After years of neck-and-neck jostling between New Zealand and Namibia, this year Japan shot to the number one place in the Wanderlust Travel Awards with an impressive 97.42% satisfaction rating.
Japan’s unique combination of wild unpredictability and smooth efficiency made it Wanderlust readers’ top choice for travel in the 2009 awards.
Wanderlust readers were mesmerised by its man-made attractions: Tokyo’s ‘fluorescent skyscapes’, its indoor rollercoasters, hi-tech loos and hotels boasting ‘unbelievable levels of service and comfort’.
But readers were also moved by Japan’s ancient culture and underlying serenity – the peak of Mount Fuji viewed from a snow-surrounded onsen spa; the tranquil temples and gardens of Kyoto; the cherry blossom and family-run ryokans.
Even the Japan’s wildlife bowled them over: reader Louise Markus marvelled at the ‘endlessly fascinating’ snow monkeys of the Japanese Alps, and the ‘amazing sight of flocks of overwintering cranes doing their mating dance’.
The Michelin guides rate Tokyo the best foodie city in the world, and Wanderlust readers whole-heartedly agreed. ‘The food comes in so many varieties it is easy to please everyone,’ drooled Gill Coles. ‘There are restaurant where you barbecue meat and vegetables, simple dumpling bars, or dining in a ryokan, seated on tatami mats, while numerous dishes are served.’
Emily White summed it all up: ‘ If you want to experience a true assault on all your senses, then Japan is the place for you.’
Wanderlust editor-in-chief Lyn Hughes says: “I’m thrilled that Japan has topped the charts. I plan to go for my first visit next year and like our readers, I have long been intrigued by Japanese culture. I feel that there is so much to see there that we don't hear about in the UK.”
Japan also performed well in the Top City category, with Kyoto being awarded silver with a very high satisfaction rating of 95.56%.
For the full results please visit the Wanderlust website or get a copy of the March issue of Wanderlust, now on sale in all major outlets.