Travel and Leisure, an American based magazine devoted to tourism, recently published their 13th annual travel poll. Bangkok, Thailand's cosmopolitan capital city, was voted by their readers as the top city destination in the world. In the poll of the world's best hotels,, India and luxury tented camp resorts in East and South Africa dominated the rankings. Keep in mind that Travel & Leisure's readership is mostly American - as travelers, they are not the budget, backpacker types and their choice in accommodations is geared towards deluxe and luxury resort hotels.
Why is Bangkok #1? I can understand why travelers from the west (farangs) would be attracted to the City of Angels. Bangkok has that magical allure - in many respects it is very westernized but at the same time it is so very exotic and foreign. Pluses are fantastic shopping opportunities, a variety of fascinating cultural attractions, a great selection of fine restaurants representing cuisines from around the world - Thai, Indian, Chinese, Italian, French, American, Japanese etc - and a most titillating nightlife. In addition, Bangkok has some of the finest luxury hotels in the world - not necessarily where I stay when I go to Bangkok, as I'm partial to more humble surroundings. For a large city, Bangkok is one of the safest in the world. On the downside, like most big cities, Bangkok has horrendous traffic jams and the air is very polluted. Bottom line, if you're a foodie and shopping is your thing, then you'll love Bangkok.
My personal take - I must admit that while I am not particularity fond of big cities, I find the City of Angels to be absolutely fascinating. Despite concessions to modernity and to the West, Bangkok carefully maintains the essence of Siam culture - the old ways and traditions remain as strong as ever. Notwithstanding numerous trips there, Bangkok continues to be a puzzle and mystery to me. Maybe that's the reason I keep returning - to solve the puzzle.