COUNTRY RANK BY dannybooboo

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I’m 33 years old. I’ve traveled to 35 countries. It’s my third year traveling non-stop, typically changing countries every month. Most of the year you can find me in Latin America, Asia, or eastern Europe. I find myself exploring less new countries and returning more to the places I really enjoyed. In 2020, I plan to add only 3 new countries to this list (Uzbekistan, Belarus, and Turkey).

These lists are useless. It’s my list. It’s not your list. It’s most useful for me. To you, it has the potential to be useful, but more likely it will not only be useless but has the potential to give you a bad travel experience. Why?

We all have our own reasons for traveling. We all have our own values. These need to be considered first and foremost before you travel. For example, I visited Lake Atitlán in Guatemala. I don’t smoke weed. I go to the gym. I wear shoes. I don’t have dreadlocks. I am clean cut. I didn’t fit in there. If I was a barefoot, weed-smoking hippy with deadlocks, I’d have fit in probably pretty well. Nothing against Lake Atitlán, but if I’m trying to optimize my travel experiences, I want to go to places where I fit in naturally and can integrate with the local people easily. Otherwise, it’s an uphill battle and loneliness creeps in.

So, what are my values?

I like to live like a local no matter where I am. I value creating meaningful relationships no matter where I am. These meaningful relationships come in two forms: platonic friends and romantic interests. Ideally, I am attracted to the local women (and, more importantly, and harder to come by, they are attracted to me). I also value dry and hot weather. I value good value (what am I paying versus what I am getting?). I value the walkability of a city, the number of parks, the level of pollution. I value the transit system, the number of cafes and day trips, and how much society values a healthy lifestyle. I don’t value things like an overly religious society, prostitution, and nightlife. Tourist hotspots and the food scene are of little interest to me.

The more this sounds like you, the more useful this list will be to you. If you have any specific questions about my ranking or a country, please post a comment at the end.

1. United States of America

First Visited: 1987

No. I’m not one of those people who travel and denounce their own country. My birth country is still my favorite place on Earth. If shit hit the fan, I’d happily (and luckily be able to) go back to America.

Not to say it’s perfect, especially California, far from it. But it is the most diverse, the least racist, least sexist, least homophobic country I know (Those of you reading this and disagreeing is why USA is #1 because good isn’t good enough for us.). However, it is NOT the freest. It is the fairest and provides the greatest level of opportunity I’ve ever traveled to.

If you’re poor in the USA, you have a very real ability to improve your life. Many countries I’ve been to this just simply does not exist. You are born poor and you will die poor because there are zero opportunities afforded to you.

2. Brazil

First Visited: 2019, then again in 2020

You won’t find many people who don’t have good things to say about Brazil. And, I’m no different. Such a huge country, so many different things to do, some of the best beaches on the planet, and one of the, if not the best, only premier large cities (Rio de Janeiro) with spectacular beaches/nature integrated so nicely.

The combination of beach, big city, nature, and beautiful women are what attracts me to Brazil. After learning Portuguese in Sao Paulo, Brazil beats even Colombia in terms of friendliness and openness of locals. It’s in their blood to be welcoming. As opposed to some Asian countries, you really can feel fully like a local here. You’re treated as one of them. In fact, my birthday was just three weeks after I arrived and was able to have a small party with 7 people, 5 of which were local Brazilians.

3. Kazakhstan

First Visited: 2019

What a delightful surprise! This place blew me away! The people, the modernness of the city, the climate, the women, the prices. I love it even more for being off the tourist map. I felt totally free and isolated here. It’s an easy and slow life, a walkable city with cute women, affordable, and friendly locals. I made more local friends here in a month than anywhere else I’ve been. Plus, there are parks literally everywhere.

In Almaty, Kazakhstan there are no taxis. Instead, a random driver will pick you up off the side of the road.

4. Vietnam

First Visited: 2019, then again in 2020

After 4 months and 5 cities in Asia, I had had enough. I didn’t love it. I want to go to Eastern Europe but it was only January and still too cold so I had to find somewhere else to go. I choose Vietnam based on a friend’s recommendation. And, I’m so glad I did! I already have plans to visit a couple more cities in Vietnam this year.

While this place is cheap, you can also opt for western-style fancy anything from accommodations to food to gyms. Vietnam is one of the only places I actually talk passionately about the food (Thailand is the other). Something unique to Vietnam that is missing from other Asian countries are the women. They’re so damn cute!

