Hong Kong is an incredible city packed with a fascinating history and a unique, hybrid culture of Chinese and Western influences.
Sitting at the mouth of the Pear River Delta, the bustling metropolis city-state consists of Hong Kong island, several other islands, the Kowloon peninsula, and the much bigger New Territories, and shares a 20-mile land border with China.
Its deep, natural freshwater harbours and strategic position in Asia was what attracted the British Empire to occupy this once-barren land in the 19th Century.
During its 156 years under British rule (with the exception of four years of Japanese occupation during WW2), Hong Kong transformed into one of the world’s busiest trading centres and largest economies. Despite being nearly 9,000 times smaller geographically, Hong Kong once had a larger economic output than all of China!
In this post I’ve put together a collection of the most interesting, cool, and unknown facts about one of my favourite places in the world, Hong Kong.
Scroll on to read: 56 Fun Facts about Hong Kong (2023 Edition):
Table of Contents
*Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, if you click through to make a purchase, I earn a small commission – at no extra cost to you.
23 General Facts about Hong Kong
#1: Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of China
The official name of Hong Kong is Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (HKSAR). This means that its a region of China, but has the highest levels of autonomy, maintaining separate governing and economic systems, under the principle of ‘one country, two systems’.
#2: Chinese and English are the official languages
Hong Kong’s official languages are Chinese (Cantonese) and English. For writing, Traditional Chinese is used instead of Simplified Chinese that is widespread on mainland China.
#3: Hong Kong means ‘Fragrant Harbour’
Hong Kong is the phonetic translation of 香港 (heung gong) in Cantonese – literally translates as ‘fragrant harbour’, derived from the sweet aroma of the agarwood from Aquilaria sinensis, Dongguan incense.
#4: The mystical art of Feng Shui remains common practice in Hong Kong
The rooftop of Central’s HSBC Hong Kong building as two rods that deflect bad energy. This is because the building faces the Bank of China building, which is built with sharp edges believed to cut and dilute good energy. Here’s 6 times feng shui influenced Hong Kong’s skyscrapers.
#5: 90% of Hong Kong’s population speak Cantonese
The language has nine tones and a system of Romanisation called Jyutping.
#6: Hong Kong has more Rolls Royces per person than any other city in the world
This is due to Hong Kong’s legacy as a former British colony, and many of the status-conscious British elite, businessmen, and officers preferred to cruise around in extravagance, so they would import Rolls-Royces. This has given Hong Kong the most Rolls-Royces per capita.
#7: Hong Kong consists of several islands and territories
They include Hong Kong island, the Kowloon peninsula, New Territories, and several other smaller islands spread over 679 square miles (1,092 square km).
#8: Hong Kong is a blend of Chinese and Western culture
Chinese cultural traditions are blended well with Western cultural ideals in Hong Kong due to 150 years of British colonial rule. Feng-shui traditions are widely followed, as are other spiritual concepts such as that numbers 3, 5 and 8 are considered auspicious and luck bringing.
#9: Hong Kong is the city with the highest number of skyscrapers in the world
With more than 8,000 glittering skyscrapers, Hong Kong’s skyline is always a glorious sight to behold. A skyscraper is defined as any building with more than 14 storeys, and Hong Kong has twice as many as its nearest rival, New York City. The International Commerce Centre (ICC) building is currently the highest skyscraper in Hong Kong, with a whopping 118 floors.
#10: Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated cities in the world
With 68,400 people per square mile, Hong Kong is the 8th most densely populated city. However, the now-demolished notorious Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong, was once the most densely populated spot on the planet – with a whopping 3.2 million inhabitants per square mile! (Source: Wikipedia)
#11: 40% of Hong Kong is made up of country parks and nature reserves
Many find it hard to believe that a city with so many skyscrapers also has an abundance of natural environment. Hiking the green trails is a favourite weekend pastime for Hong Kongers.
#12: The majority of Hong Kongers practice Confucianism
This means they adhere to the values of mutual respect and kindness towards eachother. Moreover, roughly 28% of Hong Kongers are Taoist or Buddhist, 12% are Christians, and 4% are Muslims.
#13: Hong Kong has a population of 7.5 million
Meanwhile Hong Kong is about six times the size of Washington DC in the US, three and half times bigger than Malta, and about half the size of Mauritius.
#14: The Tsing Ma Bridge is the world’s longest road and rail suspension bridge
Connecting the New Territories to Lantau Island, the Hong Kong landmark is 41 metres wide, 206 metres high, and has a span of 1,377 metres.
#15: Hong Kongers have a long-established entrepreneurial spirit
Their desire to succeed and make money is one aspect in why this city became a global economic giant. In 2018, Hong Kong ranked sixth on the global billionaires list.
