Dubai skyscrapers
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How To Enjoy Dubai Without Going Broke

Dubai is not the first city that comes to mind when travellers think of budget vacation destinations; the opulent lifestyle that goes down in the rich and famous’ playground is visible even from the brilliant city skyline, and especially in their nighttime parties.

But for adventurous travellers who just can’t miss the opportunity to visit the city, I’ve got some tried and true tips that will make your travel well worth it. Live like a millionaire, spend like a pauper—it’s the only way to do it in Dubai!

Plan your meals

With gourmet fare all around, it’d be a shame to pass up on the good eats just because you’re budgeting. The answer is to know where to go. For traditional top of the line grub, try Ravi in Al Satwa, which has heaping portions of Pakistani curry for pocket change, and all of the street food options, like shawarma, shish tawook, and kebabs, try hotspots like Al Mallah Restaurant, Bu Qtair, and Ravi Restaurant. For a small price tag, you’ll eat great and local, which is a win-win to me.

For drinking, it can be a different, very expensive story, but the good news is that for the ladies, there are plenty of opportunities to get around that VIP rope. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are great for checking out Ladies Nights, which usually come with a free drink or two at the bar. For guys-only nights, it’s a little harder to come by, but a little research helps!

Grab the apps

Apps are always my secret weapons whenever I travel, and for Dubai they can always lend a helping hand to provide good fun and plenty of cheap options. Time Out Dubai is one of my favorites, with it’s pricing features for each destination it makes it easy on budgeters. is another great one to have if you plan to do some regional traveling, and Dubai Maps and Walks will get you into the local art, culture, history, architecture and more, plus it’s free!

When I was in Dubai another thing that really helped keep my costs down was a local SIM card instead of using my international plan; Verizon’s $10/day didn’t cut it for me. If you plan on using your data roaming at all, I suggest grabbing one and putting it into your phone. It’ll starting working automatically (if not, try this easy fix) and you can save while still getting to use your phone.

Never take a taxi

Taxis are really popular in Dubai, but the metro is a cheap alternative and with rides for as little as Dhs1.8, it’s a no-brainer which one is going to save you a bundle. If you’re hoping for something a little more luxurious, you can always upgrade to the VIP card which allows it’s passengers into members-only cabins with wifi. Great right?

Another great way to get around the city is by bike. I personally love to combine exercise and travel whenever possible—then you can eat whatever you want!—and Dubai is a great place to do it. Along the marina there are plenty of pop-up bike rentals, and with the cosmopolitan feel of the city, it’s perfectly safe to cruise around day or night.

Skip the malls, head for the souks

Across the Creek is a gem of a shopping experience: the Dubai souks. For old world delicacies from spices to lanterns, it’s a haggler’s paradise to take your spare change and find a wonderful treasure to take home, and you pay whatever you can convince the seller to give you to it for. After haggling for my first rug in the souks of Marrakech, I never go anywhere that has a souk without making it one of my must-see destinations.

In Dubai, you’re going to want to check out two different sides of the souks, depending on what you’re after. The Deira side has all the spices for your kitchen cabinet while the Bur Dubai bank has got your fashion choices, like Arabian style slippers and pashminas.

Jumeirah, Dubai

Image by Andy Arciga via the Creative Commons License

Head for the beach

It’s true, the beachside resorts have gotten most of the good beach spots on Dubai’s coastline, but for travellers (especially those with families), the Jumeirah Beach Park is a cheap alternative for getting some time in the sun. At Dhs5 per day, you can enjoy the surf, the palm trees, and all of the ice cream you can eat from the vendors and cafe on site.

Dubai is a glittering city that has popped out of the desert in less than fifty years, meaning it’s one of the most cosmopolitan destinations in the entire world, and a visit is a must for any true wanderlust travellers. And with these budget friendly suggestions, even those without the millionaire playboy bank account can enjoy all the high class perks.

Until next time…bon voyage!

This post is by travel writer Claire Lovesti who blogs at

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One Comment

  1. The first thing to do when you arrive in Dubai is to buy a NOL card , that you can use to ride not only Metro, but all Dubai transportation network. Fares are cheap and you can combine 2 or 3 different modes of transportation to reach your destination. There are various beaches open to the public. We would recommend The Beach at Jumeirah Beach Residence. You can have a lot of fun at malls across Dubai with minimum or no cost at all. If you visit Dubai Mall do not forget to watch the show at Dubai Fountain. contains a great deal of information about Dubai, the wonder city.

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