Nomadic life across the world is fun, interesting, and exciting. Rest assured, it is everything but boring. While traveling liberates you from the inside, it also helps you adjust to every possible situation. I have lived in extreme conditions in Cambodia and therefore, coming to a luxury city like Dubai was a welcome change.
As I discover more and more about this fantastic city, I want to share with you how much it cost to travel to Dubai, how to make your money last longer and still enjoy all the amazing things to do, and also hidden gems in Dubai.
For those who say Dubai is not a backpacker’s paradise, you are right. It is not a paradise but it certainly is a great place to visit for backpackers even with a shoestring budget. If you’re willing to let go of the enticing luxuries and tempting lures of Dubai, you sure can live in Dubai for cheap and still take a sneak peek into the soul of the Arabian city.
First of all, before talking about how much it cost to travel to Dubai, you need to understand a bit about the city. Dubai is a part of the seven emirates of the UAE and its most popular one. The city receives millions of tourist footfalls every year from all over the world. With only 15% local Emirati population and 85% expats, Dubai has an adorable cosmopolitan culture. But what’s surprising is the fact that the emirate is still firmly connected to its roots and every citizen observes the rules and regulations to be there in peace.
Dubai is regarded as the safest city in the world with a crime rate almost negligible. To all those who don’t believe the notion that the Dubai police travels in fancy cars, well, it is true and the range of fancy cars includes Bentley, Ferrari, Audi R8, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Mercedes Benz, and Brabus to name a few.
How much does it cost to travel to Dubai?
Emirati Dirhams is the currency used in Dubai and 100 AED = $27. Arriving in Dubai is not a very costly affair if you’re not visiting the emirate during the famous Dubai Shopping Festival. However, to book at the best rates, it is better to book in advance. The same works for accommodation in Dubai as well. If you’re looking for economic package tours, I would recommend Rayna tours or GetYourGuide for the best rates.
You can reach Dubai from other neighboring emirates too. Landing at Sharjah instead of Dubai is a much cheaper option as the road distance between the two amazing emirates is hardly 20 kilometers. So, you can save money by booking a flight to Sharjah instead of Dubai directly.
Everything about Dubai is larger than life. The roads, rails, attractions, food, and even warm people. Known for its hospitality, the people of Dubai are eager to help you out and English is fluently spoken everywhere. It’s amazing to see so many different, vibrant people living in one place in peace and harmony.
The city has a major population of Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and other Asians. Most of them are here on employment contracts. I’ve seen Emiratis showing off their pet tigers from their supercars and also the low-wage Asian laborers eating at the street side eateries for less than 4AED.
How much does public transportation cost in Dubai?
Metro rail – Dubai has a super-efficient metro rail system. These driverless metro trains are the fastest and cheapest way to travel the length and breadth of Dubai. To travel in the metro, you need to get an NOI card. You can’t use cash to travel. There are various tickets available. You can take a red ticket and can use it up to 10 trips or 5 day passes at the unbelievable cost of AED1.
Road transport – The taxis are frequent but costlier than buses. The bus transport of Dubai is very convenient. There are many special busses that organize exclusive Dubai tours for the tourists. These tours give you an overview of the best attractions of the city in an economical way. The buses mainly serve low-income groups and are well maintained, clean, and air-conditioned. The average cost is 2AED per ride with a prepaid NOI card, but the buses can be a bit slow, especially during peak traffic hours. Check the website www.rta.ae for more information on bus routes and fares.
Monorail – Connecting the manmade Palm Jumeirah with the Dubai Marina, the Monorail has only 2 stations Gateway towers and Atlantis Aquaventure park and the round trip cost around 25AED.
Abra rides – The oldest mode of transport on the Dubai creek connecting Bur Dubai with Deira, an Abra ride is a must-try as it is super fun and cost you just 1Dhs to enjoy this historical ride. If you want to charter an Abra, the cost would be Dhs100.
How much is the cost of accommodation in Dubai?
Living in Dubai is a matter of choice. From the epitome of luxury to economic choices, Dubai has a huge range of budget options. Finding dormitories is a bit difficult. Youth hostels are the next best option for the ones with a shoestring budget but that too is limited. Hotels in Dubai start from as low as $25 per night. If traveling in Dubai metro isn’t an issue, then you have the liberty to choose the hotels far from the main city as well. They come at a far cheaper price than the ones in the heart of the city.
The urban accommodation in Dubai has no upper limit. The city boasts of the world’s most luxurious hotel- the Burj Al Arab where per night cost is a minimum of $24000. A regular urban hotel room cost somewhere around $35 -$50 per night which will have Wi-Fi, comfortable AC room with toiletries. Recreational amenities like swimming pool and gym etc. may not be accessible depending upon the hotel policies.
Residence & Spa at One&Only Royal Mirage Dubai is one of the best hotels in Dubai with rates starting at USD 484/night for a double room.
Raffles Dubai offers great value for money, rooms from USD 188/night.
A more affordable option is The H hotel with rates starting at USD 77/night.
How much does food cost in Dubai?
