I’ve been to quite a few places around the world and I can honestly say I have never been any place where people flat-out disliked me because I was visiting (or because I am American). Nonetheless, there are some places that have people who are just not very nice. I know, it is not very PC of me to suggest that some people suck, but there are some that do!

Not everyone is rude just because they come from a country I list below. Ironically, I have good friends either from or stilling living in each of these countries and I have met really wonderful people from each country. Nonetheless, some places just seem to have some unpleasant folks. Here are the top five places I think have the most rudest people.

Update: Since I’ve actually received death threats for this post, I thought I would add that I don’t hate any particular group. Just because I thought people were rude doesn’t make me a Nazi. I’ve met great people in all these countries, but in an article this size it’s difficult to get into all the nuances. As for the rudest country, check out the link I added when you get to that part.

#5 France

Picking on the French is fairly common for an American, but they make it so easy. They are so damn rude. They seem utterly fixated on the fact that the French language is no longer the main language of the world and that no watches their movies without subtitles. They will refuse to speak any language other than French (even if they know how) and treat most people as inferior little bugs if you they do no speak French perfectly (even attempting French is simply not good enough). Sure, they have great bread, wine almost as good as two buck chuck (joking!), and the best cheese in the world, but the French language… well, it sounds like someone slurring from drinking too much French wine.

#4 Malaysia

Malaysians don’t seem to give a shit about much, least of all you. To be fair, my experience is primarily with Borneo (yes, it is part of Malayasia), though I have little doubt the mainland is much different. Malaysians seem intent on ignoring you or just being completely indifferent most of the time (want to check into your room? well, I am watching my soap opera so you have to wait). That is actually the best you can hope for because when they are not completely ignoring you they seem to be in a perpetual state of irritation at your existence. Since you irritate them, it makes complete sense that they should try to screw you out of your money, which they will happily tell you they are doing because, “You are not Malaysian.”

#3 Panama

Coming from Costa Rica, a really nice country with pleasant people, to Panama was a rude shock. Panamanians are racist, bigoted and super rude. Hotels flat-out refuse rooms to gays but happily give them to married men with their prostitute (I love the Christian thought process). Regardless of whether you are gay or not, many people simply refuse to help you or answer questions (even if you are speaking Spanish), and hotels and restaurants won’t help you or show you rooms unless you are doing business with them (hotels often want money before they will even show you the room). Taxis will not take you to the bar you requested, and instead take you somewhere else because they just didn’t feel like driving there or don’t like the bar you want to go to. This extended to just about every facet of Panamanian life. Very annoying to deal with that while on vacation.

#2 Guatemala

Guatemala has some amazing sights. Unfortunately, they are in Guatemala. This country seems hell-bent on screwing tourists any way they can. It seems built into the fabric of their society. Arrive anywhere in Guatemala and watch as their eyes light up with dollar signs. Border agents deliberately mess up entry stamps so they can collect a “fee” to fix it. Even if you already have a stamp, well you need another one and that sign is old, the price is much more now. Travel service agents flat-out lie to you and over charge for everything. Taxis and minibus drivers go to great lengths to screw you out of money, tacking on extra fees and charges that are not real. I managed to only get soaked for a few dollars (at 3am in the morning when I had no choice but to go along with it), but it is really sad to watch as Guatemalans screw people out of big chunks of change. Not a nice people.

#1 Philippines

I actually didn’t think it was possible to find  people more rude and unpleasant than Guatemalans, but then I went to the Philippines. Wow! Filipinos are so amazing rude it is almost unbelievable. They treat people like shit. The exception? Palawan. The people in Palawan are the complete opposite of the typical Filipino—they are absolutely wonderful. Avoid the rest of the Philippines unless you are a glutton for punishment. Filipinos are excessively rude and mean, and fly off the handle at the slightest provocation, which usually involves you asking them to do their job. I had a lady at a resort get mad at me because I ordered dinner New Year’s eve and she wanted to leave early. She actually made me eat outside and locked up the restaurant. That was probably the nicest experience I had, Filipinos are usually much worse. I have never experienced a more unpleasant people.

Update: Here’s a post about the Charming Cities of Iloilo where I said I could see myself living in the Philippines.

Honorable Mentions

There are a few other countries that are rude. Vietnam is well known for being rather aloof and unfriendly. The Spanish, especially those in Madrid, often seem to have a chip on their shoulder, though about what I cannot say. Southern Italians are rather rude and always seem to be mad about something. And good old mother England has her fair share of folks that can be rather off-putting.

Even as I wrote this, I was thinking of my friends and all of the nice people that were pleasant and quite helpful in every one of these countries. Maybe it was me or just the people I encountered, I don’t know. But I do know there are nice people everywhere (even in the Philippines).

Join the Conversation


  1. While your experience of Malaysia is limited to Borneo, you have done a great job of tarnishing the rest of the country and the population, pretty thoroughly.
    Im an Aussie living in Penang and yes there are some folks who are pretty dreadful, but that is the same in every country. Especially the USA and in Oz.

    Malays, Indians and Chinese have been nothing but polite, generous, hospitable and caring the whole time we have been in the country.

    I cant say I have visited the other countries you have written about in this blog post but I have very good friends who are from France and the Philippines.. they are brilliant!

    I hope you get to have a better experience one day soon. Come to Penang, mate. Will show you some proper hospitality.

    1. I have really good friends from Malaysia (mainland and Borneo) and they are wonderful. I think it’s great that you are having a good experience. Sadly, my experience with the majority of the people left a lot wanting. Nonetheless, I will visit Malaysia again. I’ve heard Penang is great from others too, so I will definitely come.

