The tourism industry supports the livelihood of 15 million U.S. Americans annually, according to the U.S. Travel Association. In honor of National Tourism Week, May 7-13, we share travel tips for the 5 most visited destinations in 2016.
Bangkok is the unification of old and new, with the bright yellows taxis almost outshining the local monks’ robes. With its unique flavors, colors, sights, and culture, Bangkok claims the title of most visited destination worldwide with 21.47 million visitors in 2016 according to Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index.
- Thailand’s climate is consistently hot, regardless of season. When booking a trip consider three defining seasons: Rainy (May to November), Tropical (late November to Mid January), and the hottest time of year (March to May.)
- Haggling is not only culturally accepted, it is expected. The first price is usually not paid in places like the Chatuchak Weekend Market; instead decide what you are willing to pay and work your way to that. Keep in mind that haggling is only for markets. Malls and convenience stores don’t barter.
- Thailand is home to some of the most elaborate palaces and elegant temples, with 400 in Bangkok alone. Most temples uphold strict dress codes, so when visiting dress accordingly.
Nowhere else displays the prestigious character of England quite like London. While still holding fast to traditions, it’s a hub of modern industry, fashion, and technology. London comes in a close second with 19.88 international visitors.
- London is generally cool and rainy. Summers can be a breezy 70-75°F high and winters can reach frigid lows. During any season, check the weather before packing, and include a rain coat just in case.
- Dining etiquette is a societal norm, much more so than in the U.S. Punctuality is particularly important during meals. Your napkin should be placed on your lap. When finished, place the knife and fork parallel to each other in the plate middle.
- Although famous for its traditional black taxis, a more efficient and inexpensive transportation is the Tube. An Oyster Travelcard is an easy way to use multiple travel modes.
The city of lights is one of the most recognizable dream destinations with world class fashion, cuisine, and art. Needing no introduction, it’s the third most visited destination.
- Avoid August, as most residents and merchants are away on holiday. Know that stores and resturants are closed on Sunday, with the exception of a few international chains.
- Dining and gastronomy are imbedded in French culture. French cuisine is served in multiple smaller courses, so be patient when the appetizers arrive smaller than expected - there is much more to come.
- Paris is home to some of the world’s most beautiful parks, but most have strict rules. Keep off the grass, no smoking or drinking, and no dogs. While there are exceptions to these rules, it is important to be mindful of the local customs.
Dubai is the thought child of some of the world’s greatest architects, technology startups and anyone who believes bigger is better. The city proudly lays claim to the world tallest building, Burj Khalifa; largest shopping mall, The Dubai Mall; fountain, The Dubai Fountain; and man-made islands, Palm Jumeirah. Dubai tops the Middle East in tourism with 15.27 million visitors.
- Brunch is big in Dubai; with most of the 2.75 million population being millennials it is easy to see why. It’s important to make advance reservations as restaurants fill quickly for the city’s favorite meal. Alcohol is only served in international zones.
- Be aware of the culture. Dubai is a Muslim country and public displays of affection are inappropriate and illegal. Consider dressing and acting modestly out of respect for yourself, and the culture.
- The city slows down during the month long Ramadan observance. Check out our tips on being cross-culturally savvy during this Muslim holiday.
New York, New York
We didn’t stutter, NYC claims spot number five in our countdown, with 12.75 million visitors. This concrete jungle has long been a beacon for hope and opportunity.
- When you think of New York, what do you see? Time Square? Yellow Taxis? Well both can only mean one thing- traffic. New York is great for walking so pack comfortable shoes for those walks.
- Remember-fast paced, small spaced. Crowded streets are filled with people in a hurry so stow bulky luggage to the hotel. Step out of the crowd for photo opportunities.
- Go beyond Manhattan. Midtown is amazing, so explore Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Staten Island.
Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, and the National Business Journals. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.
Photo Credit: Unsplash, Pixabay, Pexels, UnSplash, Sophia Syed, Casei Malone-Waldo