And the World’s No. 1 Tourist Destination Is …

Bangkok is now the most-visited city in world

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Monthon Wa / Getty Images

The Buddhist temple Wat Pho in Bangkok

People are packing their bags and heading to Thailand. The country’s capital — Bangkok — is now the most visited city in the world by international tourists, according to the third annual Global Destination Cities Index released by MasterCard. Bangkok beat London, last year’s No. 1 tourist destination, by less than 1%.

Part of the reason for Bangkok’s increase in visitors is that tourism in Southeast Asia has surged among the region’s upper-middle class, according to the Atlantic. Of the 12 cities with the fastest increase in air-travel connectivity — measured in terms of the scope of the city’s connections with other cities by air travel and the number of flights for each connection — 11 of them are “located east and south of Istanbul,” which as the Atlantic points out, reflects the growing wealth of Asia and its importance as a business destination.

(MORE: 10 Best Travel Destinations This Summer)

Bangkok’s rise to the top spot, with 15.98 million visitors projected for 2013, is the first time for an Asian city since the Global Destinations Cities Index launched in 2010. London is expected to have 15.96 million visitors in 2013, and Paris, in third, is forecasted to have 13.92 million.

While Bangkok claims the title of most visited city, halfway around the world in New York City, foreign visitors are shelling out more money than in any of the other 132 cities surveyed, despite expecting 4.46 million fewer tourists. Visitors to the Big Apple are expected to spend roughly $18.6 billion in 2013 — that’s a whole lot of “I ♥ NY” T-shirts.

Meanwhile, Tokyo remains the world’s most expensive city, as measured by total spending per tourist, with the average visitor spending nearly $2,200, according to the Atlantic. Just imagine how many trips to Bangkok you could take with that much money.

MORE: How the U.S. Travel Industry Is Adapting to a Growing Wave of Chinese Tourists

75 comments
KenjiSugiuraSailun
KenjiSugiuraSailun

Peoples in here are very rude of talking about Bangkok is the land of prostution. People who saying like that it's represent yourself that you go bangkok just to go to the dirty area by your dirty heart to do your dirty things. Bangkok has many thing to see. Many beautiful places to visit and all kind of good foods and shopping malls or markets. # From# Thai People.

ConradvanZelst
ConradvanZelst

what are people talking about? prostitution is everywhere in the world...not only in thailand! Bangkok is a great city with a great nightlife, and beautiful things to see, and thailand is the most beautiful country in the world

Timetraveller80
Timetraveller80

Bangkok is the best. Sex is old news there its too common..to be going there just for sex ! have seen a lot of decrease in  people going to GOGO's and bars, People today are more positive and wise to spend cash on sex, even if they are its a short term thing for Middle easterners and cheating Indians. Seen Max increase in Couples and families visiting for relaxation.  FYI Dubai is not as it seems or seen in adverts Smiling Arabs, They are lazy nothing in dubai is build my ARAB's all done westerners mind and Asian hard work ( who are treated like slaves) Arab love to keep Slaves.  

bunpoj
bunpoj

Welcome to Bangkok, Thailand.. continous improving.

Where else in the world are perfect and clean, even inside your mouth and mind.

teetamalangi
teetamalangi

Well, I am kinda surprised.

Dubai should receive more tourists than other cities. Well may be because they are still developing their city...

Dubai is the greatest/most advanced/amazing city of 21st century...

No other city can match Dubai in terms of wealth, luxury, night life, diversity, and infrastructure...

Paris/London just have 'reputation', other than that, they don't offer something unique. Istanbul and Dubai should be among top 4....

Bangkok is there due to sex tourism....

I predict that more and more cities from Islamic World would make it to the list...

