Travelling, for many of us, is all about meeting people. And let’s be frank: some countries have friendlier people than others. So which are typically the best countries in SE Asia to visit if you want to be accepted in their society?
I found the friendliest people in Laos to be in the sleepy and charming town of Luang Prabang in the north. After a dirty boat ride from Thailand down the Mekong, it was a pleasant surprise to find the Lao people so accommodating to yet another gang of tourists. Further south around Champasak, I noticed a little more hardship towards foreigners, but the good people of Luang Prabang (including the Monks) will be in my heart forever!
Different people have different perspectives on this country, but in my experience it was very positive, with the Burmese people being the absolute highlight of my time there so far (well, as well as the temples of Bagan). In areas in the west of the country, such as in Ngapali Beach, the locals will be fascinated in a friendly way as to why you have come all this way – for them, the beach is just a place to collect seafood and coconuts, so they will be honoured that you have turned up!
It may be strange to list Brunei here, but I love Bruneians! It has been 3 years since I last visited the country (next year, promise!) but I always remember the smiles of the local people in and around Bandar Seri Begawan, and the helpfulness of tour guides I enlisted during my foray into Ulu Temburong!
Although Malaysia does indeed have a VERY DARK side, the vast majority of ‘normal’ people in the country are extremely friendly to each other and especially to tourists. Even in very touristy places such as Penang and Johor Bahru, the locals still make the effort to treat you as one of their own. In cities such as Kuala Lumpur, you can be sure of more smiles as you encounter the local food!
Wherever you go around the Infinite Archipelago (as I call it), there is one common factor – the people are so friendly. I don’t think I have had many bad experiences in Indonesia in all my years backpacking, and the main reason for this is because I know I turn to the local people for advice and friendship in times of need. I can speak Bahasa Indonesia, which does help matters, but regardless of the language barrier, Indonesian people just want you to enjoy their country and their culture!
Where in South East Asia most impressed you regarding the friendliness of the locals?