Dubai on a Budget – On the face of things Dubai is a non backpacker friendly city! With general food and accommodation being expensive. While there are budget food & accommodation alternatives out there, Dubais nightlife and social events are pretty expensive, with little choice for lower cost options.
This is mainly due to the price of Alcohol and the target audience of these events being wealthy expats, who are encouraged to splash to cash.
DuCompare that to somewhere like London or New York where you have alot of backpacker friendly options out there.
However, despite Dubais goal to be the “number one destination in the world for luxury tourism” , it is still possible to travel there on a Budget!
In fact, I have discovered ways of living large in Dubai on a Budget! We had:
- Free attractions
- Restaurant discounts (2 for 1)
- FREE/Discounted Drinks
- Hired a Yacht for just $20 per person!
- and best of all secured a flight for $50! (Keep reading to find out how!)
Dubai on a Budget: Ultimate Guide
- Part 1: 20 Ways to save money in Dubai?
- Part 2: How to save on food while in Dubai?
- Part 3: How to save on Alcohol when in Dubai?
- Part 4: How to get the Best Hotel/Flight Deals to Dubai?
Read my essential Tips below and you will have an amazing time, without breaking the bank!! 😉
Dubai on a Budget: 20 Ways to save Money?
1. Important! Dubai has private health care.
Be aware that Dubai has private health care, so if you get ill or have an accident it could be a very costly experience!
All travellers to Dubai should have a robust travel insurance to avoid paying out big!
I always recommend World Nomads, I’ve used these for years,
they are the best and most reliable insurance which provides an unlimited medical budget!
2. Purchase “The Entertainer”
The Entertainer offers an array of discounts for many restaurants, bars and activities. With the general deal being 2 for 1.
If your only in Dubai for a few days, they you probably don’t need it. However, if plan on being on staying longer then its definitely worth getting. Especially if you have family or big group. It costs $112 USD.
3. FREE sightseeing in Dubai:
i. Dubai Mall & Aquarium
Dubai Mall? Yes not for shopping though! The actual mall is captivating place with lots of activity going on inside. Its Free to enter and you grab an instagram photo with the gigantic dinosaur skeleton and even see the tropical fishes from just outside the Dubai Aquarium.
ii. Dubai Marina and City
Dubai is a Wondrous place to visit, the Marina stretches around 8km and has all sorts of luxury yachts which are great see & take a photo.
iii. Jumeirah Beach – Is it FREE!?
Jumeirah public beach is FREE and open to the public 24 hours a day. Here you will find a long beach with views of the luxury hotel (Burj al Arab).
On the beach there is also Shelters, changing huts and showers. The whole area is popular with the Jumeirah hotel residents and expats.
iv. Jumeirah Mosque
Jumeirah Mosque is stunning masterpiece and the only cultural site in the new part of Dubai. Here non muslims can visit.
\is a small but beautiful mosque which non-Muslim people can visit and the only cultural site to visit in the new part of the city.
v. Jumeirah Beach Residence Promenade
Next to Dubai Marina, you will find the Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR). A promenade area with alot of hustle and bustle going on. Here you will find Camels, FREE wifi , a beach and toilets.
Vi. Wander around Souq Madinat
Souq Madinat is authentic re-creation of an ancient Arab marketplace with traditional Middle Eastern style and ambiance. Its a great place to relax in the evening, with many bars and Restaurants serving Alcohol.
Address: Al Sufouh Rd – United Arab Emirates
If you “Say” you are a guest at Jumeirah Hotel, the guys on the boats will give you a FREE trip around the bay! 😉
4. Burj Khalifa – The Worlds Tallest Building!
Burj Khalifa is the Worlds Tallest building with a height of 829.8 m! Ok this isn’t FREE to visit the top,
but we still had to do it the prices are pretty reasonable and it’s a bucket list activity to do in Dubai!
To Reverse a discounted spot and pay later, check out this link HERE
If you really want to keep costs low, check out the FREE fountain show weeks takes place each evening from 6pm (every half hour).
5. Dubai Pages: FREE events
They keep up to date with the latest activities, with many cheap & free events.
6. 27 cent Boat Ride!
Take a Boat ride across Dubai creek from Bur Dubai to Deira. This costs just one Dirham (27 cent!). The boat is a traditional wooden water taxi.
7. Deira Gold Souq – Dubais Largest Gold Market!
When you arrive in Deira, head to Deira Gold souq which sells some of lowest cost golden jewellery in the world. Even if you don’t fancy some jewels, there is the “Biggest Ring in the World” which many tourists choose to have a photo with!
Getting to Deira Gold Souq by Metro:
- Ride the metro train and stop at the Al Rais metro station (green line).
- Exit and the gold souk is within walking distance.
