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Asia Pacific’s five most popular destinations for international travellers – Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and Seoul – welcomed over one-fifth, or 22 percent, of all overnight visitors to the region’s top 161 cities and regional centres in 2018, according to Mastercard’s Asia Pacific Destinations Index (APDI).

The five cities also
captured more than one-quarter, or 25.2 percent, of total international travel
spending in the region.

In 2018, Asia Pacific hosted 342.2 million business and leisure trips, up from 159.1 million in 2009, representing an 8.9 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the nine-year period. During the same period, travel spending in Asia Pacific more than doubled, rising from US$117.6 billion to US$281.1 billion, equating to a compound annual growth rate of 10.2 percent.

Mainland China
continues to drive travel patterns and expenditure flows. Since 2009, overnight
arrivals by mainland Chinese travellers in markets across Asia Pacific surged
from 10.5 million to 62.4 million in 2018, representing a 21.9 percent compound
annual growth rate over the period. Mainland China is amongst the top three
source markets of outbound travellers for 82 cities in Asia Pacific, or more
than half of the 161 destinations in the APDI.

“With the top 20
cities attracting nearly half of all international overnight arrivals to the
161 destinations ranked in the APDI, it is important to understand not only how
continuously rising travel numbers impact cities and destinations for the
better, but also the challenges they pose,” said Rupert Naylor, Senior Vice President,
Data & Services, Asia Pacific, Mastercard.

Other key trends highlighted
by the index include the following:

  • Japan is now the hottest destination in Asia: For the second year in a row, Japan is the only market in the APDI to command 25 percent of Asia Pacific’s top 20 destinations, with Okinawa nudging out Kyoto to join the list for the first time, alongside Tokyo, Osaka, Hokkaido and Chiba. Okinawa is one of the region’s fastest-growing destinations, skyrocketing 109 places since 2009. Less-travelled cities such as Oita, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Kyoto, Gifu and Nagano have also seen significant jumps in the rankings – earning them all a spot in the list of the region’s 10 fastest growing cities by the number of visitor arrivals. This overall uptick in travel to Japan is set to grow further, with Tokyo forecast to benefit the most from the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympic Games.
  • Vacation destinations prevail over the fastest rising cities: While Japanese cultural centres top the list of the 10 fastest-rising cities, the bustling industrial hub of Ludhiana in India’s northern state of Punjab claims the #2 spot, having jumped 78 places in the index since 2009. Dubbed the “Manchester of India” for its production of textiles and hosiery, Ludhiana is the only industrial city in this list of fast risers. Sri Lanka’s coastal getaway Galle is in ninth, having climbed 54 places in the rankings since 2009. While China’s panda capital Chengdu rounds out the rankings, coming in tenth after jumping 50 places in the last nine years.
  • Asia’s other avid travellers: While many Asia Pacific destinations are basking in the growth led by mainland Chinese travellers, South Korea and Japan are also noteworthy as the next biggest Asian origin markets fuelling rising travel expenditure and overnight arrivals across the region. Top contributor mainland China accounts for 18.2 percent of international overnight arrivals within the region, while South Korea contributes 9.1 percent and Japan makes up 6.0 percent. Another source market to watch is India, home to the world’s second-largest population. In 2018, India waved off 14.9 million outbound travellers, of which nearly half, or 49.3 percent, visited destinations in Asia Pacific. Their most favoured Asia Pacific destinations were Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Pattaya and Bali. With its growing middle class, and population of 1.3 billion people, India’s potential to shake up future APDI rankings cannot be overlooked.

The APDI is a regional subset of Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index (GDCI). More information and the full GDCI report can be found here.

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BALI, Indonesia: Travel + Leisure announced the results of its 2019 World's Best Awards with The Mulia, Mulia Resort and Villas achieving the prestigious No. 1 ranking as the Best Resort Hotel in Indonesia, No. 3 on the Top Resort Hotels in Asia, and No. 7 on The Top Hotels in The World. Readers of Travel + Leisure rate top hotels, destinations, airlines, cruises, spas and travel companies in the annual World's Best Awards survey. Hotels are ranked based on readers' ratings in five categories facilities, location, service, food, and overall value.

For 24 years, our readers have been voting in the Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards. This annual franchise is a global collection of the top hotels, islands, cities, cruise lines, airlines, and more, says Editor-in-Chief Jacqueline Gifford. Brands and properties from all over the world - from Peru to Japan, India to Italy, and right here at home in the United States - are recognized by our audience because they deliver on exceptional experiences, rooted in a sense of place. I congratulate all of this year's winners, who have worked so hard to be among the world's best.

