I always tell friends and family when I return from a trip if I found the people in the country in question friendly and hospitable. For me, that is a very important aspect that can make or break a journey. A helping hand from the local population is very nice and the atmosphere that the local population radiates, you often take over as a tourist. I like being genuinely friendly and not having the feeling that people are only interested in me to spend the money I spend in the country. I always try to dress and behave with respect to the country where I am, because that is also part of it. Giving respect means getting respect!
In total I visited almost 70 countries and are you wondering which 5 countries I think have the most friendly population?
I do not have to think for a second about which country I put on number 1. With head and shoulders the first place goes to Iran. The population is very hospitable, extremely friendly, genuinely interested and super helpful. I felt super welcome in Iran every single second and I didn’t felt unsafe for a single second in this lovely country! In Iran I have received so much food, drinks and sweets from the local population that even in restaurants where I sometimes was full of all the food I had before my own meal came. Iranians show you the way extensively and usually they walk with you to buy a bottle of water for you on the way, because it is so hot. I have been to a wedding in Iran and I have celebrated birthdays, all in the company of good willed families!
What strikes me most about the people in Indonesia is that I am always very happily greeted by a cheerful Indonesian with a friendly face. The population is always in for a friendly chat and Indonesians have a great sense of humor. For example, I spent hours at a food stall and talked to the owner and laughed non stop and then got the food for free. Even though people do not really speak English in the less touristy places, my guide and I on Nusa Penida have communicated the whole day with hand gestures and yet fully understood each other.
I have a huge weakness for the Spanish people. I have no idea if it is because I think the language sounds so beautiful, the food is so delicious or because the country is so varied with beaches, cities and nature. I always meet very friendly Spaniards who give me the feeling that I am a kind of home in Spain. I love that the whole life takes place on the street in the summer and you can just sit down in a tapas bar and share the food and the bottle of wine. For example, I ate in Tarifa with totally unknown people, because the restaurant had no place and I could join them at the table. I also had a nice picnic with a group of students in the park in Valencia.
The motto of the Mexicans is “tranquilo” and perhaps that is a reason why I have included Mexico in my list. I find the people in Mexico very friendly and always relaxed. These are two characteristics that I am always very happy about and for me they fit with the holiday feeling. Mexicans really are never in a hurry and are always smiling. So I once had a children’s birthday with a very nice family and I was completely stuffed with all the delicious Mexican food. And in Tulum I met the most cheerful barman once and his cheerfulness was very contagious to me and all the other guests at the beach bar.
I think the people in Southeast Asia are very friendly, but the dearest and most hospitable people in Southeast Asia are really the Laotians. Everywhere people smile at you friendly and children come laughing and waving to you. I have not felt unsafe for a moment and the Laotians are always willing to help you. What made me feel welcome in Laos! In Laos few people speak English, but sometimes they speak French. So I met a very friendly lady in Vientiane and she showed me the whole city by bike.