Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

The friendliest cities in the world

It’s the 21st century. You’d hope that a keen traveller could go anywhere their heart desired without much concern, but sadly issues like racism, amongst other ‘-isms’, are still common in some places. Even footballers can experience this on trips abroad, as the poor treatment of Raheem Sterling compared to that of his Caucasian teammates by local football fans demonstrated. A big part of your travelling experience can therefore be affected by the nature of the people around you – whether that’s the locals in the new, exciting place you’re exploring, or the people you’re travelling with.

 

Condé Nast recently published an article on their ‘Friendliest Cities in the World’, based on a survey conducted on readers. Half of their top 10 is made up of Mexican and Irish cities, with Dublin, Cork and Galway all making the top 10. Unsurprisingly, the readers frequently noted that this was down to the warmth of the locals in each city, and the atmosphere that this created. Similarly, Thailand bagged a spot in the top 10 with Chiang Mai, which may also come as no surprise to anyone who’s had the opportunity to visit the ‘Land of Smiles’.

 

Just walking from the airport to a taxi rank rewards you with a handful of kind greetings from the locals, and you’ll find their enthusiasm is infectious

 

I visited Thailand last summer, and it’s easy to see why they use the ‘Land of Smiles’ as their slogan to attract tourists. Just walking from the airport to a taxi rank rewards you with a handful of kind greetings from the locals, and you’ll find their enthusiasm is infectious. It only took a couple of days before I was making my best attempts to return the gesture. From street markets to shopping malls, this interaction didn’t change, despite the vast difference in communities and environments. Being able to experience this first-hand has made me view my travelling experiences differently. The contrast between Thailand and other countries became quite obvious, and you can’t help but compare – Britain’s not exactly known for the friendly nature of its native population. Which makes me wonder, how are there not more Thai cities on the list?

 

Having never been to Ireland, it’s safe to say that I’m now curious. Will the Irish give Thailand a run for their money? They do have a reputation for being a happy-go-lucky people – after all, leprechauns were founded in Irish folklore, and portrayed as cheeky, possibly mischievous, fairies. With the idyllic impression you get from homes on beach fronts, it doesn’t seem quite as surprising that Adelaide in Australia made the list. If I could go for a quick dip in the ocean before work, I think I’d slowly become like one of the low-stress locals too. Queenstown also received merit from readers, with comments on its “trademark Kiwi ease” and how infectious this was from the diverse mix of people that live there. In contrast, Victoria is known to be a very anglicised-looking city, just south of Vancouver, making the top 10 list due to the polite manner of the people, as well as the abundance of things to do there.

 

Despite the endearing aesthetic of this authentic Mexican city, it was the warmth of the Poblaños that placed it on the list

 

Perhaps most interesting out of the cities on the list, was the Mexican city of Puebla. Given Mexico’s reputation as an arguably risky tourist destination at times, it might not be a place you’d instantly consider as a contender for being the friendliest. However, Puebla is one of the safest destinations in Mexico, and the city itself is rather quaint. Despite the endearing aesthetic of this authentic Mexican city, it was the warmth of the Poblaños that placed it on the list. I’ll admit, I fell into a google wormhole after reading the Condé Nast article and searching Puebla and Mexico. It has now firmly been placed on my bucket list.

 

Before I reach Mexico though, it seems logical to visit our Irish neighbours first. Only next door and fairly inexpensive to travel to, it seems like an ideal trip to make with family or friends. And after reading about the friendly nature of three of its cities, it’s safe to say you’d be spoilt for choice.

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