The cities of Southeast Asia are on the rise.
Urban centers in the region, such as Bangkok; Siem Reap, Cambodia; and Luang Prabang, Laos—hailed for their affordable and delectable dining, historic sites, warm locals, and exciting culture—made up more than half of our list of Best Cities in Asia list this year. There’s never been a better time to go to Asia, particularly to these spots, with a number of stunning hotel openings, an increase in flights from the U.S., and favorable exchange rates.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe—to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise lines, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated cities on their sights and landmarks, culture, food, friendliness, shopping, and overall value.
Whether you're in town for business, on a backpacking trip, or stopping over before hitting the beaches, these cities have more than enough attractions to keep you entertained.
Chiang Mai might not be Thailand’s largest city, but it’s first in our readers’ hearts—probably because it’s much more manageable. It has a busy downtown with restaurants and must-see markets, but quiet resorts are a quick drive away.
Kyoto, last year’s Best City Overall, clearly remains a favorite. It has seen plenty of growth recently, including the spring 2015 opening of Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel, and shows no signs of slowing down. And the inclusion of Siem Reap, which is the gateway of architectural and historical treasures that are visited by millions a year, proves that timeless attractions never lose their appeal.
Asia’s top capitals, including Bangkok and Tokyo, remain favorites as well, perhaps because they continue to provide reasons to go back, from intriguing art in Bangkok to the second wave of cool cocktail bars in Tokyo. As one reader wrote of Tokyo, “this is a world-class city and a must to visit.” The same could be said of all the places on this list.