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Where to find the world’s friendliest people

Where to find the world’s friendliest people

When people ask why I travel I almost always answer “for the people”. Meeting and feeling welcomed by the locals can easily make your trip. From a few famously friendly places to a handful of controversial ones here are my choice for the world’s friendliest people in the world’s friendliest travel destinations…

Sumatra, Indonesia – wonderful hospitality and a fascination with visitors

Sumatra Indonesia

This island is part of Indonesia and is a short ferry journey from Penang island in Malaysia. It’s a beautiful place and home to seriously friendly locals. With an innate hospitality and a fascination with visitors, the locals will always find time to stop, meet and greet. They will go out of their way to help – even including making me spontaneous cups of tea (without asking) and randomly inviting me to visit one of the local schools. A place where you’re almost always guaranteed a wide smile from the locals.

Dublin, Ireland – famously the world’s friendliest people

24 hours in Dublin

There is no friendlier city than Dublin, especially if you go for drink. That famous ability of the Irish – to find craic (fun times with convivial company) in boom or bust times – means you’re always in for a treat. You will be amazed at the number of genuinely friendly people who will just come up and talk to you while you’re having a drink. For a more authentic experience head away from the tourist areas and stick to the south of the river Liffey instead.

Sciacca, Italy

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There is so much to love about Sicily – the great food, the balmy weather and without a doubt, the people. Sciacca is a town on southwestern coast of Sicily where the friendliness of the locals is almost as big as draw as the sea views. The slow pace of life probably helps (and that Sciacca is not full of tourists) and it has a charming, honest, old world atmosphere where you’ll see kind and friendly faces wherever you go. Italy is one of my favourite countries, but even I admit you need to stay out of the tourist zones to find the most welcoming people.

Glasgow, Scotland

Glasgow

For a big city with a less than generous reputation I’ve personally found the Glaswegians to be among the friendliest people in the world. Yes you’ll probably find that Glasgow is full of characters, whether you bump into a drunkard, a businessman or young teenagers. But they’re mostly very friendly, happy characters with a story to tell and a smile on their face. They’re also a down-to-earth bunch who seem to have mastered balancing a busy work life with a fantastic social life – if you’re looking for a place to party then this is the city. Be assured, locals won’t mind you asking them how to find a place, they’re very proud of their city and want you to enjoy it as much as they do.

Paris, France

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Okay this is going to be a controversial choice but I disagree with the rude and unfriendly stereotype that the Parisians seem to be saddled with. I have also visited quite a few times now so I’m sure it hasn’t just been a one-off. People have been kind, friendly and helpful and have gone out of their way to point out directions when I’ve looked lost. One person even went as far as stopping and checking directions on their iPhone. This just wouldn’t happen in London, or most other cities come to think of it.

Doha, Qatar

Doha cityscape Qatar

This place isn’t always on everyone’s travel list but this small capital city in a small county is also another of the friendliest places I’ve ever visited. I accepted a teaching job there in 2001, and far from the locals being insular (as I was told), I was lucky enough to be welcomed into people’s houses to socialise with them and their families. From souks to restaurants and cafes to five-star hotels, people could not be more welcoming. Take for instance the time I went into a restaurant and asked for a coffee. They had just run out and seeing the disappointed look on my face the owner flew out the door and went to buy some from a local shop. An influx of money has meant the city has become a lot more developed in recent years but I’ve heard it’s still as friendly as it ever was.

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town travel compeition

This is another city that hasn’t always enjoyed the best of reputations – its high crime rate has left many travellers wondering if they should visit, but it still gets a place on my list. Admittedly I was initially worried about visiting Cape Town – especially as a young solo traveller – but when I arrived at my hostel it was one of the most friendliest digs I think I’ve ever stayed in. One night I took myself out for a steak (South Africans cook the best steaks) with the intention of just eating and heading back to the hostel. I ended up chatting to the locals and before I knew what had happened we were lining up shots on the bar and playing pool. After that night, every time I walked past the bar the locals rushed out to invite me in for a drink – the kind of experience that makes travelling so worth it.

Broome, Australia

Broome Australia

Before I took my trip to Broome I was warned by other Australians not to lose touch with time when I visited. I didn’t realise how right they could be, the small but beautiful coastal town in Western Australia is one of those places where you could easily kick back and stay for a lot longer than originally planned. My three days turned into a week, and my sister (on a separate visit) went even better – her few days visit turned into a three-month stretch. I’m in no doubt that this has plenty to do with the friendliness of the place. You’ll probably agree that most Australians possess an easy manner but this place set the bar high – in the main town almost everyone would stop to say hello and you could walk down the street without wearing shoes and no one would bat an eyelid.

