Located on the western side of the Kowloon Peninsula, Mong Kok is called the ‘busiest place on the planet’. With a population density of 130,000 people per sq km, walking through the streets and weaving through the bazaars is intense. This section of Kowloon is the ‘real’ Hong Kong, a quarter of the city where street-side living is the norm. Mong Kok’s claim to fame are its numerous and well laid-out street markets as well as Hong Kong’s infamous triads, the sex trade, massage parlours, nightclubs, retails shops and eateries. It’s an odd juxtaposition of old and new and gives visitors a true ‘slice-of-life’ experience.
But the locals cherish their identity and take their lifestyle very seriously. Who would have thought that Mong Kok would become a trend-setter one day? Well, the term ‘MK people’ is used to describe young people who either live in Mong Kok or have a strong affinity for the neighbourhood. They are typically aged below 25, follow trends, speak a ‘special’ lingo, and dress and behave a certain way. ‘MK people’ is definitely not a compliment, and the term usually refers to a young person who doesn’t have a job, loiters and may even be involved in Kowloon’s triad culture.
Of course, this is not reason enough to bring visitors to this neck of the woods. But what does draw tourists here, in droves, are Mong Kok’s street markets and bazaars – colourful, vibrant, exciting, hawking all manner of goods and a great opportunity to pick up knick-knacks and souvenirs. It’s also a great opportunity to observe everyday life in all its glory, as the locals go about their business.