In this article, we look at the 15 friendliest countries in Asia. You can skip our detailed analysis on countries that welcome tourists, expatriates and immigrants with open arms, and head over directly to the 5 Friendliest Countries in Asia.
Traveling abroad, whether for tourism or starting a new life, is a unique experience. While tourists have several expectations associated with visiting a country, such as architecture, landscape, culture, cuisine, shopping and more, it is often their experience with locals that has a long-lasting impact on the perception they develop of that place.
Asia is the fastest growing region in the world, with its GDP projected to account for over 50% of the world’s GDP by 2040. The continent offers immense economic potential, which has seen a large influx of investors and job seekers move to Asia with an eye on the lucrative opportunities available in these large, densely populated markets. Moreover, Asia is also famous for its unique landscape, cultures, and warm climates, which have enhanced the region’s reputation as a growing tourist destination.
2023 was an exceptional year for tourism in Asia, especially UAE, which received over 17 million tourists. The UAE is the second most welcoming country in the world for immigrants as well, with a migrant stock in the population of 88.1%. Tens of thousands of people flock to the country every year for job hunt in search for better wages and living standards than in their home country.
Several large corporations operate in the country and contribute to its economic success. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is expecting its cloud portfolio to create 100,000 new jobs and add $39 billion to the Emirati economy between 2022 and 2026. The US technology company is in talks with UAE officials on the potential use of its cloud based services in highly regulated sectors of the government. Moreover, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) plans on spending $3.4 billion to support local businesses and data centers in the UAE.
Property business is thriving as well in the UAE. According to a UK-based study, Dubai is the most profitable city in the world for Airbnb, Inc. (NASDAQ:ABNB) landlords, with homeowners charging as much as $1,150 a night on average in properties near the Burj Khalifa. The study mentioned that it would take landlords an average of 121 nights to rent out their property on Airbnb, Inc. (NASDAQ:ABNB) to breakeven and make their money back. Vietnam’s capital Hanoi was listed as the third most profitable city for Airbnb, Inc. (NASDAQ:ABNB) landlords.
Another top destination for travelers is Turkiye, where the number of tourists soared by 10.4% in 2023, to touch nearly 50 million visitors. Last month, Ankara eliminated the requirement for US, Canadian, and Mexican tourists to obtain e-visa for travel lasting fewer than 90 days. The move is likely to further boost tourism in the country. Turkiye’s appeal as a major tourist destination has meant a booming hotel industry, with large chains like Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Inc. (NYSE:WH) and Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ:MAR) having announced expansions in the country.
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Inc. (NYSE:WH) is the largest international hotel company operating in Turkiye, with more than 100 active hotels, and about 20 more under development in the country. Recent additions by Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Inc. (NYSE:WH) in Turkiye include the Days Hotel by Wyndham Istanbul Esenyurt and Ramada by Wyndham Karapinar, among others.
Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ:MAR) in September 2023 announced the signing of 13 deals, signaling its expansion in Turkiye. The company currently has a portfolio of 8,000 rooms across 21 brands and 48 properties in the country. According to Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ:MAR), the new projects – which would include the much anticipated Fairfield Inn by Marriott – will add another 2,000 rooms.
The friendliest countries in Asia were ranked after considering four sources – Yahoo Finance and Insider Monkey’s articles on 30 Friendliest Countries in the World and 20 Most Immigrant Friendly Countries In The World, HSBC’s Expat Explorer rankings that list the top 46 destinations for expat living, and Passport Index’s Welcoming Countries Rank 2024, which ranks countries on how many passports they accept visa-free, with visa on arrival or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).
We observed where every Asian country ranked on each of these lists, and assigned them scores by dividing their rank on each list with the total number of countries ranked on those lists. Scores were then aggregated to determine overall scores for each country. The 15 Friendliest Countries in Asia are listed in ascending order of these scores. In case two or more countries had the same score, we outranked one over the other by seeing the total number of travelers received by these countries in question.
By the way, Insider Monkey is an investing website that tracks the movements of corporate insiders and hedge funds. By using a similar consensus approach, we identify the best stock picks of more than 900 hedge funds investing in US stocks. The top 10 consensus stock picks of hedge funds outperformed the S&P 500 Index by more than 140 percentage points over the last 10 years (see the details here). Whether you are a beginner investor or professional one looking for the best stocks to buy, you can benefit from the wisdom of hedge funds and corporate insiders.
Let’s now head over to the list of the friendliest Asian countries.
15. Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is one of the friendliest countries in Asia. It is ranked third on Passport Index’s rankings for welcoming countries. The Sri Lankan government offers visa on arrival or electronic travel authorization (eTA) to travelers from 196 countries.
About 1.8 million tourists visited Maldives in 2023. The people in the country are extremely warm and welcoming, and go above and beyond to make holidays for travelers enjoyable and unforgettable.
Next up on our list is Cambodia, a country in Southeast Asia which is known for its low-lying plains and mountains. It ranks joint-first, along with Maldives and a few other countries that offer visa-free entry, with visa on arrival or eTA. Approximately 5.4 million visitors traveled to Cambodia in 2023.
India is the 18th most immigrant friendly country in the world, with a migrant stock in the population of 0.4%. Most immigrants in India come from neighboring countries, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. The country ranks 30th on HSBC’S Expat Explorer list of top countries for expats. India offers visa on arrival or eTA entry to travelers from 163 countries.
Bahrain was listed 21st on Yahoo Finance and Insider Monkey’s rankings for the 30 most friendly countries in the world. The island nation in West Asia is known for being inclusive and understanding of other cultures. Expatriates account for over 52% of Bahrain’s population. It ranks as the eighth best country for expatriates, according to HSBC. All of these factors combine to make Bahrain one of the friendliest countries in Asia.
Jordan is one of the friendliest countries in Asia. It ranks 27th in the world for visa acceptance, and offers visa on arrival or eTA entry for travelers from 141 countries. It is also among the top destinations for immigrants, with a migrant stock in population of 33.9%. There are over 675,000 Syrian and between 2-3 million Palestinian refugees living in Jordan.
Nearly 50 million travelers visited Turkiye in 2023. It is among the friendliest countries in Asia and the world. The country offers visa on arrival or eTA entry to travelers from as many as 118 countries. Recently, Ankara waived off the requirement for travelers from the US, Canada, and Mexico to obtain e-visa if their trip lasts fewer than 90 days. It is also listed on HSBC’s list of the best destinations for expat living.
Thailand was among the most visited countries in the world in 2023, receiving over 27 million tourists during the year. It is one of Asia’s friendliest countries, where travelers get a real experience of the warm and welcoming nature of locals when they visit major tourist centers like Phuket and Bangkok. Thailand also ranks 40th on HBSC’s list of the top countries for expatriates.
It is common for tourists to strike up friendly conversations with random locals in Taiwan, some of whom might see it as an opportunity to improve their spoken English. The people of the country are incredibly cordial and welcoming towards foreigners. Travelers from 90 countries can currently travel to Taiwan and receive their visa on arrival. The Asian country is known for offering higher quality of expat living as well, and ranks 15th on HSBC’s Expat Explorer rankings.
6. Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is sixth on the list of the friendliest countries in Asia. It is the most immigrant friendly country in the world, with a migrant stock in population of 38.6%. HSBC has ranked the kingdom 39th for expat living. When it comes to ease of traveling, Saudi Arabia offers visa on arrival or eTA entry to travelers from 71 countries, according to the Passport Index 2024. However, Saudi Arabia is religiously ultra-conservative so it is advised to respect local customs and traditions.
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Disclosure: None. 15 Friendliest Countries in Asia is originally published on Insider Monkey.