Travel is synonymous with luxury. Traveling by plane, staying in hotels, and eating out for every meal takes you away from the monotony and stresses of your daily life; it’s enough to make anyone feel like royalty. And if you jetset to the right cities, you just might find yourself indulging and relaxing alongside some of the richest people in the world.
Wealthy individuals live all across the globe, but many billionaires reside in only a handful of countries. To have a chance at meeting a billionaire and get a taste of what it’s like to live the high life, consider visiting one of the few countries or cities that many of these incredibly wealthy individuals call home.
How Many Billionaires Are There In the World?
According to the Hurun Global Rich List, there are 2,694 billionaires in the world — an unprecedented, record-breaking number. More than 500 new people joined this exclusive club in 2017 and overall, their wealth increased to US $10.5 trillion. In addition, Jeff Bezos of Amazon became the richest person in the history of the world with a net worth of US $123 billion.
You don’t have to be quite that wealthy to qualify as a billionaire, however. Someone with a net worth of at least $1 billion in a major currency is considered a billionaire. Most authorities on the matter, such as Forbes’ real-time list of the world’s billionaires, use the U.S. dollar to measure and compare wealth.
Countries With the Most Billionaires
Though the world’s billionaires live in over 70 countries on six of the seven continents, the majority of these ultra-wealthy people can be found in just a few countries. In fact, over half live in either China or the United States alone. These five countries have the highest population of billionaires in the world:
Leagues ahead of the rest of the world is China — including Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and the mainland — where 819 billionaires have made their homes. Asia is one of the fastest-growing economic regions in the world, making it the number one spot for self-made moguls. In 2017 alone, 210 people have moved up to billionaire status in China.
2. United States
The U.S. comes in second place, with 571 billionaires calling America their home. Investing, technology, and retail are the three main sources of wealth. Though they are scattered across the country, most of these richer-than-rich people live in New York City, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Dallas. Famous American billionaires include Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk.
Since 2017, India has moved up to claim the third spot on this list. India is now home to 131 billionaires, despite 31 of them moving out of the country. Most of them are concentrated in Mumbai and New Delhi. Pharmaceuticals, automobiles, and consumer products are currently the most popular industries for the ultra wealthy.
4. United Kingdom
Moving up into fourth place is the United Kingdom, where 118 billionaires reside, 29 of them newly made in 2017. 21 of them worked in retail, and 21 more in real estate, making them the two most billionaire-heavy industries in the UK.
Germany dropped to the fifth most populous country for billionaires. In 2017, 34 moguls left the country and five joined the ranks, leaving this European nation with 114 billionaires. Retail, food and beverage, and Technology, Media, and telecommunications (TMT) were the most worked-in industries.
Cities With the Most Billionaires
Even within these countries, billionaires seem to congregate in just a few cities. All of them are major metropolitan areas that cater to the lifestyles of the wealthiest people on Earth. The cities with the most billionaires are:
Beiling is the city with the most billionaires, with a whopping 131 of them residing in China’s capital. It is appropriately called “The Billionaire Capital of the World,” a title the city has held since 2016.
2. New York
New York comes in second place with 92 billionaires making their home in the city. It is home to the highest concentration of billionaires in the United States, and the only American city to make it into the top ten on this list.
3. Hong Kong
80 billionaires have chosen to make Hong Kong their home. Though its standing has stayed the same since 2016, Hong Kong gained nine billionaires in 2017.
The Chinese city of Shenzhen has maintained its position as the fourth city with the most billionaires. 78 of these ultra wealthy people have chosen to make this city their home.
5. Shanghai and London
Two metropolises tied for fifth place: Shanghai and London. Both cities are home to 70 billionaires, and both saw an influx of billionaires either moving in or increasing their net worth, with 17 in Shanghai and 15 in London.
A Taste of Luxury: See How the Ultra-Wealthy Live
You may ready to hop on the next flight to Beijing or New York, but the best city to spot a billionaire may not be the one you’re thinking of. To really see how the ultra-wealthy live, you should book a ticket to Hong Kong. Though Hong Kong is not home to as many billionaires as either of those two metropolises, you might just have a better chance of encountering one and experiencing their lifestyle on this historic, opulent island.
