Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said on Monday that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was overjoyed that Thailand remains a favourite destination for travellers.
The results were announced by the magazine in its inaugural “Asia’s Best Awards”.
Also included in the list of best cities was Chiang Mai at No 6, while Koh Phi Phi came in as the 9th best island in the region.
Travel + Leisure said its readers chose Bangkok for its warm smiles and spicy street food.
“If warm smiles, spicy street food, and feeling the wind in your hair as you glide through the city on a motorbike or tuk-tuk are appealing, Bangkok certainly hits the mark. If you prefer high-thread-count linen in your private-pool suites and Michelin-starred meals, the city also has you covered. Whether you’re just spending a night en route to the islands, using Bangkok as a hub for further exploration of Southeast Asia, or visiting for what we advocate should be a dedicated vacation in its own right, there is no shortage of options,” Travel + Leisure said.
The magazine cited “sandy stretches of postcards” and the buzz of Patong as the reasons why Phuket won the top place in best islands.
“In addition to the sandy stretches of postcards and the buzz of Patong, Phuket is home to a wide range of neighbourhoods – do you want uber-luxury, beach club party vibe, local hipster, family-friendly, or yoga and detox? There is plenty of unique accommodation, outdoor activities, and attractions to explore on Thailand’s largest island. And wow, is Phuket Town coming into its own; take a day’s break from the beach for photogenic Sino-Portuguese architecture, and a thriving food and bev scene,” Travel + Leisure said.
Readers voted on several categories including their favourite hotels, resorts, restaurants, and bars throughout the Southeast Asian region, with various “best of” lists for Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
The spokesman noted that Travel + Leisure cited Thailand’s “sandbox policy” during the height of the Covid pandemic as a boon to the tourism industry. All travel restrictions in Thailand were lifted on July 1.
Thanakorn said Phuket also catered to the needs of all types of tourists, including those who like partying on the beach at night, families, and tourists who come from health services.
Hollywood actor Russell Crowe also created a much-needed buzz for Thai tourism while he was in Phuket late last year.
“The prime minister is delighted that tourists around the world still like to visit Thailand and that destinations like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Koh Samui, can still impress and provide memorable experiences for them,” Thanakorn said.
He also quoted Prayut as thanking all state agencies concerned for successfully implementing tourism policies and Thais for acting as good hosts.