A colonial city in Mexico has been named as the best city in the world to visit with San Miguel de Allende being described as authentic, creative and cost-effective.

It is followed by Charleston in South Carolina, Chiang Mai in Thailand, Kyoto in Japan, and Florence in Italy in a poll of readers of Travel and Leisure which also reveals a growing interest in locations in Asia.

San Miguel de Allende was singled for its leafy plazas, open-air cafés and the pink Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel church. It has a big expat population and is known for its art and textiles. People living there also fall in love with its cobbled streets, authentic Mexican food and historic buildings.

This year seven of the top 15 urban destinations are in Asia. The top ones include Kyoto, home to some of Japan’s most well-preserved traditional architecture, Chiang Mai which is best known for its walled old city, and Siem Reap in Cambodia, the jumping-off point for Angkor Wat.

Charleston, in second place and the top city in the United States for the fifth year running, was the sole American city among the top 10 overall. Florence was joined by European favourites such as Rome and Barcelona while Oaxaca, another Mexican city with a thriving culinary scene and cultural depth, made the top 15 for the first time since 2010.

According to the report all the top cities have similar attributes such as being pedestrian friendly, have ample green spaces, and have a rich history that’s being thoughtfully preserved as they grow.

The cities were rated on their sights and landmarks, culture, cuisine, friendliness, shopping, and overall value.

Just outside the top five was Oaxaca in Mexico in sixth place, followed by Hoi An in Vietnam, Cape Town in South Africa, Ubud in Indonesia and Luang Prabang in Laos.

In eleventh place this year is Sante Fe in New Mexico, followed by the Italian capital Rome, Siem Reap in Cambodia, Udaipur in India and finally, Barcelona in Spain.