The word ‘friendly’ might not instantly come to mind when you think of some of the busiest cities in Asia, but with all those people comes a lot of good. We asked our social audience of 1.5 million people “where you would find the friendliest cities in Asia?”
From how easy the city is to navigate or strangers helping you find your way when that pesky roaming data doesn’t work to making new best friends in a local bar, these are the cities across the continent where you’ll be made to feel the most welcome.
South East Asian cities rated highly overall, with India and Hong Kong also making it into the Top 10. As for the most friendly city? You’ll just have to read on…
The friendliest cities in Asia 2019
The city is a tourist hotspot, so you can understand if locals aren’t always thrilled when asked for directions the hundredth time that day. Tourists might feel a little cast aside here (despite it being a hugely popular tourism destination).
Macau is a generally tourist-friendly city with an easy to use metro system. Locals working in the tourism industry are welcoming to visitors, while those who aren’t will simply leave you to it. Overall, locals won’t go too far out of their way to help a stranger.
Almaty is a friendly place if – and emphasis on if – you’re local. While that’s all well and good for residents and their good neighbourly vibes, it can mean that visitors might feel like they don’t quite fit in and are unwelcome.
There’s no mistaking Karachi for having overt friendliness, but locals are generally mellow enough. It’s not the sort of place where strangers will strike up a conversation when waiting in line, but people will help you out. It’s more of a friendly indifference towards others.
While the main tourist areas have their charm, visitors noted that wandering off the beaten track is ill advised for non-locals.
While a lot of people can pass Ankara by on their way to see other parts of Turkey, this city is a cultural hub with a vibrant food scene. Locals are quite keen to share their traditions and city highlights with newbies, so expect to be shown all the best places.
Becoming more of a popular destination in recent years, Tianjin is a charming city to visit. Locals are friendly – if not overly so – and helpful towards tourists.
Da Nang is a fantastic place to visit, live, work and play. Its developing tourism industry means that locals are eager to practise their English and will chat away to visitors.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how warm and friendly the people of Lucknow are. The entire city is more like a small town. You won’t be invited into someone’s home for tea, but they’re nice. There’s light-hearted banter between locals, with a positive attitude towards tourists and other visitors.
It’s a compact city with great transport, making it extremely visitor-friendly. You’ll feel right at home as soon as you land in Osaka, with helpful and open locals who are proud of their city and more than happy to recommend their favourite spots.
You might not think of Tehran as being one of the friendliest cities in Asia but it’s up there – kind of. People might not instantly become your best buddy here, but the younger generation are especially warm to strangers.
Lebanon might not have a reputation for being friendly on a global scale, but our readers ranked Beirut highly in terms of helpfulness from strangers. Look lost? Chances are a good-natured local will help you out.
Chennai can be daunting for the inexperienced traveller, but brave it out and you will see that while some locals are famously unhelpful, others go out of their way to assist.
Jeddah is full of vibrant, forward-looking communities filled with engaged and friendly people. Its modern atmosphere makes it an enjoyable city to visit, with some of the friendliest people to boot.
One of the best cities to live in for expats, Busan has a cosmopolitan vibe with a large community of locals and expat residents who make the city welcoming for all. Koreans are generally some of the friendliest people in the world, with our readers certainly agreeing.
It’s a safe city for travellers (once you explore with some common sense!) with a diverse mix of locals and an exciting energy.
Dammam is a wonderfully vibrant and social place to be, making this an easy city to make new friends in. Tourism is increasing here, so overall, locals will go out of their way to help visitors to the area. Just be sure to respect local cultures.
You’ll hear over and over again that India is home to some of the friendliest people in Asia, and our readers agreed with this. People here really are friendly, and not in an annoyingly nosy way.
Dhaka locals are down-to-earth and willing to help, without expecting anything in return. Our readers scored the city highly on its community vibe.
Right from the moment travellers arrive, Riyadh exudes a welcoming atmosphere that continues everywhere in the city itself. It’s modern and is a safe city for travellers. Plus, with many people speaking English and friendly locals, it’s simple to make connections with people here.
Residents of Kyoto are accepting of strangers, so Kyoto is an ideal city for tourists. It’s family-friendly and safe, with heaps of culture and makes visitors soon feel like locals.
One of the best cities to live in Asia for social vibes, Hanoi has a cosmopolitan vibe with a large community of locals and expat residents who make the city welcoming for all.
Thailand has a longstanding reputation for warm hospitality and a genuine openness towards strangers, and Phuket is the same. Nothing is too much here – whether it’s a local personally walking you to your hotel or sharing their secret spot for a sundowner.
Shenzhen’s low-crime rate and general friendliness of locals make it a popular city to move to, and our readers seem to agree.
The city has excellent walkability, so you can just wander around at your own leisure. Expect to bond with welcoming locals over a drink or two. It’s the most densely populated city in the nation, and is home to diverse cultures.
While some people might see it as quite traditional and wary of strangers, the cultural haven of Yangon is a lovely city on the backpacker trail. Myanmar might be somewhat isolated, but tourism plays a huge part of the economy here, so residents are eager to welcome outsiders.
