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Visit Dubai On A Budget- 16 Important Things To Know

Dubai is synonymous with luxury and all things expensive. Be it visiting the tallest building in the world or enjoying a drink at one of the bars or nightclubs or perhaps spending time in the Dubai Mall, you would find yourself reaching out for your wallet more than you would like. While the city is known for its expensive tastes, it is still possible to visit Dubai on a budget. All it needs is a lot of research and detailed planning.

Before You Go


Before you plan your visit to Dubai, you need to apply for a visa first. Citizens of most countries can apply for a Dubai visa online. If you want to save money on your air ticket, make sure that you book your ticket several months in advance. Apart from this, there are several budget airlines that have regular flights to Dubai from around the world. Also, if you plan to visit Dubai during the off-season (between April and August), you would be able to save a lot of money on air tickets and accommodation. However, the temperature is really high during this time of the year, and you need to consider this before you plan your holiday.

Budget Accommodation In Dubai

Dubai on a budget

When it comes to accommodation in hotels, Dubai is pricey. However, there are still some ways to stay in a luxury hotel without breaking the bank. If this is something you’re looking for, check out this website and save up to 20% on your luxury hotel booking. On the other hand, if you’re looking for budget accommodation opportunities, don’t worry; it’s still possible to find accommodation for budget travelers. If you have friends or relatives in Dubai, it would be great if you could crash at their homes. This would save you a lot of money.

Hostels and Budget Hotels In Dubai

Dubai might be the land of the 7-star hotel, but it’s also home to hostels and budget hotels that don’t skimp on comfort. These are perfect for solo travelers, backpackers, or anyone looking to save their dirhams for adventures rather than pillows. Places like the Dubai Youth Hostel offer a bed and basic amenities, while some budget hotels throw in a pool – because who says budget can’t be a bit fancy?

There are also several budget hostels and hotels which offer decent accommodation at low prices. Most of these low price hotels and hostels are located in the old part of Dubai which is cheaper compared to the new, modern Dubai. You can also opt for Couchsurfing through the CS community in Dubai. Apart from this, there is also Vrbo (and Vrbo referrals) where you can find a place to stay as per your budget and requirements. 

Budget-Friendly Areas: Where to Base Yourself

If you’re planning to visit Dubai on a budget, choosing locations like Deira and Bur Dubai is a safe bet as these neighbourhoods are known for their more affordable accommodation options while not being too far from Dubai’s main attractions and famous shopping malls.

Are you thinking about moving to Dubai? You may also want to check out our expat guide to living in Dubai.

Eating Well In Dubai On A Budget

food market dubai

Dubai is home to a lot of classy restaurants. It is also a place where you would be able to enjoy international cuisine like nowhere else, from Arabic and Lebanese to Asian, American and continental food. However, most of these restaurants are expensive and eating out at them every day can burn a huge hole in your pocket. But it is possible to save money on food when you are traveling in Dubai.

Check out the eateries in Bur Dubai and Deira which offer meals at low rates. It is easier to find restaurants and eateries that serve Indian, Pakistani and Chinese dishes at reasonable prices. While these meals do not cost much, the quantity and taste are decent. You would find delicious Indian, Pakistani, Iranian and Lebanese food at Al Dhiyafah Road.

Some of the best budget restaurants in Dubai include Delhi Darbar (for Indian food), Ravi’s (for Pakistani food), Al Wallah (for Lebanese food), Karachi Darbar (for continental food) Al Ibrahimi Palace (for Arabic food), and Chinese Connection (for Chinese). etc. If the place you are staying at has a kitchen, it would be best to shop at the supermarket and cook your own meals. You will also find simple and low-cost ready-eat- meals at most supermarkets in Dubai. Eating out in Dubai can be economical with these simple tips during your trip.

Visit Dubai On A Budget- Free & Low-Cost Attractions

dubai at night

Most of the places to see and interesting activities to do in Dubai are quite expensive. That’s why going on a sightseeing tour that covers most of the city highlights might be a good idea. But even if you go sightseeing independently, fortunately, there are still a lot of free things to do in Dubai. And knowing where to find free and low-cost attractions is one of the most important things to know when you want to visit Dubai on a budget.

Iconic Sights for Free

dubai mosque

The Dubai Fountain show is one of the most amazing experiences you will have in the city. The sound and light show that happens multiple times, every day, is a sight to behold and is absolutely free. Moreover, it also gives you a chance to get a nice view of the mighty Burj Khalifa.

For a slice of modern Dubai, take a stroll around Dubai Marina. This waterfront promenade is a show-off of contemporary architecture and luxury yachts, offering a glimpse into Dubai’s high life. The atmosphere here is electric, especially at night when the skyscrapers light up like a constellation of stars.

Beaches On A Budget

dubai beach

Dubai has some amazing beaches. You may have to pay a fee to access some of the beaches, most of them are free. You can visit Jumeirah Beach for free. While this sun-kissed beach is perfect for relaxation and adventure, it also gives a great view of Hotel Burj Al Arab. If you’re a fan of water sports or just like watching them, Kite Beach is your go-to spot. This beach is where kitesurfers paint the sky with their colorful sails. If you want to go to a peaceful beach, Al Mamzar Beach Park is a safe choice; It’s less crowded, has a lot of greenery and a lot of great barbecue spots.

