Yau Ma Tei
Yau Ma Tei is an area in the Yau Tsim Mong District in the south of the Kowloon Peninsula. To the north of that is the Mong Kok area. My post on Hong Kong explains more about the different parts of Hong Kong. Yau Ma Tei, is the region between the Jordan and Yau Ma Tei MTR stations and the Mong Kok area continues from Yau Ma Tei to Prince Edward MTR stations. Within the two areas are plenty of what is called walk-ups or One Women Brothels which are not illegal by any means.
There is more in the area including the famous Temple street area. I have not researched a lot into the temple street area but know enough to tell you where to explore. So what is Yau Ma Tei famous for. Ok, I don’t mean the candy shop at the corner of this and that street! The area is famous for the night market selling cheap stuff! Ok… we are getting better! Massage parlors, Illegal brothels, local or mainland Chinese street walkers. Well…. If you want a decent massage, this is not the right place to go. I would actually be very skeptical about any place in Hong Kong that offers a decent massage! If you want a massage with a hand job or a blow job then well you are talking a bit more sense except that you will have to translate that into Chinese!
To get to the action around the Temple street area, you can take MRT to Jordan Station. Take exit A and walk along Jordan Road passing Parkes Street, Woosung Street and then get to Temple street. There is the entrance to Temple Street Night Market. If you walk one block along Temple Street, you come to a one way street which looks more like a footpath called Ning Po Street. You can turn left and fall onto Shanghai Street. Most of the street walkers are down Temple Street, Shanghai Street and if at all further down to Battery Street but I wouldn’t go down to Battery.
Temple street night market area is quite congested. You will see stalls on both sides and in the middle selling various gadgets and nick knacks! You will find hookers standing around the sidewalks of Temple Street. They are mainly from mainland China or local and speak very little English. Majority will potentially not even understand that you are a foreigner! Going rate may be around $200 to $300 (Hong Kong) which is like one tenth of the price in Wan Chai.
In places around Temple Street you will see Chinese Ladies (pretty old I must say) seated on stools. No, they are not seated there enjoying the evening breeze which is non-existent or waiting for someone to come home! They are indeed the Mamasans or the pimps of the illegal Brothels. Most unlikely they will hassle you. However, if you look at them and show interest, they will take you inside to show the girls!
Further up from Yau Ma Tei area is the Mong Kok area. Mong Kok is one of the major shopping areas in Hong Kong. The area is characterised by a mixture of old and new multi-story buildings, with shops, restaurants and commercial or residential units. Major industries in Mong Kok are retail, restaurants and entertainment. It has been described and portrayed in films as an area in which triads run bars, nightclubs, and massage parlors. With its extremely high population density, Mong Kok was described as the busiest district in the world by the Guinness World Records. There are also plenty of Budget accommodation spots and when that happens it starts to be a popular spot for the streetwalkers.
Portland street itself is quite a long road and if you read lot of the reviews online they will tell you Portland street is a red light area. Well… if that is the case most of Hong Kong is a Read Light Area! No! The area of Portland Street between Argyle Street and Dundas Street is where the action takes place. It is said to be the most famous of red light areas in Hong Kong. Well.. that’s just the individuals perspective! As a tourist, not even close. As a Tourist, you want to be in more upscale Wan Chai. Mong Kok is most famous for Movies shot in Hong Kong. With movies portraying some form of vice it is quite obvious that it will be considered the most popular.
Underneath sometimes five or six layers of Neon signs, one can find prostitutes mainly from mainland china. There are said to be others from overseas but, I am not going to say much until I see myself. Seeing is believing! Into the mix as usual are all the so called massage parlors, night clubs, karaoke bars, (or hostess bars if you like to call them) and brothels. The women strolling around the area quite often keep a very sharp watch for the police. The issue here is that most come from mainland China and typically overstay. In comparison in Wan Chai, the street walkers are not shaken up when the police drive past!
Getting to the Mong Kok area is easy. Well… you can always take a taxi but the Hong Kong MTR is the best way. Take the MTR to Mong Kok and exit from E1. If you walk a very short distance (Not towards Nathan Road but the opposite direction) you hit Portland street. Turn left and you go to Argyle Street or Turn Right and you go to Dundas Street. Which means you land slap bang in the middle of the Red Light area. In order Parallel to each other are Nathen Road, Portland Street and then Shanghai Street. The area of Portland Street, Dundas Street, Shangahi Street and Argyle Street form the heart of the red light area. Do not forget Shanghai Street.
Keep your eyes open for the tinny little walkways branching out. Some of the women are bold enough to show off the shape of their breasts in the open but some would rather hide a bit inside. If you go down either of the two areas in Mong Kok or Yau Ma Tei and find virtually no one around, there are a few possible reasons. For one Chinese New Year is actually a period of celebration no matter what work you do. The other is that if for some reason there is Extended Police Presence, they will most likely be in hiding! So its not that I got my facts wrong. Having said that, I have not been monitoring the area on a daily basis unlike Wan Chai hence I can only tell you a little bit that I have discovered.
That is Yai Ma Tei & Mong Kog in a nutshell. Frankly, unless you want some cheap stuff you don’t go there. I must admit I was never tempted to go there and when I went it was not very appetizing to the extent that I didn’t take many photos. However, I will make sure I do that my next visit to Hong Kong.