High prices and lack of decent and cheap hostels make Hong Kong far from a good destination for a backpacker. After you cross the border with China, prices on the same goods and services increase two or three-fold. Most of things are still cheap by European standards, but at first such a dramatic change is hard to digest. Nightlife was particularly expensive even comparing to Finland. 350HKD (around 35€) to get into a club for a Canadian no-name deep house DJ (and that is with the name on the guest list) with the drinks priced accordingly. I gave it a miss. Some places compensate a steep entrance fee with an open bar, which I guess is a fair deal if you want to get wasted and have Western genes to process alcohol, but otherwise it is insanely expensive. Interestignly enough is that on average I spent about the same amount of money as in Russia and Mongolia, but after a month spent in China Hong Kong it felt painful.
Accommodation situation is not any better. There are several hostels scattered around the city, with prices for dorms starting from 15€ upwards. If you want to go really cheap, then Chung King Mansions or Mirador Mansions are the best bets. These two massive prison-like 17-floor buildings standing next to each other host numerous guesthouses, hostels and inexpensive (by Hong Kong standards) hotels. Both buildings are the true melting pots and there is a good chance that you are can encounter here any nationality you can think of. Ridden with bedbugs, rats and other parasites, urine smell on staircases and renovation long overdue, these so called “mansions” look more like a prison complex. Add to the mix hookers, drugs/watch/suit/god-knows-what dealers and other dodgy people constantly on guard in front of the building and you get one of the most interesting attractions in Hong Kong. Chung King is particularly special – it has its own wikipedia article
and a movie
named after it too. What is particularly interesting is that most of clientele actually lives here, as opposed to staying a couple of nights. One of the dorms I stayed in was full of belongings of an older British man piled on several beds and occupying one entire wall. I have no idea for how long he has lived there, but judging by the amount of stuff he got there, it seemed like he made Chung King his permanent home. Sharing a bed with bedbugs for a couple of nights was more than enough, but living in such conditions is something I cannot imagine.
One of the things I’ve been trying to figure out during my journey low budget I can go without compromising my comfort and I finally hit my edge of comfort in Chung King after getting bitten by bedbugs. Noisy dorms with snoring people, dirty sheets and crappy showers? No problem. Ear-plugs, eye-cover and a silk-linen sleeping bag cure most of these problems. But waking up at 4AM wondering what the hell is going on and spending the next week battling itchiness all over the body is the experience I would not want to go through again. Chung King and Mirador are definitely worth a visit, but you would be better off finding accommodation elsewhere.