Inspiration

World’s Best Awards 2021: Top Cities in Asia-Pacific

For every frenetic and high-speed thoroughfare, there's a narrow, hidden bylane. Check out these lists of the top cities in Asia and the top cities in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific to really get wanderlusting.

Udaipur

Lake Pichola Hotel Palace. Photo by khandrola/Getty Images

Sep 10, 2021

ASIA IS ALL ABOUT dynamic energy and the juxtaposition of ancient and new. Hand-carved temples and modern skyscrapers sit side by side. For every frenetic and high-speed thoroughfare, there’s a narrow, hidden bylane. From culture to cuisine, there’s so much to discover in Asia’s urban centers. 

The No. 1 spot goes to Udaipur, India, which takes the title from last year’s winner, Hoi An, Vietnam. But this year’s top cities in Asia stretch from bucket-list Bhutan, with Thimpu notching a slot, to Luang Prabang, to Bangkok. Three Japanese cities made the list: TokyoOsaka and Kyoto. “It’s a gorgeous city filled with culture, mind-blowing food, and breathtaking sites,” one reader wrote of Kyoto. “The food and people are beyond description,” shared another. In South Korean, a few readers noted the ease of getting around Seoul, thanks to its efficient public-transit system, as well as the city’s phenomenal restaurants. “The food is fantastic,” one said. 

Speaking of food, Australia and New Zealand are both culinary powerhouses and there’s loads of great locavore, inventive cooking in their urban centers — along with architecture, cultural events, outdoor activities and phenomenal views. Check out the list of top cities in Australia and New Zealand below.

* — ON THE LIST FOR THE PAST 10 YEARS 

TOP 15 CITIES IN ASIA 

1. Udaipur 
India 

Once the capital of the princely state of Mewar, Udaipur has a dreamy setting along Lake Pichola. Several stunning, palace-like luxury hotels have made it a must-visit destination for travelers the world over. Commenting on the city’s forts and royal residences, a reader noted that Udaipur “must be architecturally the most beautiful place in Asia.” Among the best examples — and biggest attractions — is City Palace. The compound includes 11 stunning smaller  palaces, all built at different times by different rulers, which means there’s a trove of distinctive spaces to explore. Perhaps one reader put it best by calling the city “enchanting.” 

Score: 91.63 

2. Ubud 
Indonesia 

Score: 91.25 

3. Kyoto *
Japan 

Score: 90.94

4. Chiang Mai 
Thailand 

Score: 90.06 

5. Bangkok *
Thailand

Score: 89.81

6. Taipei
Taiwan

Score: 89.62

7. Luang Prabang 
Laos 

Score: 89.29

8. Jaipur 
India 

Score: 88.68 

9. Tokyo *
Japan

Score: 88.59 

10. Seoul
South Korea

Score: 88.00 

11. Osaka
Japan

Score: 87.60

12. Thimphu
Bhutan  

Score: 87.25

13. Hoi An
Vietnam  

Score: 86.98

14. Singapore

Score: 86.93

15. Mumbai
India

Score: 86.61

TOP 5 CITIES IN AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND, AND THE SOUTH PACIFIC 

1. Sydney
Australia

Iconic for good reason, this coastal metropolis encompasses all the qualities of a quintessential trip Down Under: pristine beaches, epic meals, and superlative hospitality. 

Score: 86.70

2. Queenstown 
New Zealand 

Score: 84.76 

3. Melbourne *
Australia

Score: 83.71

4. Hobart 
Australia 

Score: 82.02 

5. Brisbane 
Australia 

Score: 81.77 

For more World’s Best Awards 2021 lists of your favorite hotels, resorts, cities, islands and more, visit: travelandleisureasia.com/trending/worlds-best-awards-2021

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