Backpacking in Hong Kong: 24 Hours Exploring Mong Kok, Kowloon

Backpacking in Hong Kong: 24 Hours Exploring Mong Kok, Kowloon

Mong Kok translates nicely into Yingman/English as “Busy Corner” and if I was a first time visitor to Hong Kong, I would make sure that I base myself in Mong Kok for my first few nights. The reason is – this is the pulsating heart of the Kong. Street life in Mong Kok is what Hong Kong is all about. It’s also on the right side of Kowloon for the airport, so if you are tired and just off a flight (as I often am), you can get a BlackLane Cab straight to your hotel easily!

Mong Kok - a thriving bustling busy part of Kowloon, Hong Kong

Mong Kok – a thriving bustling busy part of Kowloon, Hong Kong

Away from the over-worked office blocks of Hong Kong island, away from the remote border villages, Mong Kok lends itself to you as the real district where vintage China meets the commercial world. In fact, Mong Kok could probably throw the biggest “Asia meets world” punch on the planet and exploring it is a must for anyone visiting Hong Kong.

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Exploring Mong Kok

Flavours of China disperse their way into other cultures here, leaving you mostly in awe. I still remember that tear in my eye, my first Taiwanese tea, my first visit to Mong Kok MTR station, my first noodles on a street corner. It all felt like a dream. But I was back recently to explore Mong Kok after enjoying my time in Yau Ma Tei. I checked into my hotel, the elegant Dorsett Mong Kok Hotel and I had 24 hours to see the best of Mong Kok. I was given some excellent tips by Jowie Wong, the Communications Manager for the Dorsett Mong Kok and it was off to explore! I have compiled this checklist of my favourite things to see and do in Mong Kok, you can easily squeeze these all into a short 24 hour period!

1. Sai Yeung Choi Street (Electronics Street)
What I love about Mong Kok is the variety of markets that change from street to street. Markets are themed, as are streets. Sai Yeung Choi Street is the place to go for electronics. Almost every shop is dedicated to the latest laptop, phones and gadgets – mostly made in China of course and it remains a cheap place to buy electronics.

Electronics Stret - Sai Yeung Choi Street South

Electronics Street – Sai Yeung Choi Street South

Electronics Stret - Sai Yeung Choi Street South

Electronics Street – Sai Yeung Choi Street South

2. Tung Choi Street (Goldfish Market)
On the street next to Sai Yeung Choi Street, there is a goldfish market. Every shop here is selling goldfish. But that’s not all – there are a range of colourful fish and unusual pets on sale here including lizards and rare geckos and snakes. I love the way the goldfish are displayed in immaculate plastic bags full of water and with Chinese writing in blue marker on them.

Goldfish in bags at the Mongkok Goldfish Market, Hong Kong, China.

Goldfish in bags at the Mongkok Goldfish Market, Hong Kong, China.

3. Mong Kok Stadium
Mong Kok Stadium holds over 10,000 people and I’ve been a few times to watch football (soccer) here. It’s one of the largest stadiums in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong national football team recently beat the Maldives 2-0 here in a World Cup qualifier, however it is only open when events are on, so do check the listings when you are there.

Mong Kok Stadium, Hong Kong

Mong Kok Stadium, Hong Kong

Tickets are as cheap as 30 Hong Kong Dollars ($4 US).

With the lads at a Hong Kong v. Taiwan match in Mong Kok Stadium

With the lads at a Hong Kong v. Taiwan match in Mong Kok Stadium

Hong Kong playing live at Mong Kok Stadium

Hong Kong playing live at Mong Kok Stadium

4. Flower Market
Believe it or not, the flower market is on a street called Flower Market Road. This is the place to go to buy flowers. The best selection in Hong Kong. I wonder if my girlfriend was happy?

