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. As always, Thailand remains at the forefront of many travellers’ minds and top of their holiday wish list; the Kingdom placed highly in a number of categories.
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 lines, 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 Thailand placed seventh overall, scoring a massive 92.62 satisfaction rating among readers. The Land of Smiles came in just behind Indonesia (92.98) in sixth, but ahead of Vietnam (92.12) and Malaysia (90.86) in ninth and fifteenth, respectively. 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 when virtually no-one was travelling. This offers a clearer overall picture of reputation and appeal for each destination; the awards provide a valuable 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.”
Thailand was also honoured in the list of the World’s Top 20 Cities, in which Chiang Mai was placed second overall. According to the judges of the awards, “the laid-back city of Chiang Mai is the ideal place to unwind at the end of a longer trip around Southeast Asia.” The publication and its readers paid special tribute to the city’s Anantara Chiang Mai Resort, recommended a trip to Warorot Market and suggested readers try a bowl of khao soy; a traditional Thai dish of braised chicken and fried noodles in a coconut curry soup.
Elsewhere in the awards, Ko Pha Ngan was named at number three in the Top 5 Islands in Asia. The destination was praised for its iconic full moon parties, along with its “interesting mix of nightlife and beautiful scenery: The beach is a perfect cove flanked by smooth volcanic peninsulas.”
Home to some of the world’s most captivating islands, cities, resorts, cultures and cuisine, Thailand remains a permanent feature in the top ten of many travellers’ bucket lists. As Covid-19 restrictions are lifted and visas become available once more, the world can finally begin thinking ahead to holidays in the Land of Smiles. For some additional travel inspiration, check out Panorama Destination’s Thailand Top Picks in our Travel Tips section.