The War on Smiles: Thailand vs Bangladesh (Friendliest Locals!)

Amidst great speculation of conflict, the worst possible result has come to fruition. Reports of increased tensions between the two nations has intensified in recent days/weeks.  Analysts were hoping for a peaceful resolution but unfortunately conflict has broken out in what appears to be an epic showdown – in the form of big ass grins.

News flash alert:  Bangladesh declares war on Thailand…

for the prestigious title of most smiley locals.  Thailand, the reigning and undisputed champion affectionately know as ‘The Land of Smiles’ has gone unchallenged for years; however, Bangladesh, the unsung contender is gaining formidable momentum.  Regardless, of the odds, it’s shaping up to be one heck of a title.  Without further adieu let’s examine both sides with a critical eye.


Thai ladies posing for the camera

Thai girl smiling - Wat Phra Kaew

Two Thai ladies smiling and laughing

Thai lady reading the newspaper with a hat on

Thai lady smiling while on the cellphone

Candid shot of smiling locals in Thailand

Smiling Buddha in Thailand

Smiling hill-tribe lady in Thailand

The Skinny:

It’s nearly unfathomable to imagine the ‘Land of Smiles’ ever relinquishing its title without blitzing entirely with a full battery armed force of ear to ear grins.  We’re talking about a nation full of smiley pies with assistance from inanimate objects such as Buddha & Hello Kitty – a lethal duo or so I’ve heard.


Bangladesh children smiling while playing

A group of boys in Bangladesh smiling close to the camera

A man rowing a boat smiling near the Sadar Ghat in Old Dhaka, Bangladesh

Bangladesh children waving at us and smiling

A group of Bangladeshi men smiling while working

Children in Bangladesh smiling by the river in Old Dhaka

A large group of children in Dhaka smiling at waving

A lady dancing and smiling in Old Dhaka, Bangladesh

The Skinny:

Bangladesh, a nation often overlooked by even the most ardent backpackers has non-stop smiles rolling around just about every corner.  A country that doesn’t receive a lot of tourism (which is ashame) is what I now consider to be the hidden gem of Asia for travel.  The three days I spent in Old Dhaka produced some of the most vivid memories I had on my one year jaunt across Asia.  I’ll never forget the throngs of locals following me around offering up friendly advice along the way.  I almost felt as though I was a star strolling down the alleys – something along the lines of Brad Pitt or at least his red-headed stepchild.  I’ve never encountered as many smiles, even when I was taking a boat trip in Old Dhaka, I couldn’t escape them

The Verdict:

How could anyone ever strip Thailand’s “Land of Smiles” title away from its vice-like grip.  I’m not about to suggest it be done anytime soon; however, the take home message I’d like to convey in this article is that sometimes the places that are far off the radar become the most pleasant surprises.  I’d thoroughly recommend a trip to Dhaka for anybody considering an extended tour of Asia.  You’ll no doubt experience a warm welcome and -oh yeah- a few smiles along the way.

Who Are The Friendliest Locals Around The World

The world is a vast and diverse place, and as travelers, we are fortunate to encounter a wide range of cultures and customs. Among the many factors that contribute to a memorable travel experience, the warmth and friendliness of the local people often stand out as some of the most significant. While every destination offers a unique encounter with its residents, there are some places where the locals are known for their particularly welcoming and hospitable nature.

One of the most famous destinations for friendly locals is Thailand. Known as the “Land of Smiles,” Thailand has a reputation for the warm and welcoming attitudes of its people. Thai locals are renowned for their hospitality, kindness, and politeness. Whether you are a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, you are sure to be greeted with open arms and a genuine smile in Thailand.

Another destination that often tops the list of friendliest locals is Ireland. Irish people are known for their wit, humor, and easy-going nature, and visitors often report feeling immediately welcomed by their warmth and hospitality. Irish locals are always happy to strike up a conversation and share their knowledge of the country’s rich history and culture.

New Zealand is another destination where visitors can expect to encounter some of the friendliest people on the planet. New Zealanders, or Kiwis, are famous for their laid-back, relaxed attitudes and their willingness to make visitors feel at home. Kiwis are known for their open and friendly nature and their eagerness to share their culture and traditions with visitors.

Costa Rica is a destination that is known for its stunning natural beauty, and it is also home to some of the friendliest locals you will ever meet. Costa Ricans, or Ticos, are famous for their positive outlook on life, and their warm and welcoming attitudes towards visitors. Ticos are always happy to share their love for their country with visitors and to make them feel welcome and at ease.

Canada is another country that is frequently cited as having some of the friendliest locals in the world. Canadians are known for their politeness, helpfulness, and welcoming nature. Visitors to Canada are often struck by the warmth and friendliness of the locals, who go out of their way to make visitors feel at home.

Finally, Japan is a destination that may not immediately come to mind when one thinks of friendly locals. However, Japanese people are renowned for their politeness, respectfulness, and willingness to help visitors. While the culture in Japan may be more reserved than some of the other destinations on this list, visitors will still find plenty of opportunities to engage with the locals and learn about the country’s unique culture.

While these destinations are often noted for their friendly locals, it is important to remember that every individual is unique, and it is impossible to generalize an entire population. As travelers, we should always approach new places with an open mind and a willingness to learn from the locals. By doing so, we can fully appreciate the warmth and hospitality of the people we encounter and create lasting memories of our travels.

