Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, is a city known around the world for its lavishness. However, serious savings are possible in this opulent city. You just need to know the experts. Here’s what our sources had to say about seeing this Middle Eastern city on a shoestring.
Accommodation: The folks at Hostel Bookers know how to keep it cheap. For less than 70 bucks per night, you can stay at the traditionally decorated Orient Guest House in the historic Bastakiya area and be within walking distance of Meena Bazaar and Dubai Creek. Rooms at the Admiral Plaza Hotel on Al Nahda Street come with access to a spa, fitness center and pool for $49 per night.
Food: Sean Banville, founder of Breaking News English, a lesson plan website for English language learners, visits Dubai frequently. His top tip? Check out the Indian eateries frequented by the country’s Dubai-based workers. Banville routinely scores $3 plates of assorted curries with sideline snacks of samosas for 30 cents. Tea? It’s 25 cents per cup!
Lara Dunston and Terrance Carter of Gran Tourismo Travels recommend the Dubai Creek area for enjoying Dubai’s cultural heritage on a budget. For free, you can visit the Shindagha – the city’s first settlement – to explore the area’s fishing and pearl diving history. Drop a couple of bucks to take in the Dubai Museum, and stroll the area to see elegant, restored wind tower residences, shop the Bur Dubai Souk and catch a view of the Grand Mosque. For a culinary splurge in this part of town, Dunston and Carter love Kan Zaman, an alfresco Arabic eatery. Mezza, fresh juice and a Middle Eastern entrée rounded off with a strawberry sheesha – an Arabic water pipe – will sink you 20 bucks tops. This is divine at night, when the view of the creek is enhanced by countless white lights, according to Dunston.
The Dubai Metro goes right by the airport. So if your hotel’s along its route, you can easily skip the taxi cab fees and cruise to your destination at a fraction of the cost. Jazeera Airways offers budget flights to Dubai from numerous cities around the Middle East. I’ve seen tickets from Kuwait City for less than 8 Kuwaiti Dinar (roughly $29).
Dubai is easily accessible from other countries popular with travelers to the region. For example, if you have been traveling in Jordan and enjoying the rustic natural and archaeological venues that country has to offer, hopping a flight to Dubai afterwards for a big-city weekend getaway might seem like an attractive idea before heading home to North America, for example. With so many ways to pay less on the basics while you’re there, any shopping goals you have can be more easily worked into your budget.