By Travel + Leisure magazine, for the second year in a row. Story here. This despite our riots last year, seemingly long forgotten by the populace. Siem Reap, Cambodia, home to Angkor Wat, is the only other Asian city in the top 10:
New York City, USA
Cape Town, South Africa
Siem Reap, Cambodia
And as for the world’s top 10 islands, I note with pride as a former Hawaiian resident that the state accounts for three of them:
Yeah! Go Bangkok. It’s much more livable since the air cleaned up and it got mass transit. But frankly, if you set aside the barely licit entertainment and the low hotel prices, I’m not sure I see the attraction.
I plan to make a short trip to Bangkok soon, but mainly just to visit book stores and Japanese restaurants.
I spent last week in Siem Reap, and it’s a nice enough small tourist town, but I don’t understand why it’s in the top 10. Angkor by itself deserves a top spot in a list of top tourist destinations, but Siem Reap as a city? Phnom Penh would be a less surprising choice.
Yeah, I would not rate Siem Reap itself in the top 10. Kathmandu, even Singapore and Hong Kong would beat it out in my book, although I have known a few Westerners who have settled in Siem Reap and opened little restaurants and guesthouses and really love it there. Maybe increased tourist numbers are being reflected in the poll.
I’ve never traveled out of the country and I know nothing and I know that I know nothing, but the image I have of Thailand is strictly along the lines of “all the young women work as prostitutes” and “don’t drink the water” and “major drug trafficking.” And it’s staggeringly hot and humid. Why on earth would anyone want to visit there, let alone live there?
Well, because your mental image is staggeringly wrong. Yes, it’s generally pretty hot in Thailand (though I’m sure Siam Sam could point out exceptions) - but it’s a pretty wealthy country. The wealth isn’t evenly distributed, so there are plenty of extremely poor places - but Bangkok in particular is a modern city with good public transit, air conditioning, clean water, and so on. Any large, modern city is going to have a lot to recommend it in terms of art, culture, food etc.; Bangkok can build on that with a lot of interesting local history and ready access to lots of other major Asian cities. It isn’t at the top of my own travel wishlist, but that owes more to the length of the list than anything else. There are fantastic reasons for someone to want to live or visit Bangkok.
As to your comments on drug trafficking and prostitution - yes, there are prostitutes. Probably more than in the States, since it’s (as I understand it) technically illegal but almost always tolerated in Bangkok. But the idea that all the young women are prostitutes is absurd. Do you think that all the women in Amsterdam are prostitutes? What of Reno County? And yah, there’s drug trafficking - but we have that here, too.
It is hot, and I won’t comment on tap water (everyone uses cheap largely trouble-free bottled water for drinking) but I’ll relate my experience about drug trafficking and “all the young women.”
While Bangkok might have been a Mecca for drugs once, if you came to S.E.Asia for illegal drugs, Bangkok is definitely the wrong place these days. I had a friend who reported 5 years ago that heroin was cheaper and more readily available in Seattle, Wash. than in Bangkok. Indeed I hardly think it a secret that the country most noted for “major drug trafficking” is the U.S. of A.
As for “all the young women”, Thai people in general tend to be very friendly to the point of flirtation. This is a pleasant change from attitudes in some countries. But if you think the waitress who is happy to smile and chat with you will be pleased if you offer her money to come to your hotel, you’re likely to be very mistaken.