While I was raised in a small Iowa town, I can understand the intrigue of living in a city. The job opportunities, the entertainment options, and an endless choice of restaurants makes urban life really appealing. Of course, the downside is having to share the city with millions of other people. And not just cool people either. Sometimes people suck, but if you’re living in a city with high population densities, you just have to deal with it. With that in mind, here is a look at 10 of the most crowded cities in the world.
1. Dhaka, Bangladesh
Population: 16.3 million
When it comes to urban sprawl and vast crowds, nothing compares to Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. It ranked 2nd on the Economist Intelligence Unit’s “least liveable cities” list in 2018, with #1 war-torn Damascus, Syria at least having an excuse. Paradoxically, it is also one of the fastest growing cities in the world, which means it is only going to get more miserable.
2. Hyderabad, Pakistan
Population: 2.9 million
Not only is Hyderabad one of the most crowded cities in the world, it gets ridiculously hot with temperatures exceeding 100F (37.7C). There also really isn’t much to do here if you’re looking for touristy activities. If you still insist on going to a city named Hyderabad, might we suggest the one in India instead? It offers a whole lot more and has a far more tolerable density of 18,480/mi².
3. Vijayawada, India
Population: 1.8 million
This city in the state of Andhra Pradesh might not be all that well-known, but it definitely worth the visit in spite of its high population destiny. It is notable for its ancient temple caves and stunning waterfront gardens. It also has tremendous potential with GDP expecting to raise to $17 billion by 2025 (up from the 2010 figure of $3 billion).
4. Chittagong, Bangladesh
Population: 3.3 million
While the area around Chittagong is picturesque, the city itself is extremely gloomy aside from being crowded. For more than 20 years, it was the site of heavy fighting between the indigenous people and the Bangladesh government. For what it’s worth, it used to be a major trading hub during the days of British colonialism.
5. Mumbai, India
Population: 22.3 million
The largest city in India is full of contradictions. On the one hand it is the country’s business and commercial hub, and has an incredible variety of architectural styles ranging from traditional Hindu temples to European Gothic. On the other hand, it is also full of slums and other indicators of massive poverty.
6. Hong Kong
Population: 7.3 million
If you’re somebody who is looking for hustle and bustle, Hong Kong belongs on your traveling list. Traditional Buddhist temples meet high tech tram systems. You have an extremely unique city that blends China with Britain’s colonial past. The harbor is among the most breathtaking as you take in the city skyline. You are also bound to come across culinary masterpieces of every type. If you stay cooped up in your hotel room, you’ll end up with the feeling that you’re missing out on something.
7. Aligarh, India
Population: 1 million
Located in the Uttar Pradesh state, Aligarh is a city that you probably haven’t heard of. While it only ranks 55th in terms of population, for whatever reason it is one of the most densely populated.
This island territory might be among the most crowded, but it is also the most fascinating on our list. For more than 400 years, it was a colony of Portugal, after which it was returned to China in 1999. It had been kind of a “meh” place until the Chinese turned it into an Asian Las Vegas with glitzy casinos galore, Broadway-style entertainment, and some of the fanciest restaurants in the world. With a per capita GDP of $91,000, Macau is the world’s 4th wealthiest territory.
9. Hama, Syria
Population: 1.3 million
With giant water wheels that date back to 1100 BC (once used for irrigation, but today existing only for traditional aesthetic purposes), the fourth largest city in Syria might have been worth visiting in more peaceful times. But these days it’s a no-go zone.
10. Mogadishu, Somalia
Population: 2.3 million
Speaking of places you shouldn’t visit unless you full intend to die is Mogadishu. In fact, to get around the city (but seriously, don’t) you need to hire a Jeep and security detail that is armed to the teeth. Or you can just opt for Disneyland instead. Does that sound like a deal?