The War on Smiles: Thailand vs Bangladesh

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.


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.




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.

Nomadic Samuel

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 =)

  4. 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 🙂

  5. 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!

  6. 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

  7. 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.