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Lots of people go abroad for sun, sea and sand, but for many of us travel is about much more than that. We want to experience a different way of life. Understand new cultures. Try new food.

That said, while there’s no arguing that the culture in, say, India, is vastly different to the UK, there’s one thing we can’t escape: the impact of globalisation.

Despite what some might want us to believe, globalisation is, for the most part, a good thing. It can help spread wealth to developing countries, increase cross-cultural awareness and perhaps most importantly, bring countries together and compel them to co-operate.

On the other hand it could be argued that globalisation depresses cultures. McDonald’s have set up shop in more than 100 countries around the world.  Starbucks in over 70. Subway in 112.

Sure, you can argue that these brands offer regional variations of their products and that a visit to an overseas McDonald’s or Subway is actually a great way to gain an understanding of local specialities (something James McGowan, who reviews McDonald’s variations around the world, is testament to).

Yet as much fun as it might be visiting a McDonald’s in Malaysia and getting a Lychee Pie, or chomping down on a Crab Croquette Burger in Japan, there’s one thing you surely can’t escape: when you’ve flown half way around the world, spotting that familiar golden arch erases a little bit of the magic.

Take the McDonald’s that lives in a Vatican owned building near Rome’s St Peter’s Square. The outrage at its recent opening is understandable and totally justified (it’s not like cities can’t refuse a planning application – Florence did).

mcdonald's rome st peter's square

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It might on occasion even feel like the defining moments of your trip – visiting an ancient Cathedral; a crumbling amphitheatre; a temple in Egypt – are tarnished by the presence of global chains. Perhaps, even, to the point that your postcards home may as well picture the local McDonald’s, in place of the local market, piazza or skyline.

mcdonald's postcards

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McDonald’s in London

mcdonald's postcard London Leicester Square

London’s a huge city so it should come as no surprise that it’s also home to a huge number of McDonald’s. 205 to be precise.

This postcard showcases McDonald’s Leicester Square location (pictured below). It’s one of many brands that can be seen up and down the country (and in some cases overseas) that have turned the 17th Century Square into a hub for shopping, dining and entertainment.

McDonald's London Leicester Square 

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McDonald’s in Milan

McDonald's postcard Milan Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

This McDonald’s lived for two decades in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – one of the world’s oldest shopping malls (pictured below). It’s also arguably one of the world’s most beautiful.  

While the branding was relatively subtle and tasteful, it feels somewhat more appropriate that the plot has now been taken over by a prestigious Italian brand, Prada.


McDonald's Milan Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II


McDonald’s in New York

mcdonald's postcard New York Time's Square

Like McDonald’s Leicester Square location, McDonald’s looks right at home in Manhattan’s Times Square. In fact, today’s neon-lit hub of shops, restaurants and globalised brand advertisements may well be seen as an improvement on the seedy square of the 60s.


 McDonald's Times Square


McDonald’s in Paris

McDonald's postcards Paris

This unassuming McDonald’s (here’s the original):


McDonald's Paris


Might look like any other on the outside but as under all French golden arches, the experience of eating in one is worlds apart from what most of us are used to. Instead of rushing in and out, the French treat a visit to McDonald’s like any other meal – they will sit down, often with their family in tow, and take their time over their food. They also get to enjoy the McCafe experience:


McDonald's France McCafe


It’s because of this that McDonald’s has thrived in the country while their closest rival – Burger King – has struggled (there are more than 1400 McDonald’s in France, and just 152 branches of Burger King). While Burger King simply recreated the American fast food experience, McDonald’s set out to – and succeeded – in designing restaurants and a menu that more closely replicated the way people eat out in France. You can even get a burger topped with blue cheese (French, of course):

mcdonald's burger topped with blue cheese, from France

You can also buy beer.


McDonald’s in Sydney

McDonald's postcards Sydney Australia

Inspiration for postcard:


mcdonald's near circular quay sydney

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While McDonald’s in America is fighting against an increasingly health-conscious nation and an ever-growing alternative array of quality fast food options, Australian McDonald’s is thriving.  This is largely because, like McDonald’s in France, the brand have grown and adapted to what local customers want.

The interior of many Australian McDonald’s are almost unrecognisable compared to their American counterparts. Glass counters display an array of fresh toppings that customers can select from while they watch their custom burger be made in front of them.

inside McDonald's Bondi Beach

McDonald’s Bondi Beach

McDonald’s in Berlin


McDonald’s in Germany have, like France, adopted a more “cosmopolitan” approach to their offering. Breakfast choices include a selection of croissants and some branches also sell beer (though we’re unsure whether or not you can order it alongside your breakfast croissant!)

Asides from this the menu isn’t too dissimilar to what you’ll find in McDonald’s in the US or UK. If you’re looking for an authentic taste of Germany you might want to skip the McDonald’s and order yourself a Bratwurst, Currywurst or Bratkartoffeln instead.


