The World's 10 Most-Visited Cities (And What It Costs to Spend a Day There)

iStock
iStock

Not everyone wants to stay off the beaten path when they’re traveling. Sometimes, you want to see what all the fuss is about. If that's you, look no further than MasterCard's annual Global Destination Cities Index, a ranking of the 162 most-visited cities across the entire world. This year's list, spotted by Lonely Planet, also includes data on how much the average overnight visitor to places like Bangkok (this year's No. 1 destination) and London (No. 2) spends there per day of their trip.

Below are the top 10 most-visited destinations according to the rankings, including how many people visited for at least a night in 2017 and the average money they spent per day they were there. (Despite its origins, the rankings are based on tourism numbers, not data from MasterCard transactions.)

1. Bangkok: 20 million visitors a year ($173 per day)
2. London: 19.8 million visitors a year ($153 per day)
3. Paris: 17.4 million visitors a year ($301 per day)
4. Dubai: 15.8 million visitors a year ($537 per day)
5. Singapore: 13.9 million visitors a year ($286 per day)
6. New York: 13.1 million visitors a year ($147 per day)
7. Kuala Lumpur: 12.6 million visitors a year ($124 per day)
8. Tokyo: 11.9 million visitors a year ($154 per day)
9. Istanbul: 10.7 million visitors a year ($108 per day)
10. Seoul: 9.5 million visitors a year ($181 per day)

Five of the top destination cities are located in East Asia, two in the Middle East, two in Europe, and one in the United States. Cost doesn't seem to be a deciding factor in many visits—Paris, Dubai, and Singapore all make the top five, though they're also the most expensive cities among the top 10.

The fact that Asian destinations see so much visitor traffic isn't terribly surprising considering that East Asia has the fastest-growing tourism industry in the world. According to The Economist, a quarter of the world's tourists head to Asia and the Pacific each year. A good portion of the world's tourists come from within Asia, too—thanks in part to rising incomes, Chinese tourists in particular spend more money traveling the world than anyone else, and account for 21 percent of the world's outbound tourists.

If any of these destinations pique your interest, check out some of our travel-planning tips to help get your itinerary settled. And if your heart is set on heading to Dubai, by all means, check out our guide to putting together an affordable vacation.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

This Is the Most Expensive City in the World

f9photos/iStock via Getty Images
f9photos/iStock via Getty Images

Experiencing all that a new city has to offer is a lot easier when you can afford it. Whether or not going out to eat or hailing a cab will put a dent in your travel budget (or totally obliterate it) usually depends on what part of the world you're in. If you're looking to save money abroad, think twice before going to Hong Kong—that's the most expensive city in the world, as MarketWatch reported in July.

To determine the most expensive city to live in on Earth, the human resource consulting firm Mercer looked at a number of factors, including the costs of housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment. Its annual Cost of Living Survey placed Hong Kong in the No. 1 slot. This is the second year in a row the survey named the Southeast Asian city-state the world's costliest place for expats.

Hong Kong's ranking reflects a wider trend seen throughout the region. Of the top 10 most expensive cities, seven of them are located in Asia. That includes Tokyo at No. 2 and Singapore at No. 3. The only non-Asian cities that rank in the top 10 are Zürich in Switzerland, Ashgabat in Turkmenistan, and New York City.

Fortunately, the world's priciest cities aren't the only places worth living abroad. There are plenty of spots around the globe that offer great food, culture, and public amenities at affordable prices. If you're itching to move somewhere new, here are some cheap destinations to consider.

[h/t MarketWatch]

You Can Now Go Inside Chernobyl’s Reactor 4 Control Room

bionerd23, YouTube
bionerd23, YouTube

The eerie interior of Chernobyl’s Reactor 4 control room, the site of the devastating nuclear explosion in 1986, is now officially open to tourists—as long as they’re willing to don full hazmat suits before entering and undergo two radiology tests upon exiting.

Gizmodo reports that the structure, which emits 40,000 times more radiation than any natural environment, is encased in what's called the New Safe Confinement, a 32,000-ton structure that seals the space off from its surroundings. All things considered, it seems like a jolly jaunt to these ruins might be ill-advised—but radiology tests are par for the course when it comes to visiting the exclusion zone, and even tour guides have said that they don’t usually reach dangerous levels of radiation on an annual basis.

Though souvenir opportunists have made off with most of the plastic switches on the machinery, the control room still contains original diagrams and wiring; and, according to Ruptly, it’s also been covered with an adhesive substance that prevents dust from forming.

The newly public attraction is part of a concerted effort by the Ukrainian government to rebrand what has historically been considered an internationally shameful chapter of the country's past.

“We must give this territory of Chernobyl a new life,” Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky said in July. “Chernobyl is a unique place on the planet where nature revives after a global man-made disaster, where there is a real 'ghost town.' We have to show this place to the world: scientists, ecologists, historians, tourists."

It’s also an attempt to capitalize upon the tourism boom born from HBO’s wildly successful miniseries Chernobyl, which prompted a 35 percent spike in travel to the exclusion zone earlier this year. Zelensky’s administration, in addition to declaring the zone an official tourist destination, has worked to renovate paths, establish safe entry points and guidelines for visitors, and abolish the photo ban.

Prefer to enjoy Chernobyl’s chilling atmosphere without all the radioactivity? Check out these creepy photos from the comfort of your own couch.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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