The decline in the value of the dollar has become a favourite topic – and not just in political or economic gatherings.Whether your granny tells you a story of how much stuff she used to get with nickel during her youth or you remember how cheap your rent was six to ten years ago. Concerns about what a dollar could get you these days are becoming as popular as the dollar itself, coupled with how many the Federal Reserve seems to be printing nowadays.
But notwithstanding, the value of the US dollar is still relatively high, especially when compared with these.
1. Iranian Rial
The tourism industry in Iran has been gaining massive recognition for the past few years. A sector that is almost certain to boom in the coming years whether certain world powers like it or not. Unfortunately, some actions have been barred by the country’s parliament to re-denominate its currency so the Iranian rial will remain a poor performer even as the country’s tourism sector is on the winning end of the stock market. As at the time of this publication, one US dollar would buy you 42,105 Iranian Rial. Although you could get more than that from money changers in the street if you offer them crisp, new $100 notes.
Aside from being one of the world most worthless currencies, it also bags the award for one of the world’s most confusing currencies. Indigenes often bargain prices in (toman) which merely translates to one Iranian Rial with one zero removed. But the resulting figures are still too high for sanity – imagine yourself paying 7000 of any currency for a cup of coffee
2. Vietnamese Dong
Compared to the Iranian Rial, the Vietnamese dong worth slightly more as a US dollar would get you around 23,204 dong as of January 2019. One significant factor that sets both currencies apart – both countries actually – is that unlike the Iranian banking system that is isolated, the Vietnamese banking system is connected to the rest of the world. This simply means that you could become an instant millionaire when you make withdrawals from any Vietnamese ATM. Particularly; withdrawing $50 worth of dong (1,160,225 dong) will make you a millionaire, as long as you’re in Vietnam.
Currently, the smallest Vietnamese note you can officially get is 10,000 dong (approximately 43 cents), though, there was a time when 500 dong notes used to circulate.
3. Indonesian Rupiah
Indonesia claims number 3 spot on the list of the world’s weakest currency. Although the country is experiencing rapid development resulting in increased cost in tourism with hot spots like Yogyakarta and Bali, their money is still one of the worlds weakest as you’ll need about 13,940 Rupiah to get a dollar. This means that for your next Indonesian breakfast, you could end up dropping six figures.
However, Indonesia is rapidly becoming a tech-friendly country as more merchants are beginning to accept the electronic mode of payments. So the good news is you won’t be spending many banknotes as you’ll often do in Iran and Vietnam, while the introduction of Uber in many major cities across the country will not only reduce price haggling but will also reduce the chances of you being scammed as a result of miscounting your extremely big notes
4. Laos Kip
Just because a currency doesn’t have value doesn’t mean that transportation will be cheap in the country it is used in. For instance, while the baht of the neighbouring country of Thailand is significantly of more value than the Laotian Kip (1 USD = 31.30 BHT while 1 USD = 8,560 LAK), a lot of tourists find prices in Laos higher even though the country is significantly poorer than Thailand.
Admittedly, there’s another reason for this. Due to the low value the Laotian currency, the country’s economy is partially “dollarized”. This implies that prices are often quoted in dollars and dollars are frequently accepted for settling bills.
5. Paraguayan Guarani
Coupled with the fact that remarkably more popular countries surround Paraguay (although you can travel to the famous Iguazu falls through Paraguay, almost every tourist goes through Brazil or Argentina), the Paraguayan Guarani is one of the world’s weakest currency. To be exact, you’ll need 6,050 Guaraní to get a dollar; this implies that regardless of bootlegged electronics in Ciudad del Este being cheap, you still have to disburse hundreds of thousands ( or even millions) Guaraní to be able to purchase them.
6. Colombian Peso
Another less valuable currency in South America is that of Colombia. To be sure, the Colombian Peso is slightly of higher value than the Guarani (each Colombian peso trades at 3,089 to the dollar making it worth twice the Guarani). But travellers are likelier to take a trip to Colombia than they are to visit Paraguay, what with tourist-favourite locations like The Coffee triangle, Medellin: the city of flowers and the walled colonial city of Cartagena.
A quick fun fact about pesos is that they are the currency of a lot of Latin American countries including Mexico and Argentina, the less fun fact is that exchange rates differ in each country, so be familiar with the exchange rate of the peso you’ll be using to avoid getting scammed.
7. Tanzanian Shilling
Tanzania is another developing country with a less valuable currency. It still manages to be rather expensive as its shilling trades for 2,311 per dollar. But then, if you’ve ever visited The Sub-Saharan Africa (which is remarkably one of the world’s most high-priced and lowest value destinations to travel to, in spite of the level of poverty in the country), this won’t come as a surprise to you.
But what might come as a shock to you (or at least a useful insight) is why most African countries are costly whether or not their currencies are one of the worlds worthless. The problem is two-fold.
One of the reasons is that there isn’t a lot of competition within the African travel industry. Most of the most popular Safari destinations have only a handful of companies running tours, while even larger cities like Nairobi have so few luxury hotels that no one is forced to compete for your business.
Another reason is that many African countries don’t have middle classes, so there’s a huge vacuum between the extremely high class and the extremely low budget in the travel industry. You can travel like locals so long you’re willing to wait hours (or even days in some remote locations) to get a cramped vehicle that night breakdown along the way.