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Hong Kong is by several estimates the world's best city: richest, smartest and favorite for business or pleasure. Super-tall, super-dense, and super-attractive, this fascinating city stands out in many ways. It's #1 in many ways that will surprise you.
So here are 24 surprising facts and useful facts about this super city on the edge of China.
Stats prove it. Did you know that more tourists go to Hong Kong than to any other city in the world? About 26 million visitors arrived in 2017 according to Euromonitor, and this is about three million more than to second place Bangkok.
Hong Kong is usually voted the "Best Business City in the World" in the annual readers' poll organized by Business Traveller Asia Pacific magazine. It has the lowest tax rates in Asia. It was rated #1 from 2010 to 2015, though it was #2 in 2016 and 2017. So business conditions are usually more favorable there than any other place in the world.
In 2017, Hong Kong was ranked the world's richest city. It has the most billionaires in the world per capita. It is ranked #2 for number of billionaires at about 93, and it has almost as many as #1 New York does. There are more Rolls Royces than per capita than in any other city in the world.
In surveys of the world's countries and semi-independent regions, Hong Kong's average IQ is top at 107. In comparison, China's average is 100, and Japan's is 105.
There are more than 8,000 buildings higher than 14 stories; almost double that of New York.
Mongkok is a district of shopping streets in Kowloon that's very popular with tourists. It has an average of 130,000 people per square kilometer. The whole district is less than half a square mile (1.1 sq km), and houses almost 150,000 residents. It is famous for its general busyness. For more about Mongkok, see The Top 7 Street Markets in Hong Kong.
Unlike what many people think, about 3/4 of Hong Kong is rural or woodland. It consists of 24 parklands that protect over 40% of the region's woodlands, reservoirs, mountains, and coastline. The beautiful parklands are easily accessible from the city. There are:
The Tsing Ma Bridge is 2.2 kilometers long and 206 meters (676 feet) high, and its 1,377 meter (4,518 feet) main span is the heaviest and longest of all the bridges in the world that carry rail traffic. It is useful for taking the metro from Lantau Island and the international airport from Kowloon and Central on Hong Kong Island.
Especially with it being so close to smoker-filled Mainland China, Hong Kong is remarkable in that there are such strict anti-smoking rules on all public transportation, even ferries. Smoking is also banned in restaurants, bars, malls, office buildings, beaches, and parks. And in HK people are more rule-abiding than in the rest of China!
For such a large city, HK is super-smoke-and-pollution-free, due to its coastal location and strict pollution controls.
Trams have been on Hong Kong Island for over a century. The top deck provides sightseeing and photography opportunities. It is an enjoyable way to experience the color and atmosphere of Hong Kong's backstreet life.
You can get free admission to Hong Kong's best museums on Wednesdays. These museums include the Space Museum, Museum of History, and the Art Museum. See the Top 10 Museums in Hong Kong to see which are free on Wednesdays.
The little Star Ferry that carries 19 million people across Victoria Harbour each year is China's #7 most popular tourist attraction according to TripAdvisor in 2018. A short trip for .28 US cents affords beautiful scenery and a refreshing ride.
Tim Ho Wan is the world's least expensive Michelin 1 Star restaurant. In 2017, three branches in Hong Kong earned this award. The average price of each dim sum basket is between 2 and 3 USD, and you can have a good meal for 10 USD. For more about Tim Ho Wan, see The Best 20 Hong Kong Restaurants — Something for Everyone.
Hong Kong has one of the world's highest per-capita concentrations of cafes and restaurants. There is one restaurant for every 600 people.
Hong Kong is in a league of its own.
The little region of Hong Kong hosts almost half as many tourists as the rest of China. About 26 million tourists came in 2014 compared to 56 million for all of China. The large majority who come are Mainland Chinese, but the city also gets millions of people coming from other countries.
So the main reason HK has so many tourists is that it's part of the world's most populous country, but is more developed/Western, and not considered part of it for visitor stats.
Victoria Harbor and its surroundings are noted for being one of the most beautiful urban places in the world. For first-time tourists visiting for a day or two, the best places to go are around or near it:
According to Shopper's Survey in 2016, the city is the best city to shop at in the Asia Pacific Region. It is comfortably ahead of the other cities in their estimation with everything from entertainment and attractions to services to the quality of malls and shops to prices being among the best.
