What really makes or breaks a trip? The food? The weather? The landscapes? I’d argue the people. From the immigration officers to the taxi drivers, the shopkeepers, tour guides, hosts, fellow diners and passersby, it’s the locals you encounter that have the most power to influence your love – or hate – for a place.
My answer would be Malawi, with some of the smaller Caribbean islands (Tortola, Dominica, Antigua) coming second. When I visited in 2011 the ‘warm heart of Africa’ was brimming with friendly – and genuine – smiles from enthusiastic residents and several friendships were formed. Costa Rica, on the other hand, which had been hyped up as a warm, laid-back stretch of Central America high on pura vida (their unofficial catchphrase meaning, literally, ‘warm life’), was less so.
A recent online top ten numbered Fiji, Australia, Soctland and Ireland among its friendliest places while a poll cited on Forbes.com last year proclaimed New Zealand as the kindest place to ex pats living abroad, with the United Arab Emirates deemed the least welcoming.
So let us know, what’s the friendliest place on earth?