Burj Khalia at night lit up in Downtown Dubai

5 Tips For Exploring Dubai on the Cheap

by Dubai Travel Planner

Travelling to the Gulf is assumed to be very expensive, a trip perhaps you can only dream about if you’re on a budget. Maybe it’s not what many people think, of course, budget travellers can visit Dubai as well.

All it takes is a pre-planned process and understanding how to avoid unexpected costs. Starting from the booking of flights and how much luggage you take, through to landing back home.

Everything should be prepared beforehand in order to maintain your budget. You can start taking your first step by going for a flydubai booking. And secondly, you can choose to travel light and not overstuff your suitcases so you do not find yourself needing to pay for extra weight allowance on your luggage.

As for exploring Dubai within your budget, here are some tips to get you started:

Best time to Travel to Dubai

As discussed above, the first step is going to be booking great value flights. Although you can choose the best value airlines, the time of year you choose to visit Dubai is also crucial.

In Dubai, every season comes with its own festivals and events. Dubai is a Muslim country where there are many religious observances including Ramadan and Eid. Travelling around any peak festival or holiday period will always cost more.

If you are watching your dirhams, you really need to carefully plan the time of year you are travelling and be flexible. This tip will help you avail discounts and scoop up the lowest prices. Let’s say you are looking to travel to Dubai for New Year’s– it is bound to be crowded, hotels will increase their prices and flights will be more expensive – it’s a very popular time of the year. Consider visiting in the hotter months with fewer crowds and when kids are not on school holidays.

You can find a great guide to Dubai’s upcoming public holidays here.

City skyline view of Dubai Marina

Food in Dubai

Here comes the most concerning question, but one of our favourites too; Food! Dubai is a hub of diverse people and cultures. This includes the food cuisines of different origins that have become part of the Emirati culture too, as well as foreign cuisines. Due to the city being such a foody hub, burgeoning with celebrity chefs and signature restaurants, it’s assumed that food in Dubai may be expensive.

Well, it’s true! 5-star cuisine and service in Dubai can be on the pricey side but you can still enjoy the taste of extraordinary food in suburban neighbourhoods and in food courts. Food in Dubai can still come in at an affordable rate and in decent size servings so shouldn’t put too big a dent in your travel budget.

Seeking Out the Best Dubai Souks - Traditional & Modern Shopping in Dubai

Accommodation in Dubai

Here is one of the tips that you may have never heard before. As in all Gulf states, it is quite a fact that Arab people are very straightforward and a bit strict when it comes to giving accommodation (hotel) reviews. So choosing a 5-star hotel with more than 7 stars in its review is kind of “basic” for their services.

Mind please that it is just because of the way Arabs see it. For budget travellers, you can still look for hotels with a rating of 6-7/10 as they provide quite comfortable places for your stay within your budget. Plus, if you still want to go for something less expensive you can go for Airbnbs or guesthouses. This option can save you quite a lot of money. Just look for accommodation that places you conveniently near to the Metro!

You can find our favourite area to stay in Dubai on a budget here!

Have a daily travel itinerary

If you really want to save money but still have time to enjoy the spectacular sites of Dubai, pre-plan your day’s itinerary the night before. Work out what locations are close to each other so you do not need to pay for needless taxis or incur extra charges.

It’s a good idea to pick up a Silver Nol Card if you will be in the city for a few days and plan your movements around public transport routes. Some hotels may even offer free shuttles to the beach or other popular attractions which will save you needing to pay more.

Metro Train Dubai Airport

It’s important to know in advance what buildings and attractions are free to explore and where you may need to pay an entry fee. And check opening times too so you are not needlessly hanging around and tempted to spend more money than you planned!

You can find our complete guide of things to do for free in Dubai here.

Sightseeing in Dubai

Dubai is quite famous for its sky-reaching buildings and modern sites. It is a fact that many places have tickets and entry fees, but many don’t. It is quite a plus point for many budget travellers that they can actually visit several places in Dubai without spending a single dirham.

Here are two of the most popular places in Dubai which you can actually visit for free!

Dubai Mall

Dubai Mall is one of the city’s giant malls (one of the largest in the world) and you will be amazed by looking at it. It is free to explore both inside and out and you don’t have to pay for anything unless you buy something. There is far more to Dubai Mall than just shopping; you can easily fill a full day here with free attractions and in the evening enjoy the free fountain show at the foot of the Burj Khalifa.

Dubai mall Fountain show at night


For budget travellers, this is the best way to enjoy your time in Dubai for free! A sunbath and splash in the water at one of Dubai’s many free public beaches can be really good fun and the plus point is that you don’t have to pay for anything. Just don’t forget to pack your sunscreen!

What to Pack for Dubai: Ultimate Dubai Packing List

We hope this has inspired you that a trip to Dubai need not be expensive. Plan carefully, choose the right time of year and know the top attractions you want to see to make the most of your trip to Dubai on a budget.

Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai


Take me back to the Dubai Travel Blog for more travel tips!

Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE and transit passengers self plan their trip, we cannot book your flights, hotels, visas or connections for you. We may make a small commission if you click on any of our recommendation links.

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