Bangkok among world’s top 20 dynamic cities

Pre-election uncertainties unlikely to have significant impact on the city’s momentum

January 25, 2019

In the sixth City Momentum Index published by property consultancy JLL, Bangkok ranks the 18th most dynamic city in the world, ahead of Shenzhen (19th) and Chengdu (20th). The Index measures momentum for 131 of the world's most commercially active cities by tracking a range of socio-economic and commercial real estate indicators over a three-year period to identify the urban economies and real estate markets undergoing the most rapid expansion.

According to the Index, momentum in the Bangkok economy has been gradually increasing over the past couple of years. As a key hub of South East Asia, the number of visitors to the city has risen dramatically over the past decade. In 2016, 'Thailand 4.0' was launched, aimed at attracting new investment to transform the economy. FDI rebounded sharply in 2017 with many foreign investors now successfully joining with local partners. At the same time, infrastructure improvements are now underway with four new mass rapid transit (MRT) lines in development along with two extensions to existing lines.


Political uncertainty that Thailand is experiencing makes it less easy to assess whether Bangkok's momentum will continue this year. Whilst the announcement of the general election date set for March 24 has been well received by the business sector, political uncertainty is expected to continue at least until a new government is formed after the elections.  

However, Mrs. Suphin Mechuchep, Managing Director of JLL Thailand, expects impact of pre-election uncertainties on business investment decisions to be short term. "Confidence should resume after a new government is formed. In addition, ongoing urbanisation and strong fundamentals in Bangkok's commercial real estate sectors will continue to provide room for the city's economy and real estate market to grow further, supporting the city momentum," she says.

Asian cities lead in short-term momentum

Asia is home to 19 of the top 20 cities, highlighting the continuing shift of fast urban growth from the West to the East, according to the Index. 

The absence of European and American cities demonstrates a marked East-West growth divide, reflecting Asia's continued rapid urbanization and economic growth, driven by globalization, innovation and demographic factors.

Overall, Indian and Chinese cities dominate the rankings, accounting for three quarters of the top 20. Leading the pack are Indian cities Bengaluru and Hyderabad, followed by Vietnam's Hanoi in third place. The only non-Asian city on the list is Nairobi, in sixth place, which is heavily influenced by significant amounts of infrastructure-focused investment from China.

Although the global economic cycle is in its late stages, there are still many cities in the world where real estate and economic growth continue to be robust. But while strong growth brings opportunities for economic and social development, it also brings challenges that cities must address to ensure short-term growth transitions into long-term momentum. Investing in infrastructure and greater transparency is essential to facilitate this transition. These cities also need to address the environmental and social impacts of rapid growth such as social inequality, congestion and environmental degradation. The provision of smart, efficient and productive real estate and increased transparency are key factors in driving long-term, sustainable growth.

Investment in transformative real estate drives sustainable growth

Thoughtful and innovative development–such as regeneration projects with a long-term vision that nurture new businesses and improve lives–is essential, as are large-scale infrastructure projects that help combat problems around congestion and improve accessibility.

Manila (ranked 12 in this year's Index), for example, is one of the densest cities in the world, with an expanding population. The government has committed to an extensive infrastructure building program, 'Build Build Build', which includes more than 2,000 projects. These are expected to improve congestion, increase power reliability, reduce the impact of climate change, and redevelop urban areas.

Smart infrastructure and sustainable technology create liveable cities

Technological innovation in the form of greener and smarter buildings also plays an important role in answering the environmental challenges brought about by rapid growth. The Chinese city of Xi'an, ranked ninth in this year's Index, has installed an innovative 100-metre-tall air purifying tower to reduce smog and improve air quality. Bangkok (ranked 18th) will gradually benefit from different development projects that have been launched in recent years under the 'Thailand 4.0' initiative, aiming to elevate the country to the status of a high-income nation, reduce inequality, and promote environmentally sustainable growth and development.

Foreign Direct Investment crucial for long-term momentum

Sustainable long-term momentum and a maturing economy are often supported by long-term foreign direct investment (FDI) and transparent governance.

India's fastest growing cities have been successful over recent years, attracting high levels of FDI, with structural reforms (including the Real Estate Regulation and Development Act), encouraging more real estate investment from foreign buyers. A similar story is playing out in Chinese cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, which are both on the cusp of joining the ranks of the world's transparent real estate markets.

For more information, download the City Momentum Index here:


JLL's City Momentum Index measures momentum for 131 of the world's most commercially active cities by tracking a range of socio-economic and commercial real estate indicators over a three-year period to identify the urban economies and real estate markets undergoing the most rapid expansion. The City Momentum Index presents a weighted overall score for the sub-scores of 20 variables. For each variable the model calculates a score based on the city's performance relative to the distribution of all 131 city regions, scaled from zero to one. The top-scoring city for each variable has a value of one, while the lowest-scoring city receives a value of zero. Variables focus on indicators of socio-economic momentum and commercial real estate momentum. All real-estate data is sourced to JLL. Non-real estate data is drawn from a wide range of sources that includes Oxford Economics, United Nations, ACI, GaWC and fDI Markets. The Index also sources data from many national statistical offices. To learn more about cities and real estate, visit

The article was published by Bangkok Post, 25 January 2019.

About JLL

JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. Our vision is to reimagine the world of real estate, creating rewarding opportunities and amazing spaces where people can achieve their ambitions. In doing so, we will build a better tomorrow for our clients, our people and our communities. JLL is a Fortune 500 company with annual revenue of $16.3 billion, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of over 91,000 as of March 31, 2019. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit

About JLL Thailand

The firm’s operation in Thailand began in 1990 and today is the country’s largest international property service provider with 1,600 employees and more than five million square metres of property and corporate facilities managed. In Euromoney Real Estate Survey 2018, JLL was voted as Thailand’s number one overall real estate advisor for the 8th consecutive year and also won top votes for agency/letting, research and valuation in the same survey. The firm was also named Thailand’s five-star winner in the commercial property consultancy and commercial real estate agency categories at the International Property Awards Asia Pacific 2019/2020. For more information, visit

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