I have been working in Dubai for over 2 years now but I never had the time to go around and visit the city thoroughly. I’ve always wanted to visit the UAE attractions since I came to Dubai; I had a few things in mind that I wanted to do as soon as I get to Dubai apart from looking for a job. Going on the desert safari, eating a fancy brunch, going on top of Burj Khalifa, visiting Atlantis, visiting the Zabeel park were just a few. However, when I finally landed in Dubai, I realized that Dubai is definitely a luxurious tourist attraction. It can be very expensive and can be fairly over the budget a lot of the times.
Dubai has the reputation of being the rich man’s playground as people here define lavish lifestyles for the rest of the world. A lot of people are hesitant of coming to Dubai as they think that Dubai is too expensive. However, it depends on the tourists and people themselves can make it as expensive or as cheap as they want. I guess this applies to all other cities and countries as well. I so badly wanted to visit Atlantis and spend a night there as well as go At the Top-Burj Khalifa but since I was traveling on a budget, I decided to avoid them. Luckily, while I was in Dubai I found out that I could live and enjoy myself in Dubai for as low as a few dollars. There were days when I spent as low as $4 to $6 per day without breaking my wallet.
So what kind of a tourist are you? Dubai is an experience in itself and it has a lot of fun places for you to visit on a budget. Are you a nature lover or do you enjoy a cultural stroll or are you someone who loves beaches or water, in general, there is something for everyone in Dubai without wearing out your wallet! Listed below are a few things that you can do in Dubai while on a budget;
If you are the outdoorsy type them you should give Zabeel Park a try. Zabeel Park is one of the largest parks in Dubai and is located between Al-Karama and the World Trade Center. Zabeel Park offers many recreational activities such as housing a children’s amusement complex, a 3D cinema, and an edutainment center. There are many open spaces throughout the park as well as an adventure playground, boat rides, ice skating, children’s party and activity rooms, amphitheaters, covered areas for barbeques and picnics, jogging tracks, BMX track, techno zone and many more. The best part is that Wi-Fi connectivity is available throughout the park. The entry fee for this park is a mere Dh 5 per person.
Almost everyone I know who has traveled to Dubai has at one time or another experienced Dubai’s Desert Safari and yes it was definitely on my to-do list as well. Dubai Desert Safari packages vary in price though affordable options are also available and can start for as little as AED 100 including overnight camping, dune-bashing on 4WD jeeps, camel riding, quad biking safari, belly dancing and dinner under the stars. In short, while in Dubai, Desert Safari is one of the must things that you should definitely do and experience.
Dubai has many public beaches where tourists and the local residents can go to for free. JBR beach is an all-time favorite for the residents- if you want a good spot with plenty of sunshine be sure to get there before 4pm, especially during the weekends or else all the best spots would be gone. Another famous beach that you should visit is the Kite beach. This beach gets its name from the large number of kite-flyers who visit this beach frequently. It is also dotted with lots of small hip cafes and food trucks. This beach is one of the busiest beaches in Dubai, however if you want to avoid the crowds and simply chill then try the Al Sufouh beach, also known as the Black Palace beach. This place is little hard to find but once you are there, you can enjoy its peaceful waters, serenity and the beautiful view.
While I was job searching in Dubai, I had quite some time to search for cheap eateries and I came across the Al Karama neighborhood where the locals are mostly Indians. This neighborhood has a lot of cheap, pocket-friendly restaurants where I was able to enjoy different cuisines on a budget. Some things that I tried were Idli for breakfast which costs just AED 4, the breakfast platter costs around AED 15 and while being so delicious and filling, it is even a healthy breakfast choice. Lunch and dinner was an Indian Thali which was for about AED 17 and had 4 to 5 small portions of veg and non-veg curry, a portion of rice and a sweet dish. Chicken biryani costs around AED 24 and the one person serving is enough for two persons. However, if you are a person who loves Arabic food then do as the locals do and visit the 2nd of December Street for some budget-friendly food. Cuisines from all over the world are available here- chicken shawarmas from Al Mallah are just too amazing. Per person servings here costs approximately AED 15 and do not forget to bring cash as many cafes and stalls do not except card.
Then there’s Deira which is famous for its traditional souks such as the Deira Gold Souk and the Deira Spice Souk. It is packed with shoppers throughout the day. At Deira Spice Souk, you can simply roam around and enjoy the hustle. Furthermore, you should definetly visit Gold Souk, the largest gold market in the world, even if you don’t intend on buying anything.
Other places that you can visit while on a budget include the Jumeirah Mosque which is one of the largest and most beautiful mosques in Dubai, Etihad Museum where you can discover how UAE was formed, Dubai Water Canal which offers one of the best views of the city and the Dubai Fountain where you can enjoy the world’s tallest dancing water fountain at night. While Dubai does boast of an extravagant lifestyle, it still offers enough for the budget travellers.