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Controversial, predictable, surprising—maybe. But inspirational? Always. No matter where T+L readers rank the World’s Best Cities, the list keeps us planning, going, and dreaming every year.

No. 6 Bangkok, Thailand

5 of 11

Score: 88.907

After a year of unrest, Bangkok has been restored to the World’s Best list, where it clung to the No. 1 spot from 2010 to 2013. Bustle may be an understatement here, where sweet and spicy street food perfumes the avenues and gilded Buddhist temples stand in dramatic juxtaposition to slick skyscrapers. It’s frenetic, colorful, and a curious amalgamation of past and present: tuk-tuks and monks clad in saffron-hued robes fill the streets at dawn, their reflections cast in the steel and glass high-rises. At night, head to Sukhumvit Soi 38 for an equally vibrant street-side feast, where pedestrians elbow up to tables for fat rice noodles, mango sticky rice, and pathong ko (Thai doughnuts) with pandan leaf custard. Seize a moment of serenity at the Wat Suthat temple, the Himalayan-style art gallery, Serindia, or on a long-tail boat tour along the Chao Phraya River.

Bangkok

World's Top 10 Cities

No. 6 Bangkok, Thailand

Score: 88.907

After a year of unrest, Bangkok has been restored to the World’s Best list, where it clung to the No. 1 spot from 2010 to 2013. Bustle may be an understatement here, where sweet and spicy street food perfumes the avenues and gilded Buddhist temples stand in dramatic juxtaposition to slick skyscrapers. It’s frenetic, colorful, and a curious amalgamation of past and present: tuk-tuks and monks clad in saffron-hued robes fill the streets at dawn, their reflections cast in the steel and glass high-rises. At night, head to Sukhumvit Soi 38 for an equally vibrant street-side feast, where pedestrians elbow up to tables for fat rice noodles, mango sticky rice, and pathong ko (Thai doughnuts) with pandan leaf custard. Seize a moment of serenity at the Wat Suthat temple, the Himalayan-style art gallery, Serindia, or on a long-tail boat tour along the Chao Phraya River.

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World's Top 10 Cities

For globetrotting travelers, it’s easy to recognize a spectacular city. They are energetic, diverse destinations intent on preserving local heritage, revitalizing undervalued neighborhoods, and they possess distinct personalities that set them apart from other metropolises.

Whether it’s the city you’ve called home for years or one you only just stumbled upon during your travels, you know that the best cities are intriguing cultural centers that can’t be replicated anywhere else.

Kyoto, in Japan, returned for the second year in a row to the No. 1 spot on our World’s Best list. Readers called it the quintessential Japanese experience, offering visitors everything from history (in the form of spiritual shrines) to notable cuisine (shojin ryori) and encounters with the famed Geisha dancers.

Some of the world’s best cities evoke the romanticism of travel, such as Italy’s classic crowd-pleasers, Florence and Rome. Both have appeared on the Top 10 Overall list for ten consecutive years.

Perhaps most evident, however, are the cities that appeared on the list despite political and social turmoil. Charleston, South Carolinathe only domestic city on the overall list—has suffered greatly since the polls closed. And Jerusalem, the controversial capital of Israel, is at the crux of an ancient and ongoing conflict. Bangkok was likely bumped from the list in 2012 due to governmental unrest.

Because cities are, in many ways, a great convergence of people and ideas, it is inevitable that conflicts will arise. So we keep these cities, and their people, in our thoughts, while we celebrate their resilience and their virtues.

Where did your favorite city rank, and which ones should you put on your travel bucket list? These are the most dynamic, beloved cities across the globe. 

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