You have to be a foodie and ready to eat everything (I mean eatable street food) if you want to save BIG on your food cost. Dubai as a city has impeccable food choices and almost every famous cuisine in the world is available here like Japanese, Indian, Chinese, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Arabian, Emirati, Portuguese, European, Thai, and the list goes on.
Dubai has a colossal range of restaurants and eateries catering to all pocket sizes. While Sheikh Zayed Road and Dubai Marina area cater to the fine diners, areas like Al Satwa, Al Karama, and Deira are the hub of economic eateries and street food joints.
The average price of a full meal in an economical eatery will be somewhere around $4- $9. Fast food and local delicacies like Hummus and Shawarma sandwiches cost around $1- $2.
Food tips in Dubai:
- Dubai is pretty safe when it comes to food hygiene and quality but still, you must look around the stall carefully for its cleanliness if you’re having food on a roadside eatery.
- The water in Dubai is regarded as safe to drink by WHO standards. So no need to buy costly mineral water bottles. You can drink water directly from the tap and not fall sick.
- Tipping waiters is an option and not mandatory. It is majorly applicable to fine dining where tipping goes up to 10-20% of the bill.
How much will you spend on attractions in Dubai?
Dubai is an out-and-out tourist city there are many incredible things to do in Dubai. Every attraction is made to please its visitors. A benchmark city for the world, Dubai is a live example of intelligent channelization of resources.
How else would you describe the world entertainment hub that was nothing more than a small Bedouin fishing village just 4 decades back?
The world’s tallest building Burj Khalifa (three times taller than the Eiffel Tower in Paris…. that’s a lot of height:) ), the world’s biggest themed water fountain, the world’s largest natural flower garden, and so many more attractions are world-renowned and truly magnificent. Most of these attractions are inexpensive in fact, free. A few attractions that need you to shell out a few bucks are worth every penny. The Dubai Pass is a great option to save money, you can choose packages of 3 to 7 attractions such as Burj Khalifa, Aquaventure Aquapark and the hop-on-hop-off bus.
Burj Khalifa observation deck on 124th floor and 148th floor, tickets range from $35- $40. If you want a smoother experience you can book the Burj Khalifa skip-the-line ticket for $145 and get access to the three levels of the building.
Dubai Miracle Garden – the world’s biggest natural flower garden with over 45 million flowers arranged in adorable shapes and designs is a must-visit. The skip-the-line tickets to the garden are $25.
Dubai Museum – one of the best museums in the Middle East. Once you visit the museum, relating to the city becomes easier. Ticket prices- Just 3AED, yes, less than $1. You can also add the museum to an itinerary through the city and pack a lot of attractions in one experience. Check the best tours in Dubai below:
Attractions like Dubai fountain, the malls of Dubai, and the Dubai Aquarium are free while many others like Dubai Dolphinarium Global Village, Ski Dubai, and more are chargeable but every bit is worth your money.
How much does nightlife cost in Dubai?
For any city to observe a great nightlife, alcohol plays a significant role, but in Dubai, there are several restrictions in consuming alcohol. You need to have a proper license not only to sell alcohol but also to drink it. Yes, Emirati citizens have to obtain a license to buy liquor even to drink in their homes.
The cosmopolitan nature of the city of Dubai makes its nightlife happening in high-end clubs where liquor and dance are in full swing especially on weekends. Special ladies’ nights are also held on Tuesdays. Almost every month some popular DJ performs in these clubs.
Some of the famous clubs and beach party destinations are Club 360, Trilogy, Boudoir, Mahiki, Nasimi Beach and more.
Hands-on tips for a smooth trip to Dubai
- Dubai is very very hot. The desert city can be very punishing during peak summer months even after almost every tourist attraction of the city being air-conditioned. Don’t forget to bring hats, caps, full sleeve clothing, and lots of sunblock creams.
- You need not carry your laptop while traveling in Dubai. With the help of Cloud solutions from CloudDesktopOnline and CloudAppsPortal access your Desktop and online files from anywhere with your favorite device.
- No special immunization is required before coming to Dubai. The entire UAE is pretty safe health-wise.
- Famous cities like Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, and Ras Al Khaimah are just a few hours away from Dubai so make sure you come with bandwidth to enjoy these places too.
- While in Dubai, don’t forget to spend an evening at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre of Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU). The interaction will completely change your outlook towards Islamic culture and religion.
- Dubai visa rules are subject to change but as of now, you can get a visa on arrival for 30 days without any charge. The free visa on arrival rule applies to most countries except a few nations. The list of nations is easily available on the net.
- To save heavy on food without sacrificing your giant appetite, keep an eye on the incredible happy hour meals and eat all you want lunches.
- If you are planning to stay longer check out this 7-day itinerary to Dubai.
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About the Author: Neha Singh
A postgraduate in Mass Communications, Neha loves everything about life and shares her travel experiences on the Dubai Wikia blog. Traveling is extremely close to her heart and writing came to her naturally. An avid trekker & explorer, who often takes off some time from her busy life for mountaineering, she loves meeting new people & gets attached to their culture very easily. Her ambition is to explore as many places as she can in her life. She strongly believes in the Gandhian principle – “simple living high thinking”.