Hong Kong is one of Asia’s most vibrant global cities, offering immense economic potential along with stunning scenery. As a special administrative region of China, it enjoys economic and social freedoms not seen in mainland China. With luxury high-rises juxtaposed against aging apartment blocks, modern transportation infrastructure, and bustling street life, Hong Kong presents a feast for the senses.
Crowded Yet Welcoming
The first thing you’ll notice upon arrival in Hong Kong is the sheer abundance of people. With 7.5 million residents crammed into just 2,755 square kilometers of land, Hong Kong has one of the highest population densities in the world. The majority are of Chinese descent, with over 90% of the population being ethnically Chinese.
After the native Chinese population, Hong Kong hosts vibrant communities of migrant workers from across Asia. Many come from lower income countries like India, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Philippines to work as caregivers, drivers, and domestic helpers. Despite the crowds and cramped quarters, Hong Kong retains an air of welcoming diversity.
Due to the limited space, residential rents in Hong Kong are astronomical. Expect to pay a minimum of $2,500 per month for a two-room, 70 square meter apartment. Larger 100 square meter apartments with 3 bedrooms easily exceed $3,000 per month.
With no rent control measures in place, landlords are free to charge what the market will bear. This has led to a housing affordability crisis that forces some of the city’s poorest into subdivided apartments, squatter camps, or even life on the streets.
A City of Contrasts
In many ways, Hong Kong is a city of contrasts. Alongside the gleaming office towers and luxury brands are aging residential blocks known locally as “monster buildings.” These faded concrete giants date back to the 1970s and look ready to collapse.
Yet Nestled among them are cozy cafes and Buddhist temples, revealing the more spiritual side of Hong Kong culture. Similarly, many high-end restaurants and shops have moved to the upper floors of buildings, keeping the streets open as vibrant public spaces.
Excellent Public Transport
Despite the crowds, Hong Kong maintains orderly streets that are remarkably litter-free. An extensive public transport system efficiently moves over 200,000 residents per day. The iconic double decker trams offer scenic tours of the city for just a few dollars. Or you can hop aboard the clean and quiet metro system to rapidly cross from one end of the city to the other.
To pay for buses, trams, and subways, purchase an Octopus smart card. When you leave Hong Kong, you can return the card for a partial refund, making public transport even more affordable.
A Global Business Hub
In addition to residents, Hong Kong hosts a transient population of business travelers and expatriates. As one of the world’s leading financial hubs, Hong Kong is home to many banking, finance, and tech company regional headquarters. With advantageous tax rates and excellent connectivity to the rest of Asia, Hong Kong remains a prime location for doing international business.
When the workday ends, Hong Kong transforms into a bustling hub of nightlife entertainment. Restaurants, bars, and clubs overflow with smartly dressed patrons ready to unwind. Theme parties allow visitors to dress up as pirates, nurses, or other outrageous characters. Carefully made up and dressed to impress, the ladies in particular use Hong Kong’s nightlife scene as a chance to glam up.
Street Food Temptations
If you get hungry during a night out, Hong Kong’s ubiquitous street food stalls offer tasty snacks into the early morning hours. Watching the locals enthusiastically dig into these meals will tempt you to try the tempting fried chicken, steamed fish, and noodle dishes yourself. Remarkably, the street food vendors continue to wear face masks while cooking, hinting at Hong Kong’s traumatic experience during the pandemic.
High Numbers of Millionaires
With Hong Kong ranking as one of the top three cities globally in terms of total billionaires, you’re sure to spot ultra-luxury cars zipping along the streets. It’s estimated over 80 individuals in Hong Kong hold personal fortunes exceeding $1 billion. Add in the countless multi-millionaires, and it’s clear Hong Kong offers abundant opportunities to build tremendous wealth for those with the right entrepreneurial mindset.
Autonomous Region of China
Despite the visible Chinese cultural influence, Hong Kong operates independently from Beijing. With its own currency, laws, and governance, Hong Kong citizens enjoy freedoms of speech and assembly not permitted in mainland China. This autonomy explains why many Taiwanese adamantly resist pressure to unite with China—they wish to maintain their self-determination.
For leisure travelers, Hong Kong’s special status means no visa is required for short visits. However, separate visas would still be needed for onward travel to China. It’s this unique position that enables Hong Kong to blend modern skyscrapers with traditional Chinese temples, capitalist wealth with communist state control.
Hong Kong owes part of its success to geography. Perched at the mouth of the Pearl River facing the South China Sea, it holds a strategic location along the trade routes connecting China with the rest of the world. It’s no coincidence that one of the world’s busiest container ports operates here.
On the map, Hong Kong appears divided into two main sections. Hong Kong Island houses the main historical and commercial core. Across the harbor lies the Kowloon peninsula, with additional urban and suburban districts sprawling across it. Bridges and tunnels connect the whole area into one integrated metropolis.
Easy Access to Nearby Destinations
In addition to maritime trade, visitors benefit from Hong Kong’s proximity to other popular destinations in southern China. Ferries depart regularly for the gambling center of Macau, while the world’s longest sea crossing bridge provides direct land access. Regional flights whisk travelers away to Taipei, Taiwan in just over 2 hours for weekend getaways.
Even without leaving Hong Kong, you can enjoy world-class attractions like Hong Kong Disneyland. The evening light shows and fireworks displays almost rival those in Los Angeles or Paris. Between the theme parks, beaches, temples, vibrant street life, and hiking trails, Hong Kong offers endless things to see and do for tourists of all interests.