The Friendliest Asian Countries For The Budget Traveler

Wouldn’t it be amazing to visit a foreign country where you’re welcomed with a friendly smile? Forbes listed down 15 of the friendliest countries in the world which included four in Asia namely, Turkey (6th), the Philippines (7th), Malaysia (10th) and Singapore (14th). You may think that a place with a larger working class population is more welcoming than a wealthier destination. However, polls don’t really suggest any conclusive evidence to support this. In the Forbes survey, Canada, Australia and the US, which are considered first-world countries, are among the top 5 friendliest. Meanwhile, equally progressive nations the United Arab of Emirates, Qatar and Russia are at the bottom of the list.

Perhaps the lesson here is: don’t judge a country by its per capital income.

But is it possible to find an affordable vacation destination where you’re greeted by nice people? Welcome to Asia!

#1: Turkey

friendly Turkey

Turkey brings you the best of Asia and Europe. It lies in Western Asia and Southeast Europe, making it an interesting blend of two worlds. Turkish people are not only friendly, they are helpful travel guides. Whenever you lose your way in the bustling capital of Istanbul, ask for assistance from the locals. They will drop whatever they’re doing and stop at nothing to help you. Most likely, you’ll receive a lot of dinner invitations from new acquaintances.

What to do in Turkey: Turkey is home to the most stunning rugs, carpets and handicrafts on the planet. Visit Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, which was built in 1461. The shopping has to be part of your adventure. Watch artisans at work, haggle for prices, and expect to drink lots of free tea.

#2: The Philippines

friendly Philippines

Many surveys, past and present, list the Philippines as one of the friendliest places on earth. Hospitality is an intrinsic trait of Filipinos. This is probably the reason why this Southeast Asian country is a customer service hub, a top expat destination and a backpacker’s favourite stop. The Philippines is the most social nation in the world, both online and offline, so expect to make a lot of friends during your stay.

What to do in the Philippines: The country is an archipelago of 7,100+ islands surrounded by water. From the capital Metro Manila, fly south to Boracay, one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Explore its powdery white sand beaches, sumptuous local cuisine and vibrant nightlife. For sure, you’ll have interesting Boracay beach stories to bring home with you.

#3: Malaysia

friendly Malaysia

Malaysians, especially those in the rural areas, are a laid back and friendly lot. If you’re from a country where people are too busy to get somewhere, you’ll be surprised how Malaysians go over their daily lives: less stress and always with a sunny disposition. No wonder the people in this Southeast Asian country are among the happiest and friendliest in the world.

What to do in Malaysia: It is said that the best way to understand a culture is through its cuisine. Have a gastronomic adventure in George Town in northeast Penang Island, and discover the diverse ethnicities, religions and landscapes of Malaysia. Try laksa (rice noodles in soup), roti canai (flatbread), apom Balik (stuffed pancake), and Batu Maung satay (grilled meat on skewers) which is best consumed with cold beer.

#4: Singapore

friendly Singapore

Singapore is one of the richest countries in the world. From a barren land, it progressed into an economic power in recent decades. This tiny Asian nation is a melting pot of cultures. You’ll meet people from mainland China, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, US and various European countries. Singapore is also known for its hospitable population, making it a favourite destination for expats from all parts of the world.

What to do in Singapore: You should be warned that it’s easy to overspend in Singapore, so be cautious on how you spend your travel budget. Have a day tour at Chinatown, Little India, Geylang and Kampong Glam. You can also have nature walks at the Central Catchment Nature Reserves, the Bukit Batok Nature Park Walking Trail and the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

#5: Cambodia

friendly Cambodia

For a country that has gone through dark times in recent years, Cambodia proved its resilience and strength. Its peoples are among the warmest you’ll ever meet, always ready to help out a lost traveller. As you walk the streets of Phnom Penh, you’ll be greeted by locals with smiles on their faces. It’s as if your mere presence is something to be happy about.

What to do in Cambodia: The 1970s were a difficult time in Cambodia in which a third of its population was massacred under Pol Pot’s regime. Understand the significance of this period to Cambodians by visiting the Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocidal Crimes and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. For a lighter tour, discover the breathtaking Cambodian architecture in the Silver Pagoda and Royal Palace.

#6: Thailand

friendly thailand

One of the many fascinating things about Thailand is that the smiles are brighter than the striking sun. Thai people greet each people in the streets, whether acquaintances or strangers and if you smile back, they smile brighter. They also love engaging in conversations. You better pack stories for a long night of friendly chat with the locals.

What to do in Thailand: Thailand is a top beach destination. Its resorts can compete with the best in the world. Spend a relaxing afternoon Lonely Beach at Ko Chang where the laid back coast turns into a party hub in the evening. Also in Ko Chang is the more isolated Khlong Kloi where you can enjoy a back massage while enjoying fresh fruit juice under a coconut tree.

#7: Mongolia

friendly Mongolia


Mongolia is considered Asia’s last frontier. This massive country of mountains, grassland steppes and forested areas is home to some of the most accommodating people you’ll ever meet. Mongolians, who are primarily Buddhists, love hosting guests. You may meet a number of backpackers staying with nomadic Mongolian families.

What to do in Mongolia: This East Asian destination has an expansive land area where it’s easy to feel like you’re the last person on earth. Have a nature tour at Khustain National Park and be witness to the amazing wildlife: wild horses (the takhi), Asiatic red deer, steep gazelle, boars and wolves. Don’t forget to bring your camera!

A friendly face in a foreign land can make a lot of difference. Don’t just expect people to welcome you with open arms. Try to put your best foot forward because, ultimately, you’re a visitor. And smile. As Mother Teresa once said: “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”

About the author

Boom Rizal is an investor, a property consultant, a researcher and a writer. She finds helping other OFW’s in making good decisions when investing in various businesses and/or real estate properties as part of her daily life. She also loves to take research in property innovation and writes articles advising readers on how to invest in a property.

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