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A Quick Guide to Hong Kong Red Light Districts

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A multi-part blog about the red light districts of Hong Kong .




The tourist industry in the 18 different districts of Hong Kong is strong. While some people travel the area to experience the more traditional cultural vacation, others are coming to explore the “red light district.” It’s been featured in movies, and you may have even seen reports on news channels where investigators have visited the region to discover more about what takes place there.

Before you plan your trip to see for yourself, one important tip to remember is that the locals don’t call it the “red light district.” If you jump in a cab or ask someone on the street for directions to an area with that name, they will most likely look at you like a deer in the headlights. That’s why you need to have a better idea of each specific location by name. Also, keep in mind that the best way to get to any of these places is by the MTR Wan Chai Station. Here are a few of the most popular destinations and what they have to offer.




Wan Chai District

During business hours, the Wan Chai district offers plenty of landmarks, iconic symbols, and attractions for those that are looking for a more contemporary visit to Hong Kong. The Wan Chai Heritage Trail, for instance, is one of the first locations that was settled by the British, and you can get a real feel of the culture by just walking up and down the streets soaking in the sites. It takes about two hours, and you can see 15 different temples, civil buildings, old houses, and markets.


The famous story of the Hong Kong call girl, “The World of Suzie Wong,” took place in the Wan Chai District on Lockhart Road. In the light of day appears to be a regular business area, but at night it turns into the more mischievous nightlife bar scene. There you will find barely clothed ladies and very suggestive bar names that leave not much for your imagination to figure out. If you just want a drink and dinner, there are places to do that as well. This is one of the safer places for tourists to walk around freely.


In part 2, we will examine  Tsim Sha Tsui.


Tsim Sha Tsui

Shopping, restaurants, art galleries, and culture can all be found in Tsim Sa Tsui. There are also a plethora of scenic spots that tourists put on their must-visit lists when exploring the area like Kowloon Park and The Avenue of Stars. If you’re looking to relax after a day of soaking in the city, the Aqua on the 30th floor offers a friendly atmosphere and delicious cocktails with a view of Victoria Harbour and the illuminated skyline.

However, if you’re looking for something a little “extra,” you can travel to the Temple Street Night Market. The busiest time for the open air market is between the hours of 4 pm and 7 pm where people are all crammed in along with a variety of vendors selling all kinds of merchandise. Displayed on some of the stalls you will see adult magazines and images that suggest sex workers are in the area. Many times they are close by waiting to approach tourists that show interest in what they are advertising. Just be aware of your surroundings if you visit Temple Street. There are pick-pocketers and thieves in the area that will prey on anyone that looks like they are not locals.


Mong Kok

Shoe lovers swarm to Fa Yuen Street, otherwise known as Sneakers Street, in Mong Kok to find some of the most unique and limited edition Adidas, Nike, and New Balance kicks in the world. Shopping, restaurants, and pedestrians galore are what you’ll run into on Sai Yeung Choi.

If you look around, you’ll also discover that part of Portland Street is located in Mong Kok. There is an area between Argyle Street and Dundas Street that has become one of the most visited sex industry locations in all of Hong Kong. A lot of the people servicing in the hundreds of nightclubs, massage bars, brothels, and karaoke bars or hostess clubs come from the mainland China.

Expect to see a lot of law enforcement on the streets. They are continually searching for underage prostitutes, human sex trafficking, and people that have overstayed their visas. You’ll know you’re in the right area when the bright neon signs blind you and get swept up in the chaos of the atmosphere.


Lan Kwai Fong

The Lan Kwai Fong district is the place to go if you want to party all night long. While the area is small, it is packed with clubs, bars, and restaurants of all kinds. It’s a favorite stop for many because the alcohol is cheap and it can be consumed legally while meandering around the streets. The area has recently been revamped to include more high-end establishments, but sex workers are there if you are looking hard enough.

As some of you may not be aware, Ruby (Spitzer’s escort) was in some Girls Gone Wild videos. Regardless of what you think of those videos, the owner has her signed model release and can happily sell her tapes without her permission and pocket the profits (I believe he’s chosen to simply distribute the tapes for free — either way, he can do what he wants with the footage).


A model release is usually a one-page document that states what rights the photographer retains over the images and what rights the model has. The model is required to sign their legal name and date. The model release is signed before the photo shoot begins. In the case of adult-oriented photos, the model will be required to state their date of birth and usually a copy of their ID is made to go with the model release.


A model release doesn’t require a law degree to understand. Simply reading the document before signing is usually all that’s needed to understand what you’re signing.

Make a copy of the release your own records.

Why sign it?

For legal reasons, photographers need the protection of a model release, especially when shooting photos with nudity. They need proof you’re over 18. And the model release protects them from lawsuits if they use the pictures in the way the release states — even if you don’t like it.

For you, the protection comes in the form of what rights the photographer does and doesn’t have with your image. If the photographer is using your pictures in a way not clearly stated on the release, you could legally compel them to stop.

The Catch

Most model releases, at least with print/digital still photos, is boilerplate. It usually gives the model the right to use the photos for their own self-promotion but not to sell. It almost always gives the photographer the right to use the photos in their own portfolio, to sell or to use in any other way they need to promote their business (e.g.,advertisements, Web site).


If you don’t like any of the things contained in the model release, you need to change the contract right there and make sure the photographer signs. Discussing this well before the shoot will keep both of you from wasting time if you can’t come to an agreement.

But you must change the model release if you don’t like the terms. You can’t just make a verbal complaint and expect the photographer to follow your wishes.



Why does this matter?

It obviously matters if you get caught up in some scandal and an opportunistic photographer is free to use or sell your images however he wants. That’s not a worry most people have, of course.

A more realistic worry is the photographer displaying you in his portfolio. If you’re an masseur escort who does not show your face or had heavy retouching, you’re not going to want your very-identifiable shots in his online portfolio — showing your identity to the world or revealing how much retouching you had done (this isn’t a discussion about the ethics of retouching, so I’m not going to get into that). Maybe you don’t mind if he has prints in his actual studio portfolio, but you object to showing the photos online. Time to change the model release.

Maybe you don’t wish for him to display your pictures at all, in any way....

A professional photographer  won’t take a single picture until the model release is signed. It is a document you sign and it could impact your life. If you have questions or concerns, don’t sign.