McDonald’s in Casablanca

 McDonald's postcards Casablanca

Inspiration for postcard:


Mcdonald's Casablanca

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As you might expect Moroccan McDonald’s sell a range of regional specialities including the P’Tit McArabia (a pitta bread filled with spicy Kofta, salad and tomato) and Salade Pecheur (a salad topped with fish and black olives).

P’Tit McArabia

P’Tit McArabia

Salade Pecheur McDonald's

Salade Pecheur

What’s probably going to stand out most about Moroccan McDonald’s however, is the price – surprisingly similar to the UK.

Local food can often be eaten for much less, meaning that regular visits to McDonald’s tend to be reserved for the Moroccan middle classes (and tourists, of course).


McDonald’s in Tokyo

McDonald's postcards Tokyo

If it’s worth trading true local cuisine for a meal in McDonald’s anywhere, it’s Japan. Asides from the usual suspects (like the Big Mac and Cheeseburger) the menu at McDonald’s in Japan consists almost entirely of dishes you won’t get back home.

While in the UK and US eggs are generally only found on the breakfast menus, they’re a common feature of the main menu in Japan. The Loco Moko tops a thick beef patty with egg and gravy sauce while the Egg Cheeseburger is the standard McDonald’s Cheeseburger topped with – you guessed it – an egg.

Egg Cheeseburger

Other stand out regional specialities include the Ginger Baked Burger (a pork patty flavoured with soy and ginger.

ginger baked burger McDonald's japan

The Chicken Crisp Muffin (not so unusual but it is chicken, on an English muffin, served at breakfast). It is also, of course, available topped with egg.

And the Shrimp Fleo (its exact contents are indeterminable from the translation on the website but it looks like this):

McDonald’s in Moscow

Inspiration for postcard:

McDonald's Moscow


McDonald’s didn’t come to Russia (then the Soviet Union) until 1990, when a branch opened in Moscow’s Pushkin Square (pictured below). It was then, and remains today, the largest McDonald’s in Europe.


Russia's first ever McDonald's 

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The opening was understandably a huge deal for residents, and Russia as a whole. They were excited, not so much for the food itself, but for the taste of Western culture and what this meant for their country.

In fact, even getting the food there meant progress. Before the branch opened, essential supply chains, without which ingredients couldn’t reach the restaurant, didn’t exist in Soviet Russia. Consequently, they had to be created from scratch.

Today there are more than 500 McDonald’s restaurants across Russia.


McDonald’s in Rio

McDonald's postcards Rio

Inspiration for postcard:

McDonald's Rio


Like in Morocco, the most remarkable thing about Brazilian McDonald’s is the price.

In fact, Brazil reportedly serves the 4th costliest Big Mac in the world, at an average of US$5.21. In the US, the average price is just $4.79.

This “accolade” puts Brazil behind the significantly wealthier nations of Switzerland ($7.54), Norway ($6.30) and Denmark ($5.38).

To put this into perspective, based on current exchange rates average monthly wages in Brazil are just $669. In Norway, $5365 a month and in the home of the world’s most expensive Big Mac, Switzerland, $6486.


McDonald’s in Hong Kong

 McDonald's postcards Hong Kong

Inspiration for postcard:

McDonald's Hong Kong


Home of the “McDonald’s of The Future” or “McDonald’s Next”, Hong Kong is another region of the world where – at least some of the restaurants – bear little resemblance to what many of us are used to.

As with some restaurants in Australia, customers can create their own burger from a vast selection of fresh ingredients (some of which – like asparagus and parmesan – are totally foreign to most McDonald’s), all neatly displayed in a glass counter that allows curstomers to watch as their food’s being made.


 McDonald's of the Future Hong Kong


McDonald’s in Mumbai

McDonald's postcards Mumbai

India’s another region of the world in which McDonald’s menu differs greatly from what most of us are used to.

The meat is predominantly chicken and a lot of it is spicy. There’s also a complete absence of beef (the slaughter of cows is illegal in many Indian states). This means no Big Macs (and makes India the only country in the world where McDonald’s have set up shop but you can’t get a Big Mac).

In its place is the Chicken Maharaja Mac:

Chicken Maharaja Mac

Which also comes in a veggie version.


McDonald’s in Dubai

McDonald's postcards Dubai

Inspiration for postcard: 

McDonald's Dubai


For a country with a culture so different to the West’s, McDonald’s UAE menu looks very similar to our menu in the UK. While there are a handful of items that are exclusive to the UAE (the Grand Chicken Deluxe, for example) there’s only one choice that feels in any way authentic to the country – the McArabia (grilled chicken with tomatoes, lettuce and garlic sauce, wrapped in pita bread). 




McDonald’s in Mexico City

McDonald's postcards Mexico city

Very little on McDonald’s main menu in Mexico feels authentic to the country but there’s plenty on the breakfast menu to pick from if you want to feel far away from home.

McMolletes are described as “three warm breads with beans, cheese and Mexican sauce.”


There’s also a Mexican take on a McMuffin – it’s filled with a Mexican omelette, bacon, cheese and refried beans.

Mexican McMuffin


And Huevos con Jamon (ham and eggs):

Huevos con Jamon McDonald's



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