5. Colombia

First Visited: 2014, then again in 2018-2022

The first time I came here was for Christmas and NYE in 2014 on a short gringo, two-week vacation. If you’ve been to this country, you know this is the best time to come based on weather and festivities. Back then, I was a lost tourist doing very touristy things with a friend who planned the whole trip because I didn’t know what I was doing. It didn’t matter because I still saw potential the moment I arrived.

I was impressed and blown away by the friendly people. This sentence is so generic. But, I’ve come to realize there are two types of ‘friendly’ on Earth. The first type of friendly is superficially friendly. I don’t mean to say it’s a bad thing. Superficial friendly is when someone will say hi, they’ll stop to answer a question, they’ll smile at you, etc. But it will be harder to form a deeper relationship. The second type of friendly is genuine. This type of friendly is found in Colombia. You can easily connect and make local friends.

I was also blown away by the women. Gorgeous faces with gym bodies. You can find them thick or thin. Tall or short (though, mostly, short). Heaven. Back in 2014, I remember thinking “these women are so damn beautiful, even the fat girls are super feminine and sexy.” This all comes with the double-edged sword of many of the women using their looks for money, lacking personality, and being over-the-top flakey when it comes to dating. For these reasons, dating high-quality women in this country is hard.

Nevertheless, fast forward years later and it’s become one of my favorite countries.

I’ve visited 8 cities and love them all except Cartagena.

6. Russia – UPDATE: +1

First Visited: 2019

Very similar to Ukraine, except on a grander scale and 2x as expensive. Bigger buildings, wilder nightlife, brighter lights, more traffic, larger cities, etc. The Russians tend to like to show off, especially when it comes to money and this is not my style. However, it’s so much different than anywhere else I’ve been, it’s a challenge. I’m also learning Russian and I know from learning Spanish, living somewhere when you know the local language changes the experience for the better. Believe it or not, I felt that Russians understood their bad reputation in terms of friendliness and actively tried to fight against it. They were more friendly than I expected.

7. Mexico – UPDATE: +1

First Visited: 2005, then again in 2016, 2021, 2022

I’ve been to Mexico a handful of times, always bringing a good memory from bargaining on the street to learning Spanglish to living in the capital. Mexico was my first real international trip back in 2005.

Mexico moved from #20 to #8 due to my experience in Playa del Carmen during the Covid situation. Mexico handled it all very rationally and saw an economic boom and an increase in their currency compared to all North and South American countries including the USA.

It also made me realize how giant and awesome the country is. They have amazing, modern big cities, sleepy beach towns, beautiful beaches and mountains. They even have beautiful women. They have it all.

Mexico moved up again due to my trip to Guadalajara which has become a top city.

8. Ukraine – UPDATE: -2

First Visited: 2019

This place, along with Russia, is so unique and different and HARD! It’s so hard to make friends and connect with the people here, especially after coming from Latin America. Immediately upon leaving, I felt a bit bitter. I put out so much effort and got so little in return in terms of connecting with people. So why is Ukraine number 7? Well hindsight is 20/20 and I did make some good connections, but things just move slower there.

I was there for a month and it simply was not enough time for the Ukrainians to form a friendship. Maybe it’s harder to form friendships here, but when you do they’re very strong and loyal bonds? Can anyone confirm this in the comments below?

Kiev having a beach doesn’t hurt. Neither does the percentage of attractive women (highest of any place I’ve been to). Unfortunately, it’s torture because they didn’t seem to like me!

Russia and Ukraine are very similar. Russia gets the edge because it’s a larger country and was slightly easy to connect with the locals.

9. Canada

First Visited: 1997, then again in 2017

In 1997, I went to Canada, my first country abroad, for dinner. That was literally it. It was a family road trip up the west coast of America. All I remember is they had this weird dinner sauce that seemed to glisten like Christmas colors. Since then I’ve been to Toronto which I absolutely loved even though they had a record cold winter and I have no winter clothes. I’m looking very much to go back and visiting Montreal.

10. Guatemala

First Visited: 2017

A special place in my heart as it’s where I made two of my larger accomplishments: writing my first book (Guatemala City) and finally learning Spanish (Antigua). Besides Colombia, I’ve spent the most time in this country around 5 months in 4 cities. I promise I’d return when I’m fluent in Spanish and though I’m not where I want to be, I will revisit in late 2020 or early 2021.

