When saying a vacation in Dubai one thinks of the luxurious hotels, hidden treasures and Arabian nights. All true but there is another option for those of us that travel on a tight budget or would like to keep the trip in a defined budget frame.
The best and cheapest way to get around the Dubai city is by using the public bus network (RTA – road and transport authority) which is very efficient. When staying for several days and planning on moving around, we advise to buy a NOL ticket which covers buses, Metro and other means of transportation (according to zones). In order to maximize the benefits of the NOL card we strongly advise to read the instructions at the RTA site carefully as there are time and zone restrictions.
Dubai is an ultra-modern city and local laws do not allow camping or sleeping on the beach or anywhere else. Do not try that or you will be subjected to legal actions and fines.
If thinking of sleeping outside the city. In the dessert, well…… forget that too.
Not all hotels are expensive and by looking on the net you can find relatively cheap hotels. A cheaper option is hostels, once again plenty online.
The best advice we can give here is stick to the locals. Wherever they eat, join the queue. Local Shawarma stands sell a full meal in a Pita bread stuffed with meat and salads for a ridicules price. If you are looking for something more familiar, look for fast food chains you might recognize. In general stay away from hotels and fancy restaurants. In shopping malls you can always find a big variety but the cheapest (and some would argue – the tastiest) are on the street. We can say that the food line in your budget is probably the most economic.
Now here is a problem. Dubai is a tourist oriented city and there are no free rides BUT you can find cheap or free activities here and there.
Go to the long and sandy beach. It is free and the sky line is amazing.
You can go window shopping at the big and extravagant malls.
You can go visit the Dubai museum or take a boat (ABRA) ride – both very cheap.
The visit to the camel museum is for free and so is the fountain show every night next to the
In order to have a look at ridiculously expensive cars you can take a nice evening stroll next to the Dubai marina.
A special adventure awaits you if you want to visit the gold and spices market.
Even though you are on tight budget, a tour to the big markets in a must. Here you will find local goods as well as Chinese made ones.
Remember, once deciding to buy a souvenir of any kind, Bargaining is a MUST. You are expected to bargain and usually prices will drop by many percent’s if you master the art. But don’t worry, even if you think you cannot handle it, play along, you are expected to.
A trip to Dubai does not have to be an expensive one. There are a lot of things to do and see, free of charge.