Well…guess who made it to the Conde Nast Traveler 2020 Readers’ Choice Awards “Friendliest Cities in the World”. Three of our Asian destinations! Namely:

#9. Hoi An, Vietnam
Whether you’re interested in historic architecture, delicious food, or scenic landscapes, Hoi An is the Vietnamese destination for you. Honored as the ninth friendliest city in the world by our readers, the ancient port city has a relaxed pace of life that’s appealing to both locals and travelers. One major reason why? Most motor traffic is banned from the well-preserved Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it all the better for the pedestrians who stroll the streets to take in the 15th- to 19th-century architecture. (You can see much of that architecture because Hoi An, unlike many Vietnamese cities, escaped largely unscathed from bombing during the Vietnam War.)

#2. Luang Prabang, Laos
Luang Prabang might just be the ideal Southeast Asian city. You won’t find temples or ruins, but you will find a culture filled with happiness and a pure enjoyment of life. You can walk the entire length of the city center in about 20 minutes, but be prepared to stop frequently as you pass local vendors and food stalls selling the best bowl of noodles you’ll ever have. At night, the city enters its second act as a smoky dreamscape, punctuated by noisy, colorful tuk-tuks driving by. And perhaps it’s that ever-moving, yet heat-induced slow pace of life that makes Luang Prabang so very special.”

#1. Chiang Mai, Thailand
Jumping up to the top spot this year is Chiang Mai, the kind of place where, if you stick around for a couple days, locals will start recognizing you and saying hello. (Prepare to become friends with the guy selling bubble tea on the corner outside your Airbnb by day two.) Whether you explore the old town or enjoy street food at a communal table, you will encounter friendly, welcoming people. Little surprise, given that Thailand’s entire marketing slogan is the ‘land of smiles‘.”

Marianita Manio
January 11, 2021