If you should ever visit Paris, you will probably see a number of visitors holding maps as they look up with furrowed brows at unfamiliar street signs. Parisians have a reputation for being a little abrupt, but this is perhaps because they get asked for directions several times during the course of an average day. Their often blunt response to being asked where the Eiffel Tower is does not necessarily equate to rudeness, and yet it’s a different approach to the inhabitants of many countries and cities around the world. The citizens of some countries are the epitome of hospitable and they will do their best to ensure that you have a good time while visiting their part of the world. So what are the countries with the friendliest locals?
Thailand: The Land of Smiles
Thailand is not known as the land of smiles for nothing, and the people are just so darn friendly. When you enter a business or someone’s home, you will be greeted by someone who will clasp their hands together and bow slightly. Men will say “Sawadee krap,” (sah-wah-dee-krap) and women will say “Sawadee ka,” (sah-wah-dee-kah) and you should respond in the same manner, depending on your gender. To ignore this greeting is the equivalent of someone offering you a hand to shake, and you ignoring it. People are extraordinarily friendly in Thailand, even in a bustling metropolis like Bangkok. English is not so widely spoken, but people will do their absolute best to accommodate you.
Cuba: Mi Casa Es Su Casa
Cuban generosity is astounding. People make such little money here (although their expenses are subsidised by government rations), and yet what is theirs is yours. In many Cuban towns, people don’t even bother to lock their doors when they go out, such is their trust and respect for each other. A super low crime rate is rather helpful too. Perhaps the best way to enjoy Cuban hospitality is to take a private Cuba tour with accommodation in Casa Particulares. These are private bed and breakfast types of establishments where you will be staying with a Cuban family. Trust us, by the time you’re ready to leave it will feel like you’re saying goodbye to your actual family.
New Zealand: Laid Back Warmth (and Hobbits)
New Zealand has always been a drawcard for visitors, but a certain series of movies featuring Hobbits making their way around a majestic landscape has certainly helped to boost numbers. Kiwis are genuinely nice without being obtrusive. There are very few large cities in the country (only Auckland has a population over a million), and so most of the country feels like a small town. There is a warmth to the people here, and while their neighbours Australia are seen as extremely easy going, the Aussies have nothing on the wonderfully chilled Kiwis.
Fiji: Deliciously Overwhelming
The flight attendants on Fiji’s national airline actually wear a tropical flower tucked behind their ears as part of their official uniform. It’s the little touches like this that will put you in a happy mood even before your plane lands. You might want to plan an exercise regime that will begin immediately after your Fijian holiday, since the locals will do their best to fatten you up. Traditional Fijian feasts can be deliciously overwhelming, and your hosts (whether you’re at a resort or in someone’s home) will keep on offering you more and more. A large proportion of the population identify as Christian and are regular church goers, so if you want to feel the community spirit, maybe you can get up early on a Sunday and join them. There will probably be food afterwards…
Canada: The Land of Good Manners
Canadian politeness is something that has been joked about in countless American films and TV shows, and yet this stereotype is grounded in reality. People really are that nice here. Many Canadians walk the admirable line between being polite and yet highly informal. Canada ranks highly on surveys for new migrants rating how included they feel in their new society. People are more-or-less on the same level in Canada, regardless of their ethnic or socioeconomic background, and they treat each other accordingly. Refreshingly unpretentious, Canada will give you a warm feeling… even when the ground outside is covered in snow.