There’s a good reason why Dubai is on so many people’s bucket lists. After all, it’s one of very few places in the world where east meets west in one of the most lavish and luxurious settings you’ve ever seen. For any city that aims to go bigger, better, faster or stronger, there’s a very good chance that Dubai will do it all, and at record speed, too.
So many people call Dubai the city of the future. And when you visit for the very first time, you’ll understand why as it does feel like you’ve been transported to a time other than the present. With that being said, many people think that they can’t afford such a luxurious trip like Dubai. They have the misconception that it’s either too expensive, it doesn’t fit their budget, or that the lifestyle is so extreme, they’ll feel left out. But little do many tourists know, that’s not the case at all. Dubai is a tourist destination that just about anyone can visit, with just about any budget, too.
Here are 20 different ways even college students on a small budget can visit Dubai.
20 Room Option Only
As many seasoned travelers can tell you, Dubai isn’t like any of your typical tourist destinations. That’s why so many people think that it’s out of reach. It seems like a mecca of a city and there is a misconception that you need deep pockets in order to afford it. Well, that’s not necessarily true. Dubai Day Tourist suggests that you skip on the room and meal plan and go for room only when you book your hotel. They write, “When you book your hotel, ask for only room option. You could eat outside just like locals and residents. You end up saving at least 70 percent or more on your final bill. It's worth it."
19 Make A List – And Stick To it
Just as with any vacation, you need to plan out your route before stepping on the plane to your final destination. In other words, you need a game plan, especially if you want to save money or stick to your budget. And when it comes to a place like Dubai, you are better off doing your research when you are still at home. Take note of everything that you want to see, eat, and do while you are there. As Dubai Day Tourist puts it, “Make a list of where you would love to go, revise it, eliminate the things that override your budget, then go!”
18 Book A Tour
While a lot of people think that they are better off saving money by seeing all of the major tourist attractions on their own, that’s not always the case. Sure, it might work to go solo or take the road less traveled in other cities and countries, but not in Dubai. You’ll actually be better off booking a tour, whether it’s to see the city, the desert, or the souks. Here’s what one person suggests on Trip Advisor: “If you are up for it, tour in groups. It's fun, you'll meet people from all around the world and better yet, you'll save money. They are usually half off of what you would pay for a private tour."
17 Pay Attention To Air Fare
A lot of people will tell you that booking the right kind of air fare can feel like a game of cat and mouse. One moment the airfare seem like they are at a decent rate and before you know it, they sky rocket again. Monitor the airfare to Dubai and grab a good ticket while they are still hot. This person on Trip Advisor suggests, “Set your travel plan very carefully, read every source to know how could you pay less to get best. Keep your eyes on airlines discounts over the year. If you see a good deal from your city, grab it. Don't hesitate. Good air fare is hard to get, especially when it comes to searching for flights to Dubai."
16 JBR Walk
If you still don’t feel the need to book a group tour of Dubai’s biggest and best sights, don’t worry. There are plenty of things that you can do on your own without having to pay any additional fares. Dubai Day Tours writes, “The JBR walk is a gulf-sided walk with a lot of different categorized cafes and restaurants. The best time to visit JBR is at night. That's when all the action happens and you get the best views of the city. You'd be surprised to see just how illuminated Dubai looks like when the sun goes down. It's truly something you'll never forget. The Dubai Marina is fantastic as well. You can't miss it."
15 Check out the Park Life
Another good way to save on your trip to Dubai is to check out the park life. After all, admission is always free to many and most parks around the work. And they’ve got some of the best views, too. Lonely Planet writes, “Just past the World Trade Centre roundabout is Zabeel Park, one of the city's largest green spaces. The landscaped park is home to barbecue areas and picnic tables, along with a bike track, a boating lake and a mini-train for kids. It costs Dhs5 to enter and is also home to the Ripe Food & Craft Market."
If you are the adventurous type and like to see things while burning a few calories on the way, try renting a bicycle to get around the city. But let us warn you that Dubai often gets very hot, especially during the peak summer months. And we mean really, really hot. Lonely Planet writes, “Like many cities around the world, Dubai has invested in a bike-sharing scheme. Either on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Blvd (which encircles Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall) or along the Dubai Marina promenade, you can rent sturdy bikes from Dhs15 for 30 minutes from various Byky stations.”
13 Check Out Kite Beach
In addition to the parks, you can spend a great day at one of Dubai’s world-class beaches. One to check out in particular is Kite Beach. It’s one of the most family-friendly beaches in the area with great activities to choose from and a hip food truck scene, among other things (like their infamous Salt Burgers). Lonely Planet writes, "Kite Beach in Umm Suqeim is a free stretch of sand that's lifeguarded and popular with families. It boasts a boardwalk with a handful of cool cafes, along with changing facilities, sun bed and brolly rental, water sports and the XDubai Skatepark.”
12 Gourmet Grub
A lot of people think that if they go to Dubai, the only dining options are the 5-star ones. But that’s not necessarily true. There are plenty of different ways that you can taste the local cuisine without having to burn a deep hole in your pocket. As a matter of fact, Dubai has an excellent street food scene that many people don’t know about – and that’s because it’s not as advertised as the big, expensive restaurants in town. Lonely Planet writes, "Ravi in Al Satwa is a local legend, which serves huge bowls of Pakistani curry and tea-tray size naan breads for between Dhs 30-40.”
