In this latest top 10 series, I will be covering the top 10 friendliest people I met during my 380 days of travel around the world.
Here is a list of Ten Top 10 I will be covering in this series:
- Horrible Experiences
- Favourite Experiences
- Life Lessons
- Hikes and Treks
During my one year trip around the world, I visited many countries and met many friendly locals. Amazingly, some encounters were very memorable and left a lasting impression on me.
My preferred communication style is direct and I really like authentic people. I hate it when people act “nice” but they’re really fake. Nothing annoys me more than when people are trying to be politically correct or use socially acceptable language. That’s why I enjoyed my time in places like Ukraine where people would just apologetically blurt out the most offensive jokes. That tells me that these people are honest and they’re saying exactly what they’re thinking.
For the sake of this blog post, I won’t include Canadians. Because I live in Canada, that would make things bias. I will also not include the Philippines. Mainly because I was born in that country and it would also be bias for me to include Filipinos. If I was being bias, then I would definitely include both Canadians and Filipinos to this list because they’re obviously one of the friendliest people in the world.
My criteria for this blog post is the local’s authenticity, warmth, generosity, friendliness, and genuineness.
The top 10 friendliest people that I met during my 380 days of travel
Bolivia was the first South American country I have ever explored and it was great to talk to the local Bolivians. Many of the locals are very friendly and welcoming. During my time in Bolivia, I noticed many Bolivians were eager to teach me how to speak Spanish. It was a cool experience and I really enjoyed my time in this country.
I have some Bolivian friends here in Vancouver as well and you can tell it’s a cultural thing to be warm and welcoming.
As a result, I place Bolivians at number 10 of my top 10 friendliest people I met during my 380 days of travel.
Some people accuse Greek people of being lazy and that led to their economy to crash. However, from what I saw, yes it is true that Greek people are very “chill” in general. They are relaxed and just want to enjoy life. However, I also saw that they work very hard, especially when I got a chance to speak to some locals and they told me about their business endeavour in Athens.
When Karen and myself went to Greece, we felt very welcome by the locals. I noticed many Greeks in Santorini and Athens can speak pretty good English (thanks to tourism). However, unlike other tourist popular places I’ve visited, I never found the sales people in Greece to be annoying or pushy.
Karen was very touched when we were about to leave Santorini and the lady who owned the accommodation gave her a gift.
Greece is definitely a country I will visit again one day even if it’s a touristy destination.
As a result, I place Greeks as top 9 in my top 10 friendliest people I met during my travels.
Venezuela’s tourism industry has been hit hard thanks to the political instability their country has been experiencing. Crime is rampant and many people feel hopeless.
However, this doesn’t change the fact that Venezuelans are making the best out of it and are extremely friendly. I remember eating street food once and I bought this chicken and rice dish. After eating it, the lady who ran the stand looks at me and asks me in Spanish if I liked it. I replied back with a resounding “yes!” because it was delicious. She then takes her fork, jabs another big piece of chicken and gives it to me for free. I was thinking…what the hell! In Canada and the US, we get free pop refills, I guess in Venezuela, you get free chicken re-fills.
Besides that experience, I met so many locals in different cities like Santa Elena, Porta Ordaz and Ciudad Bolivar that was just so warm and friendly. Many of them would share stories of their life in the country and their hopes and dreams. It was a great experience and made me love Venezuela.
I won’t be returning anytime soon because I felt paranoid being in that country because of the political instability. However, the moment the country cleans up crime and have a better government in the distant future, you bet I will be one of the first to go back there and independently travel across the country.
For these reasons, I place Venezuelans at top 8 of my top 10 friendliest people I met while travelling.
Finland was a massive surprise to me. I only went to this country to tick it off as one of the nations I visited in my quest to visit every single UN recognized countries. However, as soon I boarded the flight going from Oslo to Helsinki, the kindness of Finnish people became apparent.
People onboard the airplane were very eager to tell me about their country and its history.
Finnish people are also very eager to help foreigners. I remember trying to take a picture of the landscape of Helsinki and one Finnish girl went up to me and asked me if I need help taking pictures. Whenever I felt lost as I tried to navigate my way to my Airbnb, there was a Finnish person that would appear to come help give me proper directions.
