English tourist Barry Franks called it "very authentic" and an eye-opener.
He was among a dozen tourists taken on a walk around the SAR by Hong Kong Free Tours, which offers an alternate view of the city, where nearly a million of its seven million residents live below the poverty line.
"I don't want them to just see that Hong Kong is wealthy," said tour guide Alla Lau, after showing the tourists a grittier side of the SAR.
Lau led the group past homeless in makeshift shelters, and spoke about the impact of soaring housing costs.
She said locals pay up to HK$1,600 a month to live in "coffin homes" of just 20 square feet.
The visitors saw elderly selling knick-knacks in Sham Shui Po and walkways where domestic helpers gather.
Tour founder Michael Tsang said he points out locations where Umbrella movement activists brought the city to a standstill for nearly three months in 2014.