Dubai is a city that takes many guises; it’s the Middle East’s shopping capital, the city of gold, and of course, the city of unmatched architectural gems and engineering marvels.
While entry rates to the region’s most iconic landmarks may be exorbitant and deluxe accommodation/dining can set you back quite a fortune, the good news is that Dubai is still budget-friendly.
So if you’re looking for things to do in Dubai on a budget, don’t look further; this post is just for you.
Visit Dubai Mall to admire Dubai’s best attractions & experiences for free
Right in the heart of Downtown Dubai and next to Burj Khalifa, the colossal Dubai Mall is the world’s biggest mall with over 1200 outlets. The entry here is free and you absolutely have to pay nothing unless you plan to shop, dine, or take part in its leisure attractions or activities.
The best thing is that you’ll get to see the part of the massive Dubai Aquarium for free, which allows you to take in several diverse marine creatures like rays, sharks etc. Moreover, you can take pictures against the stunning Human Waterfalls, catch up with Dubai Dino – the 155-year-old dinosaur skeleton, and get the best views from the Apple Store.
See Burj Khalifa
Whether you’re traveling to Dubai on a budget or not, don’t miss this structure which is also the tallest of its kind in the world at a height of 828 meters. Its observation decks on 124th and 148th treat your eyes with the most stunning cityscape views.
Now if you don’t have any plans to spend money for Burj Khalifa entry, you can still watch it from outside and even take some amazing pictures against its larger-than-life backdrop.
Watch Dubai fountain show for free
The Dubai Fountain is set on Burj Lake which is outside of Dubai Mall and adjacent to Burj Khalifa. It takes your breath away with its captivatingly choreographed water and light show wherein the water is sprayed out in tune to classic Arabic, western or Bollywood numbers. It’s played every 30 minutes after 18:00 hrs and the most exciting part is that you can watch it for free.
Just try to find a convenient spot to watch this fantastic show in its entire splendor.
Spend only AED 3 to revisit Dubai’s past & the oldest structure
Yes, it costs almost nothing to experience Dubai’s intriguing past and ancient lifestyle at Dubai Museum. Besides its mix of life-size dioramas, ancient Bedouin art objects and intriguing archeological remnants, the museum structure itself is special as it’s housed inside Dubai’s oldest building at Al Fahidi Fort, dating back to the 18th century.
Nosh on cheap yet scrumptious food
Dubai is a true culinary haven, but most people think that it’s for affluent only. The reality is that it caters to every taste bud and pocket. There are some decent dining venues across Bur Dubai, Deira etc. where you can dine for less. You can further rely on cafes / small food joints across the city for the popular Arabic street foods such as falafel and shawarma; they won’t cost you more than AED 6 and also make some great foods to eat on the go.
If you’re in the Downtown area, the sprawling food court within the Dubai Mall has something for every budget. Now for those visiting Palm Jumeirah or Atlantis Aquaventure, one of our top recommendations is to head to the dining options across the 11-kilometer-long Boardwalk. They are super affordable and include food trucks, cafes, kiosks etc.
Related Content: 10 of the Best Street Foods Around the World
Enlighten yourself about the Islamic religion and Emirati culture at just AED 25
It’s known to all that Dubai forms part of an Islamic nation. You can get an authentic and detailed account of the Emirati culture and traditions which are largely inspired by its religion at Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Centre for Cultural Understanding. It’s placed in one of the charming old, wind tower structures at the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood.
True to its unique motto, Open Doors, Open Minds, it’s the place where you can strike an open conversation with a knowledgeable Emirati and clear doubt or ask any question about the region’s culture and religion. You’ll also get to enjoy a traditional Emirati breakfast, lunch or dinner as part of this unique program. And all you’ve to pay for this is just AED 25!
Discover Dubai’s souks
Dubai is home to 70 plus massive malls and also an epicenter of haute couture and luxury brands. So it goes without saying that shopping in Dubai is more than just a pastime activity. While this is true, shopping in the city is really not expensive.
Haggling may not be allowed in malls and luxury stores, but you can bargain to your heart’s content at the region’s traditional bazaars, also known as souks. There is perfume souk, textile souk, spice souk, and most importantly, the gold souk where the entire streets are packed with shops selling jewelry made from precious metals like gold, platinum, and silver.
Hang out at Dubai’s beaches and parks for free
Don’t overlook Dubai as a desert city studded with some architectural markets. It has its fair share of green park spaces and spotless public beaches where you can go on a picnic and enjoy a laid-back afternoon or evening. Most of them come with children’s play areas and also offer BBQ facilities as well as food and beverage outlets. This includes:
- Zabeel Park: This vast park is not only noteworthy for its picnic areas, jogging track and botanical areas, but also for the attractions it holds, such as the Dubai Frame and Dubai Garden Glow.
- Safa Park: Filled with trees, lakes, and spongy running track that extend for about 4 kilometers, it’s one of Dubai’s most visited parks.
- Creek Park: It boasts a strategic yet serene spot along the Dubai Creek’s edge. Besides its verdant lawns, botanical gardens and kids’ rides, the parks offers cable car rides and also houses Dubai Dolphinarium, one of Dubai’s best family attractions.
- Mushrif Park: This enormous park with over 70,000 trees promises you a cool retreat from Dubai’s glistening sights. Apart from all standard park facilities, it has a World Village with the models of houses from different parts of the world.
- Al Mamzar Beach Park: This beautifully manicured park provides access to four beaches, along with access to basketball courts, volleyball play area, and well laid-out bicycle path.
Go on a dhow cruise
One of the most authentic ways to experience Dubai’s fascinating culture and traditions is via taking a dhow cruise which allows you to sightsee from water and enjoy fine dining and entertainment onboard. It takes place at the glamorous Dubai Marina or the historic Dubai Creek. Moreover, your dhow cruise creek experience offers the flexibility to choose from diverse packages that suit your budget and preferences.
Enjoy an abra ride for just AED 1
A Dubai trip remains incomplete without taking in the historic Dubai Creek. The above-mentioned dhow cruise is one option. If you’re looking for a cost-effective alternative, then hop on to a wooden abra which sails you down the heart of Dubai’s historic part for just AED 1. It’s a classic experience which you shouldn’t miss in Dubai.
Sip happy hour drinks & cocktails
Don’t want to hit Dubai’s bars or relish drinks because it’s super expensive? Then be prepared to save tons on your favorite drinks with the Happy Hour wherein a licensed Dubai bar, restaurant or night club sells beverages or cocktails at incredibly low rates for a few hours.
What we mentioned above are just a few of the budget-friendly things to do in Dubai. You can further watch free events at Alserkal Avenue, enjoy free live entertainment and even set out to spot flamingos at Ras Al Khor Bird Sanctuary. So don’t put off your Dubai holiday thinking that it will make a dent in your wallet. A bit of research and some wise choices will help you to enjoy an amazing yet affordable holiday in Dubai.
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Guest Post: Neha Singh of http://www.dubaiwikia.com/ is a post-graduate in Mass Communications who loves to write about her travel experiences. In her spare time, she loves listening to music and plans her next travel adventure.