These Are The Top 5 Most Popular Asian Destinations Right Now


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Asia is exploding in popularity again now that most of the continent has let go of its strict health-related entry policies and burdensome visa requirements.

Americans – and all Westerners – are once again being welcomed with open arms, and the travel trends don’t lie:

Woman in bamboo forest in Kyoto, Japan

From the continent’s Western Anatolian peninsula in Turkiye, to the ‘true orient’, found in the Indochina Peninsula of Southeast Asia, and the Easternmost reaches of the world, the world’s largest continent is experiencing a post-crisis tourism revival like it’s never seen.

But where exactly are travelers headed, and which Asian destinations do they love the most?

The Top 5 Most Popular Asian Destinations Right Now

Renowned publication Travel + Leisure has published its annual reader-voted ‘World’s Best Awards’, allowing millions of readers to vote for their favorite Asian spots for the current year.

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

Numerous aspects are taken into account, though the most relevant is the quality of service in hotels, the tourism infrastructure in cities and islands, the reliability and safety of airlines operating in these destinations, and so on.

Each city is given a score between 0 and 100, and the higher the score, the better positioned it is.

With this in mind, this is how Travel + Leisure readers would rank Asia’s top five best offers:

5. Bangkok, Thailand

The capital and largest city of Thailand, Bangkok was the fifth-most voted city, garnering a reader score of 89.99.

It is the second best-positioned destination in Southeast Asia and the highest-charting Thai city on the wider top 15.

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Grand palace and Wat phra keaw at sunset bangkok, Thailand

Thailand prides itself in being one of a handful of historic nations in Asia to have never come under the control of European forces, and Bangkok’s imperial temples, stately government buildings, and traditional night markets are proof of its unwavering strength as a cultural behemoth.

Travelers are particularly enthusiastic about Bangkok’s nightlife, particularly the busy, gay-friendly Silom district and the laid-back attitude of the locals in spite of the fast-paced city life, the delectable cuisine, and its affordability as a city break.

4. Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo ranks fourth on the list with a reader score of 90.30. It may be only the second-best-placed Japanese entry on the list, but there’s no denying it is the most vibrant, cosmopolitan offer in the Pacific country.

view of town in asia

Though it isn’t representative of the country as a whole, and certainly no sleepy Tohoku town, it is irrevocably Japanese at heart, what with its oriental flair, in line with the rest of Japan – in spite of being exceedingly globalized – and extensive selection of local eateries and centuries-old temples.

Tokyo can be a great introduction to Japan if you know how to get around the complex Tokyo Metro, and it only takes a couple of days of ‘acclimatizing’ to fall madly in love with the local culture. Spoiler: it is so much more than just Anime, manga, and quirky karaoke bars.

3. Ubud, Bali (Indonesia)

Coming third with a ranking of 91.73, Ubud is the best-placed Southeast Asian destination, as well as Indonesia’s top-rated sunny getaway.

Located on the paradisaical island of Bali, in the traditional Ubud district, it is a quieter spot away from the over-touristed, expat-dominated coast.

Ubud Bali rice fields jungle and mountains

Ubud is set against the picturesque backdrop of Bali’s rice paddies, and in recent years it’s risen to prominence as the island’s primary wellness hub. It boasts a growing number of relaxation retreats and spas, and the surrounding nature only adds to the bucolic atmosphere.

It is the perfect place to go if disconnecting from the world as you soak up more nature is your idea of fun, and there’s no better time to visit than now, as Indonesia (including Bali) has recently lifted all of their health requirements, allowing foreigners to enter hassle-free as they could before 2020.

2. Kyoto, Japan

Charting on the runner-up slot, Japan’s seventh-largest conurbation of Kyoto is (almost) everyone’s favorite Asian destination. How could it not? It is one of the oldest settlements in Japan, serving as the imperial seat as early as 794, and unlike most Japanese cities, it was spared destruction in WWII.

This means a majority of the Wayō buildings you see scattered around the Higashiyama District, the equivalent to an Old Town, are the original, unlike in other cities like Hiroshima or Nagasaki, which were effectively decimated in the wake of the devastating global conflict.

Cityscape Of Kyoto, Japan, East Asia

As a result, Kyoto is an extremely popular cultural destination, especially among those in search of the ‘real’ Japan, not easily found in larger metropolises like Tokyo or Yokohama.

Tourists often list the quaint atmosphere, helped by Kyoto’s narrow streets lined with family-owned wooden shops and the city’s peaceful gardens, as some of its greatest strengths against the sprawling Tokyo.

1. Udaipur, India

The top-voted Asian destination, Udaipur is a hidden gem of India that’s claimed the number one placement twice in the previous five years. It seems travelers, especially young digital nomads, still can’t get enough of it, as it extends its reign for a third non-consecutive year.

Known locally as the ‘City of Lakes’, and internationally as the ‘Venice of India’, it is a small city by Indian standards, home to over 400,000, spanning a lake region bounded by the golden sands of the Thar desert.

City Palace In Udaipur, On The Shores Of A Picturesque Lake Where Boats Are Traveling, India, Asia

It is easily one of India’s best well-kept, and prettiest cities, with the landmark City Palace rising above the emerald scenery below and romantic bridges linking the smaller islets in the lake region to the larger settlements on the mainland.

Lastly, Udaipur is considered generally safe to visit as long as you take all the necessary normal precautions, such as avoiding walking alone at night in deserted areas, especially if you’re female, and not displaying unnecessary signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive jewelry.

Udaipur’s score is the highest out of all Asian entries at 93.33.

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