Friday, August 26, 2011

The Pines of Bangkok? I don't think so.

Recently, Travel & Leisure Magazine came up with this year's World's Best Awards. Their readers rank everything from cities to hotels, spas and airlines, by region and worldwide. This was released back in July, but as usual, I'm a little out of the loop. It's hard to keep your finger on the pulse of the world when you live in eternally laid-back Rome.

Here are the top 10 cities:
New York
Cape Town
Siem Reap (Cambodia)

Cities were judged based on sights, culture/arts, restaurants/food, people, shopping and value.

All I can say is:

(long pause)

I mean... really? I've been to Bangkok and its definitely a cool city. It has lots of brightly colored temples, giant reclining buddhas, really good cheap massage, and incredible hotels at unbelievably low prices. The people are, for the most part, very friendly. If you like Thai food, then the food is amazing. There's a floating market and lots of gritty little back alleys with street food that costs pennies, and you can zip around in rickshaws, or if you're a little more daring, on motorcycle taxis. I had a thoroughly enjoyable time and would happily go back.

But to win Best City? And this is the second year in a row? I don't get it. As Asian cities go I infinitely preferred Mumbai, Singapore and Penang. And Thailand, as a country, offers many more spectacular sights than their capital city: the jungles, the beaches, the breath-taking rocky islands jutting out of the sea. If I only had a week in Thailand, I wouldn't spend more than a day in Bangkok. It makes me wonder if people didn't vote for Bangkok just to try to be edgy. Nope, I just don't buy it.

And Rome is third? Third behind Florence and Bangkok. Florence I can understand. It's the cradle of the Renaissance for goodness sake, and for art lovers it doesn't get much better. (I was obsessed with Florence when I was an adolescent but that is a story for another post.) But still (and I may be slightly biased here) it doesn't hold a candle to Rome. No city does, in my opinion. I mean this is a city where you can see SIX Caravaggio paintings for free! Where churches that, in almost any other city would be the number one tourist attraction, are not even touched on by the average tourist because there are too many other things to see. There are ancient ruins just lying about on the street because there's no room for them in any of the city's dozens of museums.

If Rome had come in 10th behind, let's say, New York, London, Sydney, San Francisco, Paris, Amsterdam, Prague, Stockholm and Buenos Aires, I would have been more okay with that, than with it coming in behind Bangkok.

But, hey, I could be wrong. Maybe I didn't see enough of Bangkok when I was there. If you know the city well, please comment and let me know what I missed.

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1 comment:

  1. My favorite city to visit is Rishikesh, India. i would live there if i could do so without completely abandoning all other aspects of my life.

    Bangkok is in fact tho a city after my own heart - just look at its name!!!;-) :-)


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