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These Are The Top 5 Cities To Visit In Asia According To New Survey

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Europe may have been the star of the summer, but Asia is stealing the spotlight for the fall.

U.S. travelers are already heading to Asia in droves as the region makes a spectacular comeback, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. 

In the face of high flight prices and crowded destinations, bucket list vacations and bold multi-country trips are top of mind. It’s no surprise then that Asia is top of mind for many tourists this year.  But on such a huge, diverse continent, it’s just impossible to see everything in one trip. 

So which destinations are worth the hype – and the jet lag?

Solo female traveler in the rice terraces of Ubud Bali Indonesia Asia

Travel and Leisure’s new reader’s choice survey reveals travelers’ favorite cities in Asia this year:

1. Udaipur, India

A red-hot front-runner from India’s western Rajasthan region takes the gold with an impressive survey score of 93. 

Known as The City of Lakes, Udaipur is famous for its breathtaking waterfront fortress – The City Palace. Travelers fall in love with Udaipur’s seven scenic lakes, 360 mountain views, opulent gardens, and colorful culture. 

If you’re still not convinced of Udaipur’s beauty and vibrance, try some mouth-watering paani puri from the city’s many street vendors. These crispy puff pastries stuffed with rich potato, aromatic masala, and tart tamarind will most definitely win over even the most skeptical visitors.

Lakeside castle in Udaipur Rajasthan India Asia

2. Kyoto, Japan

Japan is a long-time global tourism favorite, so Kyoto’s second-place ranking isn’t too big a surprise. Nicknamed The City of 10,000 Shrines, Kyoto earned a survey score of 92 for its alluring fusion of the traditional and the modern. 

Travelers spend their days exploring famous temples of bright orange and shimmering gold, stealing glimpses of geishas after the sun goes down as they head to dine atop modern skyscrapers by night. 

The cultural richness and cinematic contrast of Tokyo draw in a seriously diverse group of tourists, from religious pilgrims to city lovers. They may disagree on what makes the Japanese cultural center so special, but the city’s top place among global destinations is simply undisputed. 

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Traditional restaurants and tea houses in Kyoto Japan at dusk

3. Ubud, Indonesia

The beating heart of Balinese culture and spirituality won over travelers with a high score of 92. Ubud has enticed tourists, yogis, soul-searchers, digital nomads, and expats to its laid-back way of life for decades. The popularity of this Indonesian hotspot just can’t be helped.

While the hustle and bustle of central Ubud offers rich culture and community, travelers tend to fall harder for the natural beauty of the surrounding Banyan thickets and rice terraces along the outskirts. 

Indonesia is also one of the more affordable destinations in Asia (although prices in Bali have definitely gone up in recent years). Travelers tend to get star-struck by the spectacular pool villas and sprawling jungle views available at such low prices.

Ubud Bali rice fields jungle and mountains

4. Tokyo, Japan

Ordered chaos, bustling nightlife, modern innovation, and a safe and welcoming environment keep travelers coming back to Tokyo time and time again. 

We have a feeling the delicious Japanese cuisine – sushi, soba, sukiyaki, and so much more – might have contributed to the city’s stellar survey rating of 90. In fact, Tokyo is home to more Michelin stars than any other city in the world! 

But you don’t have to shell out too much to eat well here. Thanks to the 2 million vending machines and world-class convenience store meals, budget travelers can still enjoy surprisingly delicious meals and unique beverages in Tokyo. 

Tokyo is known to come at a higher price tag, but one survey respondent gushed that the famed Japanese capital is “worth every penny.” 

Whether you come for Harajuku’s fashion, Akihabara’s anime, or traditional attractions like the Meiji shrine, Tokyo is sure to live up to the hype. 

street-in-tokyo-japan

5. Bangkok, Thailand

Golden spires and colorful curved roofs rise up from Bangkok’s slightly chaotic modern skyline, marking the contrast between ancient tradition and modern bustle in this truly unique city. 

The Thai capital has topped the rankings of this Travel and Leisure survey time and time again, with a reader score of 90 this year. Travelers love the energy of Bangkok’s buzzing street life, whether grabbing a fiery Thai curry by day or indulging in the city’s notorious nightlife til the sun comes up again.

Bangkok’s extreme affordability attracts budget travelers, backpackers, and luxury seekers looking for top value. The diversity of tourists and locals makes for a kaleidoscope of languages, cultures, and flavors that have come to be Bangkok’s trademark character.

temple in asia

Whichever city you choose, each trip to Asia is sure to be bursting with color, culture, flavor, and new experiences. 

Honorable mentions for the fifth through fifteenth rankings on this survey are:

6. Mumbai, India – 90

7. Chiang Mai, Thailand – 89

8. Luang Prabang, Laos – 89

9. Siem Reap, Cambodia – 89

10. Singapore – 90

11. Osaka, Japan – 88

12. Jaipur, India – 88

13. Hoi An, Vietnam – 88

14. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – 88

15: Seoul, South Korea – 87

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JPT26

Monday 14th of August 2023

Philippines

Luzy

Wednesday 16th of August 2023

@JPT26, true! But at the same time, I think it’s for the best, the hidden gems in the Philippines will stay safer like that.

Restless mind

Saturday 12th of August 2023

Pattaya Thailand

Fixie

Thursday 10th of August 2023

Kuala Lumpur should have at least an honorable mention.

onomatopoeia

Wednesday 9th of August 2023

Bangkok is one of the filthiest, noisiest ugliest cities I've ever been to. The traffic is suffocating the air is poisonous, and the architecture is atrocious. The saving grace are the people, who treat you with kindness and will go out of their way to be helpful. One caveat, always count your change.

Paul

Thursday 17th of August 2023

@onomatopoeia, welcome to SEA :). Actually I love Bangkok.. architecture magical fantastic history and yes nice people and yes pollution. But name me a major city in SEA that isn't polluted. Oh and hey, food not bad either right?

Miki

Tuesday 15th of August 2023

@Juli J., I agree with you. Earlier this year I spent 2 whole weeks in BKK while waiting for some paperwork to be done, and it's a city I go to often on weekend trips. Traffic is manageable if people know how to handle it. Certainly the traffic in BKK is better than Jakarta or even HCMC. And certainly the tourists moving around with tuk-tuks and taxies are not helping. I recommend renting a bike as we do during our stays and the city becomes your oyster.

Juli J.

Thursday 10th of August 2023

@onomatopoeia, While I do agree with you about the people of Bangkok, I found this city to be an absolute gem, when I spent 6 weeks in Thailand March-April of 2023. Traffic is chaotic, like most large Asian cities, but the architecture I found beautiful and interesting. I never once encountered trouble with change back from my many purchases. We had an amazing time and enjoyed Tuk-tuks, floating markets, Akha cooking school with a tour of local food markets, and many temples. The scenery was stunning. The air was was similar to any large city, and we did not find it majorly polluted until the smoke from fires in China blew in, mostly in northern Thailand. Bangkok and it’s wonderful people would definitely be one I would return to, in addition to Phuket, Chaing Mai, Chiang Rai, and Ko Lanta.