“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine
They say the best part of traveling isn’t the destination but the journey along the way. It’s this voyager mentality that “experiences matter more than things” which has led more millennials to forgo buying homes (47 percent of people between 18-34 compared to 26 percent of those ages 45 and up) for the opportunity of foreign adventure. After all, a new car, television or wardrobe can’t give you the unforgettable experience of zip lining in Costa Rica, sailing around Fiji or hiking Machu Picchu.
All this is not to say that only millennials are the ones traveling, but they’re certainly padding the stat sheet in that regard. So with this newfound generational shift of exploring versus settling, it begs the question: what were the 10 most visited places in 2017?
Not only does Bangkok nab the 2017 award, it’s also 2016’s reigning champ for most popular international travel destination. Why? Because Bangkok offers the perfect blend of historical enrichment and modern amenities. Tourists can visit the gilded Grand Palace, venture out to the peninsula or take part in the ebb and flow of the city markets, ripe with culture and amazing street food vendors. Plus, Bangkok’s plethora of experiences are incredibly affordable for those looking to make the most bang(kok) for their buck.
*Estimated visitors: 20.2 million
London has always been a big bucket list travel destination for people, and it seems that hasn’t changed now, nearly 20 years into the new millennium. Rife with historical monuments like Big Ben, amazing architecture like Hampton Court Palace, delectable eats like bangers and mash, and a long, rich history (Victorian period, anyone?), London has everything a travel-goer could hope for, and more.
Paris is another city that’s a travel destination veteran. The city of romance is nearly impossible to resist in large part because of their stylish shopping district, unique restaurants and historical monuments and buildings. After all, the Eiffel Tower isn’t going to see itself, so get out and take in this beautiful, albeit pricey, city of desire – more than 16 million already did in 2017.
*Estimated visitors: 16.1 million
Before the 60s Dubai was not a whole lot more than desert. But when oil was discovered in 1966, along with joining the newly independent Qatar, Dubai quickly – almost overnight – rose to become the vibrant, modern and business-centered metropolis that keeps trying to outdo itself. On the future horizon, tourists can look forward to a miniature replica of Venice, flying drone taxis and two new artificial islands. How can you say no to all of that? You can’t. And you and 16 million other travelers are not alone.
*Estimated visitors: 16 million
Singapore is the second Asian country to make the list – and for good reason. With possibly the world’s best airport, which includes hedge mazes (because why not?), Singapore boasts braggadocios hotels to compliment the already amazing atmosphere. The Gardens by the Bay look like something out of the movie Avatar and Sentosa Island looks like the paradise out of Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Beach. Needless to say, Singapore isn’t short on sights to be had.
*Estimated visitors: 13.5 million
It seems as though tourists just can’t get enough of the unique beauty of Asian culture. Although Tokyo isn’t a new travel destination, now is as good a time as any to visit the roaring metropolis. Discover a city full of neon-skyscrapers that resemble Times Square, as well as historic shrines and sacred temples. A city known for its innovation, Tokyo offers eclectic tastes, such as inventive ramen (that’s all the craze today), as well as some of the world’s finest whiskey.
*Estimated visitors: 12.5 million
Seoul, South Korea
Watch your back Paris because Seoul is quickly becoming one of the world’s leading fashion and beauty capitals. In fact, tourists actually spend more on shopping in Seoul (57 percent of their budget) than they do in Paris. And once you visit the area and see that it’s loaded with spa scenes and late night vendors in trendy neighborhoods, you’ll understand why. Just pack light because you’ll be bringing plenty more back home.
*Estimated visitors: 12.4 million
New York City, New York
It’s called the city that never sleeps for a reason. NYC is brimming with everything from the smorgasbord of neon lights in Times Square and the amazing food vendors that occupy its streets to the sprawling skyscrapers and the melting pot of cultures that inhabitant its borders. Plus, who doesn’t love those little “I heart NY” shirts?
*Estimated visitors: 12.4 million
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Like street food? Then Kuala Lumpur is just the dish you ordered, as KL is one of the world’s best cities for on-the-go chow. This holiday hotspot offers festivities and events throughout the year as well as some amazing botanical gardens, culturally enriching markets and religious sightseeing.
*Estimated visitors: 12.1 million
You might think that with all the events that have recently scarred the city – the 2016 terrorist attacks on several tourist centers and the city’s overall political instability – travelers would be finding a substitute destination. But, you’d be wrong. Istanbul offers tourists a great spread of historic architecture, chic boutiques and unique cuisine – where tourists coincidently spend most of their travel budget.
*Estimated visitors: 9.2 million