For the first time in three years, an Asian city was expected to welcome more tourists than any other city in the world.
Bangkok, Thailand would be the number one destination for tourists in 2013, according to MasterCard's new Global Destination Cities Index.
It beaten out major destinations like London, Paris, New York, and Dubai with an anticipated 15.98 million international arrivals in 2013.
The annual report forecasts estimated arrivals of foreign visitors, as well as how much they were expected to spend in total. The numbers were based on data from tourism boards, number of flights in and out of the country, and the amount of reservations at paid accommodations in the city.
The ten most visited cities in 2013 were as under.
1- Bangkok, Thailand (15.98 million international visitors)
|Hong Kong, the Capital of Thailand|
The top destination city by international visitor arrivals in 2013 is Bangkok-the capital city of Thailand-, according to the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index. This is the first time an Asian city is in the top rank since the Index was launched in 2011.
|London, the English capital|
Whether drawn by business or as tourists, London's visitors from New York are the ones that travel the furthest and spend the most.
|Paris, the capital city of France|
Never mind that Paris shows a decline in the estimated number of international visitor arrivals. It is still a favorite city of many travelers. Ranking 3rd is, after all, not for nothing.
With a population of less than 5 million, Singapore expects 11.75 million visitors this year. Although it is a melting pot of cultures, including Indian, Chinese and Malay, English is the dominant language, and Westerners do not tend to experience the culture shock there that occurs elsewhere in the region.
|New York, USA|
In terms of cross-border spending, New York ranks top in 2013, with an estimated $18.59 billion, followed by London with $16.32 billion.
As a travel destination, Istanbul is a rising star, with sights like the Hagia Sophia mosque shown here. If all top 10 destination cities maintain their current rates of growth in the next few years, then by 2016, Istanbul will surpass Singapore, New York and Paris in terms of international visitor arrivals.
7- Dubai, UAE (9.89 million international visitors)
Sometimes called the shopping capital of the Middle East, Dubai Shows the strongest growth (along with Bangkok), increasing their arrival numbers by 10.9%.
8- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (9.20 million international visitors)
|Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital|
A construction boom has altered the cityscape of the downtown area of Kuala Lumpur, capital city of Malaysia. It expects 9.2 million visitors in 2013, making it No. 3 of the top 10 Asia/Pacific destination cities (after Bangkok and Singapore).
|Hong Kong, China|
Its majestic harbor beckons, with 8.7 million visitors expected this year, but Hong Kong's popularity has declined by one rank since last year, putting it behind Kuala Lumpur.
Last year it ranked far behind Madrid in popularity with visitors, and remarkably was displaced by Shanghai. In 2013 it outranked Shanghai, and Madrid was off the list. Barcelona's old world charm and Gaudi architecture would lure 8.41 million international travelers in 2013.