To paraphrase William Shakespeare in The Merry Wives of Windsor, the world is your oyster. It means you can do whatever you want and head out to anywhere you want to go.
If you do have that freedom, as well as money and time to do it, where do want to go? Here now is a list of the top 10 most popular travel destinations in 2013, along with the total estimated number of visitors it will have by the end of the year.
10 Barcelona, Spain – 8.41 million visitors
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain and is the capital of Catalonia. It has a rich cultural heritage and is considered an important cultural center and tourist destination. The center of the city is the Gothic Quarter that dates back to the medieval times, with some buildings going as far back as the Roman settlement. It has eight world heritage sights as declared by the UNESCO. It also has several museums and parks, of which 12 are considered as historic. It is also one of the top city beaches in the world.
9 Hong Kong, China – 8.72 million visitors
Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China. It has an expansive skyline and a deep natural harbor. It used to be a British colony before it reverted back to Chinese rule in 1997. China has adopted the principle of “one country, two systems,” allowing Hong Kong to have a high degree of autonomy with its own political system and independent judiciary. It is known as a great shopping destination and it has matured as one of the world’s financial centers.
8 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – 9.2 million visitors
Kuala Lumpur is the capital and most populous city of Malaysia. It played host to the 1998 Commonwealth Games and is one of the stops of the Formula One Grand Prix. It is also home to the tallest twin buildings in the world, the Petronas Twin Towers. Major sites include the Merdeka Square, Petaling Street in Chinatown, the National Palace, as well as religious sites like the Jamek Mosque and Batu Caves.
7 Dubai, United Arab Emirates – 9.9 million visitors
Dubai is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. A country blessed with generous amounts of oil, it is home to sports events and several innovative large construction projects. It is home to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. It also has several man-made islands and large shopping malls. Though it is the most expensive city in the Middle East, it has also been adjudged as one of the best places to live in the Middle East.
6 Istanbul, Turkey – 10.37 million visitors
Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and is considered as the country’s economic, cultural and historical center. It straddles both Europe and Asia, putting it in a strategic position along the old Silk Road. It was named in 2012 as the European capital of culture. The city center is a world heritage site. It has a natural harbor that it calls the Golden Horn.
5 New York, United States – 11.52 million visitors
New York is the most populous city in the United States. It has one of the largest natural harbors in the world. The city is divided into five boroughs, namely Manhattan, Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island. Some of the sites to visit include the Statue of Liberty, Times Square and Broadway. It is also home to the largest stock exchange in the world in terms of market capitalization of the listed companies. It is also host to several prestigious universities, including Columbia University, New York University and Rockefeller University. It is also home to some of the highest paid sports teams in the world.
4 Singapore – 11.75 million visitors
Singapore is a city-state in Southeast Asia. It boasts of world-class infrastructure and a cosmopolitan population. The city is one of the cleanest and greenest in the world and security is top-notch. Aside from sites like the Merlion and the Marina Bay Sands, it is also home to a world-class zoo, museums, gardens and parks. It also has a world-class theme park with Universal Studios. The country also plays host to one of the stops of the Formula One Grand Prix.
3 Paris, France – 13.92 million visitors
Paris is considered as one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world. It is the capital and cultural center of France. Tourists will never run out of places to visit while in the city, with the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and other iconic places like the Notre Dame and the Palace of Versailles. It also hosts the works of some of the most famous painters in the world in the Louvre, the Musee d’ Orsay and several other museums and galleries. It has a renowned haute cuisine, as well as haute couture with its high-end boutiques and the twice-a-year Paris Fashion Week. It also plays host to the annual French Open, the premier clay court tournament in the world.
2 London, United Kingdom – 15.96 million visitors
London is the capital of England and the United Kingdom. Its history goes back to two millennia, back to the days when the Romans discovered it and named it as Londinium. It has the largest concentration of higher education in Europe with 43 universities. It is also the first city to host the Summer Olympic Games three times. Sites to visit are the Tower of London, the Kew Gardens, Greenwich, and the area of the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey and St. Margaret’s Church.
1 Bangkok, Thailand – 15.98 million visitors
Bangkok is the capital of Thailand. It is considered a major health care hub and regional center for fashion and entertainment. It has several cultural landmarks that blend in perfectly with its street life and even the red light district. Some of the sites to see include the Wat Arun, the Victory Monument, the Giant Swing and the Phra Kaeo.
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