Are you planning to visit Dubai in the United Arab Emirates? And don`t want to spend all the time on the best beaches in Dubai? Our contributor presents you some ideas of what to do in Dubai and what to see with a small budget, because yes, it is quite possible to enjoy a stay in Dubai at a low price.
Visiting Dubai with a small budget, yes it’s possible
From mid-February to the end of April 2021, I stayed in Dubai for the first 75 days of my new life as a retiree in Asia and Oceania for 5 years, in slow travel and minimalist mode.
Visiting Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, is quite an experience. A city of excess and superlatives, choosing to travel to Dubai means staying in one of the cleanest and safest cities in the world.
If you’re wondering if it’s possible to visit Dubai on a budget, then the answer is: “Yes it is, I’ve done it”. The budget depends mainly on your resistance to temptation. Yes, you can easily spend a fortune in Dubai in a few days in luxury hotels, doing the latest activities, eating in high end restaurants, shopping, etc.
The question is: what to do in Dubai and what to see on a small budget? Most tourists spend one to two weeks visiting Dubai, so they want to see and do as much as possible in as little time as possible and that’s okay. But to have a cheap stay in Dubai, you have to make choices, because the temptation is great, all the time.
I share with you some tips to succeed in visiting Dubai with a small budget and also some ideas of what to do and what to see in Dubai for a cheap stay. On the program: desert, souks, museums, beaches, shopping, amusement parks, nightlife, etc.
Some tips to visit Dubai on a small budget
Here are some tips I discovered and tested to save money and succeed in visiting Dubai on a small budget. Don’t hesitate to give your other ideas in comments to spend a cheap stay in Dubai.
- Visit Dubai by bike (electric or not) or scooter (with saddle or standing): The bike is my thing! It gives me a feeling of freedom. For walking, going to the beach, grocery shopping, as long as I’m riding, I’m fine! In Dubai, bike paths are everywhere. When there are none, you ride on the sidewalks. No matter what you rent to visit Dubai (scooter, bike or other), you must wear a fluorescent vest, mask and helmet which are mandatory at all times. KIWIride scooters and CAREEM bikes are self-service along the roads and near the malls. Just download their app and off you go.
- Subscribe to Dubai Facebook groups to get great tips and meet other people: To visit Dubai on a budget, you can join the Facebook group The New Adventurers -Dubai or The Frenchies in Dubai and ask your questions on their sites. This can also be an opportunity to meet other tourists or expatriates during your stay in Dubai. A great way to discover places known by the locals.
- Buy coupons to save on your activities: For a cheap stay in Dubai, like anywhere else, you can buy coupons on Groupon Dubai or Cobone Dubai. You can find specials for restaurants or for activities and buy them before you leave on your trip to Dubai. Don’t forget to validate the deadline before you buy. If you plan to do several activities in Dubai (as they are often expensive), it would be worthwhile to calculate and take the Go Dubai Explorer Card if necessary. You could save a lot of money.
What to do in Dubai and what to see for a cheap stay in Dubai?
There are so many things to visit, do and see in Dubai. The choices are endless. It all depends on what you like and the budget you have set for yourself. I share with you my little list of what to do and see in Dubai when you have a small budget. Lots of ideas to have a diverse and varied trip and lots of fun!
https://karta.com suggestion: There is a nice 5h guided tour of Dubai that is really cheap and will give you a pretty complete tour of the city. A nice introduction to your stay. You have to book your place here.
Visit Dubai and its unmissable Alserkal Avenue
My must-see on your list of what to see in Dubai is Alserkal Avenue. And it’s free! This is THE trendy area to visit in Dubai. Old disused warehouses have been converted into art galleries, bars, restaurants, internet cafes, shopping areas and a cinema that offers a wide range of activities for young and old. By the way, the Akil cinema’s tea party is just divine! It’s a great free activity to do to enjoy a cheap stay in Dubai.
Five free activities to put on your list of what to see and do in Dubai
I’ll talk about it later, but you should know that all the beaches and parks in Dubai are free or almost. But apart from that, here are some free activities to do and places to visit in Dubai without spending a penny.
On the Jumeirah side
Jumeirah is the most famous beach area in Dubai, and is the preferred residential area for foreigners living in the city.
- Madinat Canal: Madinat Jumeirah is an architectural complex consisting of a luxury souk, bars and restaurants, a canal with boats, and luxury hotels. With its Moroccan-inspired architecture, Madinat Jumeirah is a very pleasant place to walk and eat.