Not only does Hong Kong have a smaller population than either Beijing or New York, it is unable to spread out further because it is surrounded by the South China Sea. Beijing has sprawled into suburbs, adding new ring roads as it swells, while New York is famously bordered by its five boroughs and connected to surrounding cities via bridges and tunnels. Unlike many other places in the world, Hong Kong is self-contained, and with its smaller population, that only increases the chance you’ll run into a billionaire.
Even if you don’t end up hobnobbing with the ridiculously rich, you can still vacation like a billionaire: Hong Kong is a great place to see what fabulous wealth and opulence looks like.
Whether you plan to frequent street vendors or upscale restaurants, Hong Kong is every food-lover’s dream. It has the highest number of restaurants per capita in all of Asia and is one of the cities with the highest number of Michelin stars, making it a food capital of the world — especially for the ultra-wealthy.
For a chance at running into a billionaire, head to favored local restaurants. At these unique haunts, you may encounter people from all walks of life who are enjoying a meal they can’t get anywhere else.
You can also head to one of the many fine dining establishments in Hong Kong for a glimpse of how the upper echelon spends an evening out. Take in the fashion, the food, and the atmosphere; get a feel for how these people live their daily lives. And if you properly budget for it, you just might be able to join them for an appetizer or a drink.
There are no shortage of places to stay in Hong Kong, which is home to almost 300 different hotels. These accommodations range from incredibly affordable, such as the Chungking Mansions, to the height of opulence, so you are sure to find lodging that suits your budget.
The Upper House, designed by world-renowned hospitality designer and architect Andre Fu, the Upper House features 119 studio rooms and suites, incorporating natural materials and breathtaking views of Hong Kong. A combination of modern European and Asian dining is available in room or at the hotel restaurant, the Cafe Gray Deluxe.
The Crowne Plaza Hong Kong Causeway Bay, nestled in the heart of Hong Kong, this award-winning hotel has something to offer the business travel, family vacationers, or the shopaholic. Its central location provides easy access to food, retail, and entertainment, while captivating views of the city are available on all sides, and a variety of rooms ensure all visitors get the exact level of luxury they want during their stay.
The Murray, Hong Kong, originally built in 1969, this landmark hotel has undergone a complete modern redesign led by Sir Norman Foster of Foster+Partners, making it the most modern, energy efficient, and cutting edge building in Hong Kong — and perhaps China. The overhaul balances style, comfort, and eco-friendliness with urban sensibility, making it worth a visit even if you don’t stay there as a guest.
Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, the 5-star flagship hotel of the Mandarin Oriental chain, this is quintessential luxury from top to bottom. Featuring world-class spas, and dining options ranging from bed and breakfast to Michelin-starred on-site restaurants, it is easy to see why this has become a destination for celebrities, VIPs, and any travelers looking for top-notch hospitality.
Island Shangri-La, from the rooms and suites, to the dining and bars, to the wellness club and health spas, the Island Shangri-La blends the best of European and Asian cultures for a unique luxury experience. Its location affords visitors gorgeous views of the Hong Kong skyline, Victoria Harbour, and The Peak, as well as easy access to popular shopping and dining destinations — although visitors may be tempted to stay and visit all 8 award-winning restaurants on-site.
The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, the “king of hoteliers and hotelier to kings” is perhaps the most famous brand of luxury hotels, and for good reason. Their 118-floor Hong Kong skyrise boasts world-class accommodations for business, weddings, events, families, and VIPs. From its own dance club to an indoor infinity pool providing incomparable views of the city, this is truly the standard in luxury travel no matter your reason for coming to Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is a shopping mecca. Because it is a free port and relatively few items have a sales tax, there is an incredibly variety of goods available for purchase, making it every shopper’s dream.
From outdoor markets to impossibly large shopping malls, Hong Kong truly has it all. To indulge your desire for extravagance, head to one of the high-end malls: IFC Mall, Times Square, and Pacific Place are a few of the many popular options for upscale shopping. Go browse and window shop in these extravagant stores to encounter the mega-wealthy and get a feel for how they like to shop.
Whether you head to London, Hong Kong, or Manhattan on your next trip, try to treat yourself to a little bit of luxury. While you may not run into one of the world’s billionaires, you can get a glimpse of their lifestyle by living it yourself.