#16: Hong Kong has an award-winning airline
Cathay Pacific is Hong Kong’s major home airline and has won the ‘World’s Best Airline’ award many times.
#17: Most apartment buildings in Hong Kong don’t have a 4th floor!
If you find your apartment building is without a fourth floor – don’t worry. Omitting the number four is common because four sounds like the word ‘death’ in Chinese, which makes it an unlucky number. Conversely, lucky number eight represents wealth.
#18: The city has a highly-developed system for managing typhoons
May to November is typhoon season, and Hong Kong has a highly efficient system for dealing with these powerful tropical storms. A T1 signal indicates a brewing storm is days away. Then a T3 means the storm is gathering speed, so school children and elderly stay home. A T8 or T10 means winds of up to 180km/h spin across the city, so businesses and public transport are closed.
#19: Hong Kong has 96 billionaires
The city-state ranks 7th on the list of countries with the most billionaires, with a combined wealth of $280 billion. However, in terms of cities with the most billionaires, Hong Kong ranks second on the list. (Source: Asia Tatler)
#20: Hong Kong International Airport is the same size as 20 football fields
The sheer size is explained by the fact HKIA is the 8th busiest airport in the world.
#21: The world’s highest bar and swimming pool
The Ritz-Carlton takes the top section of Hong Kong’s tallest building, the International Commerce Centre (ICC), and features an outdoor bar and swimming pool on the 118th floor, making them the highest in the world.
#22: Fiber Optics was invented by a Hong Kong professor
The ‘Father of Fiber Optics’, the glass cables that have so significantly changed the way we communicate, is called Professor Charles Kao, from Hong Kong. He is also a winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2009.
#23: Hong Kong boasts the world’s longest outdoor escalator
Starting on Queens Road in Central, the escalator is made up of 20 escalators and 3 moving travelators, and runs for a whopping half a mile.
9 Historical facts about Hong Kong
#24: Hong Kong has been under British rule for more than 150 years
From 1842 to 1997 Hong Kong was a British colony, and between 1941 and 1945, the city was under Japanese occupation.
#25: Hong Kong was originally just Hong Kong island
In 1841 Hong Kong Island was occupied by British forces during the First Opium War. After China’s defeat, the Nanjing Treaty saw Hong Kong being handed over to Great Britain by the Qing Dynasty in 1842.
#26: “Albert is so amused at my having got the island of Hong Kong”
Queen Victoria of Great Britain wrote this in 1841 after Hong Kong was ceded to the British. Possession Point, where the Union Jack was first raised by the British, was known as Tai Hang Hau, or ‘big puddle’. It stood right on the island’s shoreline collecting water. The site today is located in Hollywood Road Park.
#27: Hong Kong expanded to its current size in 1860
Following the Second Opium War, China ceded the New Territories to Great Britain, further expanding the size of Hong Kong.
#28: Hong Kong was leased to the UK for 99 years
In 1898, a treaty between the two countries was drawn up, leasing Hong Kong to Britain for 99 years. So on July 1st, 1997, Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of China.
#29: Kowloon means Nine Dragons
#30: Hong Kong University ranks third best in Asia
Established in 1911, its origins trace back to the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese, founded in 1887. Today, HKU is the most prestigious university in China and ranks third best in Asia. HKU was also the first university established by the British in East Asia.
#31: The iconic Peak Tram was the first rail tram in Asia
Opened in 1888, Hong Kong’s Peak Tram became Asia’s first funicular railway and remains one of the oldest and steepest tramways in the world. About 11,000 people ride the tram each day, translating to around 4 million annually.
#32: Hong Kong was granted special status under the ‘one country, two systems’ rule
Learn More About Hong Kong With The Tours Below
- Enjoy the atmosphere of Hong Kong via the Highlights & Hidden Gems With Locals: Best of Hong Kong Private Tour with a local guide
- Explore the top sights of Hong Kong in the morning: Hong Kong Private Tour with a guide
- Visit some of the most famous spots of the city with your guide: Hong Kong Day Trip - Landmarks Visit
- Explore Hong Kong like a local: Full Coverage Hong Kong Private City Tour
- Discover Hong Kong on your own with this Hong Kong Self-Guided Audio Tour
8 Facts about Hong Kong food
#33: Hong Kong cuisine is predominantly Cantonese, featuring famous dishes like Dim Sum, Egg Waffles, Fish Ball Noodle Soup, Mango Pudding, and more.
#34: It’s no surprise Hong Kong is a foodie mecca, having one of the highest number of cafes per capita. Plus, you can score the cheapest Michelin-starred food on the planet.
#35: Dim Sum, meaning ‘touch the heart’, originated here in southern China. These tiny bites of goodness were created as a snack for for travellers and are today an essential part of local culture, eaten for breakfast.
