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Udaipur, India, No. 1 In "World's Best Cities" Contest

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NEW YORK (AP) - The annual list of the "World's Best Cities" as chosen by readers of Travel + Leisure magazine was topped by a city that many Americans may not be familiar with: Udaipur, India.

Last year the No. 1 city on the survey was Bangkok.

Asked if she was surprised by the result, Travel + Leisure editor-in-chief Nancy Novogrod said: "I was, but I'm kind of intrigued. It's a city I love. It's in Rajasthan, it's an ancient city around a lake and it has a beautiful palace with some great hotels and superb resorts," including the Taj Lake Palace and the Oberoi Udaivilas.

Luxury hotel companies are opening properties there because "they are looking for these very special destinations that are unspoiled, that do offer a very rich and real sense of the culture of the region to guests," she said.

Novogrod also spoke highly of the city's art collections and shopping opportunities for fabrics, antiques and handmade clothing.

Novogrod added that among her magazine's readers, she has noticed a "huge migration and interest away from the classic European capitals and classic resorts to destinations that offer a very particular sense of place. ... The world has gotten smaller in some ways and the traditional places have gotten less interesting and more familiar."

Another factor that may have contributed to the No. 1 ranking for Udaipur is that for the first time in the survey's 14-year history, results were included from readers of Travel + Leisure's international editions in South Asia, Southeast Asia, China, Australia and New Zealand, Turkey and Mexico.

The magazine's "World's Best" list is based on results of a questionnaire made available online to Travel + Leisure readers. Respondents are permitted to complete the survey only once, and are screened in an effort to remove responses from travel industry professionals.

Completing the top 10 list of best cities behind Udaipur this year were Cape Town; Bangkok; Buenos Aires; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Florence, Italy; Luang Prabang, Laos; New York; Rome and San Francisco.

Other No. 1 spots went to Bushmans Kloof Cedar Mountains in South Africa as best hotel; Bali as best island; Crystal Cruises as best large-ship cruise line; The Yachts of Seabourn as best small-ship cruise line; Singapore Airlines as best international airline; Virgin America as best domestic airline; and Mii amo, A Destination Spa at Enchantment in Sedona, Ariz., as best destination spa.

Complete results are online at http://www.travelandleisure.com/worldsbest or in the magazine's August issue, on newsstands July 24.

Around the Web

Udaipur, Rajasthan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Udaipur Division - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Udaipur travel guide - Wikitravel

Upto 50% Discount on Hotels in Udaipur : Travel made Easy ™

Udaipur Travel Information and Travel Guide - India - Lonely Planet