Dubai + budget are two words that usually don’t go together but it is possible. Here’s how…
Earlier this summer an opportunity to go to Dubai came up which we couldn’t refuse. But seeing as it was all arranged last minute we hadn’t had the time to save for your typical luxurious Dubai break.
But we bit the bullet and decided to go anyway and found out that Dubai on a budget is possible and it is totally a misconception that Dubai is expensive and unaffordable. Sure, it can be expensive (try £10 for a pint of strongbow or £18 for an Aperol Spritz) but so can any other city in the world.
So it may be a luxury playground for the rich and famous, but here are a few ways you can go to Dubai without breaking the bank…
1. Stay in an Air B&B
We stayed at this Air B&B in JBR which was one of the cheapest in the area. It had everything we needed including a kitchen so we could cook if we didn’t want to eat out, a balcony to chill out on plus a communal pool. This meant we could relax and chill by the pool and soak up the sun without spending a penny.
JBR was such a great place to stay. Our apartment was right by the beach and had a great selection of shops (including Sephora!) and restaurants such as The Cheesecake Factory, Godiva, P.F. Chang’s, Real Madrid Cafe, and SushiArt.
2. Visit the Old Dubai
Dubai isn’t all skyscrapers and 7-star hotels, there is actually an Old town and it is well worth a visit. It’s like you’ve stepped into a completely different place!
You can ride an Abra (pictured above) across the creek for around 20p one way. Leave behind the glitz and glam and experience the real Dubai and it’s wonderful culture.
3. Go to The Cheesecake Factory
There’s plenty of US food joints across Dubai but The Cheesecake Factory had to be a favourite, it was so good we went there twice in 2 days! The soft drinks cost about £4, they are huge and you get unlimited refills. The main courses are American sizes so we could hardly finish them and wished we had got one dish to share. We had to try the cheesecake (as that’s what we had gone there for!) so we ordered one to share which was still too much so we took it away with us. You can eat and drink for about £20 per person and still leave with a bag of leftover cheesecake for later!
My blurry phone photo of my Cheesecake wasn’t good enough quality for this post so here’s my smiley face showing how I felt after all the cheesecake I ate in Dubai…
4. Ride the Metro
At the start of our trip we got taxis everywhere as Dubai is HUGE. Somewhere that looked close on the map in reality was a 45 minute drive or over an hour on public transport. So when we were in a rush we would just hail down a taxi. Uber seemed to be more expensive than taxis on the street (although the helicopter Uber was tempting…) and we sometimes used the app Careem which is very similar to Uber.
But half way through the trip we realised how cheap the metro was and took it everywhere. We ended up getting a Careem to the closest metro and then metro straight to the airport on our way back which only cost a few pounds each compared to a £40-50 taxi.
5. Go to a Bottomless Brunch
Before we left for Dubai we booked brunch at the Pullman Dubai Creek City Centre hotel for £50 each which included 4 hours of bottomless food, wine, beer and spirits. But after some browsing we found a Groupon voucher for the exact same brunch for £25 each! It’s really worth checking Groupon before you go for offers.
The brunch spreads are fantastic and it’s unlimited alcohol for at least 2.5 hours so basically my dream come true.
6. Visit the Malls
The malls are absolutely amazing and you can visit without spending a penny – this shopaholic did (somehow!). It took us hours to walk around fascinated by the stores, the aquarium, the ski slopes, the roller coaster…the list is endless!!
The second time we went to the mall was after bottomless brunch (aka after a few wines) so I bought a lipstick in Sephora. So this can be done on a budget, if you don’t go after brunch like I did.
7. See the Fountains
We didn’t go up the Burj Khalifa during our trip so instead we admired it from the ground whilst watching the incredible dancing fountains which doesn’t cost a thing! Plus Dubai looks incredible at night so it’s wonderful just wandering around. It’s a lot cooler in the evening so it is one of the best times to explore.
8. Go to Wild Wadi Waterpark (at the right time!)
We went to Wild Wadi for the last 4 hours it was open and got a much cheaper entry free. The fee also included food and a drink so we didn’t have to worry about spending extra on lunch that day.
I was totally amazed by the Snow Cones. I was living the American foodie dream in Dubai.
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9. Free drinks!
We missed Ladies’ Night as the majority are held on a Tuesday and we arrived late on Tuesday night and left early the next Tuesday. Ladies’ Nights are where the ladies drink for free and apparently Gents nights are starting to become a thing too. Apparently there are some which are on different days of the week and not just Tuesdays but sadly we didn’t make it to one. But it’s on my to do list for next time!
(Outfit: Top – Dolls Kill, Trousers – Pretty Little Thing, Sandals – c/o Just Fab)
10. Save those pennies…
So you can splurge on a luxurious evening or two for a taste of the lavish Dubai lifestyle.
I highly recommend an evening at Dokuz rooftop bar at Fairmont Dubai, it was by far my favourite place we went to during our trip. The rooftop bar was just so magical! The pool in the centre was absolutely stunning and we were able to sip on amazing cocktails and fine wine whilst admiring the breathtaking views of the city. We also dined in the dark at Noire at Fairmont which was so dreamy – an experience you have to have when in Dubai! You can see my post here.
For another top dining experience I would highly recommend a visit to Sea Fu at the Four Seasons (see my review here) for unbelievable Asian cuisine in the most stunning surroundings. Four Seasons is a truly beautiful resort and so tranquil. It’s really worth splashing out for a luxurious lunch here.
Dubai was never on the top of my travel list although many people told me it should be! But I would now say Dubai is on of my favourite places I’ve been to and I’m so desperate to go back already.