CEBU CITY, Philippines - On the day a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Cebu and Bohol, these islands landed in the Top 5 Islands in Asia list of Conde Nast Traveler magazine.
The magazine announced on Oct. 15 the winners of its 26th Annual Readers' Choice Awards, which ranks the best cities, islands, cruise lines, airlines, hotels and resorts in the world. The complete list will appear in the magazine's November issue.
Conde Nast said Cebu and the Visayan islands "have it all, including all the shopping and restaurant needs for any traveler with the friendliest people anywhere in the world!"
"The night life is big here, but not as wild as Phuket," one reader said. Entertainment is "smaller, more upclose and personal," he added.
The Visayan Islands in the survey included Cebu, Panay, Negros, Bohol, Leyte and Samar.
One survey taker said "in all my years of traveling, Cebu is my No. 1 choice!" Another said: "It is probably the best island city on the universe."
Cebu and the Visayan islands got a Readers' Choice Rating of 80.4 points, behind Koh Samui but ahead of Phuket. The latter two islands are in Thailand.
The Top 5 Islands in Asia with their corresponding choice ratings are: Bali, Indonesia, with 83.1 points; Koh Samui, Thailand, with 82.8 points; Phuket, (Thailand), with 78.9 points; and Lombok, Indonesia, with 77.8 points.
Readers raved about Bali for its "exquisite hotels, exotic and rich culture and extraordinary food, and the sweetest people in the world."
Although some readers felt Koh Samui was "almost too developed," the island moved up to second place from fifth place last year, with some readers saying it is a "beautiful island with fun night life and great restaurants, and plentiful natural foliage and beauty."
Phuket went down from No. 2 to No. 4 this year, with some readers saying "it's good for families but too chaotic and filled with many tourists."
In the past few years, only Cebu was cited in the survey rankings, occupying 7th place five times: 75.9 points in 2012; 72.6 in 2009; 70.9 in 2008; 72.3 in 2007 and 72.8 in 2004.