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We solved the mystery of why Hong Kong smells bad!

We solved the mystery of why Hong Kong smells bad!

Have you ever visited Hong Kong and noticed something unpleasant wafting in the air? If so, you’re certainly not alone.

For years, locals and visitors have been confused about the persistent nasty scent that permeates the streets of this city. 

We at Happy Hongkonger investigated this matter and we’re excited to announce that we’ve officially cracked the case! Join us as we unravel the secret behind the smell that has long plagued the city. 

Why does Hong Kong smell bad? 

There are plenty of things that contribute to why Hong Kong smells such as street food, wet markets, old Chinese medicine stores, air pollution, and overcrowding. 

We explained it further below. 

Street Food

Hong Kong is known for tasty dishes you can find in street stalls. Unfortunately, while your taste buds will like it, your nose probably won’t. 

Food like stinky tofu that smells like rotting meat or garbage (according to some people) is sold across the city. That’s why it’s hard to miss the smell of it wafting, especially in areas where there are hawkers’ stalls or dai pai dongs. 

However, like we said, most of this stuff does taste delicious! After all, they’re not considered street food classics for nothing. 

Wet Markets

This one’s kind of the same as the Hong Kong street food. Here, you’ll find an exciting variety of fresh meat and other produce being sold – but all of their scents can clash with each other and cause an almighty headache, particularly in crowded areas like the Graham Street in Central or during peak hours.

Old Chinese Medicine Shops

While you’re here exploring the city, it’s almost impossible not to come across traditional Chinese medicine shops. 

If you see them, you’ll observe that they sell preserved plants and several animal products that are all made for healing. Even if you haven’t seen them yet, just follow the pungent smell and it will immediately take you to one of the shops. 

However, don’t let this stop you from going inside and checking out what they have in store. You’ll most likely find an interesting item to go with the interesting scent. 

Air Pollution

Because of heavy traffic and industrial emissions, Hong Kong faces a significant problem of air pollution. These emissions release different kinds of pollutants into the atmosphere, which leads to foul smells and a decrease in air quality.


Our city is considered one of the most densely populated cities internationally. One of the main reasons is that there are too many people in a place with limited housing options available. 

Due to overcrowding, there has been a strain on waste management systems, which resulted in overflowing trash bins or inadequate sewage treatment. These factors contribute to increased unpleasant smells in certain areas. 

What are some strategies to mitigate and prevent the odor in Hong Kong?

According to the Drainage Services Department, in terms of controlling the odor at the sewage treatment, they administer chemicals like sodium chlorite, cover any possible passages that excrete odor, and add deodorization units to some places. 

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