Mumbai is a city that has plenty of things to do and see. Residents here are genuinely warm and friendly, with a great hospitality scene. It’s no wonder it’s been voted one of the friendliest cities in Asia.
If you’re friendly, then everyone you meet in Shanghai will be friendly to you. Stick to that golden rule and you’ll see that it among some of the friendliest cities in Asia. In fact, Shanghai is one of the most ‘liveable cities’ in the world, so it’s no wonder people are nice as pie.
Residents of Jerusalem can often have a reputation for being aloof, but underneath that is a warm and kind attitude towards visitors. Its openness to outsiders means that it’s a vibrant and social place to spend some time.
Its vibrant community add a real buzz to the city, making it a popular city break destination. In general, people here have a good sense of humour and are easy-going.
Ho Chi Minh City can be overwhelming to navigate – it’s busy – but it’s a city full of welcoming people. Its developing tourism industry means that locals are eager to practise their English and will chat away to visitors.
While a lot of people can pass Colombo by on their way to see other parts of Sri Lanka, this city is a commercial hub with a vibrant food scene. From Tuk Tuk drivers to locals hanging out in a bar, everyone here will make you feel at home.
The southern Chinese city of Guangzhou is a surprise contender on this year’s list, beating many Chinese cities when it comes to friendliness. Despite a potential language barrier, locals here will make sure you have a positive experience of the city.
The city has an amazing multicultural community who band together to make visitors feel welcome and safe at all times. Locals are quick to offer assistance to tourists and the community vibe makes socialising simple.
With the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo looming, it’s fitting news that the city has an excellent reputation when it comes to making visitors feel welcome. The city can be a culture shock at first (there’s 36 million people living in Greater Tokyo!), but locals will point you on your way and are super chatty and warm.
Cebu City makes it in the Top 15 thanks to its exuberant vibe and a multicultural mix of residents. It’s an easy city to find your way around, with plenty of bars and social spots where you will find yourself chatting to locals.
Cambodia is largely undeveloped and new to tourism, but despite its recent tumultuous past, locals go above and beyond to make you feel welcome here. People here greet you with smiles and warmth everywhere, from market stalls on the street to upscale hotels.
Indonesia’s capital city is an amazingly friendly city where locals will help you get your bearings, and even invite you to share a bite to eat or drink. One thing that surprises most out-of-towners about Jakarta is how friendly the people are here.
Oman’s up-and-coming cosmopolitan city has a hugely positive attitude towards foreigners, making it an ideal place to visit. It’s not the best for getting around (transport leaves a lot to be desired) but it doesn’t matter – lovely locals will show you the way.
Its progressive atmosphere makes it an enjoyable city to visit, with some of the friendliest people in the world to boot. Our readers scored it highly on first impressions, putting it firmly as one of the friendliest cities in Asia.
United Arab Emirates is a glittering destination with cosmopolitan cities such as Dubai, but Abu Dhabi scoops top spot for friendliness. With a large expat community and a keen focus on tourism, visitors are really looked after here hospitality-wise.
Jaipur is a student-friendly city with a young and vibrant population. It’s popular on the tourist trail, so the tourism industry here is strong, with residents making the country proud with their attitude towards visitors.
Hong Kong is a vibrant city with locals who have a resilient and positive attitude. It’s the sort of place where strangers will strike up a conversation when waiting in line, but don’t expect huge grins. You’ll easily find yourself making new best friends in a bar here.
Right from the moment travellers arrive at Changi Airport, Singapore exudes a welcoming atmosphere that continues everywhere in the city itself. It’s modern and is a hugely safe city for travellers. Plus, with English the official language and friendly locals, it’s simple to make connections with people here.
For such a small city, Kathmandu packs a serious punch when it comes to friendliness. People here are good-natured, with a good sense of humour. Whether you’ve been born and raised here or are just passing through, locals will treat you with the same kind attitude.
Their openheartedness towards strangers makes the city such a beautiful place to visit. You’ll be instantly welcomed with a smile and be a lifetime fan of Turkey. It’s no wonder our readers voted it as one of the friendliest cities in Asia.
Manila’s residents are famously welcoming, making it such a friendly place to spend some time in. It’s a place where locals have a buzzing attitude and an eagerness to show off their city to out-of-towners.
Thailand isn’t called the ‘land of smiles’ for no reason. The entire country is home to extraordinarily friendly people who will fill you with good vibes, but Chiang Mai has been voted the top spot. The northern town is quiet and rural, with charming locals and other friendly travellers.
Modern and beautiful, Taipei is an emerging tourist destination with locals who are embracing expats and visitors. Residents are extremely friendly to just about everyone. It’s also known as one of Asia’s most LGBTQ+ friendly cities, so everyone will be made to feel welcome here.
Malaysians are naturally friendly and nice to strangers, and Kuala Lumpur is the best example of this. The easy-going temperament of locals and their friendliness towards visitors means that it’s easy to make friends here. KL is a top spot for both tourists and expats.