DavidinBKK
DavidinBKK

I have lived in the great city for many years, and on 3 or 4 occasions having moved back from living in other places such as Vietnam, Saudi, and Phuket. I love the place. There is something here that just cannot be explained in words, a real aura, you can hear and feel the rhythms of life here. I would not mind betting that some of this increase is down to the huge numbers coming in lately from China. I work for http://x2resorts.com/ and the management group so i also see this as a stat within our guests coming to the hotels, we get a heck of a lot more now coming in from China.

Anyway, it is an awesome city, if you have not been here you should!!

gzagler2013
gzagler2013

I certainly do not mind ou country not being in the top 10 or whatever list of tourist destination, I would rather keep our environment clean and not excploited by uncaring tourists. We have tons of beautiful islands, undeveloped, unexplored still a safe haven for the flora and fauna, also....sex tourism is not as rampant as the other countries. Yes, I do not certainly care if we are not recognized in those list.

eagertraveller
eagertraveller

Congratulations, Bangkok - hoping to visit you in the near future. Give it 5 years or so and the Philippines will be the world's no 1 tourist destination. Our rich archipelago offers the best beaches! It's more fun in the Philippines, indeed.

mbtoo.91
mbtoo.91

I was really hoping for Afghanistan, or Iraq, or Libya, or Syria. Darn.

mwhite7436
mwhite7436

Thailand is among the top nations that have the highest rates of sex trafficking. It is one of the biggest hubs for "sex tourism" and many of the girls who are prostitutes there were sold by a family members, abducted, coerced, and/or forced into the trade. Many, if not most, of the girls are young, we are talking 5, 6, 7 year olds... 11-15 year olds..etc,  you name it they are there and are victims of the most horrendous crimes imaginable.

One huge way to stop this is to stop fueling the industry. If demand drops dramatically then supply must adjust accordingly.

FatBlackFrancis
FatBlackFrancis

The beaches in Thailand are just staggering, as beautiful as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean are nothing comes close to what you can find around the Andaman sea, water that is as clear as glass and undisturbed beaches and islands that stretch in every direction.  The area famous as the location where Ursula Andres emerges from the sea in a white bikini is actually now known as James Bond Island, that's the beauty of the country.

talkerism
talkerism

People are kind and everything is cheap, uh, yeah even that. Water, electric and internet bill will cost u $100 only. The tourist spots are the best.

Thailand is best for men.  

They hail whites.

Please don't go to their homes. lol *

antoninoroca1
antoninoroca1

Beautiful girls 18 and over, that won't make spend an arm and a leg.

原崎綾乃
原崎綾乃

Japan is too expensive to travel around..

davidm
davidm

Been to Thailand several times. Bangkok is not the best place to vacation there. Pattaya, nice place to go. Krabi, absolutely beautiful. Met my wife there three years ago. Yes, she is Thai. Very cheap to visit and live there. Thinking of moving there soon. I could live like a king there on my retirement.

What12345
What12345

Sadly the real reason why Bangkok is the most visited is because of the Child Prostitution/Trafficking for Pedophiles and Sex Tourism/Prostitution which increase tourism big time in Bangkok http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution_in_Thailand    I know that some people don't do that but a very LARGE percentage of the tourism in Bangkok is because of the Sex Tourism which is extremely cheap and nearly everywhere according to numerous articles/documentaries/studies/etc

EleanorRoosevelt
EleanorRoosevelt

@teetamalangi I don't think anyone should go to a country where women are jailed for being raped.  I believe everyone should stay far FAR away.  Dubai can keep their money and the slaves used to build the city.

PoppaCharlie
PoppaCharlie

@teetamalangi  I must admit that Istanbul ought to be a high-up destination, what with the history and the wide variety of things to see and do - Taksim Square notwithstanding.