Mulia Bali is home to three ultra-luxurious beachfront properties that offer breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean to create a relaxing haven with lavish amenities and incredible service. From expansive and elegant suites to distinct lounge and oceanfront pools, Mulia Bali's luxury accommodations truly exceed expectations for style, comfort and service. Guests can dine at a wide variety of restaurants at the resort, including the signature seaside Mediterranean and Pan Asian restaurant, Soleil, a range of Japanese cuisine at Edogin, or pre-dinner drinks at Sky Bar. Offering extensive wellness programming, the award-winning Mulia Spa also offers 20 treatment rooms, Asia Pacific's only Ice Room and an impressive menu of holistic and cutting-edge treatments, making every effort to refresh, renew, and revive travelers in a tranquil oasis.

Making it to the Top 25 lists in travel for 2019

Kuala Lumpur takes the #10 spot for Conferences.

Malaysia

Several Malaysian hotels are listed on Smart Travel Asia magazine’s recently-unveiled Top 25 Lists for 2019, which are said to represent excellence in the travel trade.

Some of these hotels include W Kuala Lumpur, The St Regis KL and The Ritz-Carlton KL in the business category; Pangkor Laut Resort in the spa hotels category; and The Datai Langkawi in the weddings and leisure category.

Meanwhile, Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa in Penang remains a strong Top 25 performer in the leisure and spa category, cited for service, excellence in spa facilities and location.

The Lists were compiled based on a two-month voting period (May and June) by readers from all over the world. This is the 15th year that the magazine has conducted such a poll.

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The market research provides insights into travel trends and brand preferences among high-travel audiences that make an average of 14 air trips within and to Asia, yearly.

Young millennials continue to influence results with a strong preference for value-for-money, bold designs and boutique hotels, while travellers in their mid-30s to early 40s seek quality brands with comfort and service, at higher prices.

Business travellers go for price and location, while seasoned travellers in their 50s and above want luxury stays and romantic locations.

Big travel drivers for this year include dining and nightlife (which surpass shopping), family travel and corporate meetings.

Singapore Airlines is listed as the best airline worldwide and took the best cabin service claim too. Malaysia Airlines managed to take the 11th spot – a jump from #14 in 2018.

AirAsia remains the top budget airline in Asia.

Singapore’s Changi Airport is the best airport worldwide, after Seoul’s Incheon, Doha’s Hamad, and Tokyo’s Haneda. KLIA ranks at No.11.

Bali is the top holiday destination in Asia, followed by Taipei, Hong Kong and Hokkaido.

Singapore is the best city for Meetings, while two Malaysian destinations emerged in this category: Langkawi (#7) and KL (#10).

By Ben Stupples

Heatwaves and protests this month in New York, London and Hong Kong may have left some urbanites dreaming of weekend breaks on isolated beaches.

The fastest route to fulfilling those fantasies is by private jet, an exclusive mode of transport growing increasingly popular among the ranks of the super-rich.

Private jet flights climbed almost 10% last year, according to an analysis of 30 island destinations by real estate broker Knight Frank and aviation adviser WingX. Private jets flew to islands in the Americas almost 30,000 times, making them the world’s top hub for non-commercial aviation, led by the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and the Cayman Islands.

“Private jets are the path of least resistance” for travel, said Knight Frank partner Alasdair Pritchard, who advises billionaire clients. “If you can afford it and then experience it, you wouldn’t go back.”

The data offer insight into the jet-set lifestyles of the fabulously rich. In addition to super-yachts, private jets are one of the ultimate trophy assets of the mega-wealthy, with purchase prices typically ranging from a few million dollars to more than $50 million. With fuel costs and a team usually needed to manage the aircraft, merely maintaining a private jet can be almost as expensive as buying one.

The rich typically own jets for convenience and privacy.
The rich typically own jets for convenience and privacy.

More than two-thirds of arrivals to the Bahamas originated in the U.S., Canada or internally. With Miami less than an hour away, the proximity of private-flight origins in the Bahamas highlights how rich individuals prefer to use jets for short hops. It’s the same in Europe, where aircraft landing in Mallorca, Ibiza and Sardinia - the Continent’s three most popular islands for private plane arrivals - departed from nearby nations including Spain and Germany.

