Dubai is synonymous with glitz, glamour, and luxury. Each one of us wants to visit Dubai at least once in our lifetime. But there is always an expensive tag attached to it. Most of the travelers feel that a trip to Dubai will become a very costly affair. What if I tell you that you can still plan a nice vacation to Dubai without burning a hole in your pocket. Surprised? Well! Read on to know how to visit Dubai on a budget.
This is a guest post written by Neha from Dubai Wikia. Neha is a post-graduate in Mass Communications who loves to write about her travel experiences. In her spare time, she loves listening to music and plans her next travel adventure.
In this post you will find:
HOW TO VISIT DUBAI ON A BUDGET
Free and Cheap Things to do in Dubai
Whether you are traveling solo, with friends or with family, here are some of the affordable things you can do in Dubai:
- Al Bastakiya Quarter and Museums
Why don’t you start your Dubai vacation by immersing yourself in its past? A visit to Al Bastakiya will take you back to the earlier days of Dubai before the oil boom. Also known as Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, this quarter is also the heritage hub of Dubai. The cobbled street paths and narrow alleys are filled with art cafes, trendy boutiques, and delightful restaurants. The buildings here are made from natural materials such as gypsum, sand, coral, and palm fronds. Take a leisure walk around the quarters.
Visit the Dubai Museum which happens to be the oldest existing building in Dubai. The entry ticket costs just AED 3 (1 dirham = USD$0.27). Get a sneak-peek into Emirati history and Arab culture and see the growth and evolution of Dubai through maps, galleries, and other memorabilia. Then head to Dubai Coffee Museum to see some of the most interesting and unique coffee artifacts and get some fascinating inputs about coffee making. Visit the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding to know more about Dubai’s history and culture.
- Dubai Creek and Souks
The Dubai Creek is a saltwater creek that separates the city into two main areas namely Bur Dubai and Deira. It was once a pearl-diving port and played a significant role in Dubai’s trade. Take a boat ride for just AED 1 across the creek on the traditional wooden boats or water taxis known as ‘Abra’.
Visit the different souks such as Gold Souk, Perfume Souk, Textile Souk, and Spice Souk on both sides of the creek. The Gold Souk and the Spice Souk are highly recommended. You can buy gold, diamonds, precious stones, handicrafts, traditional footwear, garments, essential oils, perfumes, herbs, spices, and teas from these shops. Compare the prices in various shops before buying to get the best rates.
- Dubai Mall and Dubai Fountain
Shocked to see a shopping mall listed here? Well! Don’t be. The entrance to the mall is free and you can spend a good few hours just strolling around the mall and looking at all the stores. There is a very captivating human waterfall which offers a fantastic view and is spread across all four levels of the mall. Click a selfie with the real fossils of the massive resident dinosaur skeleton. You can also catch a glimpse of some exotic marine life inside the huge tank of the aquarium at the entrance of the mall. In the evening, watch the dancing water fountain with beautiful music outside the mall. This choreographed water fountain is a visual and sensory spectacle and is completely free to visit.
- Burj Khalifa
A visit to the Observation Deck of the iconic Burj Khalifa might be expensive. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the sights of this magnificent structure in all its glory. The view from the bottom of the building is completely free and breathtaking when you see it piercing through the blue skies. Also, you can click plenty of selfies against the stunning backdrop of this structure.
- Dubai Frame
The latest addition to Dubai’s awe-inspiring skyline, is this engineering marvel, Dubai Frame. Located within Zabeel Park, this structure overlooks the olden districts of Dubai on the North and the modern and downtown Dubai on the South. The world’s largest picture frame consists of two 150-meter towers connected by a 93-meter bridge called Sky Deck at the top. Visitors can take an elevator to the Sky Deck to enjoy mesmerizing views of some prominent landmarks such as Burj Khalifa, Emirates Tower, and Dubai Creek. The entrance ticket is AED 50 for adults and AED 20 for kids.
