A little kindness can go a long way. So, it’s no wonder these top 10 friendly cities have just skyrocketed to the top of my dream destinations list.
Votes for the Traveler’s 2020 Readers’ Choice Awards were collected during a time of restricted travel, so it is likely that these results reflect memories of kindness that pervade time and stayed with travellers years after they returned home.
10. Melbourne, Australia
Cheers to all the Melburnians who put an Aussie capital on the list. It turns out that the artsy, latte sipping residents of the country’s second biggest city are more than happy to help out any lost tourists wandering its graffiti-lined lanes.
9. Hoi An, Vietnam
This ancient port city is the perfect combination of history, culture and laid-back locals. The Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, boasts beautiful historical architecture from a variety of cultural lineages. It is also motor traffic free, meaning tourists and locals alike can wander the streets in peace and quiet.
8. Dublin, Ireland
This may just be the best city in the world to meet locals and tourists over a beer at one of Dublin’s many pubs. And the historic city’s chirpy inhabitants aren’t its only attraction. It’s surprisingly cheap for travellers on a budget – the hop on, hop off tour buses are an affordable transport option and the city is packed with things to do and see.
7. Galway, Ireland
Ireland swooped in again to claim its second place in the world’s top 10 friendliest cities. Galway, on Ireland’s west coast, boasts cobblestone streets, warm locals and a surprisingly good live music scene.
6. Auckland, New Zealand
Along with its iconic landscape, hikes and coast line, Auckland is home to some of the world’s nicest people. Many of the city’s inhabitants have migrated there from overseas, possibly drawn in by the warmness of the people. It also has great culinary options, surfing and sailing, so you can try your hand at adventure during the day and treat yourself to a feast in the evenings.
5. Queenstown, New Zealand
Perched on the shores of the South Island’s Lake Wakatipu,sitting against a backdrop of the Southern Alps, Queenstown is known as the country’s – and possibly the world’s – adventuring capital. If adventure sports, bungee jumping, jet boating or skiing have ever caught your fancy this is the place to come. If you grow tired of all the outdoor adventuring, you can explore the region’s great vineyards and sip wines with the friendly locals.
4. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Famous for its colourful facades, Spanish colonial architecture and art, San Miguel de Allende was voted best small city in the world in 2020. Take a stroll down its cobblestone streets and take your pick of the city’s extensive culinary options.
3. Merida, Mexico
This inland city moves at a slower pace compared to many other Mexican capitals, it’s easygoing nature drawing in tourists from all around the world. The locals are among the friendliest in the world – the third most friendly, to be precise – and the city itself marks the culturally significant meeting of Mayan culture and the country’s colonial past.
2. Luang Prabang, Laos
This city is surrounded by the beautiful Kuang Si Falls, Ban Phanom, an artisian village, Pak Ou Caves, home to more than 4000 Buddha icons, stunning hikes, lookouts and kayaking for the outdoorsy types. The city centre itself is on the smaller side, meaning tourists can walk its length in just 20 minutes, making for a more intimate exploration of the city streets. At night it bustles with life, street food and, of course, very friendly locals.
1. Chiang Mai, Thailand
The inhabitants of Chiang Mai have earned their calm but vibrant home its title as the world’s friendliest city. The city, tucked in amongst the mountains of northern Thailand, is home to hundreds of Buddhist temples including the stunning Doi Suthep, the famous Doi Inthanon National Park, museums and other creative and cultural experiences. If you take your time in the city, some locals will likely begin to recognise you and wave hello.
Have you visited any of these friendly cities? Do you agree with the list? What is the friendliest place you have ever visited?
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