What A Buck Buys You Around the World

Depending on where you are, your dollar can either get you a street food meal or a small bag of carrots from the supermarket

What a Buck Buys You Around the World

Depending on where you are, your dollar can either get you a street food meal or a small bag of carrots from the supermarket.


Talk to anyone about visiting or living in Australia, and they’ll most certainly tell you one thing right off the bat: It’s an incredibly expensive country, no matter which city or state you’re in. Water bottles come no cheaper than about $2.20 AUD, so a buck won’t get you too far here considering that $1 USD equals just about $1.15 AUD; however, one U.S. dollar will get you a few snacks in one of the country’s leading supermarkets, Coles, including a pack of Coles Fresh Carrots Pre-Packaged 1 kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, or Coles Scotch Finger Biscuits 250 grams, or 8.8 ounces. Other than that, good luck trying to find something that costs just a dollar in Australia.



In Colombia, the arepa, a small, savory corn cake which has deep roots in the cuisine of the indigenous people and colonial farmers, is an important part of the country’s culinary fabric. Made of corn mesa and eaten with all kinds of toppings and fillings, arepas can be used to create a sandwich and are commonly eaten for breakfast or for an afternoon snack. And the best part about them: they can easily be bought for a buck from street food vendors. 


Many ex-pats living in Ecuador say that if there is anything you should buy for a buck, it’s a plate of salchipapas. Though the dish originated in Lima, Peru, salchipapas is a common street food staple of Ecuador. Salchipapas is essentially thinly sliced beef sausages mixed together in a heap with French fries. Many Ecuadorians dress a plate of salchipapas with mustard and ketchup, but you can also choose to go sans-condiments; no matter how you eat it, this dish is tasty.


Much like Australia, England is a country where an American traveler would be hard-pressed to find something that costs just $1 USD, given that it equals to about about 60 cents, or pence, in England. This is especially true in London — that is, unless said traveler has a sweet tooth. In England, 1p sweets — aptly named for their penny price tag — are loved the world over and can be found in news agents (similar to delis in New York, for example) across the country. With $1 USD, you could buy about 60 1p sweets. Or, if you’d rather to explore the local culture a little bit more, head to Tesco, the country’s most recognizable supermarket chain, and you can grab a 150 grams (or about 5.2 ounces) can of Heinz Baked Beans or a Tesco Everyday Value Milk Chocolate Bar.


Everyone knows that the French love their pastries and their croissants. Among those pastries are several than can be purchased for just $ 1 USD, or about 80 Euro cents, such as chouquettes. A chouquette is the French version of a cream puff and is sprinkled with pearl sugar. In many Parisian bakeries, chouquettes are either sold by the amount — like a dozen or half dozen — or by the weight, but it is possible to purchase just one chouquette at several bakeries across the city.


In Hungary, travelers will find some tasty fare at their fingertips for just a buck. Among the cheapest eats is lángos, a deep-fried flatbread that can be served in sweet or savory variations topped with sour cream and sugar or chocolate or grated cheese. Also available for a buck are other goodies including palacsinta, a thin, crêpe-like pancake, or a fánk, a sort of Hungarian doughnut. 


Travelers and ex-pats will agree that it’s hard to find anything for $1 USD, or about four shekels, in Israel. An exception is a small bag of the country’s beloved Bamba, a peanut butter-flavored cheese doodle-like snack that can be purchased at gas stations, grocery stores, and small shops for just a buck. 


Any traveler will see that $1 USD, which equals about 10,000 Indonesian rupiah, can get you pretty far throughout the country, even in the popular and touristic island of Bali. Rice cones, or a banana leaf with white rice, vegetables, and beef, chicken, or fish dressed in a spicy sauce, are popular items for just one dollar and can be purchased as street food from local vendors in Bali, the Gili Islands, Flores island, and across much of Indonesia. Also available for a buck is the country’s national dish of nasi goreng, or stir-fried rice with eggs and vegetables mixed in as well as beef or fish on occasion, and all dressed in a spicy sauce (hint: add sambal, the country’s spicy condiment, for an extra kick). 


In Jamaica, one of the most common street foods is the Jamaican beef patty. The patty, despite what its name suggests, isn't just a flat disc of meat, but a pastry that is commonly filled with seasoned ground beef and other ingredients like mixed vegetables or cheese. 


In Mexico, those traveling on the American dollar will find that they can get a significant amount of food for just a buck, but like many countries, the prices vary from place to place. What costs a buck in a small town could be double the price in Mexico City. But, if you ever find yourself in Ensenada, know that a dollar ($13.50 MXN), will get you one fish taco from a street vendor. Additionally, head up to Mexico City and get yourself a half pound of guajillo chiles for just a buck.

New York City

One of the best things about New York City is the pizza, which is easily the best in the States. And, one of the best things about the pizza in New York is that you can get some of the most gloriously greasy and delicious slices for just one dollar. These dollar slices come in handy no matter the time of day, be it a quick lunch, a drunk munchie, or a hangover cureWe’re not claiming these dollar slices are the best in New York, but they’ll do just fine when you’re looking for a cheap bite.



Though the Philippines is still a cheap enough country to travel through, travelers are noting the rising prices each year as the destination becomes more popular. Nonetheless, a dollar can get you a taste of the local culture at the country’s street markets as well as a McCheeseburger from the Philippine McDonald’s. But who wants a McCheeseburger? For $1 USD, or about 44 Philippine pesos, travelers can get either three fried bananas or three fried sweet potatoes on a stick, at 12 pesos each. 

South Korea

The top-selling spirit in the world according to both CNN and NPR, Soju, costs just about 1,000 won, or $1 USD, per bottle in its home country of South Korea. Soju is as widely consumed as water in South Korea, and you can get yourself well and properly intoxicated with just one bottle. Traditionally made from rice, Soju is a colorless liquor that has a strong yet subtly sweet taste.


Head to any street food market in Thailand, be it in Bangkok or Chiang Mai, and you’ll find that your dollar, or about 30 Thai baht, will get you some of the best Thai food you’ll come across — so long as you’re up for eating like the locals and going for Thai street food, which is something the country is famous for. Every corner in Bangkok, for example, is teeming with street food carts, all of which sell incredibly delicious Thai food, from plates of pad thai to fruit shakes to eggs rolls, all for just a buck.


In Istanbul, travelers can buy süt mısır, or corn on the cob, in Istanbul, for just a buck. Süt mısır is a freshly boiled or grilled corn on the cob that is often brushed with salt and spices, giving it more kick than your typical corn on the cob. Süt mısır is a popular street food snack, especially in summertime. 


Vietnam is often credited as being one of the more expensive of the Southeast Asian countries by travelers, yet $1 USD — or about 20,000 Vietnamese dong — does get you a decent meal both in and out of the cities. In fact, you can have you choice of some of the country’s most popular and widely known foods, like the bánh mì sandwich, which you can get from anywhere between 10,000 dong to 20,000 dong. Phở, another incredibly popular dish and one that’s often considered the country’s national dish, can also be purchased for around 20,000 dong from street food vendors around the country. Pro tip: Dine with or follow the locals to get that 10,000-dong dish so that you can buy a beer for 10,000 more and have a complete meal for just a buck!