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Hong Kong Facts: Top for Tourism, Business, Wealth, IQ...(2019)

mapThis little region is surprisingly #1 in many ways.

Hong Kong is by several estimates the world's best city: richest, smartest, longest average longevity, and the 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 26 surprising and useful facts about this super city on the edge of China.

1. Hong Kong is by far the most popular tourist city in the world.

View of Hong Kong Island from atop Victoria PeakThe skyline, buzz, and beauty of HK brings in the tourists.

Stats prove it. Did you know that more tourists go to Hong Kong than to any other city in the world? Tourism is booming with the opening of a new mega-sized bridge and a new bullet train to China in 2018. About 65 million visitors arrived in 2018 (51 million Mainland Chinese and 14 million foreigners).

2. It's usually rated the top business city in the world too.

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.

3. Hong Kong is the world's richest city!

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 per capita than in any other city in the world.

4. Hong Kong is the world's freest economy!

Hong Kong's tradition of laissez faire capitalism with little intervention by the government in business or the lives of the people makes it the freest economy in the world for business in 2019 according to the Economic Freedom Index.

5. And HK has the highest average IQ!

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.

6. Hong Kong has more skyscrapers than any other city.

Symphony of Lights showHong Kong has the world's highest skyline.

There are more than 8,000 buildings higher than 14 stories; almost double that of New York.

7. Mongkok has the world's highest population density.

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.

8. But HK also has amazing hiking trails and scenic parklands.

Dragon's BackThe Dragon's Back trail is called the "best urban hike in Asia."

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:

See The Top 5 Country Parks in Hong Kong.

9. HK has the world's longest rail/highway suspension bridge

The sunset at Tsing Ma Bridge

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.

10. No smoking is allowed in most places — even parks.

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.

11. Hong Kongers live the longest.

It is quite a distinction and an accomplishment that for the first time Japan's record average longevity has been surpassed by Hong Kong since 2017. Now, Hong Kongers live an average of 84.5 years on average. This longer than any other autonomous territory or country. Hong Kong's women live an astounding 87.3 years on average. Local health officials point out that 19% of local men smoke and only 3% of local women smoke but that 30% of Japanese men smoke and 10% of their women smoke.

12. The double-decker tram system is the world's largest.

Ding DingAbout 230,000 people ride the Hong Kong Island Tram a day.

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.

13. Museums are free on Wednesdays.

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.

14. The Star Ferry is the world's most popular ferry.

Hong Kong Star FerryThe Hong Kong Star Ferry is a great way to see Victoria Harbour.

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.

15. HK has the world's most affordable Michelin-star restaurants.

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.

16. And it has among the most restaurants and cafes per capita.

Hong Kong has one of the world's highest per-capita concentrations of cafes and restaurants. There is one restaurant for every 600 people.

17. HK is popular for several reasons.

The Landmark Mall's main lobbyThe Landmark Mall's main lobby
  • The world-class shopping and diverse attractions of course, but many other features draw people too.
  • The safety and comfort: Comparative public safety, well functioning services, and the clean environment makes visiting enjoyable. People feel that they can relax and enjoy some time to unwind in a way that other cities can't accommodate. Visiting is more stress free.
  • The good environment: The comparatively mild weather, less pollution, cleanliness, large natural areas and good beaches combine to make it attractive.
  • The tourist friendliness: The city is designed for tourism. The people are politer and many speak English. They are more helpful to foreign tourists.

18. Millions of people enjoy the three best attractions!

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:

  • Ascend Victoria Peak (7 million people annually): The #1 most popular location for visitors in Hong Kong according to TripAdvisor and many other sources is this peak on Hong Kong Island, and it is our most recommended local destination. It is easily reached from Central via the popular Peak Tram (22 HKD or 2.8 USD), Bus 15C (about 60 US cents), or taxi (about 5.50 USD). The best time to go is in the late afternoon to catch the often astounding sunset in the sea, and then the city lights up. To help to shorten your waiting time, you are recommended to book a tour to the Peak ahead of time.
  • See the skyline and the light up (10,000s daily): The #1 thing to do on TripAdvisor is seeing the skyline. You can best do this along the Avenue of Stars, where are 8 PM on most days, barring bad weather, there is the Symphony of Lights orchestration with sound.
  • Ride the Star Ferry (26 million rides annually): This ten minute trip from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central over the harbor is quite scenic and the quickest way to go from the Avenue of Stars area to Central. About 30 cents USD.
  • See more Top Things To Do

19. Tourists enjoy the best shopping in Asia.

Family Shopping in Hong KongFamily shopping in Hong Kong

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>>

Shopping Tips

Hong Kong IFC Mall Apple StoreHong Kong IFC Mall Apple Store

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.

20. HK's one of the world's most expensive cities...

Mandarin Oriental HotelAt the 5-star Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Central, room rates start at about 450 USD.

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.

See China Price Bands>>

21. You can see one of the world's most beautiful cities.

Hong Kong Dragon's BackHong Kong Dragon's Back

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. 

See Hong Kong's Best Hikes>>

22. And take advantage of the world's best metro system.

Tsim Sha Tsui MTR stationTsim Sha Tsui MTR station

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.

23. It has one of the world's best airports too.

hong kong airportHong Kong Airport terminal

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>>

24. The best times to go are:

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>>

25. Easy visa policies help tourists.

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.

26. It all adds up: It's China's gateway city.

mapWith the world's best airport and metro system and lax visa policies, along with one of China's busiest ports, Hong Kong serves as the main tourist gateway.

The city has a role as the Gateway to China with people passing through Hong Kong for easy access to China and Macau. See Top Mainland China Tours from Hong Kong.

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.

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