5 TIPS SO YOU CAN ENJOY LUXURY CHEAP
Most of you probably think of Dubai as a luxury travel destination, and to some, that is definitely the case. But, traveling Dubai can be done on a budget and for that reason, I’ll be sharing my 5 top travel tips in this guide to make Dubai an affordable destination to visit.
1. UTILIZE PUBLIC TRANSPORT
The Metro system is a very easy and efficient way to get around Dubai. A 20-minute ride from the airport to Downtown Dubai (central district), will only cost you $2.25 USD.
You can also buy an RTA NOL card, offering an easy way to get around the transport systems as you can’t pay for transport with cash and saves you money; choose either the red card for 2 AED ~ $0.5 USD, valid for 90 days and rechargeable for up to 10 trips or the silver, 25 AED ~ $6.8 USD, including a 19 AED credit and also fully rechargeable.
If the metro isn’t your scene, then the taxis offer a relatively affordable way to get around, especially when compared to North America, costing on average $15-20 USD for the journey from Dubai International Airport to Downtown Dubai.
When traveling, your greatest expenses are often related to accommodation. The two most affordable areas are Mankool and Deira, although they’re not the most exciting parts to stay in. Alternatively, if you’re keen to be in amongst the hustle and bustle and you don’t mind spending a little extra, Downtown Dubai offers an excellent alternative; the region of the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall, both must-visits! I stayed near the Mankool district at Four Points Downtown Dubai, costing in the region of $80per night - in a spacious room with somewhere I could work, relax and with high-speed internet.
Take a look at Airbnb - in a city full of incredible apartments, there are plenty of places to choose from and they’re commonly cheaper than hotels. You’ll find there are places as cheap as $13 for shared accommodation, or around $80 for a decent private apartment (depending on the season).
VISIT THE SOUKS
From the Mankool district, take a $5 USD taxi ride to Deira and explore the Gold Souk, just outside of Downtown Dubai. Once you have left the Gold Souk you’ll be in the Spice Souk. Treat yourself to some tea leaves and chocolate dates, but make sure to bargain! Always start with around half the quoted price and barter from there until you get to an agreed price.
Just a short walk away is the Dubai Creek that runs through Deira and Bur Dubai, the historic districts of Dubai, offering very cultural insights into this amazing city and an experience not to be missed. For just 0.5 USD you can jump on an Abra and make your way across the creek.
CHECK OUT DUBAI MALL
You may be thinking, ‘a shopping mall, surely that’s not somewhere for budget travelers?’ But, as Dubai is known for its shopping, you need to visit at least one of the malls while you’re here. Dubai Mall is kind of an attraction in itself - it’s extremely beautiful and unique, with fountain shows, an ice skating rink, a massive aquarium and it’s completely free to wander around! Also, it has AC which is as good as gold on a hot Dubai day.
Just inside the Dubai mall is a connection to the top of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. This will cost 135 AED or $36 USD to go to floors 124 and 125. I’m not typically a big fan of going to observation decks but this is one of them that you don’t want to miss. It’s one of the best things to do in Dubai! If you’re planning a trip up here, make sure to buy these tickets online as they can be more expensive in person and during peak times, they can sell out. With that being said, there is a more budget alternative that recently opened called the Dubai Frame. It’s not nearly as tall as the Burj but it’s actually pretty cool with the unique exhibits, and a transparent floor. For a pre-booked ticket of 60 AED ~ $15 USD, you’ll get to experience the views at the top of the frame, but you HAVE to book in advance (and download your ticket before you arrive), or you will literally be turned away - trust me, I know! At the end of the exhibit is an incredible 270° screen that provides a tour of Dubai’s future - I have never seen anything like it!
EXPERIENCE DUBAI’S BEACHES
Dubai is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the UAE and despite many being privately owned by expensive hotels, you can still experience the beautiful clean stretches of sand for yourself. Two beautiful public beaches are Jumeirah Beach, ideal for relaxing with a backdrop of the Burj Al Arab, and Kite Beach, a great place to watch or try your hand at kite-surfing!
If you do visit Jumeirah Beach, walk around the Dubai Marina along the promenade and just take in the surroundings, from tall skyscrapers to flashy sports cars, it’s a great place to remember you’re on a budget.
THE ETIHAD MUSEUM - A LOCAL FAVORITE
One of the places I was recommended by locals in Dubai was the Etihad Museum. For 25 AED, you get access to a state of the art museum in a beautiful building sharing the history of Dubai and the UAE. If you didn't already know, Dubai is one of the fastest-growing cities in the entire world and in 20 years, it absolutely shot out of nowhere.
Inexpensive food isn’t too hard to find. Many areas offer budget-friendly, gourmet food of many different cuisine styles, thanks to the array of ex-pats living in the city, particularly in the Bur Dubai or Deira districts. The Dubai Mall itself is one of the cheaper places you can get food; with a huge array of restaurants, you can easily spend a lot or pick up some Canadian food like Tim Hortons and keep those costs low - at around $6 USD per person for lunch.
5. CHECK OUT DISCOUNT WEBSITES
Lastly, check out the array of discount websites, they could potentially save you hundreds of dollars if you’re spending a little while in Dubai. We used one of these sights and they literally had everything! You can rent jet skis, get spa treatments, rent ATVs, 4* hotels and tours to Abu Dhabi, all for really fair prices. Just make sure to read the reviews in advance and compare the prices to other websites to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
Although there is a common conception that visiting Dubai will break the bank, I hope this blog shows you that you can travel to Dubai on a budget and you don’t always have to spend thousands of dollars to experience this amazing city.
I also highly recommend watching my full video guide to traveling Dubai affordably here.
Let's get lost again in the next one!