Do you still believe it costs an arm and a leg to have a memorable Dubai holidays on a budget?
While it is possible to pay a premium for accommodation and some activities, you can still visit Dubai and experience the city on a budget. You just need to know how to do it.
In this article, I am going to show you how you can do Dubai holidays without emptying your bank account.
At the end of this article, you should have a good sense of how you can visit Dubai and have an amazing time on a budget.
How to Do Dubai Holidays on a Budget
Look for Bargains
Dubai can be an expensive place to visit. Everyone knows this so some businesses go out of their way to attract business by offering bargains that you can find in some of the shopping centres.
Visit Timeout Dubai online or get the magazine edition for daily deals and budget-friendly activities.
If you’re not familiar with it, you’ll want to investigate Groupon.ae. Many companies are willing to offer a discount for bulk purchases. Groupon makes it possible for individuals to take part even when they aren’t buying in bulk. A company will offer a deal with a minimum number they’re willing to sell. If enough people take them up on the offer, they all get a big discount.
Groupon offers discounts on almost everything—hotel rooms, restaurants, attractions, and more, so if you’re looking for a bargain, check Groupon often or sign up for alerts.
The Entertainer is a popular magazine that offers discounts on just about everything you’ll want to do on a holiday in Dubai. Hotels, restaurants, activities, you name it, and there’s probably a discount available. Check each issue carefully when you’re planning your trip and you can get some great deals.
Take the Metro
It won’t take you everywhere, but at a mere 8 AED ($2 US), the Metro is an outstanding way to save on travel costs. Most taxi rides are 30-60 AED so Metro rides are a bargain.
If you’re going to be on the Metro—and the buses and trams—you’ll want to get an all-in-one Dubai Road and Transport Authority Nol Card.
If you need to get across the waterway, you’ll want to look into the water taxi called ABRA.
Where to Stay in Dubai
One of the largest expenses on any trip is the hotel. You have to stay somewhere and you want it to be nice, but the nice places are often ridiculously overpriced. Finding the right accommodations can make or break your visit to Dubai on a budget.
The secret is to look at the hotels near the airport. This takes you out of downtown where the most expensive hotels are. That means you’ll have transportation costs to get into the city, but it’s just a short trip on the Metro. Even with the additional cost, it’s much cheaper than finding a hotel in the city.
The Hyatt Place in Al Rigga is a four-star hotel with affordable rate often with breakfast. It’s an excellent option for tourists looking for Dubai holidays on a budget.
Ibis Hotel City Centre is a three-star hotel that’s one of the best bargains in the city. If you book in advance, you can often find rooms in the $40 range and it’s near most of Dubai’s tourist attractions so you’ll save on transport costs.
Make sure you look in the Old City. That’s the neighbourhoods of Deira and Bur Dubai and while the hotels aren’t as new and fancy as the ones on Sheikh Zayed Road or the Dubai Marina, they often offer a clean, pleasant stay at relatively little expense.
If you have airline miles or points, you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck in Dubai than you will in most other places, so look carefully at all your options as you’re planning your trip.
Where to Eat in Dubai
It’s effortless to blow your budget by eating in tourist locations, but if you’re willing to do a little work, you can easily enjoy Dubai on a budget.
Try the Old City. Restaurants in the tourist locales are priced at a premium and they’re often not the best food around. In the Old City, you’ll find restaurants that are more authentic and more affordable.
- KIZA Africa
- Afghan Kebab House
- Ariel Iraqi Kabab and Restaurant
- Curry Leaf
- The Fish Basket
- Ravi Al Satwa
- Zaatar Z Weit
- African Home Restaurant
You cannot visit Dubai without trying the kebabs. They’re delicious and reasonably priced. You’ll also want to try the fresh fish. Most people don’t associate Dubai with seafood, but it was a fishing village before it was a major tourist destination and the seafood remains a prize.
Things to See in Dubai
There are a lot of tourist attractions you can go when visiting Dubai on a budget. All of the following are free or inexpensive:
- Visit Dubai Heritage Village
- Go to Dubai Parks and Resorts
- Explore the Dubai Mall Water Fountain
- Take in the Bastakiya Quarter
- Check out the Gold, Spice, Textile and Perfume Souks
- Visit the Dubai Museum in Al Fahidi
- Go to the Beach
- Learn about Islam at the Jumeirah Mosque
- Visit the IMG World of Adventures
- See the tallest building in the world – Burj Khalifa
That’s not an exclusive list at all. Lady Anne, a Dubai based blogger even wrote a list of 100 Things to do in Dubai that includes quite a few budget-conscious options.
How to Get to Dubai
You can drive and you can get there on a cruise, but the best way to see Dubai on a budget is to fly.
UAE is a global transportation hub linking Europe and Asia so there are several flights in and out of Dubai. A little research will go a long way. Look at what you can get with your airline miles or points.
Airports in Dubai operates 24hrs service daily. Over 150 airlines connect Dubai to the rest of the world including the award-winning Emirates Airlines and Fly Dubai both owned by the Government of Dubai.
Here are a few suggestions on how should you book the cheapest flight deals to Dubai from where you’re located:
- Book early: Flights get more expensive the closer you get to departure, not less, so book as early as you can.
- Fly Midweek: Airlines assume anyone flying on weekends is a tourist willing to pay more just because they’re going on vacation—and they’re often right, but that means you can save a bundle if you’re willing to fly midweek. It doesn’t always fit in the schedule, but if you can make it work, you’ll save a bundle.
- Flight Deal: Flight Deal is a website that highlights limited time flight offers. You never know what will show up so check frequently and you just might luck into an absolute steal.
How to Get Dubai Visa
There are different categories of visa, but you’re probably going to be looking for a Tourist Visa that allows you to stay for up to 30 days. If you’re just passing through, you might be interested in a Transit Visa that’s good for 96 hours and if you’re visiting friends, family or on medical tourism, there are special visas as well.
Applying for a visa isn’t hard. Residents of most of Europe are eligible for a Visa on Arrival which simply means you’ll receive a visa when you go through Immigration. You can find the entire list of countries for which you DO NOT need to make advance arrangements for a visa here.
For those in countries that require advance arrangements, you’ll need to work with a travel agent. I can help with that process. Let’s start the conversation now.
Dubai is an expensive city to visit, there’s no question, but that doesn’t mean you can’t visit Dubai on a budget. You’ll have the time of your life and you won’t have to max out the credit cards to do it. I’ve tried to give you a good start on how to enjoy your Dubai holidays on a budget, but I couldn’t possibly list everything there is to do or see.
Have you had a memorable Dubai holidays on a budget? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.