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Lonely Planet Travellers's Choices 2013
Mark Broadhead | Lonely Planet author
Top 20 destinations overallTop of the list is Bhutan. As our travel guide says: ‘This is a country where buying cigarettes is illegal, where the rice is red and where chillies aren’t just a seasoning but the entire dish. It’s also a deeply Buddhist land, where men wear a tunic to work, and where Gross National Happiness is deemed more important than Gross National Product.’ European destinations didn’t do too well overall, with Iceland being the first country on the list (in seventh position), and the next European country, Italy, at nineteenth. Asian countries made up half of the top 20. 1. Bhutan 2. Thailand 3. Australia 4. New Zealand 5. Japan 6. India 7. Iceland 8. Cambodia 9. Costa Rica 10. Argentina 11. United States 12. Indonesia 13. Iran 14. Burma 15. Peru 16. Nepal 17. Colombia 18. Georgia 19. Italy 20. Maldives The top 10s in each category are listed below and in two following articles. These are calculated by seeing the percentage of people who visited a destination who also rated it as the best for that criterion. So, for instance, nearly 30% of people who have been to Italy considered it the best destination they have been to for food.
FoodIf food is your main reason to travel, then head to Italy, Thailand, India, Japan, and the rest of our foodie favourites below. You may need to break up this list with a few from the Adventures list (see below) to keep your waistline under control. Chiefly famous for its steak, Argentina was the only country to make the top 10 outside of Asia or Europe. ‘Roman Gelato‘ by lightmatter. Creative Commons Attribution 1. Italy 2. Thailand 3. India 4. Japan 5. Argentina 6. Vietnam 7. France 8. Lebanon 9. Taiwan 10. Spain
AdventureHigh-adrenaline travellers are in no doubt about where to go: New Zealand. Costa Rica came in second place in the adventure travel category, helped, no doubt, by loads of visitors zip-lining through its jungles. And hikers most likely helped Nepal and Peru (Machu Picchu) get in the top 5. ‘2000 New Zealand 108 by anoldent. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 1. New Zealand 2. Costa Rica 3. Nepal 4. Peru 5. Australia 6. Iceland 7. Bhutan 8. Bolivia 9. India 10. Uganda
Value for moneyAnd the winner is…Thailand. This is an obvious winner for anyone who has eaten at a Bangkok street stall or stayed in a beach hut facing the Gulf of Thailand. In fact, the other two countries on the Gulf of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, also made the top 10. According to LP travellers, Asia provides the best value for money, with 7 out of the top 10 budget favourites coming from this continent alone. Bulgaria was the only European destination in the top contenders, while South America was represented by Bolivia, and Africa by Ghana. ‘‘The Postcard Shot‘ by MikeBehnken. Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 1. Thailand 2. India 3. Bolivia 4. Cambodia 5. Ghana 6. Vietnam 7. Laos 8. Philippines 9. Indonesia 10. Bulgaria
Cultural sightsIt is no coincidence that destinations with ancient architecture dominated the ‘cultural sights’ list. When you think of Angkor, Giza, the Coloseum, Bagan, Hampi or the Great Wall, it’s enough to get itchy feet. ‘Angkor Wat, Cambodia‘ by shootingjaydred. Creative Commons Attribution 1. Cambodia 2. Bhutan 3. Italy 4. India 5. Egypt 6. Iran 7. Burma 8. China 9. Japan 10. Uzbekistan
NatureThe Americas dominated the top 10 for ‘nature’ with four countries gracing the list: Costa Rica, Ecuador, Brazil and Canada. Costa Rica takes the top spot. As one of our authors puts it, Costa Rica boasts a ‘Disney-like cast of creatures – ranging from howler monkeys to toucans.’ Of course, it also has jungle, active volcanoes and stunning coastlines. ‘Treefrog tadpoles’ by ggallice. Creative Commons Attribution 1. Costa Rica 2. Iceland 3. New Zealand 4. Bhutan 5. Australia 6. Namibia 7. Ecuador 8. Brazil 9. Canada 10. Kenya
Travel memoriesAsia was the most ‘memorable’ continent, dominating the top four places in the list. Memorable destinations are also typically far-flung, dream destinations (at least for people who don’t live in Asia, South America or the Pacific). ‘India: Taj Mahal‘ by babasteve. Creative Commons Attribution 1. Bhutan 2. India 3. Iran 4. Burma 5. Australia 6. New Zealand 7. Peru 8. Afghanistan 9. Ghana 10. Japan
SafetyIf safety is your thing then head to Japan, which easily topped the list with 32.5% of visitors ranking it first. All the Scandinavian countries were in the top 20, with Iceland and Norway making it into the top 10. ‘Do(g)scene‘ by m-louis. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 1. Japan 2. Iceland 3. New Zealand 4. Canada 5. Singapore 6. Australia 7. Bhutan 8. Switzerland 9. Germany 10. Norway
Meeting other travellersAs expected, backpacking hotspots dominated the best places to meet other travellers. Backpackers tend to be on longer trips, which facilitates more encounters with fellow travellers. Australia topped the list with 26% of visitors ranking it first. Of this top 10, India had the highest ranking for also meeting locals (see the next list below). ‘Koala at Billabong Sanctuary‘ by Christian Haugen. Creative Commons Attribution 1. Australia 2. Thailand 3. Nepal 4. Peru 5. New Zealand 6. Vietnam 7. India 8. Bhutan 9. Bolivia 10. Costa Rica
Meeting localsThe famously hospitable Iranians easily made their country the best for ‘meeting locals’. With 31.5% of visitors ranking it first in this category, this was nearly double the second-placed Ghana. ‘some iranians. isfahan oct. 2007‘ by seier+seier. Creative Commons Attribution 1. Iran 2. Ghana 3. Burma 4. Ireland 5. Colombia 6. Philippines 7. India 8. Bhutan 9. Fiji 10. Ethiopia We asked our fans on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Thorn Tree to tell us where they have travelled and to rate those destinations by 16 criteria (for example, which was the best ‘Value for money’ destination). More than 3000 people responded, and the results are now in. In this post we look at the popular destinations to go to for ‘Relaxing’, ‘Entertainment’, ‘Shopping’, ‘Transportation’, ‘Off the beaten path’, ‘Accommodation’ and ‘Beyond expectations’. These are calculated by seeing the percentage of people who visited a destination who also rated it as the best for that criterion. So, for instance, nearly 30% of people who have been to Italy considered it the best destination they have been to for food.
