Which city do business travellers spend the most time? According to Concur, a provider of travel and expense management services, London tops the list, followed by Shanghai, Singapore, Beijing and then Toronto.

The Concur survey, which was based on 500 million expense lines gleaned from approximately 15,000 corporate clients in 2011, also shows that business travel is getting more expensive due to increasing airfares, pricier hotels and costly ground transportation such as taxis.

The most expensive international city for business travel -- based on the average cost for dining, entertainment and lodging -- was Tokyo, followed by Copenhagen, Perth, Sydney then Stockholm.

“The influence that Asia is increasingly having on global business travel dynamics is clear,” said Isabel Montesdeoca, senior vice president at Concur. “The popularity of financial capitals such as London and Toronto also shows that the world’s finance industry contributes significantly to the number of people out on the road.”

There’s a good chance that a number of Asian cities would not have ranked in the top five  10 years ago, showing that the world’s global economic focus has moved east and solidifying the need for business travellers to visit this region. For the many travellers heading to one of the top five most-visited business travel destinations, here is how the costs break down.

The English capital is a global finance and business hub, home to many multinational companies and the most visited city by business travellers in 2011. Contrary to popular belief, the city ranks sixth on the list of the world’s most expensive cities, but only Sydney beats London when it comes to the average amount spent on a hotel room -- it’s even more expensive than Dubai.       

Almost half of the survey’s top 25 most visited cities are in Asia, so it’s not surprising that Shanghai ranks second. Located on China’s prosperous eastern shoreline, the city is the gateway to the country’s manufacturing heartlands. While lodging, dining and entertainment tend to be less expensive than in London, business travellers spend slightly 16% more on car rental in Shanghai. 

In the English-speaking financial hub for Southeast Asia, now a gateway to booming, resource-rich Indonesia, it is fairly economical to get around either by taxi, car rental or public transport. Yet business travellers to Singapore tend to spend slightly more money on dining out than travellers to London.       

Home to China’s political elite as well as many multinational companies and their economic interests, it’s no surprise that this northern capital ranks highly. “Many clients have long established business relationships here that must be nurtured by regularly making sales visits,” said Peter Muller, chief operating officer for Europe at ATPI, a travel management company. In Beijing, car rental is more expensive than London, but lodgings are nearly half the price.

As the gateway to North America’s natural resources industry (mining, energy, oil and gas), Toronto has been getting increasingly popular as a place to do business. Pricewise, accommodation is competitive, but when it comes to entertaining and dining out, Canada’s financial hub is even more expensive than London. On the entertainment stakes, Toronto is number five in the rankings, behind Tokyo first, then Copenhagen, Stockholm and Zurich in fourth.