Colombia San Andreas Island


Find your 'happy' on holiday - the world's happiest countries

Published February 25th, 2015

“Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.” Are the wise words of Pharell Williams resonating with you of late? Need a #happyholiday moment or 10 to share on Twitter? For inspiration in your pursuit of happiness, where better to start than by exploring the happiest countries in the world? Some clever folks have created the Happy Planet Index (HPI) - a global measure for sustainable wellbeing ranking 151 countries by multiplying life expectancy by experienced wellbeing and then dividing it by the country’s ecological footprint. Simple, right? Let’s count down the happiest countries in the world as potential candidates for your next holiday.


Volcanoes are all part of the view in El Salvador.

5. El Salvador

Ranked the fifth happiest country in the world, El Salvador is an affordable, eco-friendly paradise perfect for those seeking an outdoor adventure on their next holiday. Explore national parks, wildlife and volcanic lakes, world-class surfing, friendly locals, colonial charm and a capital with a reputation for a wicked nightlife.

HPI: 58.9 (out of 100)

Location: Central America

Distance from Australia: 15,377 km

Flights from Australia: Two stopovers, 20-hour flight.

Holiday package idea: Intrepid Travel’s eight-day Explore El Salvador group tour will have you smiling before you hit the Ahuachapan nature reserve.


Snorkel with the sharks in the world's second largest barrier reef in Belize.

4. Belize

Where better to share in some 'happy’ than Central America’s youngest nation and the fourth happiest location on Earth - Belize? Smile at the amazing landscape and wildlife of the many jungles, the Belize Barrier Reef and the Mayan mountains.

HPI: 59.3 (out of 100)

Location: Central America

Distance from Australia: 15,551 km

Flights from Australia: Two stopovers, 20-hour flight.

Holiday package idea: Kayak, hike and snorkel the path of Mayan warriors to lost cities cloaked in jungle mists on a 10 day Antigua to Cancun adventure with On the Go.


You don't have to be a swinger to enjoy the beauty of Colombia's islands.

3. Colombia

The laidback lifestyle and sultry rhythms must do wonders for the locals in Colombia, ranked number three on the happiest country list. Find the joy exploring coffee plantations, colonial towns and national parks in this increasingly popular destination as it moves to shrug off its former bad image.

HPI: 59.8 (out of 100)

Location: Central America

Distance from Australia: 16,228 km

Flights from Australia: Two stopovers, 21-hour flight.

Holiday package idea: A 15-day Complete Colombia trip with Intrepid covers natural wonders, culture and history with something for nearly everyone.


2. Vietnam

Closer to home, and despite its tumultuous past, Vietnam clocks in as the second happiest place in the world. With a rich culture, history and landscape, it’s easy to see why Vietnam has long been a holiday favourite with Australians.

HPI: 60.4 (out of 100)

Location: Southeast Asia

Distance From Australia: 5,179 km

Flights from Australia: A direct 7-hour flight.

Holiday package idea: Do as the locals do and ride your way to fun on a 15-day Intrepid Cycle Vietnam tour throughout this beautiful country.


What's happier (or cuter) than this guy? Be as happy as a sloth in Costa Rica.

1. Costa Rica

Welcome to the world’s happiest place to be, well, according to statistics! Costa Rica - numero uno on the happiness index list - boasts some of the world’s most impressive tropical coastal plains, mountains, active volcanoes and wildlife. It’s a natural marvel with lots of ‘happy’! How can you say no?

HPI: 64 (out of 100)

Location: Central America

Distance from Australia: 15,688 km

Flights from Australia: Two stopovers on a 20-hour flight.

Holiday package idea: Find your 'happy 'on a 10 day Best of Costa Rica Tour with Student Flights.


Jolee Wakefield

A seasoned backpacker and travel writer, Jolee has spent the past decade wandering the globe in pursuit of good vibes, unusual conversations and unforgettable adventures like cave diving in Mexico, mountain climbing in Borneo and learning (failing at) local dances in the Pacific nation of Kiribati.