How To Do Dubai on a Budget
POSTED BY Adam | July 21, 2014
Label: Beach Holidays, City Breaks, Dubai Travel, How to... Guides
Home of the world’s tallest building and the world’s only 7* hotel, Dubai is a destination more associated with luxury than frugality – a place to splash the cash and spare no expense. However, experiencing one of the world’s most lavish cities on a limited budget is certainly possible. With Dubai an increasingly popular destination for tourists of all ages and backgrounds, at Globehunters we’ve taken a look at how to enjoy Dubai on a limited budget.
Whether it’s the enormous malls or more intimate souks, shopping is certainly a favourite pastime for a lot of Dubai’s tourists. Dubai is a great place to whip out the credit card and indulge in some retail therapy, but what about if you want to spend without breaking the bank?
Dubai’s various souks are great for grabbing a bargain, providing you’re prepared to haggle. The Deira area of the city is home to all manner of bustling marketplaces where no price is fixed. The gold souk is the place to head for jewellery, watches, and anything else that’s in some way gold, whilst the vibrant spice souk is a real assault on the senses, with aromatic spices filling the air.
For more mild-mannered bargain hunters that don’t want to haggle down a price, January’s Dubai Shopping Festival offers discounts up to 75% in its participating malls. As part of the 32 day festival, there are traditionally huge raffles with some impressive prizes. Previous winners have won sports cars and half kilos of gold. How they got these prizes home is another matter..
A great way to save money whilst getting a more authentic taste of the Middle East is to eschew Dubai’s Michelin star restaurants and head to Al Dhiyafah Road – home of Dubai’s cheap eats with Iranian, Lebanese as well as local food. Lamb is a favourite, but there are plenty of lighter options like cous-cous and salads.
The Afghan Kebab House alongside the Naif Mosque is a great place to fill-up without emptying your wallet. It’s tucked away in Deira, near the Naif Souk, and serves flame grilled meats wrapped in enormous naans.
For a meal out of the ordinary without breaking the bank, try Ethiopian restaurant Pillars. They serve injera – a brilliantly versatile flatbread that doubles as a tablecloth, a plate, a napkin or a utensil. At Pillars, the injeras are largely used as plates for mouth-watering spicy meat stews – there aren’t many restaurants where you can eat your plate if you’re still hungry so it’s definitely worth a visit!
Dubai was around long before oil was struck in the 1960s, which gradually transformed it from a humble port into the business hub that it is today. A stroll through Bastakiya - one of the oldest parts of Dubai – is totally free. Bastakiya is home to The Al Fahidi Fort, which is the oldest existing building in Dubai. It’s also home of the Dubai museum, which showcases Dubai’s past. Entrance is a real bargain at just Dhs3 (50p).
Another great-value way to spend a morning in Dubai is at the Jumeirah Mosque - a striking landmark from afar and just as impressive inside. This is the only mosque in Dubai open to the public and non-Muslim visitors are welcomed. Tours are just Dhs10 (£1.66) for adults, with kids allowed in free. Tours run from 10am – 11.15 am on Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Soaking up the sun costs nothing, as long as you stick to public beaches of course. Jumeirah Open Beach (formerly known as Russian Beach) was Dubai’s original beach and is still completely free. There’s a 1.8km running track in case you feel like a challenging jog – and 24-hour refreshment stands for afterwards.
Sporty types might prefer Kitesurfing Beach next to the World Project Office which is a popular jaunt for football players and – as the name suggest – kitesurfers.
If we’ve persuaded you that Dubai isn’t just for the mega-rich, check out our flight deals with leading airlines and our discounted holiday packages. Book online or call one of our expert travel agents on 020 8944 4555.