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By Teresa Siqueira - 5 min read

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Dubai on a budget

Whenever we think about Dubai, the words exclusive, expensive, and even unreachable come to mind. However, the UAE isn’t just a destination for celebrities and millionaires.

Most people think of Dubai as a luxury travel destination, and for many that may be the case, but even if it’s hard to believe, Dubai can be traveled relatively affordably.

Are you happy to hear that? We were too.

Dubai is one of the destinations on many people’s travel bucket lists. If it’s not already on yours, the United Arab Emirates is a place you should definitely include in your travel plans.

That said, here are some tips to make that dream trip to Dubai a reality.

Sleep

The cheapest area to stay in the city is Bur Dubai. Additionally, to save you some money, the area offers a real taste of the local culture. You’ll find great budget accommodation in Al Mankhool, and Deira also offers the cheapest rates for hotels in Dubai.

If you’re looking for a nice affordable space, check room rates at FORM Hotel Dubai, and for the best price try Hampton by Hilton Dubai Al Seef or Hilton Garden Inn Dubai Mall of the Emirates.

Remember that there are many apartments that look like hotels and have great prices, like Golden Sands Hotel Apartments. The majority of them also have pools, which you’ll be extra grateful for after experiencing the Dubai weather!

Another affordable and very delightful option is boutique hotels. There are many hidden around the city, like the charming XVA Art Hotel.

JBR, Business Bay Area, and Downtown Dubai hotels are closest to the most touristic destinations. They can be more expensive but remain at an affordable range. Rove Downtown Dubai is located in the downtown area, and offers fantastic views of Burj Khalifa at a great price.

The key to finding budget accommodation is not staying in the heart of the city and being aware of the different areas of Dubai. This way, you’ll save money to spend on other parts of your trip!

Getting around

The public transportation system in Dubai is very efficient and cheap. Traveling from Dubai airport and around the city is pretty easy.

Public transportation is divided into seven zones: Dubai Metro stations, bus stations, tram stations, and water bus stations. You can explore using different modes of transport and only pay for the total number of zones you’ve traveled through.

All Dubai Skyline cabins offer free wi-fi, and trips are paid for by using Nol cards. The cards hold a balance and can be recharged inside the stations. There are five different types of Nol cards, and the best option is to go with the Personal or Customized Card.

If you can’t find public transport to take you where you need to go, don’t worry. There are plenty of taxis easily found and they’re really affordable compared to other countries. They are also clean, reliable, and metered.

What to do

There are plenty of things to do in Dubai. Even on a budget!

Deira is one of the areas where you can enjoy a very cultural and affordable experience. Exploring the traditional gold and spice souk market, for example, allows you to discover the flavors and colors characteristic of the culture.

Another must-do activity is a boat trip across Abra Creek. It’s something traditional to enjoy in the midst of all the modern skyscrapers. It will only cost you a couple of cents. Jump on, sit down, and enjoy the view.

Even if you are on a tight budget, you should definitely check out Dubai Mall. Walking around the mall is itself an attraction. You can visit the fountain, the aquarium (which is the biggest aquarium in the world), or even go ice skating! Plus, while you might think shopping in Dubai is all expensive brands, you can find great deals on fast fashion brands.

Inside the Dubai Mall, there’s a connection to the Burj Khalifa. But you can also capture great photos from the outside area with incredible views of the Burj Khalifa and its lake. Don’t miss the Dubai Fountain Show, an amazing, choreographed light and water show on the Burj Khalifa Lake.

Golden rule to save time and money in Dubai: Pre-book your tickets. Going up Dubai’s Creek Tower or the Burj Khalifa building is a unique experience. The Internet has great deals for not missing out on them. The Dubai Frame offers you the cheapest alternative, though. For AED 60 (Dubai currency), you can enjoy a unique view of the city from here.

Eat

Dubai Mall is also one of the cheapest places to eat food. It offers plenty of options, from international fast food spots in the food court to affordable traditional cuisine.

Just like your accommodation, try heading to less costly neighborhoods such as Bur Dubai, Deira, and Jumeirah Lakes Towers. In these areas, you’ll find cheap spots to eat on every corner.

Al Mallah has been a hotspot for Lebanese food since 1979. At the restaurant, you’ll dine like a king without hurting your budget.

Drink

Alcohol will be the most difficult part of saving money during your trip to Dubai. Dubai stores don’t sell alcohol. Packing some bottles from home or buying them at Duty Free will save you some money.

Keep in mind that alcohol can only be consumed privately or in licensed public places. According to UAE law, it’s illegal to drink in the street or be under the influence of alcohol in public spaces.

Only venues attached to hotels or private clubs are allowed to serve alcohol. So you may find a drink in nearly all bars and restaurants located in the Dubai hotels. Many clubs and bars host Ladies Nights and Happy Hours. Seven Sisters is a nice lounge and among the cheapest places to drink in Dubai.

Find more inspiration for your trip to Dubai

Get planning your dream trip (for when it’s safe to travel again!) with top tips and recommendations for great restaurants, hotels and bars around the world on TWISPER  🌍

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About the author

Tere is passionate about Digital Media, traveling, comedy, and writing. She explores her love for those topics by developing content about culture, nightlife, and hot spots worldwide.