Kong.
The problem with this decision was that we had been traveling for near 1.5 years already without working and our funds were starting to deteriorate. Hong Kong is not a cheap place to visit, in fact, it is actually quite expensive!
We decided we need to figure out how to visit Hong Kong as cheaply as possible and the first step in doing that was to get budget accommodation.
We weren’t willing to sacrifice location for our budget, so we quickly discovered the only “hotels” in our price range were in buildings that are referred to as “mansions”.
Doesn’t sound too bad right? Well, that depends on your description of “bad.”
Staying in the Chungking Mansions wasn’t what either Dan or I would consider “bad”, but it definitely wasn’t luxurious and was a cultural experience all on its own.
Long story short, we loved staying at Chungking Mansions! If you are still confused about what exactly “mansions” are and why we liked staying in one (the Chungking Mansions) keep reading and let me explain.
What are “Mansions” in Hong Kong?
Mansions are essentially many small hotels or BnB’s in an extremely large apartment building. Most of the individual units in the apartment building have been turned into tiny hotels.
On each floor there are several different hotels, each was originally a different apartment unit. Essentially these apartments are located in such a great location that the owners capitalized by turning their own unit into a hotel!
Most of these apartment units have been redesigned to fit in as many rooms as possible. Our hotel had about 6 or 7 rooms in a space that I would consider a normal size one or two-bedroom apartment!
About Chungking Mansions
Chungking Mansions is the largest and most popular mansion in Hong Kong. It is said to have more than 10,000 people enter/exit the building every single day!
There are 5 different blocks, 10 elevators, and the first two stories are a market-like mall.
There is no other place in the world where so many different nationalities fit under such a small roof!
Chungking is popular with travelers, backpackers, asylum seekers, and business people! It is such a mix of people and all of the languages you can hear by just walking around is crazy!
Chungking Mansions Safety: Is Chungking Mansions safe?
This is the question that I was googling before we booked. The answer, in short, is yes. But, it wasn’t always.
Once, this run-down building was the main hub for crime. Drug dealing, prostitution, and homeless people passing out in the stairwells were just some of the problems.
Now, with it becoming such a popular place for international travelers to stay, the building is much safer. There is security in place and cameras in certain places. The homeless people don’t wander in there now but there are a few other safety concerns that you should be aware of before deciding to stay in Chungking Mansions, Hong Kong.
Safety Concerns to Consider
The first being electrical. Everywhere you look loose wires are hanging. Millions of wires are all in a tangled mess in the back of the building. It looked like a fire hazard waiting to happen if you ask me.
And, if there ever was a fire I’m not sure how all 10,000 people would evacuate safely with the slow and limited elevators and extremely small stairwells that wind up 15 floors!
We were offered drugs a couple of times by the vendors who worked in the stalls on the first two floors.
We were cautioned that I, as a girl, shouldn’t walk the staircases alone. The elevators have cameras so they are safer.
Other than that though, the building seemed safe. The people were friendly and we didn’t have any problems or hear of any problems while we were there.
Our particular hotel had a security code we had to use and then our room had a proper key.
What was our room like?
Our room was nice but it was tiny. It was nine square meters including the bathroom.
The layout was a rectangle with the bathroom in one corner. The double bed was the size of the end of the room and was enclosed by three walls.
The bathroom was so small that the shower head was over the top of the toilet. So, when you showered you literally had to stand over the top of the toilet.
Besides the bed and the bathroom, there was a space to stand that was about two meters long and one meter wide. It was small, but I suppose most of the houses and rooms are small in Hong Kong.
It was a tight squeeze with our bags but it was still comfortable and made us realize how little space we actually need!
We paid about $40 USD a night for this room.
In Chungking Mansions there are even smaller rooms without bathrooms attached that are cheaper, and some rooms that are much more spacious and therefore more expensive. However, $40 USD seemed the be about the average price and our room was the average size.
The Challenge of the Elevators
There was always a line for the elevators. Normally I would just take the stairs, but we were staying on the 14th floor and had been warned that the stairwells aren’t the safest places to spend a lot of time.
For each block there were two elevators, each elevator only went to select floors so you had to make sure you were waiting for the correct elevator that actually went to your floor.
During peak times it could take up to 20 minutes to get on an elevator. This was a test in patience, but while waiting there was always a ton of people watching to do!
The elevators were definitely the most annoying part of our stay in Chungking Mansions. My best advice would be to book a place as close to the ground floor as possible so that if you wanted to take the stairs then you would have the option.
Chungking Mansions, Hong Kong are located in the perfect neighborhood if you ask me!
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon is a safe and interesting place for any visitor to stay. It is central in the fact that it is across the street from the metro station, down the road from the harbor, and near Kowloon Park.
There are many touristy places to eat but also local joints. You can sit down for a fancy meal or find street food in Kowloon. There are markets nearby and you can easily access tons of things to do and see in Hong Kong right from your front door.
Where to Stay in the Chungking Mansions
The problem with the Chungking Mansions is people tend to expect more than what they get. On booking websites there are lots of complaints include elevator lines (don’t stay in the Chungking Mansions if this is an issue) and small rooms (also don’t stay).
The reason I am telling you this is because the reviews on all “cheap” places are relatively bad (expect around a 6 rating on booking.com). With that said, here are a few I recommend after speaking to people and sifting through the hotels and their reviews!
Oh, and if you see a cheap place with a score of 9. the reviews are probably fake!
City HK Guest House – The reviews here aren’t bad here especially for its price of $36 USD a night (one of the cheapest).
Beverly Guest House – This place has really good reviews (for Chunking) and the staff are reviewed as being helpful which is rare in the mansions. A budget room here is $45 a night.
Taj Super Deluxe – This was the best-reviewed hotel (with real reviews) around the $45 a night range. All around people rate it as a comfortable place to stay.
Sun Guest House – Another hotel with great reviews and good wifi. The rooms here are as low as $60 a night but seem to fluctuate up to $100 depending on the time of year and when you book (reported from people who read this blog before staying).
Hotel Skyview – This is where we stayed. The hotel was good and to be honest, we enjoyed our stay. We had room for our bags in our room and the apartment seemed very secure. We didn’t have an outside window though and the owner was not helpful at all (although respected our privacy and we rarely saw him.) Rooms here are around $50 a night.
You should browse and book your hotel in the Chungking Mansions in advance online – the good places book out fast!
Would I recommend staying at Chungking Mansions, Hong Kong?
Yes! In fact, the next time I visit Hong Kong I will stay there again!
While the rooms were small and the elevators were frustrating it was a fun experience overall. I loved seeing all of the different nationalities all in one place. It also felt more authentic staying in a place that is the same size as to how many people in Hong Kong live.
The neighborhood was ideal and kept us busy exploring such a culturally rich place!
I highly recommend Chungking Mansions!
We had such a great time in Hong Kong! Check out all of our other advice and experiences in or blogs about Hong Kong!