How to Visit Dubai on a Budget?

With its luxury hotels, fancy restaurants, and world-class attractions, Dubai certainly has a reputation for being expensive. But Dubai isn’t strictly for the rich and famous; there are ways in which travelers on a budget can make their way to the city and still have a fulfilling and memorable trip.

Here, we share a guide on how you can visit Dubai on a budget. 

Find cheap flights and hotels

The first thing you would need to take care of is securing a budget airline and hotel for your Dubai trip. A simple search on a travel website such as Wego will show you numerous airlines offering cheap flight tickets departing from Saudi Arabia.

We recommend flydubai for your Dubai trip since it provides direct and indirect flights from cities in Saudi Arabia. Daily direct flights from Riyadh, Jeddah, and Madinah are available while connecting flights to Dubai are available from cities such as Al Ula, Yanbu, Ta’if, Abha, along with numerous others. 

For your return trip, Air Arabia is a viable choice as it offers tickets from Dubai to cities in Saudi Arabia such as Riyadh and Jeddah at affordable prices.   

As for your accommodation, you can also search for discounts and deals for Dubai hotels. Cheap hotels are aplenty in Dubai if you know where to look. Mostly, you can find these affordable hotels in Dubai’s old districts such as Bur Dubai and Deira. Some cheaper hotel rooms are even equipped with a small kitchenette to help you manage the costs.

Find things that are free to do in Dubai

At first glance, everything is glamorous and expensive in Dubai. While that’s true, there are still plenty of activities you can partake in where it won’t cost you a single dirham (or at least almost free). 

Dubai has numerous museums that can you visit for free. Some of the most frequented ones are the Coffee Museum, Coin Museum, and the Traditional Architecture Museum. 

There are also beaches that you can visit for free in Dubai. These free-entry beaches include Al Mamzar beach, Kote Beach, JBR Beach, Palm West Beach and many others. These beaches also offer fun activities that don’t require admission fees such as beach volleyball, cycling, running, and surfing.

You can also opt to explore the Dubai Mall and marvel at the Burj Khalifa during the night. You can enjoy the atmosphere and lights of the fountain show that occurs on Lake Burj just outside Dubai Mall.

Finally, exploring old Dubai is both illuminating and free. You can wander through the Al Fahidi historic district and get a feel of what the city was like before the influx of petrodollars changed Dubai into the premier destination we know and love today.

Forgo high-end restaurants

Avoid eating at fancy restaurants or even at your hotel’s restaurants for that matter as you’ll be subjected to higher taxes. Instead, we recommend exploring the many small eateries and shops featuring a wide range of international dishes thanks to Dubai’s cosmopolitan nature. 

It’s also a good idea to eat at food courts in shopping malls where you can find dozens of international fast food outlets with competitive prices. Aside from fast food outlets, food courts usually offer a wide variety of cuisines from local and small vendors serving anything from Indian to Lebanese cuisine at affordable prices.

Another option is to visit supermarkets or convenience stores as they typically sell a wide variety of takeout meals. You can choose the ones that tickle your fancy and visit the many public parks in Dubai to have a picnic there with your travel mates. 

There’s also the option of cooking for yourself. As mentioned, some budget hotels do offer kitchenettes allowing guests to buy their groceries and prepare their own meals. You’ll have no trouble shopping for ingredients and fresh produce at the supermarket or at the local souq.

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Steve has been living in Saudi Arabia since 2013 and writing about Saudi rules, regulations, guides, and procedures since then.