11. Thailand

First Visited: 2018

I actually don’t like Bangkok so much. Too much prostitution, ladyboys, and pollution. However, I LOVED Chaing Mai. I’m actually writing this from here now. It’s a smaller city than I’m used to which means you see the same people often and rumors spread easily, but the positives outweigh this. There are so many cafe’s and daytrips, so many high-quality gyms and a huge expat scene which means any number of events every day of the week. I especially love that you can ride scooters without too much to worry about except bribing the cops 500Bhat ($15). They’ll pull you over if you’re white. I feel very productive and calm in this city. For one, I’m not attracted to the local women so this adds a lot of free time to my schedule for gym and business improvements.

12. South Korea

First Visited: 2013

I’ve been here twice. The first time was on my way to Philipines and for only one day. It was one of my first Airbnb experiences and I stayed with a single mom and her infant daughter who I brought an English book for. The second time was for a very special private conference I attended very spontaneously and I was pleasantly surprised by the nice, clean, and unique town. And, I felt the girls were attractive which surprised me.

13. Sweden

First Visited: 2017

The friendliest people on the planet! Even the cops I talked to on the street were friendly! I had a question which I asked a shop owner who walked me to where I needed to go. The café owner down the street from my hostel was super friendly and the barber he recommended me we’re still friends. The big downside here is the cost of living. It was $20 to get my jacket dry cleaned!

14. Australia

First Visited: 2017

Australia is basically America. That’s why I chose it to do my trial run for 3-months to see if I could live and travel and work at the same time. I visited 4 cities and remember, oddly, that you’d be hard-pressed to find someone older than 40 in Melbourne which was also my favorite of the three. It’s worth a return. However, The Great Barrier Reef was a great disappointment.

15. Indonesia – UPDATE: +2

First Visited: 2014, then again in 2020

When a place gets so touristy, the locals start to look at you as $$$. Unfortunately, the police have also taken quite aggressively to taking bribes from the tourists (just like in Thailand). I got stopped 2 times on a 20-minute drive. In total, I was stopped 3 times on this island having to bribe two cops. Ubud is cool, though very hippy and so small. I couldn’t imagine living there for more than a couple of weeks. Canggu is cool, though so expensive and also very small and hard/dangerous to get around. The locals seem to disdain the foreigners and the island is so damn dirty, it’s disgusting. Due to Coronavirus, I spent an additional 5 months in Bali in 2020. After my visit to Jakarta, I moved up Indonesia on this list. I enjoyed my time there and will return. It’s affordable and very easy to get into a routine due to the indoor living environment.

16. Honduras – NEW ADDITION

First Visited: 2022

I went to Roatan for 8 days to learn how to free dive. I knew going in that it was a super touristy island and I decided to stay at West End, the less touristy but still popular area. That was a good decision. West End has a little more of a community vibe, much less hawkers. I’m sure it’s cheaper, it’s also more walkable and I think there’s more going on. West Bay is like Cancun where it’s just a bunch of resorts. I visited one day and wasn’t a fan. I felt it was a vacation, but there was also a nice gym, a coworking spot, a few cafe selections, and the locals were friendly. In fact, I made more friends in my time there than maybe anywhere else. One guy from the free diving experience, two girls from the gym, one girl from a cafe.

17. Spain – UPDATE: -2

First Visited: 2017, then again in 2022

Recent Update: I’ve now lived in Madrid and Spain has fallen 2 spots. I was expecting good things from this city and it has a lot going for it. It’s super walkable, a giant city with good diversity, great transit, amazing parks and plazas, and a good expat community. That’s the good. The negative that most surprised me is the attractiveness of the girls and the friendliness of the locals. I thought Spanish women were hot! They are not. Life is better with attractive women around. And the locals were not unfriendly, but they were not friendly either. A little stuck up. It was the opposite feeling I had in Moscow where they seemed to be aware of their reputation and tried to be more friendly. In Madrid, they seem to think they’re a super friendly culture, but they’re not. The gym scene is also pathetic in a few ways. The actual gyms are incomplete from having dumbbells only to 70lbs, no common machines like leg press or calf raises, or no weight scale. Spanish women don’t work out. 90% men.

I’ve also been to the islands of Las Palmas, though I’m planning to visit Barcelona. It’s got perfect weather 365-days per year and beaches on both sides of the small island. It’s also rather cheap with $1 wine, salsa culture, a Latin-American Spanish accent, and topless beaches.

18. Georgia

First Visited: 2019

Another surprise! I actually hired a Georgian remote worker (who stole from me over months) who was black. Ignorantly, I assumed Georgians were black. Well, when I arrived in 2019, I was shocked to see not only they were not but you’d be hard-pressed to find a black person or any other race for that matter besides white. This city is modern and large with many distinct neighborhooods, though everyone smoked and there was a tinge of the difficulty of forming connections as is common in Eastern Europe.

