Home to some of the world’s most expensive hotels, Dubai isn’t exactly known as a budget-friendly destination. And if you want to experience all the over-the-top, record-breaking attractions of Dubai – the indoor ski resorts and world’s tallest hotels and biggest shopping malls – you can hardly get by on a backpacker’s budget. But, if culture is more important to you than commerce, you can explore Dubai on much less than you might expect. Here’s how to save on every step of your trip.
Deals on travel to Dubai are few and far between, especially if you are coming from the US. Your best bet is to save a visit to Dubai for when you are already going to be in the Middle East, North Africa or Western Europe as a flight from there will cost much less than direct from the US – and your wallet will thank you for treating a stay in Dubai as a side trip of only a few days, rather than the main event of a two week trip. If you’re set on Dubai though, compare the cost of buying the whole trip on one airline vs. buying tickets to Europe and then on to Dubai. It may cost less to book piecemeal, and you can take a day or two in Europe to break up the long trip.
If you don’t have the salary of an oil baron, don’t even think about staying at one of Dubai’s famously lavish hotels. But that doesn’t mean you’re left with a dingy hostel as your only affordable option. There are actually many mid-range hotels that are clean, basic, conveniently located and only cost $80-$100 per night.
Dining in Dubai is another activity that seems – based on the glossy images of tourists dining in elegant hotel restaurants – to be prohibitively expensive. But back away from the resorts and head to where the locals eat. At unpretentious, family-owned restaurants all over the city, you can find local foods like shwarma for under $2US. You’ll also find casual chains serving Lebanese, Middle Eastern and even Italian food that won’t break the bank.
Though many of Dubai’s attractions are pricey, it doesn’t cost a dime to hit the beach, do some window shopping, or simply wander the streets of this rapidly changing city.
By Katie Hammel of BootsnAll
Download mTrip’s Dubai Travel Guide
Image by: Sakena