Cook Dim Sum On Your Own
🧑🏼🍳 Imagine yourself as a chef and prepare Dim Sum on your own with the Dumplings Class. You will shop for ingredients at a local market. Moreover, there are two different dishes to choose from, veggie options are also available! Don't miss such a unique opportunityBook the class here
#36: Pineapple Buns are popular in Hong Kong, named so not because they contain the fruit, but for their pineapple-like crust. They are a must try local special at the bakery, along with egg tarts.
#37: Dai Pai Dong, Fast Food Noodle Shops, are common sites in Hong Kong that offer an inexpensive bowl of noodles for around HK$20, and free tea.
#38: Every year, between April and May, residents of Cheung Chau Island organise a bun festival. It’s intended to keep hungry ghosts residing on the island content. The residents build a tower of buns, but more recently they use plastic instead of the real baked version. (Source: acei-global)
#39: Eating noodles on one’s birthday is considered by the residents of Hong Kong to afford one a long and blessed life.
#40: Poon Choi, Chinese New Year’s Dish that has 10 different ingredients that are served into one pot is the most popular dish in Hong Kong’s restaurants.
Top Food Tours in Hong Kong
- Get the taste and flavor of Hong Kong while walking through Hong Kong’s Central and Sheung Wan neighborhoods on this Hong Kong Food Tour
- Immerse yourself in Hong Kong’s culinary culture during this Small-Group Hong Kong Island Food Tour
- Enjoy the taste of Hong Kong with local guide: Private Street Food Tour
- Eat, drink, shop and simply enjoy the local cuisine with this Private Food Tour
- Learn to taste and pair high-quality teas with different foods during: Tea Tasting and Pairing Concept Workshop
9 Tourism facts about Hong Kong
#41: Hong Kong Island has impressive beaches
The island’s coastline stretches 283 miles (456km) and is very popular for its many stunning beaches, such as Clearwater Bay, Golden Beach, Shrek O Beach and Big Wave Beach.
#42: Hong Kong’s warm waters
The water temperature around Hong Kong ranges between 17°C / 64°F in the winter months and 29°C / 84°F in the summer, making for suitable swimming conditions.
#43: Hong Kong’s beloved Star Ferry began operating in 1880
At the time, the service from Victoria Harbour to Tsim Sha Tsui took around one hour. Thanks to the city’s reclamation, the same journey today takes just 10 minutes.
#44: The Peak – one of Hong Kong’s most famous landmarks
Perhaps the most famous of Hong Kong’s many popular landmarks is the ‘Peak’ otherwise known as Mount Austin. Standing at 522 m (1,811 ft) high, the journey to the top is best experienced via the easily accessible Peak Tramway, for incredible views on the ascent, before you witness the most unforgettable views at the top. The Peak Tower is another iconic landmark of the city.
#45: The Clock Tower is an historic landmark of Hong Kong
The red brick and granite Clock Tower is the only remnant of the original site of the former Kowloon station on the Kowloon-Canton Railway, and counts as one of the city’s must-see historic and iconic landmarks.
#46: Hong Kong is made up of 263 islands
Discover The Islands With The Tour Below
- Visit some of Lantau Island’s most popular landmarks on this Full Day Lantau Island Small Group Tour in Hong Kong
- Enjoy a natural side of Hong Kong during this Small Group Hiking Day Tour to Lamma Island Hong Kong
- Have a good time on this Lantau Island Day Trip - Big Buddha & Tai O
#47: There is an annual Rugby tournament in Hong Kong
#48: Three quarters of Hong Kong is rural
Contrary to poplar belief, roughly three-quarters of Hong Kong’s landmass is rural, consisting of 24 parks, woodlands, reservoirs, hills, and coastline. This reflects the city’s Feng Shui traditions, and the beautiful parks are easily accessible from the city.
#49: Hong Kong’s Big Buddha statue is one of the largest in the world
Located on Lantau Island, the famous landmark called Tian Tan Buddha (also known as The Big Buddha) is one of the world’s largest seated Buddhas, towering over visitors at 34 metres high.
7 Hong Kong Economy Facts
- Hong Kong is part of the Asian Tiger Economies, which also include Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.
- The Hong Kong Dollar is the eighth most traded currency in the world.
- The country is known for its free market economy, low taxation, and minimal government intervention. There are no duties imposed on imported goods except for hard liqueur/alcohol, oil, tobacco, and methyl alcohol.
- Hong Kong is one of the largest financial centres in the world – after Tokyo, Shanghai, and Singapore.
- The main trading partner is China. The USA, Singapore, South Korea and Japan are among the bigger import partners. Hong Kong does not have significant natural resources, and thus imports food and raw goods. Some fruits and vegetables are grown in the country.
