Travel + Leisure readers pick the top cities around the globe in the annual World’s Best survey.
It’s been a tough year for Bangkok, which has been coping with political upheaval that’s roiled the city and made some travelers wary. But despite the unfortunate developments, this summer brought a welcome bit of news that showcased the Asian metropolis’s enduring appeal: Travel + Leisure readers named Bangkok the World’s Best City.
T+L has been running the World’s Best survey for 15 years now, reaching out to its audience of passionate travelers to pick their brains on everything from hotels to islands and car rentals to airlines. And the Best Cities category has always been competitive: after all, cities bring out strong emotions in people, inspiring them to write exalting songs or swear they’re never going back.
Bangkok is no stranger to the title of World’s Best City—it also claimed the No. 1 spot in 2008. And it’s no surprise as to why. You can check into legendary hotels like the Mandarin Oriental. Sample amazing Thai cuisine on the Chao Phraya River at a place like Salathip, in the Shangri-La Hotel. Take a longtail boat ride at sunset. Or just walk Bangkok’s frenetic streets, stumbling upon Buddhist temples and fantastic street food.
But while Bangkok claimed the World’s Best City title, other cities vied for a spot in the Top 10. At No. 5 (up four spots from 2009), Rome once again proved its everlasting appeal. In this holy city, ancient structures mingle peacefully with modern development. Public transportation is a breeze to navigate, regardless of your familiarity with the area (and will undoubtedly improve further upon the completion of the subway expansion).
Closer to home, New York City squeaked into the Top 10 as well. The City That Never Sleeps got its name for a reason; both tourists and residents venture out at all hours to explore an always-changing kaleidoscope. And with its fair share of all things affordable—you don’t have to look too far—the Big Apple is an ideal spot even for those on a strict budget.
Each of the Top 10 cities has its own unique style, culture, and personality that beckon outsiders to awaken their wanderlust. What other cities made the cut? Read on to find out.
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Value proved to be a big factor for readers, who voted Bangkok back to the No. 1 spot after a year’s hiatus.
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2. Chiang Mai
Thailand proved itself to be a double threat, with its largest city jumping three spots to grab hold of the No. 2 title this year.
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Despite being relatively tiny, this Tuscan city has mass appeal, drawing in epicureans, fashionistas, and art patrons from all over.
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4. SanMiguel de Allende
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, this city is a haven for art aficionados from around the world.
6 of 11David Cicconi
Old school coexists peacefully with new school in this easy-to-navigate ancient city, rich with history.
7 of 11Meghan Lamb
Australia’s largest city has come a long way since its penal colony days, with stunning architecture, picture-perfect beaches, and innovative cuisine.
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A little bit Latin and a little bit French, this Argentine city was reinvented in the wake of an economic crisis. Now recovered, it remains a favorite for seasoned travelers.
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With its amazing architecture, cultural traditions, and culinary prowess—mole, anyone?—it’s no wonder this UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site made the list.
10 of 11Lyndsey Matthews
This once sleepy city, rich with art and cutting-edge design, experienced a revival thanks to the 1992 Olympics. Now it seems that travelers can’t get enough.