Bangkok made the cut! Barely.
In Time Out magazine’s 2021 World’s Best Cities Index, a user-generated ranking of 37 cities compiled via a survey of 27,000 participants around the world, Bangkok came in at no. 37.
San Francisco took the top spot. Asian peers Tokyo (no. 10), Shanghai (no. 17), and Hong Kong (no. 20) all cracked the top 20. (Seoul, a truly great city, is notably absent from the list.)
The annual list usually highlights food, nightlife, and culture, but this year the survey also factored in community projects, green space, and sustainability.
“We were after the cities that were not only thinking about the now, but also the future. The ones making life better both for us and for our grandkids,” wrote Time Out’s Huw Oliver and Sarah Medina in an introduction to the list reveal.
Critics might argue that if things like green space, sustainability, or future thinking are key metrics, Bangkok should be absent from the list altogether. Others might highlight that the bar scene is on life support, independent restaurants and street food are disappearing, pollution chokes the skies every year, and well-placed shipping containers and luxury malls have reshaped the landscape.
Nevertheless, the city—specifically, Bangkok residents, not their feckless leaders—has shown remarkable resilience as it faces its greatest crisis in a generation.
Although restaurants and food vendors have been battered by pandemic restrictions, many have stepped up to support those who need help most, the people who drive an industry that gives Bangkok its special edge. Despite grave risk, thousands have rallied to fight for freedom of speech and equality, often with the kind of creative flair you might only find in Bangkok.
So, yeah, we’re no. 37. We get the participation trophy. What will it take to move up the list? You tell us.