19. United Arab Emirates

First Visited: 2019

Full disclosure: I came here immediately after being in India, the absolute worst, for a month. Its possible anywhere I went would have formed good memories. It’s got a beach, super nice shopping malls, and marinas. The downsides are the terrible air quality, the sky-high cost of living ($6 for a coffee), and the overly religious/false society.

20. Hong Kong

First Visited: 2018

It’s one big Chinatown and who doesn’t love their Chinatown? A huge expat scene, super modern buildings next to dummpy places. Afforadlbe and expensive next to each other. A vibrant scene due to the amount of money and diversity of people here.

20. Latvia

First Visited: 2017

It’s like Estonia, except better. The old town is more local, less touristy. The locals are friendly, it’s cheaper, the women are cuter, it’s slightly warmer.

21. Netherlands

First Visited: 2015

I need to return here! It was only for a few days, a few years ago, during a slow month, on the slow days of the week (Monday to Wednesday) so I didn’t get a real true experience. But what I did see – a huge park, nice gyms, friendly locals, bikeable city, walkability, beautiful city layout – I did like.

22. Finland

First Visited: 2017

The week I was here was pleasant. I didn’t do much, to be honest. My Airbnb hosts and their dog were friendly. I remember they slept with their door open and told me this is normal for finnish people. Can anyone confirm?

23. Puerto Rico

First Visited: 2013, then again in 2022

To be honest was so long ago I forget. I came here with my girlfriend at the time, immediately before we were in Las Vegas. Beaches, not too touristy, not too expensive, lots to do like a forest, a bioluminescent bay, and a cool couple of islands off the East coast of the island.

24. Panama

First Visited: 2018

I loved this city the first time I went. But then I realized I loved it because of the Colombians and Venezualians I met here. Though I met more than one nice Panamanian, actually many, the overall vibe I got from them was rather unpleasant. It’s also a very dirty city. It has a lot of potential. The San Blas Islands were a total and complete letdown. Kind of an embarrassment for the country.

25. Costa Rica

First Visited: 2018

I didn’t give this militaryless country a fair go. It’s still when I was really learning how to travel. I was here for 2 weeks and mostly kept to myself: gym in the morning, supermarket in the afternoon, home at night to work. In general, it’s a little too touristy for my liking and most of the tourists are coming from America. As notes above, nothing wrong with America, but I preference locations where I’m unique by being American.

26. Argentina

First Visited: 2019

Before I came to Argentina, I never heard so many passionate views both positive and negative about one city. I wish I hadn’t. It’s better to go in with an open mind. In my experience, about 50% of my micro interactions were pleasant and 50% weren’t. Unfortuatnely for them, with Colombia and Brazil as neibhors, 50% is not good enough. The upside is the currency is so low the USD has about a 50% discount!

27. Estonia

First Visited: 2017

This place I also should give another try, though it’s super touristy with a million cruise ship passangers arriving daily. The old town is super-extra over-the-top touristy. I don’t like that. It’s definitely cheap for using the Euro. Aparently, the highest percentage of supermodels per captia reside here, though I didn’t see it. It’s a neat place, a bit off the beaten track which I like with a good tech-first society.

28. Uruguay

First Visited: 2019

I liked it, definitely. I had some delicious food here. It’s not too touristy. There was a beach. Nice weather. It has clean air and water. It’s close to Argentina by boat. But, to be totally honest, it’s simply too expensive for there not to be women who I’m attracted to.

29. Turkey

First Visited: 2020

I arrived with the highest of hopes, but at the end of the day, I cut my trip short because I could not connect with the people. I’ve said for a long time, I don’t care much about nature, about history, about the arts or museums. I like or dislike a city based on the connections I make there. Istanbul has a lot going for it. There’s a lot I personally like about the city. But it was a sad and lonely month. I couldn’t connect with the people. The culture is aggressive and hostile. The women did not want anything to do with me. One even yelled at me for even trying to start a conversation with her. What makes it sad is that it seemed social. People were out and about at cafes and mingling. Just not with me. I felt like an outcast.

30. Portugal

First Visited: 2017

I originally came here for a conference, but stayed for three weeks. I lived in a house of other digital nomad types which was cool, but I remember being slightly negative about the city and that’s usually due to the people. But, really, I can’t remember why. Lots of  people seem to have a good time there, but I didn’t remember anything special except the real esatate/housing prices were really higher. In general, I’m not a huge fan of Europe. Though I’ll probably return here as I loved Brazil so much and plan to learn Portuguese.

