When researching somewhere to stay in Hong Kong we kept coming across the same two names no matter how hard we tried to avoid them, the guidebooks and search engines just kept sending us right back to them. Those two places were Chungking and Mirador Mansions.
The reason for trying to stay clear of them was simple – the bad reputation they seemed to have developed over the years. The reviews and comments suggesting entering alone at night could be dangerous would be enough to put anyone off. The problem is they are cheap (by Hong Kong standards) and in a great location and that’s what we all look for so in the end we decided “why not?”
Choosing between the two didn’t really come into it, they both seem to be just as bad as each other judging by the reviews. Our guidebook (no names mentioned) for China suggests Mirador is slightly better than ChungKing, but guidebook for South East Asia says it’s the other way round despite being published only two months apart by the same company.
Great work rough guides….ooppps.
We ended up booking 5 nights in the New Hong Kong Hostel in Chungking Mansions simply because it was available and cheapish. First impressions of this place were very worrying and pretty intimidating especially after such negative press.
The exterior of the building is very much an eye sore. The inside doesn’t do much to change your initial impression, the first two floors are made up of lots and lots of shops crammed into a small area, it’s more like a market selling everything from food and drink to dodgy electrical goods and of course money transfers.
From here you catch a lift up to whatever floor you have pre-booked a room on and pre-book you should. Walking in with our backpacks looking vulnerable from a long nights travelling we noticed many people’s eyes light up. We were offered cheap rooms, cheap guest houses and even cheaper rooms and guest houses without a price ever being mentioned. This is how it was all week, every time we walked through someone was trying to get us to go somewhere.
First impression of the hostel was much better, everywhere was very clean and so quiet compared to what we had experienced on the way in. Entering the room though, did provide us with a shock, we had read about how limited space was in Hong Kong and to expect small rooms… but yikes!
The room was tiny, very tiny but once we had got over the shock of it we started to notice what it had going for it. Very clean, free wifi, ensuite (although you did have to shower over the toilet) air con and a fan, what more do you need? Space, that’s what! If I was visiting Hong Kong for three days on my own this is where I’d go. For two people with twice the stuff for nearly a week. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t get annoyed in there.
Chunking Mansions seems to be known by most people in Hong Kong, for good currys. With the influx of Indian culture comes a whole new world of taste. There are plenty of these places in the Mansion all good which seem quite popular and good value for money. As long as you don’t go expecting a fancy restaurant and take it for what it is these places are great, sort of curry cafes. We went to Khyber Pass on floor 7 block E, and had a brilliant Chicken Tikka Masala and would recommend it to anyone. It’s even cheaper if you let one of the hawkers from the bottom send you up as they give you a VIP card.
So in the end we were pleased to be leaving chunking mansion not because of any bad experiences or close calls but just because of space. Despite being a very intimidating place to begin with we got used to it and although we couldn’t say we love the place but I could have been a lot worse.