The Noisiest Cities In The World

Cities can be noisy places. Road traffic, aircraft and construction sites are just three common causes of cacophony. Given that two-thirds of people will live in cities by 2050 (according to the UN), the urban racket will only get louder.

But not all metropolises are equal in the noise stakes. While Oslo, Helsinki and Reykjavík are ranked as some of the most tranquil cities, others — particularly rapidly industrialising Asian hubs — are comparatively deafening.

Looking for a quiet weekend away from it all? You’ll probably want to avoid these five cities, which rank as the world’s noisiest…


1. Dhaka (Bangladesh) – 119dB

In April 2022, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) named Bangladesh’s capital the world’s noisiest city.

In 1999, the World Health Organisation published guidelines stating that noise levels above 70dB over a prolonged period can lead to a greater chance of hearing loss. Astonishingly, Dhaka’s average noise level stands at an ear splitting 119dB.

But locals don’t just have to put up with dangerous levels of din. The city is also listed as one of the world’s worst cities when it comes to quality of life.

Poor infrastructure, unsafe drinking water and extreme heat combined with frequent flooding during the monsoon season are among the reasons Dhaka sits 214th out of 231 global cities in consulting firm Mercer’s annual liveability rankings.


2. Moradabad (India) – 114dB

This Indian metropolis, located in the state of Uttar Pradesh, is known as ‘Brass City’ as it’s one of the world’s major producers of brass goods.

While industry no doubt adds to the racket, officials suggest that ‘loud music played at weddings’ (possibly on trumpets) is one of the most common noise complaints. And the Moradabadi police receive a lot of them; in 2021 more than 14,000 people reported nuisance noise to the authorities — an average of 40 complaints per day.


3. Islamabad (Pakistan)- 105dB

Islamabad used to be called Shehr-e-Khamoshan, which roughly translates as The Silent City. That’s no longer the case as the metropolis ranks third on the UNEP list.

According to official statistics, the city has witnessed 100% population growth in the past 20 years. And with more people comes increased noise levels.

While laws dictate that no polluting industry is allowed inside the city’s residential areas, local reports suggest the authorities are turning a blind eye to factories, auto workshops and other noisy businesses popping up in some of the most densely populated areas.

Traffic has also increased dramatically, with the rumble of engines part of the city’s cacophonous soundtrack.


4. Rajshahi (Bangladesh) – 103dB

While it may not be as noisy as Dhaka, Rajshahi is another Bangladeshi city where the volume is constantly turned up. The UN study found the main causes of the clangour to be cars and trains and, in response, the local authorities have started to take action, fining drivers for — amongst other offences — excessive horn use.


5. Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) – 103dB

Vietnam’s most densely populated city is vibrant, freewheeling and, according to the UNEP report, really rather noisy. HCMC has a population of 12 million people, 7.5 million of whom own motorbikes. And it’s these two-wheeled machines’ high-pitched engines — and some incessant rush-hour honking — that make the city the fifth-noisiest in the world.


IAC Acoustics is proud to offer acoustic and noise control solutions to a wide range of people and businesses. Get in touch to find out how we can help you manage noise control challenges safely and effectively.

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