Have you ever wondered which is the cheapest, friendliest and safest country in the world? Well, wonder no more. A recent 500+ page report by the World Economic Forum contains a few golden data nuggets that has enabled me to come up with the answers. I also used data from this wonderful index website called Numbeo. Before traveling to any country, I suggest checking out a few indexes on Numbeo about the country of your choosing.
From my limited but growing travel experience, I have come to the conclusion that there are three factors that influence how enjoyable a country is. In no particular order:
- Attitude of locals towards foreigners (we’ll call this “friendliness”): Friendly local people means it’s easy to get around, ask for directions and find people to party with. It also increases your chances of immersing yourself in the local culture and getting to know the people better.
- Cost of living: Everyone likes cheap countries or countries that are relatively cheaper than our own. This means that if you’re from Norway this doesn’t concern you because no country in the world is more expensive.
- Safety: Safe countries are fun. Why? Because you don’t have to restrict yourself to day-only activities in touristy areas. If a country is safe you can do more “off the beaten path” activities. You can explore new places and stay out late if you feel like it. You can walk around freely and fearlessly. Try doing this in Caracas.
I’ve found data for each of these individual aspects and then I’ve combined the three sets of data to come up with a new list that shows the countries that are the best for cheapness, safety and friendliness combined. I’ve provided individual rankings for each aspect first and at the end of the post you’ll see the results of the brand new combined rankings.
You can find the full list of countries in the WEF report that I mentioned above. It’s page 455 in the PDF. Here’s a quick snap shot and a list of the top 5 and bottom 5 countries.
Most friendly countries: 1) Iceland 2) New Zealand 3) Morocco 4) Macedonia 5) Austria
Least friendly countries: 140) Bolivia 139) Venezuela 138) Russian Federation 137) Kuwait 136) Latvia
Special mention: 42) South Africa 55) United Kingdom 102) United States
Cheapest countries: 1) India 2) Pakistan 3) Nepal 4) Algeria 5) Bolivia
Most expensive countries: 95) Norway 94) Switzerland 93) Australia 92) Luxembourg 91) Denmark
Special mention: 35) South Africa 78) United Kingdom 62) United States
Safest countries: 1) Japan 2) Taiwan ) Hong Kong 4) United Arab Emirates 5) Malta
Least safe countries: 95) Venezuela 94) Trinidad & Tobago 93) South Africa 92) Kenya 91) Puerto Rico
Special mention: 45) United Kingdom 76) United States
Cheapest, safest and friendliest countries
Now, here’s what you are really looking for. The individual rankings are not very useful. Why? Because there’s no point going to Bolivia which is cheap but very unfriendly for tourists. There’s also no point in going to Pakistan which is cheap but not very safe or friendly. Iceland might be super friendly but your wallet will take a hammering. So what you need to know is which countries fair the best in all three aspects. These countries are golden and you should consider visiting them on your next vacation. If you like numbers and statistics, you can check out the spreadsheet I used to combine the rankings over here.
So, drum roll please. Here are the top 15 cheapest, safest and friendliest countries on our beautiful planet.
|Country||Overall Rating (Max 1)|
|3. United Arab Emirates||0.82|
|5. Hong Kong||0.75|
|12. Sri Lanka||0.59|
|14. Bosnia And Herzegovina||0.55|
So there you have it! I barely even know where Macedonia is but judging from these results it could be a hidden gem. This is quite a different list from your normal “top travel destinations” recommendations, with the exception of the UAE and Thailand which are well known destinations.
Least cheap, safe and friendly countries
At the other end of the pile, we have these countries that make the bottom 15 when ranked by cheapness, safeness and friendliness combined.
Some surprises here! Australia makes the list due to the super high cost of living, same with Norway. France and Italy are known to be expensive and not so friendly to English speaking tourists so they make up the bottom 15 too. Iran and Pakistan should be avoided for obvious reasons.
If you want to see the full list of 90+ countries in my safe-cheap-friendly ranking, then you can download the spreadsheet here.
Like all surveys and studies, this one has flaws. However, it does provide some useful insights. That said, the best way to find out how accurate it is, is to go explore these countries and see for yourself.
So, who’s up for an adventure? Macedonia anyone? Or maybe sunny Morocco? What about multicultural Malta?