As food-lovers ourselves, we know the importance of a good meal while we’re travelling the world. But an addiction to international food isn’t always the cheapest vice to support. If you’re travelling in Japan and want to eat sushi all day, or you’re craving pasta in Italy, you may end up breaking the bank while busting your belly! In this article we’ll reveal 5 of the best places for foodies, not only because they’re cheap, but because they boast some of the best food on the planet!
You really can’t beat India for aroma, flavour, diversity and cost of food. A delicious and filling street meal in India can cost as little as 25 cents, while a tasty all you can eat thali in a restaurant likely won’t cost you more than $3!
India is a food-junkies paradise and there really is no end to the list of dishes on offer. Another great part about Indian food is the wide variety of vegetarian and vegan options.
I’m a meat eater myself. A full-time carnivore. But when I’m travelling in India, I often go for days without eating meat and I don’t even notice. This is because there are so many hearty and satisfying vegetable dishes on every menu.
Some of the best places to enjoy delicious and ridiculously inexpensive street food in India include:
Kolkata: Don’t miss the chicken rolls and pokara on and around Sudder Street.
Delhi: The Paharganj area of Delhi is full of delicious and cheap restaurants, as well as some of the best street food in the country. Try some of the fresh juice stands to wash it all down and don’t miss a free meal in one of the many Sikh temples around the city!
Mumbai: You may not find the cheapest food in Mumbai, but you’ll find some of the best restaurants around. Consider splurging a bit in this city and try one of the many, world-renowned Indian restaurants.
Planning to travel to India? Don’t miss our Ultimate Guide To Backpacking India.
Before living and teaching English in China for a year, we had no idea just how good Chinese food was. Of course we had the typical Canadian-Chinese-Cantonese specials of sweet & sour pork, ginger beef and chicken chow mein, but the food in China is so much more diverse than the menus at a mega-mall food court restaurant!
We enjoyed delicious cold noodle dishes, dumplings, fish soups and so much more. We even found a taste for some of the really strange street foods in China. One of the best parts of being a foodie in China is that you don’t have to blow your travel budget by eating out.
Typically a meal in a restaurant won’t cost more than $5 and we recommend joining a few other travellers so that you can eat the chinese way. Everyone orders a dish and when they all come you just share the meals with the whole table. It may seem strange to dip and re-dip your chopsticks into a communal dish, but that’s the Chinese way!
Some great spots to get cheap Chinese food include:
Hong Kong: Typically, everything in Hong Kong is much more expensive than in mainland China, but you wouldn’t want to miss eating at the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in the world would you? Tim Ho Wan is in Mangok and it’s the best dim sum eatery you’ll ever find.
Shanghai: Another city where most things are more expensive than the rest of China, but you don’t want to miss the best dumplings in the country! Shanghai is famous for making some of the tastiest meat pockets available and lots of cheap eateries can be found around Nanjing Road.
Perhaps no other people are as in touch with their cuisine as Mexicans. Food is the heart and soul of the culture here and once you’ve tasted a perfectly prepared tamale, or a flavourful mole sauce, you’ll know why.
Unesco even listed Mexican food (along with French gastronomy and the Mediterranean diet) on the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
This tasty and intangible cultural heritage can also be enjoyed on a backpacker’s budget! Street meals rarely cost more than a few dollars in Mexico, while restaurant meals will usually only run you around $5 – $10.
It’s easy to enjoy and learn about food in Mexico because there are so many great food tours on offer.
Some great places to enjoy tasty and cheap Mexican food include:
Puerto Vallarta: If you want to dive into the delicious cuisine of Puerto Vallarta and the Nayarit region, we recommend doing a food tour with Vallarta Food Tours. They’ll walk you around and introduce you to some of the cities award-winning street food stands.
Mexico City: The thumping heart of Mexican food, this city is a mecca for food lovers because here you can find specialties from all over the country. Join a food tour with Eat Mexico and explore some of the busy food markets in this bustling capital.
Guanajuato: This is probably the most romantic town in Mexico, and possible the entire world, and there are some great street food meals on offer. Join a food tour with Mexico Street Food Tours and find the best taco stands and fresh fruit juice joints.
Who doesn’t love Thai food? Curries, spring rolls, noodle dishes and fried rice, Thai cuisine is light, spicy, sweet, sour, salty and delicious! You can pick up a street Pad Thai for as little as $1, while a restaurant meal will rarely cost more than $5.
Just be aware that some street food stands in Bangkok are not very sanitary. Make sure that all the meat that is used is on ice and that the stand is busy when you buy your meal.
Some great places to enjoy cheap food in Thailand include:
Bangkok: By far the best place for a variety of street food, head to Kaosan Road and take your pick from one of a hundred or so street food stands in the area.
Southern Thailand: That’s right, the entire south is full of tasty dishes. Don’t miss the delicious and filling Massaman curry.
Vietnamese food is healthy and delicious. If you’re picturing the same food as elsewhere in Asia, you’d be missing the diversity of Vietnamese food. Here you can get delicious sub sandwiches, spring rolls, rice cakes and tasty phu (Vietnamese soup).
Most meals in Vietnam won’t cost you more than $4 and you can always wash it down with an ice-cold Saigon beer.
Some of the best places to enjoy Vietnamese food include:
Saigon: Pham Ngu Lao street in Saigon is a great place to enjoy delicious street foods and restaurant meals. While there is good food all over Vietnam, the options can’t compare to the capital’s food scene.
If you’re mouth isn’t watering by now, then you must already be in a food-lover’s paradise! These 5 destinations will keep your belly and your wallet full for weeks on end. We spent a month or more in each of these countries and we still have much to taste!