- Hong Kong has a deepwater harbour, which is the main reason it was chosen as a strategic trading site by the British Empire in the 19th Century. Hence, it is one of the busiest and largest container ports in the world.
- As well as being a large trading economy, Hong Kong is a major service economy, with particularly strong links to mainland China and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region.
Download your FREE 20-page Travel Planner Guide
Hong Kong Wiki Facts:
More information, statistics and general information about Hong Kong, updated as of 2023:
- Founded: 1842 (as the British colony of Hong Kong until 1 July 1997)
- Sovereign state: People’s Republic of China (since 1 July 1997)
- Flag: Regional Flag of Hong Kong (white stylised 5-petal Hong Kong orchid tree flower)
- Government: Devolved executive-led system within a socialist republic
- Chief Executive: John Lee
- Land area: 2,755km2 (1,063 sq miles)
- Population: 7,500,700 people.
- Currency: Hong Kong Dollar HKD (HK$)
- Languages: Cantonese, English, Traditional Chinese (scripts), English alphabet
- Religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism.
- National Holiday: Saint. David’s Day, 1st March
- Highest Mountain: Tai Mo Shan, 957m (3,140ft)
- National Dish: Sweet and Sour Pork
- National Flower: Bauhinia Blakeana
- Official Website: gov.hk
- Time zone: UTC+8 (HKT)
- Driving side: left
- Country Number/Prefix: ++852
- Country Code: HK CN-HK
- Famous residents: Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Maggie Cheung
Frequently Asked Questions
Here’s 5 fascinating facts about Hong Kong:
- Chinese (Cantonese) and English are the official languages of Hong Kong.
- Hong Kong consists of several islands and territories.
- Hong Kong was under British rule for more than 150 years, from 1842 to 1997.
- Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated cities in the world.
- Hong Kong is the city with the highest number of skyscrapers in the world.
- Hong Kong is a blend of Chinese and Western culture.
- The mystical art of Feng Shui remains common practice in Hong Kong.
- Hong Kong has more Rolls Royces per person than any other city in the world.
- The Tsing Ma Bridge is the world’s longest road and rail suspension bridge.
- Hong Kong boasts the world’s longest outdoor escalator.
Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of China, after being transferred to the country on 1st July 1997, following 156 years of British rule.
Hong Kong is famous for its iconic landmarks which include Victoria Peak, Tian Tan (aka Big Buddha), Avenue of Stars, Star Ferry and Victoria Harbour, Man Mo Temple, and Dragons Back hiking trail, amongst others. The city is also famous for its delicious cuisine.
The city is historically known as ‘Fragrant Harbour’ from which its name, Hong Kong, derives, being the literal translation of 香港 (Mandarin Chinese: Xiāng Gǎng). The ‘Asia World City’ nickname is now also synonymous with Hong Kong.
Here’s the 10 must-eat dishes in Hong Kong:
- Dim sum – the most famous dish, and one of the best reasons you should visit Hong Kong
- Lo mai gai – steamed glutinous rice with chicken
- Egg waffles – a popular yummy and inexpensive street snack
- Roast goose – a very popular and delicious dish
- brisket curry / brisket noodles
- Char siu – Cantonese BBQ pork
- Egg tarts – another popular treat found in bakeries across the city
- Sweet and Sour Pork – the national dish of Hong Kong
- Roast pork
- Soy sauce braised pigeon
Hong Kong is a city-state, its official name being the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) or HKSAR, and is technically part of China. However, it is currently allowed to operate as an independent country.
Book Your Trip to Hong Kong: Budget Tips & Tricks
Flights: As always, I source the cheapest flights on the web from Skyscanner and Kiwi.com. They are considered the top flight search engines for the best deals.
Accommodation: I use Booking for the best hotel deals and HostelWorld for the cheapest stays. If you’re considering Airbnb, be sure to check Vrbo to find cheaper vacation stays.
SIM cards: DrimSim is a universal SIM card that isn’t tied to an operator and works in any country/region.
Travel Insurance: Stay protected from theft, injury, illness, and cancellations. A safety net in case anything goes wrong, I never leave without it. World Nomads is my favourite agent for total peace of mind.
Tours & Excursions: I book all my fave activities and guided tours on Get Your Guide & Viator – they do superb deals whilst offering excellent customer support.
Renting a car? I always use DiscoverCars, make sure you book your car hire in advance. For airport transfers, I use KiwiTaxi for the best deals.
Need to store your luggage in a locker? Use Radical Storage to store your stuff in a locker in any city for just $5 per day.
Head over to my Travel Tools page for all my best travel tips & advice and everything you need for your trip.