How To Interact With Locals While Traveling To Create Smiles

Traveling is an opportunity to explore different cultures, make new friends, and learn about different ways of life. One of the best ways to fully immerse yourself in local culture is by interacting with locals. However, it can be challenging to know how to approach locals in a way that is respectful and meaningful. Here are some tips for interacting with locals while traveling to bring out smiles:

  1. Learn a few key phrases in the local language: Language is often the biggest barrier to connecting with locals. Even if you don’t speak the language fluently, learning a few key phrases like “hello,” “thank you,” and “excuse me” can show that you are making an effort to communicate and connect.
  2. Be respectful of local customs: Every culture has its customs and traditions, and it’s important to respect them when traveling. Take the time to learn about local customs, such as dress codes or greetings, and follow them to show respect for the local culture.
  3. Be open and friendly: A smile and friendly demeanor can go a long way in making locals feel comfortable approaching you. Don’t be afraid to strike up conversations with locals, ask for recommendations, or simply say hello.
  4. Participate in local activities: Participating in local activities, such as festivals or cultural events, is an excellent way to meet locals and learn more about their culture. Look for opportunities to get involved and embrace new experiences.
  5. Bring small gifts: Bringing small gifts, like souvenirs from your home country, can be a thoughtful gesture that shows your interest in building a connection with locals.
  6. Show interest in local culture: Show genuine interest in the culture and traditions of the country you are visiting. Take the time to learn about the local food, music, and customs, and show an eagerness to participate.
  7. Be respectful when taking photos: Taking photos is a great way to capture memories of your travels, but it’s important to be respectful when taking photos of locals. Always ask for permission before taking photos, and be sensitive to their wishes if they decline.

Interacting with locals while traveling can be a rewarding experience that broadens your horizons and deepens your understanding of different cultures. By following these tips, you can approach interactions with respect and sensitivity, and bring out smiles from the locals you meet along the way.

Final Thoughts: Who Are The Friendliest Locals You’ve Encountered On The Road?

Now it’s time to turn things over to you. I’m curious to hear about your experiences traveling abroad and interacting with locals. Which are some of the friendliest destinations you’ve visited?

Join the Conversation


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  1. What a beautiful comparison between the two countries. This is an amazing article that has made you a unique travel blogger. Your way of looking at the cultures and people is really praiseworthy. Happy to see a good list of smiling nations.

  2. says: Aiman

    I’ve just discovered your site and think it’s pure brilliance! I’ll be going Bangladesh in December and can’t wait to see all these beautiful smiles.

  3. says: Bodlagz

    I say good effort to the Bangladeshis, they really don’t have much to smile about, one of the poorest nations on earth, 4 and 5 year old kids work on the streets, I even saw them smashing rocks with lump hammers to make aggregate.

  4. says: Maria Alexandra

    Absolutely LOVED this post! Not only the unique way your approached the topic, but the great photography and beautiful faces. BRAVO! Oh, and thanks for making me smile =)

  5. says: Mark Wiens

    Well reported Samuel!
    That’s a pretty strong face off. I fully agree with you that it’s often the places we don’t think of that offer the most pleasant of surprises.

    1. Hey Mark, Thailand and Bangladesh are two of my favourite countries. I wish more people would visit Bangladesh & not enough can be said about Thailand. Obviously there is a reason it is so popular 🙂

  6. says: unusual travel

    I have never understood why people in such poor countries, living in such ‘adverse’ conditions are so happy! (or apparently so!) while we in the West, have an abundance of money, gadgets, entertainment and still we dont seem half as happy as they do! cool post!

  7. says: Zoe

    they say Thailand is the land of 1000 smiles, but those smiles don’t have the same meaning as they do in the West… Thais smile when they are angry, sad, humiliating, rude, mean, happy and jealous!

    But its nice to think they’re just being friendly…

    1. Zoe, that’s so very true! I remember in Korea hearing about a story of a foreigner getting rear-ended by a local. The foreigner got out of the car seething mad while the Korean man was smiling. Obviously, that reaction only irritated the foreigner even more. It just goes to show you how a facial expression you interpret back home is not necessarily what it means elsewhere. I find these kinds of differences fascinating.

    1. Thanks! I smile when I think of both countries and how welcoming the locals are in general. I can’t wait to go back – hopefully soon. Have you had a similar experience with a certain location?

    1. Ted, I wouldn’t even be able to count the amount of friends/acquaintances that have set foot in Thailand but I only know of two individuals who have visited Bangladesh. It honestly was the hidden gem of my tour around Asia. I’d like to go back to explore more parts of the country but I must say I DO NOT recommend taking the bus from Kolkata to Dhaka – literally the worst bus ride I’ve ever been on & that’s saying a lot…LOL

  8. says: bethany

    Wow – I don’t think I’ve seen so many heartfelt smiles all in one place! These are beautiful and makes me wonder why people even frown. Everyone looks so good with a smile. 🙂

    1. Thanks, I couldn’t agree with you more. I think Thailand is well known for its friendly locals & is one a well trodden travel location; however, Bangladesh is not visited by many & I wanted to showcase how friendly the locals were to me as I wandered though the streets and alleys of Old Dhaka.