11 Retail Therapy
There’s a reason why so many people love shopping in Dubai: it’s got some of the best shopping options in the world. As a matter of fact, it boasts the biggest indoor mall ever (The Dubai Mall) and a mall with the biggest indoor skiing venue in the desert (at the nearby Emirates Mall). Lonely Planet writes, “Head to the Creek to shop like it was 100 years ago in the traditional souks. Buy gold, frankincense or spices such as saffron and cinnamon on the Deira side, while over on the Bur Dubai bank, and snap up pashminas and Arabian style slippers if you can.”
10 Avoid High Season
If there is one thing that you want to do before you head to Dubai for your ultimate adventure and vacation, it’s to avoid high season. That’s when all of the hotels have their peak prices, the malls are crowded and you’d be lucky to book a group tour if you still want one. After all, people from all over the world visit in huge numbers every year. Dubai Day Tours writes, “It really doesn't matter where you decide to go, but if you want to save money, then you just have to avoid high season. And Dubai is no different. Hotel prices drop dramatically during the low season, which is typically during the summer, when the weather is the most hot and dry. You might not be comfortable, but you'll save money."
9 Check Out The Dubai Fountain
We bet that you can spend an entire week checking out all of the great sites in Dubai without having to pay one cover charge for anything. Think we are kidding? Think again. The Dubai Fountain is one great option as it is a fascinating and exhilarating show that you can see absolutely for free every single day. According to one person on Trip Advisor, she said, "I've been to Las Vegas several times in my life, but there was no water show that I have ever seen like The Dubai Fountain. It was magical. It was incredible. And the best part was that it was free. I loved every second of it."
8 Dubai Miracle Garden
If that weren’t enough, you can also check out the Dubai Miracle Garden, which is an incredible sight to see, especially if you are a flower and garden lover. Dubai Day Tours writes, “Dubai miracle garden is a massive flowers garden over a total area of 72,000 square meters and it houses a collection of 45 million flowers. DMG is one of the most perfect choices for families who are visiting Dubai for the very first time. Because no matter what are you are, you will love spending time here. You'll also see a lot of locals here, as it attracts residents every weekend, too. It's one of the main attractions for Dubai visitors. Definitely put it on your list."
7 The Dubai Museum
If you are looking to inject a little history into your visit to Dubai, check out The Dubai Museum. A lot of people on travel forums agree that you won’t be left disappointed after your visit. In fact, it will be quite the contrary. One person wrote on Trip Advisor, “The Dubai museum experience provides a complete view of how past generations of people living in Dubai used to live. The museum highlights the daily life activities, their jobs and professions, food, drink, clothing and lifestyle. And the best part is that tickets are only 3AED.” Talk about cheap! You can spend several hours in the museum and still have plenty of money left over for your food budget.
6 Jumierah Mosque
A lot of people would agree that you can’t visit Dubai without visiting one of the numerous mosques in the area. And while a lot of people head to nearby Abu Dhabi for the ultimate experience at the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Dubai has one of its own, too. Dubai Day Tours writes, “While a lot of people visit Dubai for different reasons, there are plenty of visitors who come for the cultural experience. They want to see the mosques, and this one is one of the best and tourist-friendly ones in the area. You won't be disappointed. The entry fee is only 7 AED.”
5 Skip The Tour Guide
As we mentioned above, there are several different options when it comes to pre-paid tour guides in Dubai. But if you feel the need to still get one but don’t want to pay more than you have to, choose a group tour rather than a private one. But if you are still on a tight budget, use your phone and the several different apps available on Dubai to help guide you through the city. One person wrote on Quora, “Do not hire private tour guides. Use your internet phone and discover it yourself. Dubai is a city that is full of temptation. If you followed every single things your eyes go to, you will be penniless in two days!”
4 Avoid Pricey Restaurants
As many Dubai visitors will tell you, Dubai prides itself for being one of the most luxurious cities in the world. And because of it, visiting can get very expensive. But for cash strapped college kids, there’s hope: you can spend an entire week in the city without stepping one foot in a restaurant that will make you feel like you are going broke. This person on Quora wrote, “Avoid expensive restaurants, even though Dubai does have some of the best in the world. Instead, check out all of the local cuisine. You'll be surprised at how good it is, and you'll save your money. Dubai has great food halls that are worth trying out, too."
A lot of tourists and even locals alike would agree that renting a car in Dubai is completely unnecessary. As a matter of fact, it can even be quite dangerous, as the city has a bad reputation when it comes to their local drivers. This person wrote on Quora, “Cars, buses, Tram cars, Metro rail, high-speed rails, and waterways are the major transportation facilities of the city. Taxi services are easily available at affordable prices. Water buses and water taxis are mostly available on selected routes. A day pass on the metro will only set you back 14 AED, but it's not that bad. They are clean and air-conditioned and are undoubtedly the best way to see the city.”
2 Check Out Other ‘Hoods
When you visit Dubai, don’t forget to check out some of the nearby neighborhoods in the area. After all, there is so much to do and explore beyond the city’s limits. With that being said though, do use proper precautions and be mindful of your own safety at all times. Dubai is safe for travelers, but doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful. This person wrote on Quora, “Wander around the Bastakiya Quarter. This area of the city retains some history and charm. The former haunt of well-to-do traders, the streets are now lined with cafés and stores and it is free to stroll around the area.”
1 Spot The Good Deals
If the Emirates Mall and the Dubai Mall aren’t your thing, don’t worry. There are plenty of different options and ways of spotting good deals at some of the more affordable hotels and restaurants. Again, you just have to do your research to make sure that you are stretching your dollar as much as possible. This person suggested on Quora, “There are lot of websites that offer various coupons, discount and vouchers for flight ticket and hotels. You just have to do some proper research online, and see which ones offer the best deals. There are so many websites for booking flights and hotel bookings. Do your research and you won't be disappointed. Dubai is one of the best places in the world to visit."