The Top 15 Cities in Asia
This year's World's Best Awards survey was open for voting January 11 through May 10, 2021, as destinations around the world were lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Survey rules have always allowed readers to reflect on their travel experiences over a three-year period. We hope that this year's honorees will inspire your own travels as you get back out into the world.
When T+L readers visit countries in Asia, they want to be engulfed by the dynamic energy and taken in by the juxtaposition of ancient and new. In Asia, hand-carved temples and modern skyscrapers sit side by side. For every frenetic and high-speed thoroughfare, there's a narrow, hidden bylane. From culture to cuisine, there's so much to discover in Asia's urban centers.
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 cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated cities on their sights and landmarks, culture, cuisine, friendliness, shopping, and overall value.
This year's top Asian cities stretch from Mumbai (No. 15) to Luang Prabang, Laos (No. 7) to Tokyo (No. 9). A few readers noted the ease of getting around Seoul (No. 10), thanks to its efficient public-transit system, as well as the city's phenomenal restaurants. "The food is fantastic," one said.
Besides the capital, two other Japanese cities made the 2021 list: Osaka (No. 11) and Kyoto, which held steady at No. 3. "It's a gorgeous city filled with culture, mind-blowing food, and breathtaking sites," one reader wrote of Kyoto. "The food and people are beyond description," shared another. "Amazing food around every corner" was yet another comment.
This year's top spot, though, goes to Udaipur, India, which takes the title from last year's winner, Hoi An, Vietnam (this year's No. 13). Read on to find out what made Udaipur the No. 1 pick among the best cities in Asia, plus a complete list of this year's winners.
1. Udaipur, India
Once the capital of the princely state of Mewar, Udaipur has a dreamy setting along Lake Pichola. Several stunning, palace-like luxury hotels have made it a must-visit destination for travelers the world over. Commenting on the city's forts and royal residences, a reader noted that Udaipur "must be architecturally the most beautiful place in Asia." Among the best examples — and biggest attractions — is City Palace. The compound includes 11 stunning smaller palaces, all built at different times by different rulers, which means there's a trove of distinctive spaces to explore. Perhaps one reader put it best by calling the city "enchanting."
2. Ubud, Indonesia
3. Kyoto, Japan
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 90.94
4. Chiang Mai, Thailand
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 89.81
7. Luang Prabang, Laos
8. Jaipur, India
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 88.59
11. Osaka, Japan
12. Thimphu, Bhutan
13. Hoi An, Vietnam
See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2021.