“All the people who fly private tell me they wouldn’t from London to Hong Kong,” Joe Stadler, head of ultra-high-net-worth clients at UBS Group AG, said in an interview. “To do that one-day trip, they will go private. Increasing use of private jets “is a function of how crowded public airports are now. The more crowded they are, the more delays there are, and the more cumbersome it is to fly from A to Z.”

The Philippines, Maldives and Bali were the top destinations in the Asia-Pacific region, which saw private-jet arrivals increase more than 80%, reflecting a wealth boom in which China minted a new billionaire roughly every other day. Asia is now home to about a quarter of the people on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a ranking of the world’s 500 richest people.

The rich typically own jets for convenience and privacy. Oprah Winfrey told British Vogue magazine last year that she bought one after a fan confronted her at an airport.

For those not willing to buy, the wealthy can own part of a jet or acquire timeshares through companies including VistaJet and NetJets, a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. About a third of private-jet owners are worth more than $500 million, according to a 2018 report by VistaJet and Wealth-X.

Seven Seaplanes For Your Flight Of Fancy

Play Slideshow

PM Modi Making A Splash Flying

20 Dec, 2017

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a splash flying on a seaplane recently. While it was mistaken as the 'country's first seaplane flight' by some, these amphibious aircrafts are not a common sight on Indian waterfronts yet. However, seaplanes are popular leisure and strategic flight choices around the world. Here are some of the admired amphibious flying machines:

One of the most popular tourist destinations for those in nearby Australia, the Indonesian island of Bali offers visitors a gateway into a tropical paradise. There’s something for everyone in Bali, whether you want to spend your days lounging by an infinity pool in a world-class resort, trekking up mountains and exploring archeological sites, or getting up close and personal with monkeys in their natural habitat.

Home to picturesque landscapes, historic buildings, and welcoming local people willing to share their culture, Bali should definitely be on your bucket list. Here are 10 amazing and unforgettable things to do while on the island.

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10 Chill With Monkeys In The Sacred Monkey Forest

There are a lot of questionable animal experiences on the market for travelers, but one that you can be sure is ethical is a visit to the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud. The long-tailed macaques that call the sanctuary home aren’t confined to cages. As you walk through the majestic forest, you’ll see them swinging from the trees, walking across the paths, and sitting on the railings.

Be warned: these monkeys are known for being cheeky. Visitors are advised against bringing food, drink, or anything that they don’t want to be stolen into the forest.

9 Get Zen At Tanah Lot Temple

Though Indonesia is an Islamic nation, the island of Bali is predominantly Hindu and features several stunning temples. One of the most iconic is Tanah Lot, which resides on top of a rock that’s surrounded by the open sea.

RELATED: 10 Budget-Friendly Destinations In Asia

One of the most important sea temples in Bali, Tanah Lot pays tribute to the guardian spirits of the sea and is a sight not to be missed around sunset. The shore boasts a variety of restaurants and other visitor’s leisure facilities where you can watch the sunset behind the spectacular temple.

8 Check Out The Tegallalang Rice Terraces

There are a few rice terraces that you can visit while in Bali. Among the most scenic are the rice terraces of Tegallalang in the hilly region of Ubud. The terraces spread across the valley, just north from the Ubud main center.

You’ll have the option of venturing down into the rice fields, chatting to farmers, and experiencing the paddies up close. Some visitors choose to simply take in the view of the rice fields from the top of the valley, and browse through the roadside stalls offering an eclectic range of souvenirs.

7 Browse In The Ubud Art Market

While in Ubud, you’ll want to pay a visit to the iconic art market, which is one of Bali’s top landmarks. Just across the road from the Ubud Royal Palace, the market is home to stalls selling a range of locally crafted goods produced in the neighboring villages.

RELATED: The 10 Least-Visited Countries In Asia (& Why You Should Go)

Here, you will find everything from handmade woven bags to silk scarves, lightweight shirts, kites, statues, baskets, hats, and endless other handcrafted items made by local vendors. The market was also featured in the movie Eat Pray Love starring Julia Roberts.

6 Explore Goa Gajah

There is plenty for history buffs to do in Bali, including visiting the archeological site known as Goa Gajah. On the complex is a fascinating meditational cave, as well as a temple and a courtyard filled with ancient stone relics. There are also bathing pools and sculpted fountains to see in the courtyard.