8. Explore Al Bastakiya (Old town) & Dubai Museum
Bastakiya is Dubais Old Town. It was partially destroyed in the 1980s to make way for an office complex. But thanks to campaigning, the demolition was stopped and
the area has been restored. Here you will find historic Arab Gulf Buildings and the Dubai Museum. The Dubai Museum is just 3 Dirhams ($0.80) to enter and has a great overview of UAEs history.
Old Dubai is filled with quaint markets, local shops and cobblestoned alleyways. Check out some tasty yet affordable restaurants and even take a boat across the river. Ol town is a very different experience from the modern Dubai.
9. Hindu temple (Shiva & Krishna Mandir)
Despite Dubais large Hindu population, Shiva and Krishna Mandir is the only Hindu Temple in the city. Located in Bastakiya (Dubai Old town).
The best time to visit in Friday at noon when many Hindus flock to give blessings to their gods.
Address: Opp.Dubai Museum – Al Fahidi St – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
10. FREE Camel racing
The Emirati Culture is really proud of its Camel Racing! Head to the Dubai Camel Racing Club , on
Fridays from 6am to 8am, from November to March.
It reminded me alot of Mongolian Culture, which has the unique Thousand Camel Festival in the Gobi Desert.
11. FREE Horse racing in Meydan.
If you prefer something that your more accustomed to then you should check out the Horse Racing in MeyDan.
Horse Racing is the National Sport of Dubai and Coincidentally Sheik Mohamed’s favorite!
The Racing offers a vibrant & exciting atmosphere.
Where can you watch the Horse Racing?
You can watch the Horse Racing, Thursdays at 7pm, from November to March.
Standard admission is Free of charge, but you can book VIP seats which give you access to the restaurant and bar. Source
12. Arab Street wrestling
Street Wrestling is a historic Arab tradition, it is also popular in places such as Iran, India and Pakistan. You can watch it on Friday Afternoons when the Indian & Pakistani Workers, go all WWE Deiras streets, close to the Fish Market!
13. Camp in the Desert!
Taking a Day Trip out to the Desert is an amazing activity you have to try! You can ride ATVs, Camp or take a Desert Safari with the Camels.
I recommend doing this as part of a tour to be safe! Its not expensive for the quality of experience (around $50).
For the best Prices & Availability, follow this link HERE
14. Hire a Yacht (For $20!)
You read that correct, just $20! Now I discovered this trick after alot of research! We managed to hire a 50ft luxury Yacht with captain, snacks,
drinks and of course an awesome sound system for just $20 per person.
How we did it!?
The trick to lowest prices is you have to rally a large group of people together!
For example: a 15 person Yacht costs a reasonable: $319 (£244). If you divide this by its capacity, 319/15 = $21 per person!
Now if you have a big group of friends, then thats fine! Just 6 friends would make it just $40 per person.
If your staying in a Hostel or get chatting to other groups of tourists at the beach,
you can invite them to join you (Thats what we did!)
Be sure to Book in Advance, to secure the best prices. Viator offers an option to Book now and Pay later which is definitely worth it.
To see the deal we booked, follow this link HERE
Part 2: Dubai on a budget: Eating out Tips
In Dubai prices for meals vary massively. One day you can get a nice meal for $5 the next you could get stuck for $20 sandwich!
1. Avoid Restaurants which Serve Alcohol:
A good rule of thumb is to avoid restaurants which serve Alcohol! As they can charge extortionate rates! For example in a Pub which serves food you could pay 90AED ($25) for a simple burger. Then another $10 for the beer!
2. Mall Food Courts/Food Halls
Although Food courts don’t serve the greatest food, you can get some pretty tasty foods from Italian to Indian for as low as 25 AED ($7)
3. Search For affordable restaurants
Avoid the Hotels and main tourist areas. Instead venture deeper into Dubai. Here are some of my favourites which offer great foods at competitive prices.
This restaurant serves Mughlai cuisine (Medieval Indian Style Cuisine). They have branches all over Dubai. Be sure to try the chicken tikka masala and the biryani.
Address: Near Baby Shop – Zaa’beel St – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
A Lebanese restaurant with some great Falafel and vibrant decor. They have many branches all over Dubai.
Address: Jumeirah Beach Road – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
Al-Ustad Special Kebab:
An old school restaurant in Dubai’s historical district. Here you will find mouth watering Iranian food and some amazing Kebabs. Their special kebab is 28 AED ($7).
Address: Al Musallah Rd, Near Al Fahidi Metro Station – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
4. Cook at home
If you reserve an apartment, with a Kitchen area then this can save you alot of money.
Head to LULU Hypermarket which has the lowest prices. They also sell low cost ready meals.
Where is LULU?
