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Study: Kota Bharu is Southeast Asia’s 16th Best City, Above Chiang Mai, Surabaya, Cebu & More!


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Source: Kosmo! & Traveloka

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Malaysian cities feature prominently in the latest edition of the Oxford Economics Global Index, an index which ranks the top cities in the world based on 5 categories, namely economics, human capital, quality of life, environment and governance.

In the overall rankings of the index, 55 Southeast Asian cities were featured, including 12 cities from our country which ranked highly when compared to other cities in the region.


The Oxford Economics Global Cities Index 2024

Screenshot 2024 05 24 At 12.21.55 Pm

Globally, New York City is ranked 1st in the Oxford Economics Global Cities Index 2024, followed by London and San Jose.

The highest-ranking Southeast Asian city on the list is Singapore, which snatched 42nd place overall globally, followed by Kuala Lumpur (135th globally) and Bangkok (192 globally).

Making up the top 5 best Southeast Asian cities in the list are Manila (256th globally) and Jakarta (284th globally).

Western 3

For illustration purposes


12 Malaysian cities ranked highly in the index compared to other Southeast Asian cities

When viewed from the 5 specific categories, Kuala Lumpur is ranked 21st for human capital, 106th in terms of economy, 391st for quality of life, 526th for environment and 334th for governance.

Kuala Lumpur Skyline Tall Buildings

For illustration purposes

For reference, the 12 Malaysian cities that made it into the list are:

  1. Kuala Lumpur (135th globally)
  2. Georgetown (351st globally)
  3. Melaka (359th globally)
  4. Johor Bahru (376th globally)
  5. Bukit Mertajam (385th globally)
  6. Kota Kinabalu (391st globally)
  7. Kuantan (412th globally)
  8. Kuching (419th globally)
  9. Kota Bharu (433th globally)
  10. Seremban (447th globally)
  11. Kuala Muda (459th globally)
  12. Ipoh (465th globally)


Kota Bharu ranks higher than many major Southeast Asian cities

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For illustration purposes

Based on the above, Kelantan’s capital of Kota Bharu has got to be 1 of the most notable inclusion in the worldwide ranking.

Despite technically still being classified as a town rather than a city in Malaysia, Kota Bharu outperforms many other Malaysian and Southeast Asian cities in the list in the overall rankings.

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For illustration purposes

In fact, Kota Bharu ranked better than many Southeast Asian major cities, including Indonesia’s 2nd largest city Surabaya, the Philippines’ Cebu City, Thailand’s Chiang Mai, Laos’ capital city of Vientiane and Cambodia’s most populous city Phnom Penh.

Check out the 55 Southeast Asia cities included in the index via this cool graphic by Seasia Stats below:

So, what do you guys think of the Malaysian cities’ placement in the Oxford Economics Global Cities Index 2024? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!


Also read: Study: Penang Ranked 4th & KL 6th in List of Best Cities in Asia for Expatriates to Work & Live in

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Source: 123RF
Source: Traveloka
Source: Kosmo!

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