The name Goa Gajah translates to Elephant Cave, even though you won’t find any elephants here. What you will find, though, are picturesque rice fields and streams leading to the nearby Petanu River from the southern end of the complex.

5 Watch A Balinese Dance

While on the island, be sure to immerse yourself in the local culture of the Balinese people. Watching a traditional Balinese dance is an experience you’ll never forget, and there are several places where you can go to witness the iconic performance.

RELATED: 10 Countries In Asia That Should Be On Everyone’s Bucket List

There are traditional dances held at the Ubud Palace, where local girls wear ceremonial attire and tell old stories with their bodies and facial expressions. You can also visit the Pura Luhu Uluwatu Temple, where the famous Kecak Dance is performed by over one hundred men in the amphitheater.

4 Eat Your Way Through A Gourmet Food Safari

Bali is home to an array of world-class resorts serving up a range of international dishes, but the local cuisine is also pretty delicious and definitely worth trying. There are gourmet food safari tours you can take which will guide you to a series of restaurants where you can try the most scrumptious local dishes.

If you fall in love with the food in Bali, you can also take a cooking class. Grab fresh produce from local markets and follow the masters as they pass along the skills required to nail the signature dishes in Balinese cuisine.

3 Get Pampered At A Spa

For some people, Bali is a destination full of adventure and excitement. For others, it’s the ultimate relaxing escape. The island is packed with day spas, and many of their price lists are far cheaper than what most westerners are used to. Whatever treatment you’re after, you’re sure to find it here.

RELATED: 20 Most Impressive Places To Visit In Bali

One of the most popular ways to pamper yourself is with a cream bath, which is a hair treatment that many local women use daily. It features a massage of the head, neck, and shoulders, followed by a homemade mask painted on the hair, followed by rejuvenating steam treatment, and finally followed with even more massaging and conditioning.

2 Hike Mount Batur

If you are looking for something more adventurous to do in Bali, we’d suggest a hike up the iconic Mount Batur. In truth, the hike isn’t overly challenging—you don’t even need proper hiking gear to do it. But it’s still a thrilling experience—Mount Batur is an active volcano, and the peak boasts sublime views of the surrounding landscape.

The hike up to the top will take a few hours, but when you reach the peak, you’ll be rewarded with banana sandwiches (and a gorgeous view). There is a 3 a.m. start involved, but it’s all part of the fun!

1 Stroll Through The Botanic Gardens

Nature enthusiasts will love Bali for many reasons. From the forests to the famous beaches, the landscape is simply breathtaking. If you want to admire even more native flora, head to the Botanic Gardens in Bedugul.

Not your usual botanic garden, this one is nestled in the mountains and home to a bamboo forest, in addition to pristine gardens. There’s also the TreeTop Adventure Park in the gardens, where you can swing through the trees like George of the Jungle. To make a day of it, get an early start and bring up a picnic lunch.

NEXT: 10 Things To Explore In Bali (10 That Are Overrated)

The glamorous Leela Palace Udaipur was chosen by Travel + Leisure readers as the top hotel in the world, thanks to old-world charm and traditional Indian hospitality.

The five-star hotel offers a glimpse into the grandeur of Udaipur’s regal heritage, with stately architecture, 72 lavish guestrooms, and traditional Rajasthani artwork. The Leela Palace Udaipur also boasts breathtaking view of the majestic Lake Pichola, with the Aravalli mountain range in the distance. Readers also cited the hotel’s “excellent” facilities, which include a spa where guests can unwind with Ayurveda-inspired treatments, a rooftop restaurant, and an outdoor pool.

Coming in second, the Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch is situated in Saratoga, Wyoming, on 30,000 acres of pristine landscape. The runner-up was recognized for its highly refined luxury dude ranch experience that places a strong focus on environmental sustainability.

Here’s the ranking of the top 10 hotels in the world, by readers of Travel + Leisure:

1. The Leela Palace Udaipur, India
2. The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch, Saratoga, Wyoming
3. Singita Sabi Sand, Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa
4. The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
5. Gibb's Farm, Karatu, Tanzania
6. JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa, Vietnam
7. The Mulia, Bali, Indonesia
8. Singita Grumeti, Serengeti National Park Area, Tanzania
9. (tie) Rosewood Beijing
9. (tie) Lapa Rios Lodge, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
9. (tie) The Bushcamp Company’s Mfuwe Lodge, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

On the complete list of the 100 best hotels around the globe, Asia once again reigns as the region with the most hotels honored by T+L readers, with a total of 22 properties. Coming in second is Africa, with 17 properties earning accolades.

