Travel and Tourism
TripAdvisor readers have spoken, and Siem Reap, Cambodia, is rated as the Number 1 travel destination in Asia. Three cities on the Indonesian island of Bali make the list as well as 2 cities each in Vietnam and Greater China.
Travel destinations in Southeast Asia dominate TripAdvisor's 2015 Travellers' Choice awards for Asia, with Siem Reap – the capital of Cambodia – taking top honours. But what about Japan?
"We are thrilled that Siem Reap has been recognised by TripAdvisor’s global community in the 2015 Travellers’ Choice Destinations awards,” says Dr. Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism, Cambodia.
"Cambodia has rich cultural heritage and tropical ecology, and we hope these awards will encourage more travellers to visit our beloved Kingdom."
The Indonesian island of Bali has the most cities making the Top 10 – Denpasar, Seminyak, and Ubud.
Vietnam has 2 cities making the list: Hanoi and Hoi An; Greater China had 2 cities on the list: Beijing and Hong Kong.
I've been to 8 of the cities on the list: Bangkok, Beijing, Denpasar, Hanoi, Hoi An, Hong Kong, Seminyak, and Ubud. And I would have to agree. I had a great time in each one – and for VERY different reasons.
I must say, while I enjoyed sightseeing in Denpasar, I don't think most travellers would actually want to STAY there. Better to book a resort in Seminyak or Kuta and make a day trip to the Balinese financial hub. There IS a lot to see and do there!
I haven't been to Siem Reap or Kathmandu yet. Perhaps I should consider adding them to my Bucket List!
Where to Travel in 2015
The top 10 list follows with links to TripAdvisor pages with information on hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions, flights, and more. You can even make bookings on line!
And don't forget to check out 'My take' - a first hand comment on each destination.
An algorithm was used to evaluate travel destinations around the world based on the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions. They were gathered over a 12 month period.
BTW, the numbers in parentheses indicate how many spots the travel destination has moved up (+) or down (-) since last year. A (0) indicates that it has not moved.
1. Siem Reap, Cambodia (+2)
Average nightly hotel rate: US$55.42. Don't miss: Angkor Wat and the Angkor Night Market. My take: I haven't been to Cambodia yet, but … when I was still living in San Francisco, which was a LONG time ago, my favourite restaurant was a little Cambodian eatery called Phnom Penh, which was opened by Cambodian refugees. The food was AMAZING!!! I will NEVER forget the soup made with chicken, pineapple, coconut, and tamarind. Can you get food like that in Siem Reap?
2. Hanoi, Vietnam (0)
Average Nightly Hotel Rate: US$39.77. Don't miss: Halong Bay and the Confucian Temple. My take: I spent 4 nights in Hanoi a few years ago, and I LOVED it! The city has a very French colonial feel – plus, the Chinese cultural impact is very strong. Women wearing conical hats sell crusty French bread from wicker baskets that they carry using shoulder polls. Women make crepes on the sidewalk. And what about those chocolate and cinnamon spring rolls that I had for dessert at the Sheraton Hanoi Hotel??? OMG!!! Dessert doesn't get any better than this!!!
3. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia (+5)
Average Nightly Hotel Rate: US$156.29. Don't miss: Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary and Fair Warung Bale. My take: this is the cultural heart of the Island of the Gods. There are bamboo forests, pine trees, raging rivers, chipmunks, rice paddies, Hindu temples, the list goes on. On my last visit to Ubud (I have been there 3 times now), I had a SPECTACULAR lunch at Nomad, where I feasted on a tuna steak (at the suggestion of a friend that lives there). OMG!!! It was one of the BEST meals I have ever had!!!
4. Bangkok, Thailand (+1)
Average Nightly Hotel Rate: US$55.22. Don't Miss: Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho) and the Chatuchak Weekend Market. My take: I have been to Bangkok multiple times, and the Big Mango NEVER disappoints! I love the night and weekend markets. I love shopping at the malls. The food is great, and the massages are beyond compare. But … no place is perfect … and the taxi and tuk-tuk drivers (with a few exceptions) can be downright obnoxious.
5. Kathmandu, Nepal (+5)
Average Nightly Hotel Rate: US$49.68. Don't miss: Durbar Square and Places Restaurant and Bar. My take: okay, I haven't been to Nepal, either, but I've heard very good things about the place. I HAVE, however, eaten at a Nepalese restaurant in Hong Kong on several occasions – most memorably, when it first opened 20 years ago. It is one of my favourite eateries, a place I always take out of town visitors. The food is superb, and the service is attentive.
6. Hong Kong (+1)
Average Nighly Hotel Rate: US$150.44. Don't miss: the Peak Tram and afternoon tea at The Repulse Bay. My take: I live here. What more can I say? I must like it, otherwise, why would I have spent most of my adult life living here? Summers are long, hot, and VERY, VERY humid! But for 2 or 3 weeks in October, it is – to paraphrase Stephany Powers – as close a place on earth as most of use will ever get to heaven.
7. Hoi An, Vietnam (+7)
Average Nightly Hotel Rate: US$51.21. Don't miss: Marble Mountain and the My Son Cham Ruins. My take: I LOVE Hoi An, and I have visited it fully two times – and I have always wanted to spend about a month there! A former port, whose harbor silted up long ago, it is layered with the successive cultural and architectural influences of China, Japan, and Southern Europe. The crumbling edifices house clothing boutiques, coffee houses, cafes, art galleries, and shops selling stuff that you might actually want to buy.
8. Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia (NEW)
Average Nightly Hotel Rate: US$116.90. Don't miss: Museum Bali and Jaganata Temple. My take: I don't think anyone – except, perhaps, a business person – actually STAYS there, favouring nearby Seminyak or Kuta, where most of the resorts are located. But the city DOES have some important tourist sites, such as Museum Bali, where I spent a VERY enjoyable afternoon during my last visit to the Island of the Gods.
9. Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia (+10)
Average Nightly Hotel Rate: US$202.84. Don't miss: Seminyak Beach and Taco Casa. My take: the shopping in Seminyak is fantastic. The restaurants range from haute cuisine to the best taquerias this side of California. And then there is that AMAZING beach with ambulant hawkers selling everything from suntan lotion to archery sets and food and beverage outlets with live (or recorded) music – not to a Hindu temples located right on the beach.
10. Beijing, China (-9)
Average Nightly Hotel Rate: US$76.22. Don't miss: Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall. My take: I have been to the Chinese capital only once, but I have often said that my 4 nights at The Peninsula Beijing were 4 of the happiest nights of my life. As a former student of Chinese Mandarin, I loved being in a place where everyone spoke Chinese the same way we were taught to speak it with all of those finals R sounds and retroflex consonants. When it comes to Peking duck, however, I was disappointed. The ducks in Southern China are leaner, meatier, sweeter, and tastier. The ducks in Beijing are fatty, greasy, and salty. "But that's the way we like it," a tour guide tells me.
What about Kyoto? I'm a bit surprised that no Japanese cities made the list – especially considering the weak yen. I just spent almost 2 weeks in Japan, and it is no longer the high-cost travel destination it once was. Thee restaurants serve fabulous food, and the prices are highly affordable.
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