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Bangkok: Most Popular City in the World


Bangkok has once more topped Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index ahead of Paris and London. The Thai capital has been ranked the most popular city in the world with holidaymakers and travellers for six of the past seven years.

The index ranks 200 cities through analysing data on visitor volume and expenditure. More than 22 million people spent at least one night visting Bangkok in 2018, some three million more than Paris and London, which both recorded just over 19 million visitors. Dubai and Singapore completed the top five in the index.

Most Popular Cities in the World (2018)

  • Bangkok (22.78 million)
  • Paris (19.10 million)
  • London (19.09 million)
  • Dubai (15.93 million)
  • Singapore (14.67 million)
  • Kuala Lumpur (13.79 million)
  • New York (13.60 million)
  • Istanbul (13.40 million)
  • Tokyo (12.93 million)
  • Antalya (12.41 million)
London is the third most popular city in the world, according to Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index

All the top ten destinations realised growth in visitor numbers across the year, with the exception of London, which saw a decline of almost 4 percent, falling behind Paris as the most popular city in Europe. New York is the most popular city in the US. Predictions are that 2019 will see a similar rise in numbers, with Tokyo expected to see significant increases. If you wish to visit the city you can choose a Bangkok package holiday.

Before travelling to the most popular city in the world, read Johan Smits’ 6 Undiscovered Things to Do in Bangkok.

Visitor Revenue

Despite being the most popular city in the world for tourists, Bangkok fared worse in terms of visitor revenue, coming third with $20.03 billion, behind Dubai ($30.82 billion) and Mecca ($20.09 billion). Singapore and London completed the top 5 with $16.56 billion and $16.47 billion respectively.

Since 2009, visitor numbers have grown by an average 6.5 percent per year, while expenditure has grown by an average 7.4 percent.

Rise of the East

While major cities, such as London, New York and Paris have maintained their appeal, the Asia-Pacific region has experienced the fastest growth since 2009, rising by 9.4 percent year-on-year. This has largely been driven by the increase in visitors from mainland China, which now comes second in terms of origin country for visitors to the top 200 cities, only behind the US.

From a press release detailing Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index findings. 

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Mark Bibby Jackson

Mark Bibby Jackson

Before setting up Travel Begins at 40, Mark was the publisher of AsiaLIFE Cambodia and a freelance travel writer. When he is not packing and unpacking his travelling bag, Mark writes novels, including To Cook A Spider and Peppered Justice. He loves walking, eating, tasting beer, isolation and arthouse movies, as well as talking to strangers on planes, buses and trains whenever possible. Most at home when not at home.

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