Dubai on a Budget – a short guide with a sample itinerary

Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood
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Dubai has a reputation of a posh city. The emirate’s vibes and ambience come across as opulent as it has an assortment of upscale hotels and resorts, grand shopping malls, and extraordinary attractions. For someone who can splurge in luxury, Dubai is the ultimate destination to experience the finest hospitality and exclusive luxury. There is a lot of option for luxury indulgance like a stay at the world’s only seven-star luxury hotel or a cruise on a private yacht on the Persian Gulf. However, a budget-conscious visitor would have the notion that Dubai is not their type of holiday destination. Though Dubai might showcase a larger-than-life setting, but if you know where to go, what to do, and how much it will cost, then you will realize that Dubai has plenty of places and experiences to offer that will not burn a hole in your pocket. For instance, here’s how you can enjoy a fantastic Dubai holiday on a budget with attractions that hardly cost much.

Day 1 –  Dubai Downtown Area

Dubai Downtown

An unmissable highlight of any Dubai holiday, Downtown Dubai is a centerpiece of the emirate dominated by Burj Khalifa, Dubai Fountain, and Dubai Mall. Sauntering in and around Dubai Downtown offers ample photo opportunities at Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountains. The grandeur of sky-high views of the tallest building in the world is a jaw-dropping experience to witness. Evenings in particular offer scintillating panoramas of these iconic attractions. Dubai Mall is another magnificent mega mall that you should visit on a Dubai tour. The entry to Dubai Mall is free but it might get a little tempting to splurge a bit at one of the world’s biggest shopping malls. The best way to suppress the urge to spend is by making a beeline to Dubai Aquarium and marvel at the fascinating aquatic life displayed at the ground level which is free for public viewing. To get a complete experience, you have to pay admission cost to enter the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo.  Take a peek into the world of virtual reality at VR Park. The entry to VR Park is free, but you will have to buy tickets if you want the virtual gaming experience.

Day 2- The Dubai Creek and Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood

Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood
Venture out to witness Dubai’s humble past at Dubai Creek and Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood. Spend your time strolling through the bustling souks and waterfront areas of Dubai Creek. An abra ride is the best way to enjoy Dubai’s impressive skyline at the cost of a mere 1 dirham. Dubai’s famous Souks are also a great spot to enjoy some budget shopping; some of the merchandise is a steal if you are an expert in the art of haggling. Get more insight into Dubai’s bygone era and simple lifestyle at Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood which has a collection of old houses and alleys restored and preserved for guests to witness the traditional settlement of Dubai before it became a futuristic global city.

Day 3 – Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary and Dubai Canal Walkway

Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
Spend a day amid Dubai’s scenic splendours from unique perspectives. You will be quite surprised to know that nestled within the city, you can spot countless flamboyance of pink flamingos.  At Ras Al Khor Wildlife sanctuary, you can watch a sea of pink flamingos along with many exotic birds without paying a dime! A visit to Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary is a welcoming change from the modern city vibes. Later, head to Dubai Canal Walkway to spend the rest of the day enjoying the fascinating city skyline of modern Dubai while strolling on Dubai’ brand-new waterfront attraction.

Day 4: Jumeirah Beach Residence and Palm Fountain

Palm Fountain Show

Palm Dubai is another epitome of Dubai’s innovativeness and luxury living. Nevertheless, there are ways to explore this artificial island’s splendour without stressing your wallet. Jumeirah Beach Residence is a perfect spot to start your tour where you can enjoy the beach vibes of Dubai and soak up the sun. In the evening, witness the spectacle of the world’s biggest fountains – Palm Fountain showcasing a stunning synchronization of water, sound, and light in a breath-taking show for its guests.

Day 5: Al Qudra Lake

Al Qudra Lake
Lastly, visiting the desert has to be on your Dubai travel bucket list. While a Dubai desert safari can weigh on your holiday budget, there are alternatives to enjoy the serene Arabian dunes. You can completely forgo the typical desert safari experience and opt for the Al Qudra Lake experience which has no admission cost except the transportation expenses. This oasis in the middle of the Saih Al Salam desert has a manmade lake meandering through the desert landscape along with two still-water heart-shaped lakes peppered with desert wilderness and bushlands. It is one of the finest places to unwind in a mellow ambience, spot some birds and wildlife and enjoy some of the best sunsets in Dubai. It also has a cycling trail, but a biking experience would cost extra bucks.

Some handy tips for a budget-friendly Dubai trip

Get your visa sorted in advance

Dubai is a popular choice of destination for visitors from around the world. According to the stay duration, one has various types of visa options to choose from. Dubai is also a main stopover destination for many onward travellers and they can use a Dubai transit visa for a short escape to experience the gist of the city. Identify your preferred tourist visa  and apply for visa early to avoid disappointments. It also lets you cut time and cost if you know what exactly is required for a hassle-free visa process. That being said, if you do get a short-term visa for your holiday and want to extend it further, you can do so with the UAE tourist visa extension option without exiting the emirate.

Forget the upscale accommodations

Dubai offers some of the most luxurious hotel stays in the world and to opt for a comfy night stay at one of the deluxe hotels will wreck the idea to save on your holiday. if you prefer upscale hotels to simple accommodation options, then you need to upgrade your Dubai holiday budget. Instead, think of accommodation in Dubai as a place to get a good night’s sleep.  There are plenty of stay options that offer comfort at a reasonable price. Some of the budget-friendly hotel options are Savoy Park Hotel Apartments, Premier Inn Dubai Ibn Battuta, Panorama Grand Hotel to name a few.

For wallet-friendly, hearty meals, stick to where locals like to dine.
The dining scene is fantastic in Dubai, and that’s not just at the savvy dining venues. The local food scene is also diverse in flavours. Check out Ravi Restaurant and Arz Lebanon for a scrumptious meal. You can also try out some affordable brunch at Warehouse, More Cafe, and Rock Bottom that offer reasonably priced meals in sleek settings. The best way to know where to eat good food at a low cost is to observe where city-dwellers love to frequent during their meal breaks.

Plan a trip during the shoulder season

Steer away from festive and event seasons, especially during Christmas and New Years’ Eve as these fall during the peak season of Dubai. The emirate will be overcrowded and most services will be exorbitantly priced. May to August is the low season in Dubai. Hotel and restaurant meals would provide services at incredibly low prices but the climate is unsuitable for outdoor activities. The best time to visit for budget-conscious visitors is during the shoulder season that falls from September to mid-November.


A Dubai trip doesn’t have to break your bank account. There are ways to explore this extraordinary city in a wallet-friendly way. The city is scattered with places and activities that are delightful to experience and cost nothing or have a nominal charge. All you have to do is pick a few  and include them with one or two favourite attractions in Dubai that you really want to experience and while planning the vacation. This will help you find balance in your budget as well as the experience you want to enjoy on a memorable Dubai holiday.


Dubai on a Budget – a short guide with a sample itinerary

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