RelaxingNo surprises here. All of the top 10 destinations for relaxing are known for their amazing beaches. Most are also well-known for their unhurried ‘island time’ sensibility. Maldives won with the highest score of any category winner in the survey: 47.4% rank it first for relaxing above anywhere else they’ve been. Greece was the only European country in the top 10. The Caribbean seems like a safe bet if your primary goal is to relax next vacation, with the Bahamas, Barbados and the Dominican Republic all making it into the top 10. ‘it seems i/u need a break!!‘ by muha…. Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 1. Maldives 2. Fiji 3. Seychelles 4. Bahamas 5. Barbados 6. Thailand 7. Belize 8. Dominican Republic 9. Greece 10. Indonesia
EntertainmentIf you want to be entertained, then head to the UK, the US or Argentina… cheers! Yep, it seems that most of the top entertainment destinations are good places to get drunk. But there are also the benefits of theatrical shows in London and New York. Live music is also very much part of the culture in most of the top 10 entertainment destinations. For example, if you’ve been to Ireland and didn’t experience traditional folk music in a pub, it is a good excuse to go back. ‘The Shipwrights Arms‘ by kholkute. Creative Commons Attribution 1. United Kingdom 2. United States 3. Argentina 4. Australia 5. Ireland 6. Thailand 7. Spain 8. Hong Kong 9. Brazil 10. Singapore
ShoppingThe usual suspects are on this shopping list. The USA comes in first…if you can’t buy it in the States then you probably can’t find it anywhere else. Other destinations are renowned for their bespoke qualities, like Thailand or Hong Kong for getting a tailor-made suit. The haute couture tradition in France is at the other end of bespoke price range. ‘Sham Shui Po‘ by kainet. Creative Commons Attribution 1. United States 2. Hong Kong 3. Thailand 4. United Arab Emirates 5. United Kingdom 6. South Korea 7. Singapore 8. France 9. Japan 10. Argentina
TransportationEverybody loves Japan’s bullet trains, it seems. Or, at least, it helped Japan get number one spot for transportation with 32.9% of its visitors ranking it first in our survey. The much maligned (by Londoners), but excellent Underground also assisted the UK to second place. In fact, most the top 10 transportation destinations are known for having great train systems (at least for where travellers congregate, eg New York City rather than the whole of the US). ‘shinkansen 700 series‘ by kubotake. Creative Commons Attribution 1. Japan 2. United Kingdom 3. Germany 4. Singapore 5. Hong Kong 6. Australia 7. France 8. Switzerland 9. Argentina 10. United States
Off the beaten pathProving that even the most visited continents have hidden gems, three countries in Europe made it to the top 10 ‘off the beaten path’ list. But Bhutan was the clear winner, capturing 45.2% of its visitors’ votes for this category, which is nearly double the second-placed, Moldova. ‘Chisinau, Moldova‘ by vlitvinov. Creative Commons Attribution 1. Bhutan 2. Moldova 3. Mozambique 4. Algeria 5. Ghana 6. Albania 7. Bolivia 8. Burma 9. Iceland 10. Azerbaijan
AccommodationThe top 10 for ‘accommodation’ proves that it is primarily about location, location and location. The top four placed destinations may have been helped by the fact that they are renowned for their beaches. ‘River Kwai Hammock‘ by Mark Fischer. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 1. Thailand 2. Maldives 3. Mauritius 4. Australia 5. United States 6. New Zealand 7. Japan 8. Indonesia 9. United Arab Emirates 10. South Africa
Beyond expectationsIn an age of hype it is good to know that travellers are still surprised by some famously wonderful destinations. It is safe to say that news reports have caused many people to regard Iran in a negative light. Even though it is common knowledge that the people of Iran (or any country, for that matter) are not the same as their government, travellers are still surprised enough by Iran to place it first on this list. ‘Colombia, the only risk is wanting to stay‘ by Luz Adriana Villa A. Creative Commons Attribution 1. Iran 2. Burma 3. Colombia 4. Iceland 5. Cambodia 6. Bolivia 7. New Zealand 8. Uganda 9. Japan 10. Namibia Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/blog/2013/02/26/lonely-planet-travellers-choice-the-top-destinations-of-2013-part-3/#ixzz2MYkXHirb
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