Panny with her flowers from Flower Market Road

Panny with her flowers from Flower Market Road

Flower Market Road in Mong Kok, Hong Kong

Flower Market Road in Mong Kok, Hong Kong

Flower Market Road in Mong Kok, Hong Kong

Flower Market Road in Mong Kok, Hong Kong

5. Bars of Mong Kok and “Eddie”
A few of my favourite bars are in Mong Kok and Prince Edward (which I nickname “Eddie”) including the quirky US themed Rider’s Bar near Prince Edward MTR station. Mong Kok offers drinking of a more relaxed variety than the fast faced Lan Kwai Fong and Wan Chai (both on HK Island).

Riders Bar in Mong Kok

Riders Bar in Mong Kok

Having a beer in Riders

Having a beer in Riders

Most of the bars are on Fa Yuen Street and Tung Choi Street. Be aware that the local Chinese bars can get smoky and crowded with locals. Also in Chinese style, you should get a bucket and share it, playing drinking games. Locals always want to join foreigners for a drink when you walk in the door. Other good bars in the area include Breaks, Cox and Sober.

A night out in Mong Kok in Cox Bar

A night out in Mong Kok in Cox Bar

Cox Bar

Cox Bar

6. Local Bakeries
You might think that Hong Kongers are so much into their Dim Sum, their rice and noodles that they neglect bread and pastries. But you’re wrong. In fact I’d say that the bakeries of Hong Kong easily compete to those in France and England.

Wheat House Bakery in Mong Kok.

Wheat House Bakery in Mong Kok.

We got a top tip from Jowie in the Dorsett Mong Kok Hotel who told us about the excellent Wheat House Bakery (香麦屋) which is directly opposite the hotel. In here you can get all sorts of local bread and pastry varieties, some sweet some savoury. We tried the local pineapple buns with butter on top and the mochi. Prices are unbelieveably good value in here, starting at 3 Hong Kong Dollars.

Shopping at Wheat

Shopping at Wheat House Bakery

7. Taiwanese Takeaway Tea
There is nothing better to accompany you on your walk round Mong Kok than a fresh cup of Taiwanese Takeway Tea. These became my favourite drink when backpacking in Taiwan a few years back. I normally go for the original flavour. It’s a milky tea with tapioca/jelly balls in it.

Buying Taiwanese takeaway tea in Mong Kok

Buying Taiwanese takeaway tea in Mong Kok

The balls sink to the bottom. My favourite Taiwanese tea shop is on the corner of Portland Street and Argyle Street, with teas from 12 Hong Kong Dollars and up. Perfect! You can also get a melon and strawberry flavour.

Trying the melon Taiwanese style milky tea in Mong Kok

Trying the melon Taiwanese style milky tea in Mong Kok

9. Ladies Market
In contrast to the Temple Street Market in Yau Ma Tei/Jordan, which is sometimes nicknamed “men’s market”, the Ladies Market caters mostly for women. All sorts of ladies fashion and accessories are for sale here. However there are also football shirts, children’s clothes and a few men’s items so don’t be thinking it’s all dresses, bras and knickers.

Touring Ladies Market in Mong Kok

Touring Ladies Market in Mong Kok

10. Bird Market
Bird Market is a cool place to check out and it reminded me of my time in Paramaribo at the “Tweety Fest” where birds sing in the main square. The Bird Market at Yuen Po Street is a replacement to the old Bird Market, which was originally at Hong Lok Street.  Here you can find stalls which sell birds, bird food and crafty bird cages – you can check the Bird Market Hong Kong website for more details.

Bird Market in Mong Kok

Bird Market in Mong Kok

So if you want to check out Mong Kok for 24 hours, I recommend booking into the Dorsett Mong Kok, which offers 24 hour stays from whatever time you check in:
Dorsett Mongkok, Hong Kong   |   88 Tai Kok Tsui Road Kowloon Hong Kong
Tel: +852 3987 2288   |   Fax: +852 3987 2299
E-mail: info.mongkok@dorsetthotels.com

It’s a perfect base to explore Mong Kok and get you started in this superb city.

Here are some YouTube videos from my time touring Mong Kok:

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