Alexandra_8
Alexandra_8

@ourplanet Yeah, because you can't find prostitution anywhere else.  Dork, you've never been to Thailand. If you had you would see that the tourists who go are mostly families and young couples.  But don't let that rain on your prostitution fantasy parade.

ourplanet
ourplanet

@gzagler2013 Thailand is #1 tourist destination because the women are prostitutes there, sorry to tell that, but it is the fact. And the goverment encourages it for tourism pupose.  $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

delmasev
delmasev

@eagertraveller it takes much more than "best beaches" to be no.1. Philippines is the gun capital in SE Asia. unless safety improves significantly, not many would dare step into your country's casinos.

katoh
katoh

your opinion is great.. but realistically sex is raw instinct...i am afraid it will be increasing, this problem. One aspect is from how people in other countries keep saying thati Thailand is the land of sex...and their own countries not??

chokingkojak
chokingkojak

@mwhite7436   Yes.  We all know WHY Bangkok is a draw vs. most cities in the rest of the world.  

Certainly, you can, in fact, get some of THAT in South and Central America, also.  But that would just mean a longer, more expensive flight for the typical mainland Chinese dude, not as many Chinese ex-pats (Chin-Ho in Thailand), and not as many native business people speaking Mandarin or other "dialects." 

mkelly9772
mkelly9772

@mwhite7436 I hate to break it to you, but if demanding that people stop doing drugs didn't work, then telling dirty horny old men to keep their hands to themselves isn't going to work either.

katoh
katoh

Because it's what you call for?

Alexandra_8
Alexandra_8

@StenleeJoanis  If you ever ventured out of your comfort zone and went you would see that the plane would be full of families and young couples.  

AdamRich
AdamRich

I'm black.  I live in Pattaya, Thailand. My water bill is $5, my internet is free, and my electric bill is usually no more than $30, depending on how much I run the air conditioner.

kuei12
kuei12

@davidm You and I both. Met my WONDERFUL wife there. Could not be happier, until I finally move there.

AdamRich
AdamRich

@What12345 What you fail to realize is that in any country, the visitors who solicit prostitutes pales in comparison to the local scene. There are 70 million people in Thailand.  If you think that a couple hundred thousand people/year who come to Thailand for sex is buttressing the industry then you are sadly mistaken.  But NGOs have to up-sell their cause in order to get more money.  Of course they are going to tell you that.

katoh
katoh

Do you still believe that Thai student ride the elephant to school?

Alexandra_8
Alexandra_8

@What12345  If you obsessed about prostitution in Thailand, read the book "Patpong Sister", written by a western woman doing research on the very subject. You will find that the girls in the bars are there by their own volition. I know that doesn't jive with your campaign but dare yourself to know the truth and not what you like to fantasize about. 

katoh
katoh

Thank you Alexandra!!!

cjh2nd
cjh2nd

@Alexandra_8 @ourplanet 

well i've been to Thailand and there's a reason it's the number 1 sex-tourism destination in the world. Dork.

Alexandra_8
Alexandra_8

@chokingkojak @mwhite7436  That makes no sense. China has many prostitutes, just like Las Vegas. You people and your antiquated opinion about Thailand.  Whatever you do, don't find out for yourselves, just keep ranting. 

mwhite7436
mwhite7436

@destroygary @What12345 get real,..... there are ESTIMATED 27 million slaves at any given moment(which means the number is a lot higher than that). That many people ARE going there for the sex trade.

katoh
katoh

@ourplanet @cjh2nd

It depends on your objective at the destination as well

delmasev
delmasev

@Alexandra_8 @ourplanet @gzagler2013 can't blame the thais,the sex workers are from poorere parts of the country.sex industry is too quick and easy money to miss out. what sets bangkok apart from other sex cities are the ladyboys.

katoh
katoh

How you know it?j

frobro
frobro

@Alexandra_8 @chokingkojak  yes prostitutes are everywhere, but thailand provides wide variety of choice (and gender) and also very cheap.
please don't ask me how i know that.

kuei12
kuei12

@mwhite7436 @destroygary @What12345 Slaves are right there in america. One man was just arrested in america for detaining 3 girls as sex slaves for over 10 years. Stay in america where you belong. Thailand does not want you.