Every year, travel website TripAdvisor gives out its Travelers’ Choice awards to the best destinations, hotels, restaurants, beaches, etc., as voted by their users, contributors and experts. The list is based on votes from millions of travellers worldwide. Here’s a list of the Top 15 Asian cities that made it to the list for 2016.
15. Bophut, Thailand: Learn to dive, sunbathe on a sandy beach or indulge in inexpensive spa services (including amazing Thai massages) in Bophut, a beach village that recently has become home to many new hotels and villas. Try the main street for trendy shops and restaurants, or visit the Fisherman’s Village for more traditional shops.
14. Chiang Mai, Thailand: Chiang Mai is a study in vibrant contrasts—here, ancient temples (over 300) are as much of a draw as trendy bars, hotels and restaurants. You’ll also find adventure activities (like white-water rafting tours) and a wide range of spas.
13. Jaipur, India: If you take one look at the glorious stucco buildings that line Jaipur’s wide streets, you’ll understand why this is nicknamed “The Pink City.” Spend your days exploring City Palace, Hawa Mahal, and Amber and Jaigarh forts. And if you’re looking for a unique souvenir, head to one of the bazaars, where you can pick up a pair of camel-leather slippers.
12. Krabi, Thailand: The southern Thailand town of Krabi serves as base camp for exploring the province of the same name, a lush region of jungles, limestone cliffs and idyllic isles floating just offshore in the Andaman Sea. Buddhist shrines still used by local monks are tucked into the chambers of the town’s top attraction, Tiger Cave. The riverside pier links travellers with ferries and longboats to the best scuba diving, rock climbing and white sand beaches on the coast.
11. Kathu, Thailand: Kathu is the smallest of Phuket’s three districts, and covers the central part of the island. The quaint old village of Kathu is located roughly midway between Patong Beach and Phuket Town, and boasts of attractions such as the Kathu Waterfall, Loch Palm and Red Mountain Golf Clubs, Phuket Country Club and Phuket Wake Park.
10. Ho An, Vietnam: This city on the central Vietnamese coast is a well-preserved example of the important Southeast Asian trading port it was from the 15th-19th centuries. Already a common stop for backpackers, it is becoming better known to tourists. On the 14th day of each lunar month, the town trades its electric lights for traditional coloured lanterns. Sights include the Japanese Covered Bridge and the Quan Cong Temple. Let the town’s expert tailors make you some bespoke clothing.
9. Taipei, Taiwan: You can eat very well—and very cheaply—in Taipei. The restaurants may not look posh, but the quality of the food is superlative. And there’s a huge variety of restaurants—in addition to local Taiwanese specialties, you’ll find regional cuisines from all over China, as well as great Indian, Japanese and even Italian options. Just make sure to leave some room for snacks—street-vendor food here is addictive.
8. New Delhi, India: Laid out by British architect Edwin Lutyens, the Indian capital is a striking modern metropolis. A gracious contrast to Old Delhi’s winding streets, the grand avenues and stately buildings of New Delhi are rich with history and culture, from Gandhi’s Delhi home (and the site of his assassination) to the tomb of Humayun, a complex of Mughal buildings reminiscent of the Taj Mahal. Chaotic traffic is best left to the locals. Negotiate a good price for taxis or travel on the new Delhi Metro.
7. Kathmandu, Nepal: Nepal’s capital is situated in a valley full of historic sites, ancient temples and shrines, golden pagodas and fascinating villages. Hotels, bars and restaurants cater to all budgets. Shops offer handicrafts, carpets and Nepali paper prints. Bus services, taxis and bicycles open up the city. Trek to see the Monkey Temple, the valley’s oldest and most sacred shrine. Mingle with locals and animals amid Durbar Square’s monuments and temples, or join mountain trekkers in the bustling Thamel District.
6. Tokyo, Japan: Tokyo can’t be judged from the outside, since those expecting ancient monuments will instead be greeted with modern drabness. The Imperial Palace, still home to the Emperor, shouldn’t be missed, and the Edo-Tokyo Museum details the city’s history. Sensoji Temple is the city’s oldest, and the Tokyo National Museum holds the largest collection of Japanese art in the world.
5. Hong Kong, China: Hong Kong’s a great city for an adventurous eater. Stop at a street vendor for fish balls on a stick or stinky tofu. Bakeries offer wife cake, pineapple buns and egg tarts. Or opt for as much dim sum as you can eat. If you’re tired of local and regional Chinese specialties, check out upscale offerings from some of the world’s top chefs, like Joel Robouchon and Alain Ducasse.
4. Bangkok, Thailand: Bangkok is full of exquisitely decorated Buddhist temples—as you go from one to the next you’ll be continually blown away by the craftsmanship and elabourate details. But if you’d rather seek enlightenment in a gourmet meal, or dance the night away, you’ll also enjoy Bangkok—the restaurant and nightclub scenes here are among the best in the world.
3. Ubud, Indonesia: The village cluster of Ubud is the ideal place to try a famed Balinese massage and soak up the ambiance of one of Asia’s top spa destinations. Acupressure, reflexology, stretching and aromatherapy star in the island’s distinctively firm massage treatments. Ubud is also the vivacious centre of Bali’s arts scene, home to a small treasure trove of museums and galleries. Monkey around at nearby nature reserve Monkey Forest Park, home to hundreds of mischievous long-tailed macaques.
2. Hanoi, Vietnam: The charming Vietnamese capital has aged well, preserving the Old Quarter, monuments and colonial architecture, while making room for modern developments alongside. Hanoi may have shrugged off several former names, including Thang Long, or “ascending dragon”, but it hasn’t forgotten its past, as sites such as Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and Hoa Lo Prison attest. Lakes, parks, shady boulevards and more than 600 temples and pagodas add to the appeal of this city, which is easily explored by taxi.
1. Siem Reap, Cambodia: Siem Reap is a fast-growing city with plenty of new hotels, restaurants and nightclubs. But chances are, you’re here not because of the city itself, but for what’s nearby: amazingly well-preserved ancient temples. Even if you have the worst jet lag ever, drag yourself out of bed to be at Angkor archaeological Park when it opens—sunrise over Angkor Wat is worth losing sleep over.