Exploring Historic Dubai

Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood

Wander into the past at the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood. This area offers a glimpse into old Dubai with its traditional wind-tower architecture. Strolling through its alleys is like time-traveling to the Dubai of yesteryears, minus the time machine expenses.

If you want to know the fascinating history of Dubai, i.e. how it went from being a modest fishing village to one of the richest cities in the world, a visit to the Dubai Museum is a must. With a price ticket of AED 3, the museum portrays the earlier life of the Arabs in an interesting way. After the visit to the museum, you can also check out the Bastakiya Quarter. This is the heritage hub of the city.

The dhow cruise on the Dubai Creek is one of the most popular tourist activities. However, if you do not want to spend money on a dhow cruise dinner, you must at least take an abra ride on the Dubai Creek. You get to travel from Bur Dubai to Deira or vice-versa at just AED 1 and it’s a unique experience.

Enjoying this post? Then you may also like this list of Roman ruins in Jordan.

Public Parks and Outdoor Spaces

dubai park

Dubai may look like a concrete jungle but the city has some amazing parks and most of them are free. You can take a stroll, have a BBQ picnic and have great fun at these parks. A few great options include Safa Park that has its own lake and waterfall, Zabeel Park with its tech-driven attractions (including a glow-in-the-dark garden), and Dubai Hills Park, part of the new Dubai Hills Estate, that has everything from skate parks to splash pads

A Trip To The Desert

Dubai dessert

The desert is an integral part of Dubai and your itinerary should definitely include a desert safari experience. The best thing is that you would find several companies offering desert safari and you can easily find one that fits your budget. You can choose from regular, adventure, overnight or morning desert safari as per your budget and interests.

Transportation In Dubai

dubai sunset

The easiest way to get from one location to another in the city is by cabs; you would find plenty in Dubai. But cabs are expensive, so it would be better to find an alternative. Metro in Dubai is inexpensive and is a great way to travel to major tourist locations. There is also the bus service although it is not very regular and hence not always recommended. However, one bus that runs regularly is the Big Bus that allows you to see the best of Dubai and is a great choice for people that don’t have a lot of time to lose.

If you have a lot of time, you can travel across the city on rented bikes. It’s a great way of touring the city although you need to check the weather before hopping on the bike. If you are traveling with a group or can find other travelers to share with, renting a private vehicle would be quite economical.

Another alternative, if you’re brave enough to drive in this urban jungle, is renting a car in Dubai. If this sounds interesting, use this AutoEurope discount offer and save 15% on all car rentals in Dubai.

Budget Shopping In Dubai

Dubai on a budget

If you find the heat too much for sightseeing in Dubai, there are many malls in Dubai that can help you to beat the heat. While they protect you from the harsh heat, they also entertain you. The entry is free and there are tons of things to see and do here. Even if you do not want to spend money, taking a walk in these malls and doing some window shopping is in itself quite entertaining.

Shopping is the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Dubai. It is the city that hosts the largest shopping in the world, every year, i.e. the Dubai Shopping Festival. Moreover, there are numerous malls in the city, the biggest being the Dubai Mall which has more than 1200 retail stores. In short, this the best place for retail therapy. But this can be a burden to your budget.

However, this does not mean you should take off shopping from your itinerary. On the other hand, you can look for cheaper options. Instead of the malls, head to the traditional souks and local markets of the city. Karama Market is the perfect place to shop for gifts and souvenirs to take back home. Also, places like Dragon Mart and Outlet Mall are where savvy shoppers can sniff out deals.

Nightlife In Dubai In A Budget

Dubai night

This guide to how to visit Dubai on a budget wouldn’t be complete without a few money-saving tips for going out at night in Dubai because let’s be honest, it would be a shame to visit Dubai and not catch a glimpse of the city’s famous nightlife.

Beachside Bliss on a Budget at Barasti

Barasti is like that friend who knows how to throw a beach party without burning through cash. Picture this: you’re lounging on the sand, a cold drink in hand, not a worry about the bill. The place is laid-back, the music’s good, and the sea view? Priceless, but thankfully, the drinks aren’t.

Lock, Stock & Barrel: Where Locals Love to Hang

Now, let’s scoot over to Lock, Stock & Barrel. It’s got this infectious energy that’s hard to resist, kind of like that one song you can’t get out of your head. The crowd is a cool mix of locals and travelers, all there for good times without the wallet woes. It’s lively, it’s friendly, and the prices? They don’t make you wince.

Rooftop Rendezvous Without the Sky-High Prices

Fancy a view with your brew? Level 43 Sky Lounge and The Rooftop at Royal Ascot Hotel serve up stunning city vistas that won’t cost you the earth. It’s like being on top of the world, but your bank balance remains grounded. The perfect spot to clink glasses, snap some stunning photos, and maybe make a new friend or two.

Additional Tips to Save Money In Dubai

Dubai on a budget

Before we conclude this guide to how to visit Dubai on a budget, we’ll share a few helpful tips for saving money when traveling to Dubai.