In the U.S., 14 hotels appeared on the list, including Virginia’s Inn at Willow Grove (#24), New Mexico’s The Inn of the Five Graces (#33), and The Row Hotel at Assembly Row in Massachusetts.

Every year for the World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value.

Top 10 Best Cities In The World, According To Travel+Leisure
5350755 / Pixabay

Last month, we checked out the best cities to retire in the United States. But not everyone is planning to retire right now. Some people just want to explore the world, visit the best places on the planet, and experience the amazing things our world has to offer. For people who want to visit the best cities, stay in the best hotels, or want to use the best tour company, Travel+Leisure magazine has announced its annual World’s Best Awards rankings based on a readers’ survey. Here we take a look at the top 10 best cities in the world.

For the World’s Best Awards rankings of 2019, Travel+Leisure asked its readers to rate their travel experiences across the globe. The publication gathered reader opinions on the best cities, islands, cruise ships, airlines, spas, and more. For the top 10 best cities, they asked readers to rate cities on their sights and landmarks, shopping, culture, cuisine, friendliness, and overall value.

These cities topped the list:

10- Udaipur, India

With a score of 87.80, Udaipur in the Indian state of Rajasthan was ranked the 10th best city in the world this year. It was named the best city in Asia and 3rd best city in the world last year. Udaipur is more about lakes and beautiful historic palaces than modern skyscrapers. It’s the only Indian city to appear on this list.

9- Florence, Italy

This beautiful Italian city in the Tuscany region has made it to Travel+Leisure’s best cities ranking for at least ten consecutive years. Florence was one of the wealthiest cities of the medieval era. For more than half of the year, tourists far outnumber the local population in Florence. It is home to some of the world’s best museums and has the greatest concentration of art in the world.

8- Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto was rated the 8th best city in the world with a score of 88.42. It’s incredibly popular among the US and European tourists. It is home to more than 2,000 temples and shrines. The traditional festivals that have been held in Kyoto for over a thousand years have become a major tourist attraction.

7- Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, the most populous metropolitan area in the world, is also one of the world’s top 10 best cities. Travel+Leisure readers praised Tokyo for the helpfulness of locals, the cuisine, cleanliness, and nightlife. Some of the most popular tourist destinations in the city are the National Museum, the Imperial Palace, and Meiji Shrine.

6- Ubud, Indonesia

Ubud in Bali is dotted with rice paddies, temples, and steep ravines. The town has a population of only around 75,000, but it attracts more than 3 million foreign tourists every year. Ubud is a major Hindu pilgrim destination and is home to a large number of medicinal herbs and plants. It received a score of 89.08.

5- Oaxaca, Mexico

As many as three Mexican cities have made it to the top 10 best cities on the planet. Oaxaca received a score of 89.16. This city in Southwestern Mexico has a large number of colonial-era buildings and ancient archaeological sites. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the most popular tourist destinations are the Zócalo, Andador Macedonio Alcalá, and the Centro Cultural de Santo Domingo.

4- Mexico City, Mexico

At 89.30, Mexico City scored only slightly higher than Oaxaca. Located in the Valley of Mexico, it’s the oldest capital city in the Americas. It also happens to be one of the only two capital cities founded by Native Americans, the other being Quito, Ecuador. Mexico City jumped from 11th place last year to 4th this year. According to Travel+Leisure readers, it’s “one of the most exciting cities in North America” and has some of the world’s best restaurants.

3- Chiang Mai, Thailand

The 700-year-old city is located along the Ping River. It is home to more than 300 Buddhist temples including the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep and Wat Chiang Man. It is considered a gateway to the region’s mountains and dense forests. Chiang Mai attracts more than 3 million foreign tourists every year.

2- San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

San Miguel de Allende was named the best city in the world in 2018 and 2017, but this year it has slipped to the 2nd place with a score of 90.23. It has a rich history and a number of historical sites. San Miguel de Allende is particularly popular among artists and retirees. About a century ago, an influenza pandemic had almost turned it into a ghost town.

1- Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An in Vietnam has jumped from No. 8 in 2018 to the top spot this year. The local arts, culture, and food attract a lot of tourists from around the world. The locals are also friendly to tourists. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site with exceptionally well-preserved buildings and landmarks. It was a major center of spice trade more than a thousand years ago.