There's just no substitute for getting out and actually seeing, smelling, hearing, touching and tasting the rest of the world. From the next neighborhood over, to an adjacent state, to the other side of the country, everything differs at least a little. For the intrepid and the deep-pocketed, traversing the world can open up a richness of experiences. Here are five of the most expensive places to travel to.
Take the largest urban agglomeration on Earth, pack it densely with millions of residents, place it on an island at the edge of the continent and you have Tokyo. By many a measure it's a very expensive city. For an American looking to travel to the nearest part of the Far East, go to to San Francisco first. Flights from there to Nagoya, Japan start at about $1,400. Four-star hotels in Tokyo are remarkably consistent, both in their quality of service and their uncompromising prices - $300 a night is commonplace. The famous Harajuku, Shibuya and Ginza districts play host to a dizzying array of merchandise and food.
Singapore recently stole the title of most expensive city in the world from former champ Tokyo. With over 5 million residents crammed into a mere 275 square miles, the scarcity of real estate in Singapore is as endemic to the city as the endlessly tropical climate. Singapore Air once offered direct flights from Los Angeles and Newark, N.J., the longest regularly scheduled commercial flights in the world by both time and distance. You can expect to pay about $1,600 to get there, and stop in Tokyo along the way. A stay in Singapore isn't complete without bedding down at the legendary Raffles Hotel, perhaps the most famous building in Southeast Asia this side of Angkor Wat. "Basic" accommodations at the Raffles start at about $700 a night, excluding the 17% in taxes and fees you'll pay. Singapore's international culture lends itself to an excessively diverse set of cuisines, with the Keystone Restaurant regarded as the island's finest stand-alone establishment. An ocean of flavors offer delicacies ranging from Chilean sea bass to Danish turbot. You'll pay around $50 for the median-priced entrées on the menu.
In the last few decades, it's become synonymous with "extravagant." The United Arab Emirates city of Dubai went from backwater trading post to futuristic wonderland in barely more than a generation. Even though the city and its environs took a hit during the last global financial crisis, Dubai remains one of the most spectacular and expensive destinations in any hemisphere. Flights from New York come in two varieties - costly and indirect. Expect to pay $1,300 and up roundtrip with stops, and potentially over $2,000 for a direct flight. Once in Dubai, you can expect to pay some of the highest hotel rates anywhere. The Burj al-Arab starts at around $1,300 a night and bills itself as "the world's most luxurious hotel." The Burj al-Arab offers "reception desks on every floor, rain showers and Jacuzzis in every suite, a Rolls-Royce fleet and butlers on call around the clock."
Who hasn't dreamt of a romantic getaway to Paris for days spent wandering art museums and nights enjoying the local food, drink and entertainment? If you're looking for a quick trip to the city of light, expect the flight from Los Angeles to run around $1500. Once you're there, luxury hotels like the Mandarin Oriental, Shangri-La and Hotel Le Meurice will cost about $800 or more per night. Factor in the price of dining in one of the world's foremost culinary destinations, and you'll need several thousand dollars just to complete your trip.
A burgeoning economy and, not coincidentally, a refusal to embrace the euro have combined to leave Sweden sitting comfortably atop Europe, both literally and figuratively. Which means that prices here are large relative to much of the rest of the world. Getting to Stockholm is the easy part. Flights from JFK International can cost barely $1,000. The standard-bearer for Scandinavian luxury is unquestioned: the Hotel Sven Vintappare, a 17th century icon that recently underwent a mammoth renovation that finished in 2004. The new Sven Vintappare starts at about $250 nightly, a rate that includes breakfast. For lunch and dinner, the exclusive Edsbacka Krog is regarded as one of Stockholm's finest restaurants. Swedish cuisine has yet to take the world by its taste buds, but in the meantime traditional favorites such as the Edsbacka's grilled rib steak with Béarnaise sauce will run a famished diner about $42.
Still thinking of taking a trip to one of the world's most expensive cities? Pack light, and bring your wallet. From Singapore to Luanda, the cost of a vacation in these destinations will run in the $1000's just to arrive.