Agoda names Bangkok as Asia’s top destination

Bangkok’s popularity never seems to wane as the Thai capital leads all Asian cities in bookings in 2018, according to global online travel agency Agoda, which also reported that Thailand is the second most-booked country on the continent, evidence of the Kingdom’s rising profile in global travel, tourism, and business.

“From historic temples and sparkling white sandy beaches, to rich culture and world-famous cuisine, it’s no wonder why Thailand continues to draw in travelers from around the world,” Agoda said when releasing its findings.

Japan edged out Thailand for the most-booked country in Asia, but Thailand finished ahead of Malaysia in third place and all others. Thai travelers, meanwhile, journeyed to Japan and Singapore more than any other destinations.

Bangkok was also named the world’s most visited city this year by global credit-card company MasterCard, the third time in the last decade that the “Big Mango” has captured that honor. The Thai capital was followed in Agoda’s Asia rankings by Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Osaka, Taipei, Seoul, Singapore, Bali, and the Thai beach resort city of Pattaya.

A combination of factors has propelled Bangkok and Thailand to the top echelons of Asia’s travel destinations in recent years. The opening of Suvarnabhumi International Airport and the re-opening and renovation of Don Muang International Airport, both in the capital city, have made it possible for ever-larger numbers of visitors to arrive in the Kingdom.

Suvarnabhumi was inaugurated in 2006 with a capacity of 45 million passengers a year, but the increasing numbers of visitors made it necessary to expand to 60 million a year, and plans are already underway to boost capacity to 90 million a year.

Don Muang’s capacity has risen to 30 million a year, and plans are in the works to double that. In addition, U-Tapao Airport in neighboring Rayong province is being converted into an international airport that will be connected to its sister Bangkok airports by a light rail line.

Thailand’s attractions as a tourist destination have been legendary for decades. Nonetheless, advanced and niche marketing by the Tourism Authority of Thailand has increased the Kingdom’s profile abroad and been effective in expanding new segments with growing appeal to travelers, such as eco-tourism, adventure tourism, medical tourism, and others.

Agoda is one of the largest online booking agencies in the world. New Yorker Michael Kenny, who had emigrated to Phuket, Thailand, founded the site in the late 1990s. Priceline, another internet retail company, acquired Agoda in 2007.