Towering maze of vice

Chungking Mansions

Teeming with illegal goods and services, this towering maze of vice is also a popular tourist accommodation

The Chungking Mansions are an infamous melting pot of seedy underground activities and vices nestled into one of Hong Kong’s busiest areas.

The sprawling building is composed of five residential towers built in 1961 in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong. Aside from headquartering illicit prostitution rings and drug traders, the building’s labyrinthine structure and minimal upkeep have led to a reputation for the cheapest accommodations in Hong Kong, giving the twisting building a legendary status among fearless backpackers. While the 17-floor towers have nearly 2,000 guest-rooms housing nearly 4,000 people nightly, the “Chungking Express” mall on the first two floors remains the main attraction for passerby.

After undergoing a massive facelift in the early 2000s, the mall reopened in 2004 with more than 500 stores and restaurants. From curry restaurants to African bistros to black market phone smugglers, the ground floor is a non-stop carnival of shopping and scheming. Despite the recent overhaul of the mall, the building’s residential towers maintain their reputation as a dangerous fire trap due to unsanitary conditions, antique electrical wiring, and blocked stairwells.

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