Lonely Planet Writer

Bangkok is 2015's top travel stop in Asia with 20m overnight visitors

Bangkok was Asia Pacific’s most popular travel destination in 2015, with more than 20 million international overnight visitors, according to the MasterCard Asia Pacific Destinations Index released this week.

Saphan Bhumibol at dusk in Bangkok.
Saphan Bhumibol at dusk in Bangkok. Image by Mike Behnken / CC BY 2.0

The Thai city was far ahead in visitor numbers compared to other cities included in the inaugural destinations index for Asia Pacific, which measures tourism trends. Bangkok was followed by Singapore and Tokyo, which each saw 11.8 million overnight visitors.

The top ten was rounded out by Kuala Lumpur, Phuket, Seoul, Hong Kong, Pattaya, Bali and Osaka – putting three Thai cities in the top ten.

Multilingual disaster guides will make Japan even more accessible for tourists.
Toyko. Image by Kevin Poh / CC BY 2.0

In recent years, cities in Asia Pacific are increasingly the fastest growing and most visited destinations in the world. According to 2015’s MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index, five of the ten most visited cities in the world were in Asia Pacific. Many of the top ten destinations in Asia saw remarkable growth in the number of overnight visitors over 2014. Bangkok’s visitor numbers grew by 28.6% and the Japanese cities of Osaka and Tokyo saw growth of more than 50%.

Asia Pacific’s tourism industry overtook Europe’s as the largest in the world by total contribution to GDP in 2014, reports MasterCard. Matthew Driver, a MasterCard executive, attributed the region’s growth to “increased consumer wealth, particularly from China,” in a news release. The index ranks 167 destinations, including island resorts as well as towns and cities across the region, by total number of international overnight arrivals; cross-border spending; and the total number of nights spent at each destination. The destinations are in 22 countries across Asia Pacific and represent 90.1% of all international overnight arrivals within the region.