Dubai, famously known for it’s glitz and glam, Lamborghinis, fancy hotels and yacht parties. It sees an average of 15 million tourists per year (well… perhaps less this year). But is it possible to visit Dubai on a budget?
The image some people have of Dubai is that everybody has money. And you can’t be blamed for thinking that when this is the image shown on tv or social media. But it’s definitely not the case for everybody.
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During the summer months, it’s difficult to do much of anything outdoors with temperatures up to the late 40s, and don’t even get me started on the humidity! But the weather is just about perfect right now and will stay like this (with the odd day of rain from cloud seeding!) for the next six months or so.
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Where to stay in Dubai on a budget
While there are a lot of flashy hotels in Dubai, there are also cheaper hotels, depending on where you go, and even some hostels!
Backpackers Zone – This hostel is located in Business Bay and offers spectacular views from the terrace of the downtown area and as far as the Burj Al Arab on a clear day. It’s right next to the metro too which makes it the perfect location for getting around. You will also have access to the onsite gym and restaurant.
Backpacker Zone prices start from AED59 / $16 per night – Book Now!
California Hostel – If you’re after a beach escape, this one is for you. Located just 2 minutes walk from Jumeirah Beach and The Walk, JBR, and 5 minutes to the Marina, you will be right in the heart of Dubai here. You have access to the onsite gym and outdoor swimming pool too, what more could you need?
California Hostel prices start from AED62 / $17 per night – Book Now!
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Savoy Central Hotel Apartments – Located in Bur Dubai, this 4* hotel offers a rooftop pool and modern rooms fitted with kitchens. The hotel also offers a shuttle service to Dubai beaches so you can soak up some rays.
Savoy Central prices start from AED140 / $38 per night – Book Now!
Rove Dubai Marina – This 3* hotel is right in the hustle and bustle of Dubai Marina, just 10 minutes walk from Jumeirah Beach. Surrounded by high rise buildings, there are many restaurants and shopping opportunities nearby, including Dubai Marina Mall.
Rove Dubai Marina prices start from AED170 / $46 – Book Now!
How to get around Dubai on a budget
Dubai is not known for being very pedestrian friendly. It’s not uncommon to be walking along a footpath only for it to stop with nowhere to go! It is getting better as the years go by though, and there are plenty of opportunities to walk around Downtown, The Marina or Jumeirah Beach Road.
Metro – Dubai Metro is an easy way to get around the city. Two lines span the length of 50km and trains run every few minutes. You can take the Metro to and from DXB Airport and you can switch between lines at Bur Juman or Union Station. One way tickets start from AED3 / $0.80.
Tram – The Dubai Tram runs from Dubai Marina to the Palm Jumeirah and Al Sufouh. There is a fixed fee of AED3 / $0.80 no matter how long your journey.
Taxi – Taxis are not very expensive in Dubai. Journeys start from AED12 / $3 and you can usually flag from the side of a road or outside hotels / resident buildings.
Abra – Coming from the Arabic word, Abara, which means to cross, you can take one of these old wooden boats across the creek from Bur Dubai to Deira for just AED1 / $0.27! Even if you don’t need to get across the creek, take the trip just for the experience!
If you plan to take public transport, pick up a Nol Card. You can use this to pay for some taxis also.
How to see Dubai on a budget
The Walk, JBR – Take a stroll down The Walk, JBR and see the iconic JBR yellow high rise towers. You’ll find pop up stalls, endless places to dine, carnival games and an open air cinema on this beachside promenade.
Shop at a Souq – Full of gold, textiles, spices, handcrafts and souvenirs, put your haggling skills to the test at one of Dubai’s many Souks (markets).
Dubai Fountains & Burj Khalifa – while the Burj Khalifa has an admission fee, the best view of the world’s tallest building is from the ground below! Located at Dubai Mall, the world’s largest shopping mall (yes, there’s a trend here), venture out to see the dancing fountains from 6pm every evening and if you’re lucky you might also see a light show on the Burj Khalifa.
Take a dip at Kite Beach – One of Dubai’s free public beaches, Kite Beach is popular for kite-surfing, jogging and just general hanging out. You’ll find food trucks and cafes dotted around the area and play areas for kids.
Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary – See the flamingos and other migratory birds – up to 180 different species – at the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary. You’ll also see reptiles, fish and invertebrates, along with various types of plants.
If you’ve noticed, all of the above listed items to see Dubai on a budget are actually FREE! So, yes, you can most definitely visit Dubai on a budget!
Have you been to Dubai? Do you have any more items to add to the budget list? Let me know in the comments below.
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Planning a trip to Dubai? Here are my go to sites for planning a trip:
For activities: Get Your Guide
For hotels: Booking.com
For flights: Skyscanner
For travel insurance: World Nomads