There are some people around the world that, well, they are just really wonderful. I actually had a really hard time deciding which countries should be on this list. I wanted to add so many, but I wanted to keep it limited to the top five like I did with the rudest countries (mostly because five was all I could really come up with when it came to rude—which is a good thing).
Most people around the world are polite and nice, especially to tourists. I mean, who isn’t a little proud that someone has traveled around the world to visit them? As I mentioned in my previous post, I have never been some place where people flat-out disliked me just because I was a tourist or because I am American. More often than not, people go out their way to be helpful. This list is the top five nicest countries in the world where the people are genuinely nice.
#5 El Salvador
Many people think of El Salvador is a dangerous place because of the civil war they had. That was over 20 years ago! El Salvador is a great place to visit. The people there are really very, very nice. Customs and immigration are polite and efficient, and government offices are really very helpful (I had a visa issue because of Guatemala, so I experienced it first hand). Average people actually stopped what they were doing to help me fill out forms because a few Spanish words didn’t make sense to me. When is the last time you helped someone… in a government office, no less? Everywhere I went, El Salvadorans were just really nice and friendly. A very welcoming country that you really should visit.
Update: Sadly, just read that there are some serious issues in El Salvador right now, though mostly effecting El Salvadorans. When I visited two years ago, I never felt unsafe.
My fondest memory of Portugal was a lady who spoke no English (and I knew better than to speak Spanish to her—the two countries have a bit of history). Her restaurant looked nice, but had no menu. She smiled, brought a bottle of wine, and disappeared for an hour. When she came back, my friend and I had the most amazing meal (probably only $10 for both of us, including the wine). That’s what people in Portugal are like. They make you feel like you are at home. Everywhere I went was like that. People on the street will stop and help you without you even asking. They are friendly and just plain nice.
I expected a bit of a challenge traveling around India. Instead, turned out to be one of my favorite counties and a breeze to travel around. The people are genuinely nice and helpful. Sometimes they just want to stop and chat with you. They don’t want anything, they are just being friendly. Often they shoot you a smile while walking down the street. Other times, they would help out if I looked lost or confused. Most Indians are just genuinely friendly, helpful people. I can’t tell you how many cups of chai I had during pleasant conversations with Indians. I really enjoyed that.
If there is any country that should not have happy people, it should be Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge did a lot of damage and touched every family in Cambodia (and not in a good way). Yet, Cambodians are super nice and genuinely wonderful people. They always seem to be smiling. Things are changing (a few years ago I would have put them at number one on this list), but they still are very welcoming and friendly. Most Cambodians are thrilled that you are visiting their country, it makes them feel proud (as it should—Cambodia is a truly amazing country). There is a lot of poverty, yet everyone always seems to have a smile no matter what and they are always friendly.
Turkey is fabulous. The culture, the architecture, the beauty, and the people—they are so nice. Shop owners that I was not buying from, would sit down with me for hours and want to talk about anything and everything over copious amounts of tea, never once asking me to buy a thing (one even refused to let me buy something I wanted; he forced me to take it for free despite my protests). Everyone is fair, honest, and genuinely nice. I really feel that Turkey has the nicest people I have ever met.
There are a lot more countries that should be on this list. Estonians are a really fun and friendly bunch. Hungarians are super nice and seem to have a really fun streak (especially the ladies working at the baths who slapped my ass while I was changing—yup, women assist in the men’s dressing room in Budapest). Costa Ricans are exceptionally polite and friendly.
And then there are Americans—we are really nice too. No, really, we are. I know we have a reputation, but it is very much undeserved. Blame the few stupid people you see on TV. Most Americans are too nice for their own good. Sure, Canadians are nice too, but a visit to small town America is likely to pleasantly surprise you about just how nice Americans really are. After encountering a tourist, most Americans will have a stupid smile on their face the rest of the day because… well, we feel rather proud that you wanted to visit us too. (Just avoid Texas, they aren’t really Americans as they always remind us: “We were an independent country before…” blah blah blah “and remember the Alamo…” blah blah blah.)
Which countries do think have the nicest people? Share your favorites in the comments below.