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Scott started his travelling life back in 1999, when he headed off on a solo jaunt to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia with just a backpack, a camera and a spirit for adventure. After that, the travel bug bit hard and now he is always seeking to head off somewhere new. Over the years he has lived in Italy, Qatar, Ireland and the UK but his spiritual home will always be Rome as this is the city which most satisfies his unrelenting craving for culture, good food and football. Scott loves nothing better than to be behind the camera and has also just started his own blog called Bars and Spas. As well as Rome he also counts Melbourne and Tel Aviv among his favourite places and now permanently resides in Dublin. Follow Scott on Google+ and Twitter

27 Comments

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      Scott Balaam

      23 January, 2013 at 4:10 pm

      Sadly Sab I haven’t been there yet but I have heard people are very friendly from there.

      It will go on my list of places to visit.

      Reply
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    Joselyn Seifer

    17 January, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    Good list of places with friendly people. I must say after visiting the Dominican Republic last year, I’d suggest adding them to the list. Some of the warmest and friendliest people I’ve ever met!

    Reply
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      Scott Balaam

      23 January, 2013 at 4:17 pm

      That’s interesting, again not somewhere that I have been but had heard problems with safety.

      Were you able to move around freely and away from hotel complexes?

      Reply
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    Mandy

    15 January, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    Love the idea for this article! It’s always great to hear about the awesome experiences and the great people there are in this world. The news is always flush with such negativity, I love hearing about great worldly experiences! Thanks for posting!

    Reply
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      Scott Balaam

      23 January, 2013 at 4:19 pm

      Thank you so much for the feedback, I was an enjoyable piece to write.

      It’s amazing how many people have different experiences from different places and find have a different opinion on different countries.

      Reply
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    Mike

    14 January, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    I honestly haven’t been to Doha..but I as planning to visit the city some time this year..let me check it myself about friendly they are then..nice share!:)

    Reply
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      Scott Balaam

      23 January, 2013 at 4:21 pm

      Well, I kind of stumbled on it, it was due to getting a job there and I didn’t regret it.

      Everywhere I went i found people really friendly and incredible service in restaurants.

      I am hoping to go back in the next couple of years.

      Reply
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    Greg Prohl

    14 January, 2013 at 4:32 am

    A great article that, while only one persons opinion, can actually be helpful and a fun read. Also some fantastic photos – they all sound good, and look good too!

    Reply
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    John

    12 January, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    I am moving to Dublin in the next couple of months so I’m looking forward to experiencing the friendliness.
    Another one that people wouldnt perhaps think of but I found very friendly is Berlin. I had a girl come up to me on the subway to offer help with directions because she could see me looking at the map and everyone else I encountered were very friendly.

    Reply
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    Tiana Kai

    12 January, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    Dublin was the friendliest for sure! Nor have I ever met a grumpy Aussie or Brazilian. Hawai’i is the friendliest state in the U.S. 🙂 My grandfather actually came up with the state’s slogan back in the 50-60’s “…stay for the people.” Such a majestic place.

    Reply
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      Scott Balaam

      23 January, 2013 at 4:29 pm

      I loved Australia, but Broome was definitely the friendliest place.

      Brazil is top of my list of places to visit – World Cup in 2014 hopefully!!

      Reply
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      Scott Balaam

      23 January, 2013 at 4:30 pm

      I thought Paris would surprise people, I have always found Parisians really friendly. I would agree that trying to use French makes a huge difference.

      Reply
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    Sofia

    12 January, 2013 at 7:22 am

    Great to hear Sicily has friendly people, can’t wait to go there. I definitely agree with Scotland and Ireland – such friendly people.

    The people in Vanuatu have to be among the friendliest I’ve ever come across.

    Reply
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    kami

    11 January, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    I randomly visited Doha few months ago – I had a lay over there on the way from China – and I loved it there! After not so nice people in China I just couldn’t believe how everyone was nice, friendly and willing to help even with the smallest things!
    Another country I found people extremely nice is Georgia but they’re crazy about Polish people there, maybe that’s why it was that way 🙂

    Reply

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