People from all over the world come to Hong Kong for bargains and high quality. They find Asia's best place to buy electronics, fashion, watches, and jewelry. The city's luxury stores do so much business that Hong Kong ranked first in the world for retail rental prices until the recent stock market crash in China. But Hong Kong still ranks second after New York in 2016. See 10 Shopping Facts>>
There is a less of a chance that products are fake in Hong Kong than in mainland China, where there is still a stiff tariff on most kinds of items, so shopping in Hong Kong makes sense. For luxury fashion, buying in Hong Kong might be from 40 to 60% cheaper than in "China". See more on What Mainland Expats Should Buy in Hong Kong in 2016.
Beware tourists! The city has a gotcha. The hotels and rooms are quite expensive. Various news sources such as the Guardian ranks Hong Kong as first or second most expensive city to live in.
Pricey for rooms: The smallest and cheapest backpacker style rooms in dumpy Chung King mansions start from 250 HKD or 33 USD or so for four meter by four meter rooms with a hot shower. There has been a massive influx of Mainland tourists, shoppers, business people, and traders in the last five years. They are looking for bargains, so they've driven up the rates at the least expensive hotels.
Pricey for groceries too: In 2016, milk and other basic groceries cost 31 percent more than in New York. This is partly because most food is imported, but also partly because the Hong Kong currency that is pegged to the US dollar has risen.
On most rankings, such as Buzzfeed's, Hong Kong makes it into the top ten of the world's most beautiful cities.
It is the jagged urban skyline of 300 skyscrapers, more than even New York, with the green Victoria Peak backdrop and the clean blue Victoria Harbor that is most memorable for tourists. The daily Symphony of Lights show also stands out.
Countryside: But the large green undeveloped country parks, islands, many white public beaches, and quaint Chinese villages also makes Hong Kong stand out as a beautiful metropolitan area. For example, Time Magazine ranked the Dragon's Back as Asia's best urban hike.
The city has the best Metro system in the world which you can use for sightseeing and getting around. According to the news network CNN and many other rankings, it is the best in the world for cleanliness, safety, organization and many other reasons.
As a traveler, you can enjoy all the benefits of high technology, safety, cleanliness and fine planning to enjoy all the excellent highlights of this unique city. What's more, the cost for all the quality services and enjoyment provided is quite low compared to the rest of the world. It will whisk to you the airport from Central (13 USD) or Kowloon in 22 minutes or less. The MTR subway is a foreign tourist's friend to enjoy their time in Hong Kong.
A tourist and business center such as Hong Kong needs one of the world's best airports. It was named Best Airport of the Year in 2016 by Air Transport World, and it has been named first by them and other organizations in other years over the last 15 years. More about Hong Kong Airport>>
The best time climate-wise extends from the end of April when it turns warmer and drier until the middle of December when it is cooler and usually dry.
Severe weather: But from May to September, there are occasional typhoons and violent thunderstorms. When typhoons approach, warnings are broadcast on TV and radio. Try to plan your trip around these.
The golden fall: For people from colder climates, the warm, dry, and often sunny days from October to the end of December will seem like a refreshing breeze. This is the best time for touring and sightseeing outdoors.
The best shopping season extends from the run up to Christmas and the after Christmas sales to Chinese New Year.
Avoid the major holidays such as Chinese New Year, May 1 holidays and the October 1 National Day holidays to avoid huge crowds and high prices.
See more about Hong Kong weather>>
The region has about the most relaxed visa policies in the world with visa-free stays for most nationalities. Citizens of about 170 countries enjoy visa-free access for durations of 7 to 180 days depending on the country. US citizens get 90 days. What's more, there is no visa stamp! It saves travelers valuable passport pages.
Macau, the sister region with Hong Kong, is 6th in the world as a tourist destination according to Wikipedia (15 million tourists), and tourists often like to visit both places and use the Hong Kong airport for transport. It is only an hour away by ferry. Get detailed information on How to Plan a 1-Day Trip to Macau from Hong Kong.
Shenzhen and Guangzhou are nearby on the other side of the border, and both cities rank near the top in China for people sourcing for products of all sorts such as electronics and clothing. Business people and tourists use the Hong Kong airport and hotels to get them on their way to Shenzhen and Guangzhou.
Air connections: It is located on the southeast coast of China on the South China Sea. People can take connecting flights to domestic Chinese cities. 3½ hours by air from Beijing and 2½ hours from Shanghai.
Train connections: Shenzhen is easily reached via the metro in an hour. From there, bullet train lines now reach Beijing in 10 hours and Wuhan in 5 hours. Perhaps in 2018, a new direct to Kowloon bullet train line will open. More about Hong Kong transportation.
Touring Hong Kong with a local expert will enable you to find out more surprising things. Our tour designers and guides facilitate travel and bookings, and help you avoid the crowds and get to know the city.
See our most popular Hong Kong tours:
Or tell us your interests and requirements, and we will tailor-make a Hong Kong tour for you.