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Southeast Asia: ‘Best of the Best’ for Post-Pandemic Travel
30 October 2020 | Written by Chris Alexander

The annual Readers’ Choice Awards from Condé Nast Traveler magazine have been released, providing unprecedented insights into the global reputations of some key travel destinations, while also offering a glimpse of travel trends to be expected post-pandemic. Each of Panorama Destination’s key locations – Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam – were placed in the Top 20 Countries, demonstrating that these destinations remain at the forefront of many travellers’ minds and top of their holiday wish list.  

The Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards are the longest-running and most prestigious recognition of excellence in the travel industry. The awards rank the best hotels, resorts, destination spas, countries, cities, islands, trains, airlines, airports, cruise liners, tour operators and villa companies around the world, based on the votes of their extensive readership. This year, more than 715,000 Condé Nast Traveler readers submitted responses, rating their travel experiences across the globe. 

The centrepiece of the awards is the Top 20 Countries, in which Indonesia was placed sixth, scoring a massive 92.98 satisfaction rating among readers. Indonesia was followed by Thailand (92.62) in seventh; the Land of Smiles came in just ahead of Vietnam (92.12) and Malaysia (90.86) in ninth and fifteenth, respectively. This means each of the locations in which Panorama Destination operates was placed in the Top 15. The country in top spot was Italy, with a score of 94.05. Interestingly, the results suggest that Covid-19 has not had an adverse effect on travellers’ opinion of destinations where the pandemic has been especially disruptive over the past year. 

“The results of this year’s survey, conducted at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, are a testament to the lasting power of a meaningful travel experience,” explains Jesse Ashlock, who is the U.S. Editor of Condé Nast Traveler. “The winners represent the best of the best for our audience and offer plenty of trip-planning inspiration for all the adventures we can’t wait to have next,” he added. 

In 2020, the annual Readers’ Choice Awards entered their 33rd iteration. This year, for the first time, the results are taken from a period in which virtually no-one was travelling. This offers a clearer and more comprehensive picture of reputation and appeal for each destination; the awards provide an insight into destinations with which travellers have built up an affection or affinity over time.  

As Condé Nast puts it: “These are the enduring gems that can withstand the test of time and the vicissitudes of circumstances. Many readers have told us that when we emerge from this pandemic, they want to turn their attention to the classics, whether that means personal favourites or places they know have brought joy to others.”  

In addition to being two of the world’s Top 10 Countries, Indonesia and Thailand also featured in various other awards. Bali’s COMO Shambhala Estate was named #8 in the Top 30 Spa Resorts, with an impressive 98.33 rating, making it the highest ranked spa in Southeast Asia. In the hotels category, the Mulia & Mulia Villas in Bali was voted #2, while Thailand’s Anantara Chiang Mai Resort came in at #4. The Kingdom was also honoured in the list of the World’s Top 20 Cities, with Chiang Mai placed second overall; the readers of Condé Nast Traveler also voted Ko Pha Ngan in at #3 in the Top 5 Islands in Asia. 

Home to some of the world’s most captivating islands, cities, resorts, cultures and cuisine, Southeast Asia remains a permanent feature in the top ten of many travellers’ bucket lists. As regional Covid-19 restrictions are gradually lifted over the months ahead, the world can finally begin thinking ahead to holidays in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam once more. For some additional travel inspiration in each of these locations, check out Panorama Destination’s Online Magazine and Travel Tips section.