  2. From my experience, yes, Filipinos can be rude especially to one another but not usually to foreigners especially to a handsome, dimpled, smile, 6-feet tall, blue-eyed, blonde (?) guy like you. It’s not because they think you have money (though some of them will treat you better for that reason alone) but because Pilipinos love their foreigners. And if they seem aloof, it’s because of the language barrier. Though English is widely spoken, it is still not the main language. They are probably afraid to talk to you because their English is broken and people will make fun of them (especially Pilipinos who speak fluent English and think they are better than everyone around them. Much like Americans who speak French, Latin, Chinese or any foreign language and think they are the elite).

    But I’m sorry you had a bad time in the Philippines. I can assure you, we are very friendly people. Just today, it was raining so hard and our van ended up in a ditch. Without even asking, 5 guys came to our rescue and pushed the van out the ditch with out even asking for some kind of reward. I lost me iPhone and I was told by everyone that I will never get it back. The next day the tricycle driver drove back to my cousin’s house and returned it. He said his five 7 year old son found it. He could’ve sold it for thousands of pesos. It may not seem much, but for a guy who probably makes $5 a day chose to do the right thing and gave it back without asking for a reward. You might find it irritating when you go to the mall or baratillo (cheap market) because all they want to do is help you and even address you as sir/ma’am. If you befriend the locals and visit their homes they will try to feed you or offer you drinks (repeatedly) and if you smoke, they will buy you cigarettes. And if you stay the night, they will be more than happy to sleep on the floor so you can sleep on their bed instead. And these are not exaggerations.

    Like I said on your facebook post, not trying to discredit your claim, but I think you need to take another trip to the Philippines and experience it all over again.

    p.s. that lady who locked you out on New Year’s eve, I am not making an excuse for her, but New Year’s is a big thing in the Philippines. It’s a family holiday and she was probably rushing home to go to church or eat Noche Buena with her family. I’m just surprised she did not invite you though.

    1. I would really have loved to experience that part of Philippines. As you know, I have a lot of Filipino friends back home and all I heard was how great it was. While there are definitely some wonderful people there, even my friend that I was traveling with (who is Filipino and lives in the Philippines) thought people were a bit rude.

      Maybe Christmas and New Year was a bad time to visit. Maybe the experience was poor because I was in somewhat touristy places. Palawan, Manila, and Iloilo were great. I even wrote about that here: http://wanderingforward.com/experiences/the-charming-cities-of-iloilo/.

      Regardless, looks like I need to visit again!

  3. Hi, I am from the Philippines. I apologize for the bad experience you had when you visited a place in our country. Filipinos are known for being hospitable and to go out of our way to help others especially foreigners. The rude people that you encountered were un-filipinolike, not the other way around. People here are even nicer to the foreigners, than to their fellow locals. Not because of money, but that’s who we are. There are other beautiful and interesting places in the country that you still haven’t explored.

    1. No need to apologize! Of course there are nice Filipinos. 🙂 I actually encountered a lot and I will be going back because you are right, there are many places I have not seen yet.

  4. I find that your statements about Panamanian people to be true. Costa Ricans were lovely. but Panamanians – not so much. We are here for 3 months and find that people in Panama are rude and insufferable. We are Americans who are respectful and friendly and we are treated less than kind. I am saddened and will not be returning to Panama. Love your blog and taking inspiration from your post.

    1. Sorry to hear you had a bad experience in Panama. I was hoping maybe it had changed. There are so many other nice Central American countries to visit, it just isn’t worth the hassle for a bad experience. As you say, Costa Rica is wonderful. Glad you like my blog. Thanks!

  5. Malaysian’s are rude. I attest to that.. There has been a huge shift in Malaysian approach of treating others since recent 30 years back. The socio economic changes and racially based political development are two factors which contribute to this. It creates stressful lifestyle/lopsided competitive ness/ apprehensiveness and etc. I’m a Malaysian and I see this over years happening.

    1. There are great people everywhere, and I know some really wonderful Malaysians, though I think what you are describing is happening in a lot of places (definitely in the US where I am from). To be fair, I spent more time in Malaysia after I wrote this post and I would probably take Malaysia off the list. When I was in KL I met some really great people just walking around and on the subway. KL is not a small city so I was a little surprised at people asking me if they could help me or how I was enjoying KL. That would have never happen in most places in the US. There are unpleasant people everywhere just like there nice people everywhere. I look for the nice people wherever I go. =)

  6. Expat living in Panama since Apr´15. Yes, Panamanians are so rude. That is the only way they drive, walk, talk and do every day. This is a nice country with a lot of potential and with a high grow up in the last years, this is (like U.S.) an inmigrants country and i totally do not understand why locals are this way with foreigners (no matter if you are on pleasure/business travel). To jump into a yellow cab is the 90% of the times a nightmare, often I preffer to walk on short distances than to take a cab when there are no available Uber cars. They are so racist and disrespectful, customer services rathed less than 0% and tourism infrastructure….no comments. I mean, this country was occupied by U.S. for almost 100 years for the Panama Canal business and they do not speak english, really?. I am native spanish speaker and sometimes i do not understand what are they saying.
    Costa Rica: smooth people and good friends, meet 2 great travel partners last year and we still in touch, they are really nice people and educated. I can marry with a Costa Rica girl with no issues, they are sweet, educated and nice. Central America is a culture complicated region when you really need to investigate prior to take vacations.

    1. Central America is definitely complicated. I’ve heard that there are some parts of Panama that are really fun, though. I just am not sure where. =)

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