It is true that many people consider Dubai to be a symbol of wealth and limitless designer shopping that would make our eyes water when we got the credit card statement through, but don’t dismiss this amazing destination simply because you think it might be way out of your financial league.
There are some world famous and iconic hotels in Dubai with some rock-star prices attached to them, but there are also plenty of other opportunities to come and enjoy all that Dubai has to offer without breaking then bank.
The key to experiencing 5-star Dubai at 3-star prices is taking advantage of local knowledge to track down all the budget-friendly experiences and spots, where food and drink doesn’t come with an exorbitant price tag.
The original trading port of Dubai had humble beginnings and Bur Dubai and Deira are where it all began, which means that gourmet food can often be found in these areas at prices that put the lavish restaurants elsewhere, well and truly into the shade.
It is worth remembering that the city of Dubai offers the world’s cuisine on a plate and is a real melting pot of culture and experiences. This means that places like Ravi in Al Satwa enjoy legendary status for their amazing Pakistani curries at a price that is almost embarrassing compared to prices being asked in other parts of the city.
There is also plenty of amazing traditional Levant street food to tempt you, like the shawarma, which is a chicken wrap with tahini.
Your belly will be full but your wallet won’t be empty if you are prepared to eat like a local and not a tourist.
Dubai has a futuristic look about it and its eclectic skyline filled with architectural wonders and curiosities is awe-inspiring to explore.
It is also a lot cheaper to do this if you take the metro rather than hailing a cab and watching the meter nervously tick away as you head to your chosen destination.
Dubai has two-line driverless trains that whisk you around the city on style but at a price that actually makes it one of the cheapest public transport systems in the world. If you want a touch of luxury, you can still get it on the train, as you can buy a VIP ticket and travel Gold Class with free Wi-Fi.
The city also recently invested in a bike rental scheme, so there are several venues such as the Dubai Marina Promenade, where you can rent a bike and explore this pedestrian-friendly city at a leisurely pace.
It is also quite gratifying to cycle past iconic sights like Burj Khalifa, knowing that you have paid a lot less to enjoy the same view that some other tourists are experiencing, and enjoying some exercise to work off that lunch as well.
Dubai always knows how to charge handsomely for a fancy cocktail or even a cool beer, but there are some tricks to employ if you want to enjoy a drink without spending a small fortune.
Many of the bars in the city have a ladies night, which is generally a Tuesday or a Wednesday, and they often offer a selection of free drinks to tempt you in, so shop around and you might get your thirst quenched for nothing.
Hitting the beach
Dubai offers an amazing 40km of golden coastline that is just begging to be used for a lazy day in the sun.
The problem is that many of these beaches are privately owned by the top hotels and they charge a daily rate for access. Although you will have to pay a small fee,
Jumeirah Beach Park is a good spot and this family-orientated beach has all you could want including the idyllic palm trees and plenty of places to enjoy an ice cream or something to eat, without the price tag of the neighbouring 5-star hotel beaches.
Dubai is a magnet for the rich and famous but there is no reason why budget-conscious travelers can’t have a piece of the action at fraction of the cost.
Kathy Reed is an executive assistant. She likes to share what she has learned on her frequent travels. You can find her articles mainly on travel and business blogs.