Despite my short stay in this country, the friendly locals made me feel very welcome. I definitely want to return to this friendly nation one day and explore it further.
Because of the my experience interacting with the locals, I place Finn’s at top 7 of my top 10 friendliest people.
Colombia is my second favourite country that I have ever visited in my entire life. In this country, Colombians are some of the friendliest people in the world. They’re also very politically incorrect which is right along my alleyway.
I won’t say some of the stuff they said to me because I know some stupid social justice warrior will get upset. But they have no filter and are absolutely hilarious.
My method of travel in this country was taking the local buses and it was quite fun! My Spanish is very basic but the moment I entered the country and started taking the buses to go to my next destination, there was always a Colombian in the bus chatting me up and asking about my background and trying to learn more about me. They are also more than happy to converse with you and tell you stories of their life in Colombia.
Many times, when I got lost, some Colombians would come and help me with directions. Border crossings are usually some of the worst places on this Earth and the Colombian border is no different. I remember a shared taxi driver tried scamming me and the local Colombian saw what was happening and went to the driver and told him off.
During my time in Colombia, I also did some volunteer work and befriended many of the Colombian employees working in this hostel I was staying at. It was such a great experience and to this day, I look fondly at my time in Colombia.
Because of my positive experience, I firmly place Colombians at top 6 of my top 10 friendliest people I met during my travels.
What I like about Vietnamese people is their direct and straight to the point. At first glance, they don’t seem that friendly because they aren’t smiling.
However, when you start talking to them, you soon realize that they don’t like to fake emotions. If they don’t feel good, then they look neutral. But when they’re happy, they really show it.
I remember staying at an Airbnb for almost an entire month in Da Nang, Vietnam and the owner of the place was so friendly that he took me to play tennis and badminton with him. He also showed me his online business and introduced me to his employees.
I always ate at the same restaurants while I was in Da Nang and I quickly befriended some of the local restaurant workers. On my last day in Da Nang, I went to say goodbye to the restaurant workers and they became extremely sad and the waitress started to tear up. They saw me as a friend of theirs and was sad to see me go.
We took pictures together and they asked me when I will return. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that I probably won’t be coming back. It’s just one of the sad part of travel is saying goodbye to locals you meet.
I’ve always had a special connection with Vietnamese people. In Vancouver, many of my best friends are of Vietnamese descent. I will definitely return one day to Vietnam and explore more of the southern region and maybe even get a chance to stop by and visit some of the friends I made in Da Nang.
Because of my special connection with the Vietnamese people, I happily place them at top 5 of my top 10 friendliest people I ever met.
Polish people look grumpy as hell when you first meet them. And, they’re very judgmental to their own kind. As a result, they become really paranoid that foreigners are also judging them. They then put on an unfriendly front the first 5 minutes you speak to them.
If you get passed the first 5 minutes and you’re still friendly and not judging them, they really open up big time and become super friendly. Then they actually tell you that Polish people are judging other Polish people all the time when they talk to foreigners.
One of their favourite thing to do is judge the English speaking level of their Polish people. They often say, “stop trying to speak English, you are just embarrassing yourself” to their fellow Polish people.
I find this weird culture of theirs very amusing.
During my time in Poland, I got a chance to do volunteer work to teach English and I made friends with so many Polish locals. Some of them took the time to show me around their city and tell me more about their life in this country.
Poland is such a beautiful country with friendly people, I would love to visit on an annual basis if I could.
Because of the welcoming experience I felt, I place Polish people at top 4 of my top 10 friendliest people I ever met.
To be honest, I hated travelling in Brazil. The reason is because the country is so damn expensive. Why is Brazil expensive when it’s a developing country?
A lot of places in Brazil are also not very safe and it makes you feel uneasy walking outside at times.
However, those negative things aside, Brazil has some of the most friendliest people in the world. I can’t believe how friendly Brazilians are. They are very open and expressive and welcoming. I met many Brazilians who went out of their way to help me translate from English to Portuguese.
Whenever I needed help with directions, translations, Brazilians were happy to help. Even here in Canada, many Brazilians I met are incredibly friendly. I really like Brazilian people, it’s too bad their country is ridiculously expensive.
