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.