31. Philippines

First Visited: 2013, then again in 2019 and 2020

The first time I visited the Philippines was to Boracay. I was basically drunk the entire time so I can’t make much of a judgment based on this trip. However, I witness two things that I will not mention pubicly that gave me a very bad impression of the locals. When I first visited Manila, my expectations were high, but it was a disappointment! All the Filipinos I met up to this point (outside of the Philippines) were so damn friendly! The friendliest (along with the Indians)! Then I get to the country and they’re quite unfriendly. I had a hard time connecting with locals. Additionally, I assumed I’d like the Filipina women as I had a prior Filipina girlfriend but lo and behold, I did not find them attractive. It’s not a workout culture. Many of the people are overweight. Health is the most important aspect of my life, this doesn’t work well with me. The traffic was absolutely insane without any good transit system yet there are many distinct and spread out neighborhoods making transit between them very inconvenient. Because my experience was such a shock to me, I’m going to give Manila another chance and I will live in a new neighborhood this time. I love that they speak English and play basketball!

32. El Salvador – NEW ADDITION

First Visited: 2022

Well, it’s a wholly underwhelming country. From the beaches, to the capital city, to the nature, to the Airbnbs, food, and everything in between, I felt this country met the definition of average. It’s a tiny country that you can drive through in a few hours and this made it easy to explore. I went to the coast three times, I went to the jungle, but I spent most of my time in the least-walkable city I’ve ever lived in. Even though the people were generally friendly, I didn’t feel welcomed and was glad to leave. On top of all this, it was not cheap. The value for what you paid was the inverse of Medellin where you pay not much and you get great value. I will probably never visit this country again.

33. Belize

First Visited: 2018

Ugh. Speaking of lazy island culture combined with tourism, these locals are the definition of lazy and viewing all foreigners as $$$. I also almost died here while diving the Great Blue Hole due to lazy dive professionals leaving me behind. It’s probably a cool place to go with your group of friends, keep interaction with the locals to a minimum, and only for a few days.

34. France

First Visited: 2015

Why does everyone like this place? Actually, with each passing year, I hear more and more from people who do not like Paris. Why? The locals suck. They’re boring and unfriendly. The place is expensive. It’s dangerous due to external (terrorism) and internal (robberies) threats. It’s congested and expensive. The weather is never really that good. No, thank you. Maybe outside of Paris is better, but let’s be honest when you think of France you think Paris and wine.

35. Morocco

First Visited: 2017

Yikes. Get me out of here! Unfortunately, it’s my only African country leaving a tarnish on that continent. Luckily, I think/hope it’s different than the rest of Africa.

When religion is so dominant in a country, it usually sucks. Scratch that: it always sucks. The reason being is that it’s totally fake. Did you know it’s illegal to be an atheist? (Also it’s illegal to be gay.) How can a taxi cab driver recommend me going to the mosque and then rip me off so blatantly?

I didn’t love Casablanca. I absolutely despise Marrakech. Why? Usually, it’s the same reason. The locals suck. One local tried to get me to pay an absurd amount for taking a photo of the snake. Another offered directions (which I didn’t ask for nor wanted) then after 3 minutes basically demanded money and demanded more money for his ‘help’. Terrible country.

36. India

First Visited: 2019

While Morocco makes me angry, India makes me disappointed and sad. Oh, where to start. I felt like a valueless piece of crap in this country. I was in Mumbai and thoroughly disliked almost everything about India. It’s unjust and unfair. For one, begging is illegal. How can you make begging illegal in a country who has 90% beggars? It’s unjust because you can hire a servant for $200 a month to clean your home and take care of your kid, cook you meals, but drive around in Mercedez-Benz custom car which drives by a crippled man on the sidewalk.

To their credit, the rich and the poor seem to live alongside each other by totally ignoring each other. Maybe it’s the cast system which is still very much alive. If you’re poor, you’ll always be poor. That’s your role in society.

I will say the one cool thing about this place is the plethora of fresh fruits and veggies on the street. That was really cool and convenient! Indians are friendly, right? I agree. All the Indians I met outside of India are rather friendly. But I come to realize that they’re superficially friendly. They say hello and chit chat, but to befriend them, they’re uninterested.

To end, I remember going out one night towards the end of my month to a nice club and the people I met there were total assholes.

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  1. Dear Danny
    You are a lucky man to see the almost every well known country. Therefore cheer up and try to get the best of each county. I do not like Istanbul, however I love so many part of Turkey.

    1. Oh man, I’m so cherry don’t even worry 🙂 ya, I’m about to add Istanbul on to this list. lots of positives, just not what I’m looking for right now.

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