- Jumeirah Mosque
Visit the majestic Jumeirah Mosque, one of the few mosques open to non-Muslims. It is built in the traditional Fatimid style of architecture originated from Syria and Egypt. The white marble façade with the yellow and blue walls and intricate carvings are a sight to behold. Guided tours are available on all days of the week except on Fridays, for non-Muslims for AED 20 for 75 minutes. It gives you a fascinating insight into the Emirati culture. The mosque is one of the most photographed mosques in Dubai. It looks even more beautiful in the evenings after the lights are lit.
- Dubai Beaches
Dubai boasts of some beautiful beaches with pristine white sands such as Kite Beach, JBR Beach, Jumeirah Open Beach, and La Mer to name a few. Whether you want to indulge in watersports such as kayaking, waterskiing, and paddle boarding, watch kitesurfing, relax with a book, or play a game of volleyball, there are plenty of ways to keep yourself engaged. There are jogging tracks and a children’s play area. The Jumeirah Open Beach has a library unit on the beach where books can be borrowed for free. There are multiple cafes, food trucks, ice cream parlors, restaurants, and entertainment to keep you occupied. Don’t miss the splendid sight of the imposing Burj Al Arab from Kite Beach.
Budget Accommodation in Dubai
There are multiple budget accommodations available in Dubai. The older areas of Dubai such as Deira and Bur Dubai have some very reasonable options for stay. Some hotels are Savoy Park Hotel Apartments, Premier Inn, Dubai Ibn Battuta, Ramada Chelsea Al Barsha, Rove City Center, Novotel, Holiday Inn Express, and Ibis.
Dubai’s real estate is on a high and many owners rent out their apartments to tourists. And with Airbnb, you can rent these apartments and can get cheap, comfortable, and clean rooms for your stay. You will get very good deals if you make your bookings well in advance. Also, one important tip is to check if the price of the stay includes taxes such as Municipal tax, VAT, Property Service, etc. so that the rates don’t increase further.
Also, it is advisable to book accommodations close to a metro station in case you are planning to travel by metro during your stay.
Budget Transportation Options
There are many public transportation options in Dubai:
Metro is well-connected to most of the city’s popular attractions and is the best and cheapest mode of travel in Dubai.
Buses are another good option to use in Dubai, especially the Hop-on Hop-off buses.
You can buy an NOL Silver card that costs AED 25 but comes pre-loaded with AED 19. Every fare you pay is cheaper than a single NOL Red ticket. You can use it for your Metro, tram, and bus journeys.
You can take Abra or Water Taxis to commute within Old Dubai. Another option is to take the Dubai Ferry which has 4-5 different routes and is great for sightseeing. Taxis are cheaper in Dubai than most other countries and you can use them if you are willing to pay a little extra.
Ridesharing apps such as Careem and Uber are very pocket friendly.
Budget Restaurants to Eat in Dubai
There are many expensive and lavish gourmet dining spots in Dubai, but you can still eat out in many good restaurants that are well within budget. Some of the restaurants that serve yummy food are Al Mallah (street food), Ayubowan (Sri Lankan eatery), Sangeetha Vegetarian Restaurant (South Indian food), Arz Lebanon (falafel), Bu Qtair ( seafood), Cafe Isan (Thai food), Ravi Restaurant (Pakistani food), Karachi Darbar and Delhi Darbar (Mughlai food), Picnic restaurant (Shawarma) to name a few.
Bur Dubai, Karama and Deira have many restaurants that serve Arabian, Lebanese, and Indian lip-smacking food at reasonable prices. Many outlets in mall food courts offer great food at a decent price. The main rule is to stay away from international chains and eat at local restaurants.
It is possible to visit Dubai on a budget
You can enjoy an amazing vacation in Dubai for a great price with some smart planning. You can plan a budget for shopping, eating, and sightseeing so that you don’t go overboard with your expenses. You can get very good rates on hotels and airfares if you book well in advance.
Also, check Time Out Dubai and What’s on Dubai for free and cheap activities and events. The Entertainer app is extremely popular and gives buy-one-get-one-free vouchers for restaurants and attractions. So next time you want to plan a budget holiday, don’t think twice and plan a trip to this awesome city.
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