The LULU Hypermarket is located all over Dubai, from All Barsha, next to Mall of the Emirates. To Branches in Bur Dubai or Deira. Carrefour is the higher end alternative to LULU, it has slightly higher prices but more expensive. There is one of these inside the Mall of Emirates.
Part 3: Dubai on a Budget: How to get cheap Alcohol!?
This is the question on every backpackers lips! Due to Dubai being a Muslim Country it has a lot of tax on the sales of Alcohol.
The average price of a pint of beer in Dubai is 40AED ($12).
Tips to Save Money on Alcohol in Dubai:
1. Head to Brunch!
Brunch is a sophisticated way to have alot of Alcoholic drinks & food for discount prices.
Friday Brunch is popular with many expats, which has a ALL YOU CAN DRINK & EAT policy from 12 noon till 4pm!
Prices range between 150AED ($40) to 800AED. ($220)
Using “The Entertainer Pass” you can get 2 for 1 offers on these. Some of the best value deals include: Pizza Express (Movenpick, JLT) and Double Deckers (Al Murooj Rotana, Downtown).
2. Get there for Happy Hour!
Many bars in Dubai have happy hour from Sunday to Thursday. (5pm to 8pm). Some of my favourite bars include; Garden 7 (Media One Hotel), Barasti (Westin Hotel) and Tribeca (Ocean View Hotel).
3. Guzzle App
Guzzle is a mobile application which offers 2 for 1 offers on beverages in a variety of restaurants. Its FREE to download and use the app!
4. Become a Lady!
If your a girl then your in luck! Dubai has many bars which offer free drinks to girls.
Tuesday is Ladies Night, where the famed China Grill (Westin Hotel) have a FREE open bar for girls ALL NIGHT!
5. Stock up on Duty Free Alcohol at the airport!
As Dubai has pretty strict laws on buying alcohol, you can just go to the corner shop! You must be a Dubai resident & have a license. So your best bet is when you land to stock up with as much alcohol as you need at duty free.
6. Head to Barracuda liquor store
Worst case scenario if your completely dry, then you can head out 60km to the infamous Barracuda liquor store.
There you can buy alcohol without a license! Its still not cheap though!
Be aware you can only reach the store by car, so taxi will be real expensive. If your renting a car then you will be ok. See our: Ultimate Car Rental Travel Hacks!
How to find it?
Google map search: Barracuda Wine Shop, Ajman.
Part 4: Dubai on a Budget: Cheapest Transport!
Dubais public transport system is not great! The city area covers 40kmx40km with only one metro line which is just a straight line!
1. Metro in Dubai
The Metro is the lowest cost option in Dubai. I suggest you purchase a NOL card at the ticket desk. This costs 20AED ($5) and comes with 15 AED ($4) credit.
The short trips cost around 3AED ($1) with the longest costing 8AED ($2.20).
If you need to travel to the main tourist areas, Burj Khalifa, Bur Dubai, Deira, Marina then the Metro is great!
If you need to go anywhere else I would say try and get as close as you can on the metro then grab a taxi.
2. Bus in Dubai
The public bus is not practical! The only decent route is line number 8. This runs parallel to the Metro from Marina to Bur Dubai. On this route you can stop of at Souq Madinat, Burj Al-Arab and Kite Beach.
3. Renting a car in Dubai!
If your traveling to Dubai with a few friends, then I strongly recommend you hire a car!!
The cost of Gas is cheap and its just so easy to get around and head to many interesting places which most wont get to see.
For the best prices check out: Ultimate Car Rental Travel Hacks!
Dubai on a Budget: Is it possible!?
With all the Tips above it is possible to travel Dubai on a Budget for just 254AED ($69) per day!
See Approximate costs:
|Accommodation||Budget hostel: 100 AED ($27)|
|Food||Hostel Breakfast, Mall Lunch ($4) (2 for 1 Entertainer Pass), Dinner old town (50 AED ($14)|
|Alcohol||2 beers at happy hour (40 AED) ($11)|
|Transport||20 AED($5.50), 4 metro tips.|
|Total Average cost||254 AED ($69)|
Part 5: How to get affordable flights to Dubai!? $50!
The best flight provider to Dubai is of course Emirates! Even there economy seats are spacious with movies, music and meals included.
You can upgrade for a lounge style bed, with all the extra amenities.
To compare the best flights in Dubai we used Kayak
Sarah from our Town&Tourist community actually scored $50 flight to Dubai! (See below pic)
To find out how she did it, sign up to our email list (at the bottom on this page on the right)
Best Budget Hotels in Dubai!?
If your not lucky enough to stay in Burj Al Arab the iconic “7 star” luxury hotel, there are a few other options.
Check out our recommended Hotels in Dubai HERE
Airbnb is another cost effective option, claim $35 Free Credit when you sign up using the link in this post:How to find the Best Hotel Deals??