Book tour tickets online in advance to get good deals and discounts. For instance, you can buy Burj Khalifa tickets at a much lesser price online than the price you would have to pay directly.

Buy the magazine “The Entertainer” as soon as you reach the city. The magazine offers a lot of great deals on some of the popular restaurants, nightclubs, pubs, theme parks and other attractions of Dubai.

The expats and locals rely a lot on Groupon which offers a lot of great discounts and deals on hotels and restaurants. So, check the website before you plan your day.

Alcohol is expensive in the city and is only available at licensed restaurants and bars. The best way is to stock up on your alcohol at the duty-free stores at the airport. Moreover, if you are a woman, you would be able to get free drinks at nightclubs on ladies’ night which is usually held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. You can also check out happy hours at restaurants to enjoy a drink without spending too much.

Traveling in Dubai on a budget may look difficult but it is not impossible. With great planning, you would definitely have an amazing and memorable holiday without emptying your bank account.

Budget-Friendly Tourist Passes & Attraction Discounts

visit Dubai on a budget

Before we conclude this guide to how to visit Dubai on a budget, we’ll share a few important tourist passes, cards and discounts you should be aware of.

Dubai Explorer Pass: Your Ticket to Savings

The Dubai Explorer Pass is like a VIP all-access pass, but for those of us who aren’t actual VIPs. It lets you pick from a list of top attractions, including the Burj Khalifa, Aquaventure Waterpark, and more, at a fraction of the cost. Think of it as a buffet of experiences where you can pile your plate high without slimming down your wallet.

NOL Cards for Public Transport: Travel Smart

Exploring Dubai by metro, bus, or tram? Grab an NOL card. It’s like a magic card that shrinks travel costs. The card offers discounted fares and the sheer convenience of hopping on and off public transport without fumbling for change.

City Sightseeing Tours: See More, Spend Less

Hop-on, hop-off City Sightseeing Tours can be surprisingly wallet-friendly, especially if you’re keen to cover a lot of ground without burning through cash. They’re like your personal tour guides, minus the personal tour guide price.

Useful Resources To Visit Dubai On A Budget

 Looking for cheap flights to Dubai? Use this Qatar Airways special offer and save up to 25% on your flight to Dubai.

Want to rent a car in Dubai? Use this AutoEurope discount code and save 15% on all car rentals in Dubai.

For the best travel insurance deals, check out SafetyWing.

Use this link to get 15% off on all accommodation bookings in Dubai.

Finally, don’t forget to check whether you need to obtain a visa for your trip to Dubai. Most countries’ passport holders can obtain a visa on arrival but some need to obtain a visa prior to their departure. You can check which group you belong in on this website and apply for a visa if necessary. I used IVisa for my last trip to Dubai and I warmly recommend them.

Did you ever visit Dubai on a budget? Do you think there are some other great ways to save money while traveling in Dubai? Let us know in the comments!

best Free and cheap things to do in dubai
dubai on a budget

Dubai city tour

Thursday 17th of January 2019

Nice Article. Guys tell me something when you talk about City tours, which cities of the world comes to mind first. Well in my mind the first City Tour to come is Dubai City Tour, then Hong Kong City Tour and Tokyo City Tour. What do you say? Which is the best?

Passport Symphony

Saturday 26th of January 2019

Well, I wouldn't know. I normally don't go for tours. I prefer exploring on my own :)

emman damian

Saturday 8th of December 2018

I got my Dubai visa via an accredited agency. Well, Dubai is really amazing and I love the structures! It’s really a fun place to visit. An international melting pot of cuisine, people and culture.

Passport Symphony

Saturday 8th of December 2018

It sure is, Emman. Thank you for your comment.


Wednesday 5th of December 2018

These are some awesome tips for visiting Dubai! I've always wanted to go, but it's so expensive. Hence, why it's marketed as a luxurious destination. I'm hoping to go next year and will start looking ASAP with your cheap flight tips. I'm so excited to see the Dubai Mall as well!

Also, great photographs!

Passport Symphony

Thursday 6th of December 2018

Thank you, Martha and I hope you get the chance to visit soon.


Tuesday 4th of December 2018

You have really shared a very informative post on how to visit Dubai in the budget. As Dubai is a luxury destination so if we plan it carefully then we can save a load of money. I too agree Entertainer and Groupon have best deals, especially in luxury restaurants. They sometimes have 1 meal free for ordering 1 meal which is a very great offer. Also visiting public beaches is a great thing to do here without spending a penny. I too use Metro as they are very clean and well managed and inexpensive too.

Passport Symphony

Wednesday 5th of December 2018

Thank you, Yukti

Amar Singh

Tuesday 4th of December 2018

Dubai indeed has a lot to offer. It can be pricey at times. You have provided some great tips on how you can get more of Dubai workout spending a fortune. Bur Dubai and Africa a good place to find cheap food and get a taste of local life. The public transport can be a affordable way to travel on the metro. Thanks fir these great tips.

Passport Symphony

Wednesday 5th of December 2018

Thank you for your comment, Amar- I'm glad you liked this post.