Thursday, March 19, 2020

My Top 10 Favorite Cities in Asia

by Regin Reyno

These are my latest, top 10 favorite cities in Asia. Asia is known for its mega-cities; cities that have almost everything. From gigantic malls, shops, arenas, concert halls, theaters, gyms, and spas, to restaurants, churches, temples, parks, etc.

One of the common denominators of these mega-cities is their public transportation system. Its efficiency and convenience make the lives of its residents and visitors easier and more comfortable.

In 2011, I made my list of my favorite Asian cities. But this time, I’m making a new one because I’ve been to more cities and our perception and taste change as time goes by. 

Beijing, China
I ranked these cities based on the context of a resident and a tourist. I imagined myself as a resident and as a tourist in these cities; asking myself the question, “As a resident and as a tourist, which cities would I love to live in and have a vacation?”

Factors that were considered are: safety, cleanliness, convenience, accessibility, vibe, beauty, locals, and living conditions (hotels/apartments).

These are arranged in order.

10. Taipei, Taiwan

I was able to visit this city in 2005 and 2020. I love the abundance of nature in this city, the convenience of its public transportation, and the accessibility and presence of shops, restaurants, and malls. It has a great night market scene.

What I love about this city: accessibility, convenience, locals, night market omelette 

9. Shanghai, China

I was able to visit Shanghai in 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2019. This city in China, as with most cities in that country, is very safe. The government has political will and really imposes its laws; resulting to safety, organization, and economic boom. It is the venue of major international events, too. It has Disneyland, F1 grand prix, tennis ATP 1000, and other major musical concerts. Apartments are huge and nice.

What I love about this city: safety, accessibility, convenience, living conditions, beauty, F1 weekend

8. Jerusalem, Israel

I was able to visit in 2019. I was welcomed by an organized city that is clean and has a convenient transportation system. The environment is almost like Europe. I love how peaceful and calm this city is during Sabbath. 

What I love about this city: vibe, cleanliness, beauty, living conditions, accessibility, The Garden Tomb

7. Bangkok, Thailand

I lived in this city for 2 years. And prior to that, I lived in a city nearby, thereby going to this city almost every weekend. Bangkok is a typical Asian mega-city that is bustling; night markets, giant malls, street food, friendly locals, and a hub of travelers. There are many cultural destinations in this city, too, as the culture here is very much alive.

What I love about this city: vibe, locals, convenience, pad krapao

6. Tianjin, China

A European-inspired city, this city is well-organized. It’s not as busy compared to its neighbor, Beijing. The peace and calmness of this city makes it an ideal place to go strolling, or just relax by the river. But don’t be fooled by its relaxed vibe. It has many gigantic buildings, hotels, and shopping malls, too. I visited in 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2019.

What I love about this city: beauty, safety, cleanliness, living conditions, Italian concession

5. Seoul, South Korea

I visited this city in 2015 and 2018; apart from the abundance of beautiful women, the city in itself is beautiful. Although a mega-city, it is full of vegetation: flowers, plants, and trees. The vibe here is amazing, especially the food culture. 

What I love about this city: accessibility, convenience, beauty, vibe, safety, cleanliness, Korean girls 

4. Tokyo, Japan

When I visited Tokyo in 2015, I was blown by its cleanliness. What I can’t forget about my experience in this city was how the toilets at their subway stations are as clean as toilets in 5-star hotels. The kindness and politeness of the locals are second to none. The efficiency and speed of its transportation system make traveling in this city very convenient, fast, and comfortable.

What I love about this city: cleanliness, accessibility, convenience, locals, safety, vibe, Japanese super toilet 

3. Naha, Japan

I visited Naha this year. It is a city in Okinawa prefecture. It is not as big as Tokyo, but it has the conveniences of a major city in Japan; great restaurants, organized buildings, clean surroundings, and a very efficient and comfortable transportation system. This city is very clean. And since, it’s on an island, the air is fresh. The efficiency and politeness of the Japanese people can be experienced on a daily basis. You have the benefits of Tokyo plus the calmness of a Japanese province. That's why it's ahead of Tokyo on this list.

What I love about this city: cleanliness, accessibility, convenience, locals, safety, living conditions, Blue Seal Okinawan ice cream ube flavor

2. Beijing, China

© Ronan Reyno
I first arrived in Beijing in April 2014, on a beautiful spring day. I was immediately reminded of European cities I’ve visited before; a city with four seasons, efficient and convenient transportation system, wide roads, organized buildings and landscape, abundance of plants and trees; I immediately loved the city.

Living here for 5 years, there was never a dull moment. This city has everything; literally, everything. Concert halls, cultural destinations, sporting arenas, Christian churches, great coffee shops, world class gyms, spas, wide-range of restaurants, Western food, imperial gardens, parks; everything.

The apartments are huge and beautiful. And the people, once you get to know them, they’ll treat you as family. Amazing.

But my favorite quality of Beijing is its safety. I’ve been to many cities around the world, and I can confidently say that Beijing is one of the safest. You can safely walk on its streets at 3:00 am or withdraw cash anywhere; no problem. Even my American colleagues told me that it's a lot safer than cities in the US. 

The discipline and political will of the government; the proper implementation of the law, and the cooperation of the people are some of the reasons why it is very safe. 

What I love about this city: safety, accessibility, convenience, cleanliness, locals, vibe, living conditions, beauty, my apartment 

1. Singapore

This city is simply amazing. It is like a combination of a garden, a mega-city, and a rainforest. It is very clean and well-organized. Everywhere, there’s an abundance of plants and other vegetation.

The work ethic and discipline of the locals here are at par with Japan. The government has political will; it strictly implements its laws. It is also very safe. And, just like Japan, you can drink straight from the tap. I visited in 2019.

What I love about this city: beauty, safety, accessibility, convenience, cleanliness, locals, vibe, living conditions, hawker centre 

How about you? What are your favorite cities in Asia?

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