- Jumeirah Mosque: The Jumeirah Mosque is one of Dubai’s most iconic monuments. With the motto “Open Doors, Open Minds”, the mosque welcomes visitors of all faiths to admire the decor of this place and learn more about Islam and the local culture.
- Art Galleries: It’s impossible to find a neighborhood in Dubai that doesn’t have art galleries, which is why Jumeirah Beach Walk has superb galleries featuring fine art.
In Deira and Bur Dubai
Old Dubai is made up of two districts, Deira and Bur Dubai. These two neighborhoods are located on either side of the Khor Dubai, an arm of the sea that crosses the city and is also called “Dubai Creek”. Deira is home to the gold and spice souks, while Bur Dubai is best known for its textile souk, old buildings and monuments.
- Gold and Spice Souks: These two souks in Dubai are traditional markets located in the heart of the old historic district in the Grand Souk area of Deira. The Spice Souk is made up of stalls selling mainly spices and aromatic herbs. The Gold Souk is a market specialized in the sale of this precious metal, which has become the hub of the gold trade.
- Water cabs to get around Dubai Creek: With a fleet of nearly a hundred boats, abras are one of Dubai’s oldest and most economical means of transportation.
- Heritage Village and Diving Village in Bur Dubai: Located in the Shindagha area of Bur Dubai, Heritage Village and Diving Village are a series of reconstructions that showcase Dubai’s past to its visitors. Heritage Village is a recreation of a traditional Bedouin village while Diving Village is an area focused on Dubai’s maritime past where one can see boats and items used for pearl fishing.
- Sheikh Saaed Al-Makthoum House: This house is a historic building and former residential quarters of Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, former ruler of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The building is now a museum that contains artifacts and images of the old city of Dubai.
- Dubai Museum in Al Fahidi Fort: The Dubai Museum, housed in Al Fahidi Fort, the oldest existing building in the city, is a must-see for anyone interested in Dubai’s history.
Karta.com suggestion: To visit the old city of Dubai, there are two really interesting and popular guided tours. First, a more comprehensive tour of the city that will take you to visit the most iconic places of the city such as Atlantis, Madinat Jumeirah Souk, the Blue Mosque and where you enjoy a shopping session in the gold and spice souks. And the other one, which focuses only on the old city where you will explore the old city of Dubai on a tour with a cruise on Dubai Creek by traditional abra (boat) to the gold and spice souk. A really interesting tour.
Have fun in Dubai on a budget with various activities
There are dozens of amusement parks, theme parks and places to do activities in Dubai, at all prices, for young and old. In fact, you can’t visit Dubai without going to one or more theme parks. With my limited budget, I visited Miracle Garden and Global Village. Here are also some other activities to put on your list of what to do in Dubai and what to see if you have a more limited budget.
Dubai Global Village: 90 open-air souks with a theme park
A cheap trip to Dubai doesn’t necessarily mean not having fun. For the low budget (around $5), you could go and have fun at the Global Village in Dubai. This theme park features about 90 countries arranged in an arc. For each country, a huge and beautifully decorated façade invites you to discover a souk of that country where dozens of stalls offer handicrafts from that country (or Made in China) as well as culinary specialties.
The Miracle Garden: a large flower-themed park
This is the world’s largest park (7 hectares) of natural flowers, giant flower sculptures and horticultural arrangements, all set to music. It’s a great walk for the whole family. All around the park, there are kiosks offering food. With an entrance fee of $18, this is a great place to visit in Dubai on a budget and put on your list of what to see and do in Dubai.
The Dubai Frame: panoramic view of the city
For 25$, you could visit Dubai from above thanks to this huge structure and its glass floor at 150 m from the ground. A panoramic elevator takes us to the top of this golden frame, for a view of the old city on one side and the modern city on the other. For those who like to see the cities from the heights, this is to be added on your list of what to do in Dubai.
Karta suggestion: If you book online through our partner, your entrance to the Dubai Frame is only €12.30. If you want to take a more comprehensive guided tour of the city, this one includes entry to the Dubai Frame. It might be worth it if you plan to take both a guided tour and the entrance to the monument.
Ski Dubai: indoor ski resort in the Dubai Mall
What to do in Dubai for a unique experience? Go skiing while shopping at Ski Dubai, a winter sports resort inside the Dubai Mall. You have to see it to believe it! I loved skiing while it was nearly 40 degrees outside. For $75 for 2 hours, all equipment is provided, except for gloves which you have to buy in Covid weather. You can book here to have your ticket already in your pocket and avoid the line.