Because of the level of warmth and hospitality, I happily place Brazilians at top 3 of my top 10 friendliest people I met during my lifetime.
As far as travellers go, Dutch people are hands down the friendliest. During my time in South Africa, and Malaysia, I befriended some Dutch travellers.
When I finally got a chance to travel to The Netherlands, those same Dutch people that I met welcomed me to stay in their homes in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Some of my Dutch friends also showed me around Rotterdam and Eindhoven which was fun.
It was great catching up with the Dutch people I met while travelling and hopefully, they’ll get a chance to visit me here in Canada one day.
I firmly place Dutch people at number 2 of my top 10 friendliest people I met during my one year trip around the world.
The biggest surprise to me during my one year trip are Serbian people. Some people lecture me and tell me I shouldn’t travel so fast. I get lectured to just visit some countries I want to visit and spend a month or more there to really get to know a place and its people.
This advice makes sense of course…but you also miss out on places you never knew could be amazing.
I have absolutely no desire to visit Serbia. This country just felt like another Eastern European country with a troubled past.
When I planned my one year of travel, I picked 6 countries where I would stay up to a month. While the other 6 months, I would just spend a few days or weeks. Serbia would be one of those 24 hour countries where I would go in, stay overnight, look around a little bit, then leave to my next destination. Check! Serbia complete! Right…?
Learning more about Serbia
While I was staying in the hostel in Belgrade, I was starving because I didn’t get a chance to eat much that day. I didn’t feel like going out to look for a restaurant because I didn’t have any Serbian money. I was leaving the next day so I didn’t feel the need to get any. And, I don’t think a lot of places took credit cards so I decided to tough it out. This lady who was working in the hostel noticed I was trying to find a way to get some food. So, she said to me, “do you want to try Serbian food?” Of course I said yes and she went out of her way to prepare me a traditional Serbian dish made of beans and it was delicious.
She then took the time to chat with me about life in Serbia and I learned a lot about the country.
The next day, as I boarded the long train to go to Montenegro, I befriended this Serbian guy who shared the same train car as me. We ended up chatting for over 8 hours about politics, life, Serbia, and Japanese anime. I’m quite shocked how good many Serbians are at speaking English.
One of the sad things I learned about Serbia is how little job opportunity they have in this country. Most people are well educated, and intelligent, but they just don’t have any employment opportunities. My friend told me that 70% of the people living in Serbia work for the government. I really can’t see how a country can sustain itself when majority of its employment is coming from the government.
Nothing else needs to be said. Serbians take a solid top 1 in my top 10 friendliest people I met around the world.
Opportunities for foreigners in Serbia
My friend in the train has a masters degree in Counselling and he has no opportunity to practice his profession at all.. He’s left to do jobs like call centre or other unsavory dead-end jobs.
Before my friend left the train, he told me to come back to Serbia. And, I’m more than welcome to crash at his place.
I then realized that my mixed travelling style is great. 6 months fast and 6 months slow. Fast travel allows you to get a chance to sample countries I know nothing and get pleasantly surprised. I can always go back to those countries I really like later on.
If I never traveled the way I do, I would have never stopped in Serbia and learned that this country not only has some of the friendliest people in the world, they’re also some of the smartest.
If you are a foreigner looking to build an online business and you need to hire highly educated individuals with great command of English, Serbia has ridiculous amount of opportunities, especially since their standard monthly salary is only $400 USD a month.
Conclusion to my top 10 friendliest people
One of the great thing about travelling around the world is discovering the many different cultures out there. You get to learn more about the people in different nations and not just rely on the bullshit you hear from the news.
While I did go to some countries where I was treated poorly by locals, for the most part, there are more good people out there than bad people. And I’m happy to get the opportunity to meet such people and make friends and possibly even start a business abroad.
This proved that my mix fast and slow travel style is perfect. If I never travelled fast, I would never get a chance to visit countries that pleasantly surprised me. Now that I know I like those places, I can revisit them for a longer duration in the future. I highly recommend doing a good mix of 50% fast, 50% slow travel. Fast travel to discover places that you might potentially like. And, slow travel to really learn more about your favourite countries.
Who are your top 10 friendliest people you met during your travels?