Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang surpass Bangkok as best cities in Asia

Chiang Mai charmed readers for its peace, quiet and historic temples. Pic: Remote Lands

NORTHERN Thai city Chiang Mai was voted the “Top City in Asia” and the world’s second best city by readers of influential travel guide Travel + Leisure.

Chiang Mai scored an impressive 91.25 over 100 among readers and was widely praised for its “peace and quiet, funky fusion restaurants, historic temples and massive markets”, all while providing modern conveniences of a big city.

The publication said: “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”.

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Meanwhile, Bangkok scored 88.96 to come in fifth place after Luang Prabang, Kyoto and Siem Reap. Luang Prabang is a newcomer in this year’s list.

Here’s the top ten list:

  1. Chiang Mai
  2. Luang Prabang
  3. Kyoto
  4. Siem Reap
  5. Bangkok
  6. Hoi An
  7. Ubud
  8. Udaipur
  9. Tokyo
  10. Lhasa, Tibet

The publication added, “The cities of Southeast Asia are on the rise. Urban centers in the region, such as Bangkok, Siem Reap, Cambodia and Luang Prabang [are] hailed for their affordable and delectable dining, historic sites, warm locals and exciting culture.”

Major cities like Hong Kong missed the cut on this year’s list. Pic: Mike Behnken/flickr

Surprisingly, major cities like Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur didn’t make the cut despite consistently driving in tourists and business travelers.

In the list of the world’s best cities, Charleston in South Carolina was crowned the best in the world for its “historic battlegrounds” and “jasmine-scented streets”. Chiang Mai, Mexico’s San Miguel de Allende, Florence in Italy and Luang Prabang rounded up the top five.

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The publication’s readers voted for their favorite cities based on a variety of factors including local culture, food, shopping, landmarks, friendliness of locals, and overall value for money.