Dubai may be best known as the land of luxury, but you don’t need a hand of Midas to visit it. Here’s how to have a good time in the city without breaking the bank.

Use public transportation

Dubai’s not the easiest city to walk around, especially if you are visiting in the summer months. But private transportation (like car rentals, taxis, Ubers etc) can cost a pretty penny, so buy a Nol card and make use of Dubai’s great public transport system instead.

Plan your trip around the the Dubai Metro, which connects the city all the way from Jebel Ali to the Sharjah border. Pick a hotel that is close to a station, get a Nol card and start exploring! The Nol cards can be used for most other public transport in Dubai as well, including the tram, buses and even water taxis.

Shop smart

Let’s face it, Dubai’s all about the shopping! That may seem at odds with your shoestring budget, but it doesn’t have to be. You just need to know where to shop, and what to buy. Malls such as Dubai Mall or Mall of the Emirates generally offer high end expensive products, so do your window shopping here and do the real shopping at outlet malls. You’ll find substantially discounted bags, shoes, clothing and accessories at stores like Brands for Less.

Places like Meena Bazaar and the Dubai Gold souk are great for hagglers. Bargain well and you’ll find yourself in possession of a variety of spices, gold, souvenirs, perfumes and clothing for an unbelievable price.

See the sights

There’s plenty to do and see in Dubai, and not all of it requires some serious dough. Like the Dubai Museum, for example. Entry tickets cost about as much as a Snickers bar (AED 3 for adults, AED 1 for children), and there are free guided tours available, teaching you about the origins of one of the world’s most exotic cities.

Then there’s Dubai’s various beaches. Sunny weather all-year round means there’s never a wrong time to hang out at the beach, and they’re mostly all free. Take a quick dip, snack on a delicious ice cream or simply sunbathe while reading your favourite book.

Don’t skip the malls, though. There are tonnes of attractions you can see for free, like the large aquarium in Dubai mall or the roaming entertainment that happens during the city’s many festivals.

Grab a grub

You’ll be hard pressed to find as many restaurants and such a large variety of cuisines in any other city in the world. Most popular areas will have a restaurant at every corner, and even the most isolated of places will have, at the very least, a cafeteria.
Shawarmas are considered street food here, and are as delicious as they are cheap. Falafels, your little deep-fried companions as you explore the streets of Dubai, will cost you only 50 fils a piece. And if you’re looking for something with a little more zing, inexpensive and delicious Indian and Pakistani food is not hard to find either.

Find cheaper accommodation

Hotels are a dime a dozen in Dubai. There are accommodations for every price range available in almost every part of the city, ranging from world-famous, 7-star luxury hotels to the much more reasonably-priced 3-star hotels and hotel apartments.

If you’re looking for a hotel in a central location with good access to the metro, you can’t go wrong with Al Barsha. Close to attractions like Mall of the Emirates and the Burj Al Arab, the area is full of hotels and hotel apartments, and has even earned the moniker ‘hotel city’.

Deira is another hotspot for hotels. Located right in the heart of old Dubai, Deira is bustling with energy. You’ll find dirt-cheap accommodations here, with rooms as low as 15$ a night. Don’t expect much from them, and they won’t disappoint.

For more information about buying and renting properties in the UAE, visit

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