Thanks to John Woo and Bruce Lee, visitors to Hong Kong expect to be arm wrestling tattooed Mafiosi as they step out of the airport. The truth is that tourists to Hong Kong would have to be very, very unlucky to encounter a triad In Hong Kong.
Are there triads in Hong Kong? Yes, but the chance of meeting one is no greater than meeting a would-be Tony Soprano in New Jersey or a Ronnie Kray in London. Triad’s were once a major problem in the city, running huge swathes of town such a Kowloon Walled City and Mongkok, however, concerted police action has put the triads very much on the back foot.
Tourists should however be wary of the following, all of which it should be noted are illegal practices anyway.
Gambling - Illegal gambling was for a long time the bread and butter of the triads, heavy police action has seriously curtailed their activity, however, illegal gambling continues to be a problem. Gambling is legal in Hong Kong, but only through the Hong Kong Jockey Club and only on certain sports.
Buying copy products - Hong Kong, particularly markets like in Mongkok , are a haven for copy goods, Triads are often involved in the smuggling of the goods into Hong Kong. Often seen as a victimless crime, handbags and watches are favourites for copy artists, producing Guccis and Pradas, however, be aware that some of your cash is likely to end up the hands of the Triads.
Prostitution - Unfortunately the area Western tourists are most likely to find themselves tangled up with triads, you can find out more on the legality of prostitution in Hong Kong in our article Is Prostitution Legal in Hong Kong.. Legal or not, much of the racket is run by the triads with people smuggling and violence rife.
In reality, the only way you’re likely to run into a triad in Hong Kong is if you’re doing something illegal.