I usually don't like to report on those "best" or "least expensive" city or airport stories. I figure that if you really want to visit the Louvre, the fact that Albuquerque is less expensive or Seoul has a better airport is irrelevant.

But once in a while a "best" list comes along that might actually be useful to you.

The latest comes from TripAdvisor. It ranks cities by nine categories based on a survey of the site's users. And it ranks both the three best and the three lowest in each category.

If you're considering visiting these cities, some of the rankings can provide a good guide to how easy the visit might be:

  • Ease of getting around: Zurich, Vienna and Singapore. (Hardest to get around: Mumbai, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and Moscow.)

  • Best public transport: Tokyo, Zurich and Munich. (Worst public transport: Hanoi, Sharm-el Sheikh and Marrakech.)

  • Best taxi services: Tokyo, Singapore and Dubai. (Worst taxi services: Moscow, Beijing and Kuala Lumpur.)

  • Best value for money: Lisbon, Budapest and Bangkok. (Worst value for money: Oslo, Moscow and Zurich.)

  • Safest cities: Tokyo, Singapore and Dubrovnik. (Worst not listed.)

    Three other rankings provide some idea of how welcome you might feel:

  • Friendliest locals: Cancun, Tokyo and Lisbon. (Least friendly: Moscow, London and Hong Kong.)

  • Friendliest taxi drivers: Tokyo, Cancun and Singapore. (Least friendly taxi drivers: Moscow, Beijing and Brussels.)

  • Cleanest streets: Tokyo, Singapore and Zurich. (Least clean: Mumbai, Marrakech and Punta Cana.)

    And one category that doesn't matter for lots of travelers:

  • Best for shopping: New York, Bangkok and Dubai. (Worst for shopping: Moscow, Oslo and Punta Cana.)

    Although I've been to only 12 of those cities, I find myself agreeing with many of the rankings. Certainly, most of the "best" results appear reasonable.

    But I have a bit more of a problem with some of the "worst" results. I found navigating Moscow's subways to be relatively easy, for example. I haven't found locals unfriendly in Moscow, London or Hong Kong. And I don't recall any problems with Brussels taxi drivers.

    On the other hand, Oslo, Moscow, and Zurich definitely are very expensive, but in Zurich, at least, the high prices provide some really great hotels and restaurants.

    I can't comment either way on Dubrovnik, Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur, Marrakech or Punta Cana, which I've never visited.

    From a broader perspective, I've found that most major cities outside of the United States and Canada offer good public transport and, in general, are easy to navigate. Even countries that use different alphabets almost always post metro stops and other such vital information in recognizable words -- often the sort-of English "Globish" that you see almost everywhere. And the only place I encountered unfriendly locals in my recent round-the-world trip was Krakow.

    Most other surveys I've seen lately support the findings here about the most and least value for the money. All of Scandinavia and the big Russian cities are expensive, as are the main cities of Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Fortunately, at least in the United Kingdom, Scandinavia and Switzerland, you can go down-market in hotels and restaurants without any great hardship. And, on the other hand, a quick browse of Booking.com or some other online travel agency will display really good hotel prices, even at the four-star properties, in Bangkok and Budapest. Also, although Germany has had a high-cost reputation, Berlin still appears to be a good value destination.

    For now, the main areas where I would worry about daily costs are those this survey highlights as poor value for the money. Even then, however, if you really want to see Westminster Abbey, the Alps, the fjords or the Kremlin, careful planning can make your visit reasonable.

    Contact Ed Perkins at eperkins@mind.net.