Dubai on Budget: Fun-Filled Activities For The Budget Traveller in Dubai
With a booming trade and tourism industry, Dubai has become incredibly popular in the last two decades. Every day, it sees hundreds of visitors from all walks of life around the world's businessmen, families and solo travellers. But, it isn't known as a cheap holiday destination. In fact, because of its higher priced food and accommodation, Dubai is possibly one of the most expensive destinations for backpackers. However, this doesn't mean that fun has to come at a cost!
Here are our best picks of activities for exploring Dubai on Budget so that you don't burn a hole in your wallet:
1. Take A Ride On The Dubai Metro
The main forms of public transportation in Dubai are the metro, buses, water taxis called abras, and taxis. The Dubai Metro is a driverless, fully-automated rail system with two operating lines. It crosses through the financial and residential areas of the city and was the first urban train network in the Arabian Peninsula. To get an excellent overview of the city for a cheap buck, opt for a ride on the metro instead of using taxis. It connects to major locations like the airport, marina, and Old Dubai. The metro is open between 6 AM and 12 AM, and this extends to 1 AM on Thursdays and Fridays.
Price: Tickets range from AED 3 to AED 8
2. Explore Dubai's Budget Shopping Destinations
Dubai is one of the world's most famous shopping destinations, but this doesn't need to be an expensive activity and it is possible to shop in Dubai on budget. It has plenty of discount stores and shopping malls that provide fashionable clothing at affordable prices. Dragon Mart is a dragon-shaped shopping mall on Al Awir Road that offers Chinese products in the Middle East. Spanning 150,000 square metres, it has over 3,500 outlets of products and bargaining is welcome. Dubai Outlet Mall on Al Ain Road is another great option. With discounts from 30% to 90% off in their 240 stores, you won't feel guilty swiping that credit card with each purchase. Another wonderful location for bargain shopping is Al Karama Market where you can buy top-notch quality handbags, clothes, gift items and even shoes.
3. Spend an Afternoon at Beach Parks
Jumeirah Beach Park is a beautiful, well-maintained public beach with white sand and crystal-clear waters. As a public beach, there's no entry fee which often means that it is pretty crowded on the weekends, but if you arrive on a weekday afternoon, it's a lovely place for picnics and hanging out with friends. It even has basketball and volleyball courts, seats with sunshades, lovely gardens, food kiosks and public amenities. For a less-crowded beach location with equally great views and similar amenities, you can alternatively visit Al Mamzar Beach Park at a nominal fee on AED 5. Another park to visit is Zabeel Park in Al Kifaf that can be accessed by metro. For an entry fee of AED 5, you can take part in their fun activities like boat riding, space maze, cycling, and even catch some live music. On Fridays, Zabeel Park hosts the very fun farmer's market, Ripe Food and Craft Market, between 9 AM and 3 PM.
4. Check Out Dubai's Many Museums
Dubai has plenty of museums that document various aspects of its diverse culture. Although some museums like the Dubai Moving Images Museum have highly-priced entry fees of AED 50 for adults, there are plenty of other options too. Dubai Police Museum (which celebrates the accomplishments of the Dubai police), Pearl Museum (which traces the history of pearling in the UAE) and Camel Museum (which displays the history of camels in the UAE) do not have entry fees, but you should book appointments beforehand. Dubai Museum celebrates traditional Bedouin life in the region and has a nominal fee of AED 3 for adults.
Although there has been rapid development in the past few decades, you can see a touch of tradition in Dubai's old quarters. Explore Old Dubai on budget by taking a traditional water taxi called abra for AED 1 across Dubai Creek. On the other side, you'll visit the Old Dubai and Bastakiya Quarter. Also known as Al Fahidi neighbourhood, it is one of the oldest residential areas in Dubai with plenty of historic buildings, winding alleyways and Persian-influenced wind-towers. It is home to several public cultural spots like Majlis Gallery, Arabian Tea House, Dubai Museum and Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. You can spend hours altogether walking these streets, imagining Dubai as the once sleepy, seafaring town.
6. Spend An Evening at Al Nasr Leisureland
This is a sport, entertainment and dining venue all under one roof in the Oud Metha area. It has a bowling alley, boxing ring, swimming pool, and tennis courts for the cost of AED 10 for adults. The highlight of this place is the Olympic-size ice skating rink to cool off from Dubai's hot weather. It might not have the glamorous of Dubai's larger shopping malls, but it offers a lot of fun activities for its budget prices. You can also grab a meal at their restaurants and bars like The Moghul Room for Indian food, Viva Goa for Goan cuisine, and the club Odd Spot for their live Filipino band.
7. Go Animal Watching
Dubai's Al Ain Zoo is the perfect location for animal lovers to spend an afternoon. This 990-acre zoo is home to more than 4,000 animals, many of which are considered endangered. Better yet, they host interactive activities like giraffe feeding, camel riding and Al Ain Safari. The zoo charges an entry fee of AED 15 for adults and AED 5 for children under the age of 12. Another popular animal-related activity in Dubai is camel racing at Al Marmoom Racetrack where camels race at speeds of almost 40 km/h. It is an exhilarating activity where you can bet on certain camels and watch with bated breaths as they sprint down the track towards the finish line. Keep in mind that no activities take place during the off-season of April till September.
8. Catch Beautiful Light Displays
Once the sun sets in Dubai, the city glows brightly with its many light shows. Dubai Fountain at the Burj Khalifa is popular for its choreographed light show that includes 6,600 lights and 25 coloured projectors lighting up the spurts of water that go up to 500 feet high. This light show takes place at 1 PM and 1:30 PM every day, then at every half hour from 6 PM to 10 PM on weekdays and 6 PM to 11 PM on weekends. Although a closer look at the Dubai boardwalk will cost you AED 65, the fountain show can be seen for free from every point on the promenade.
9. Binge on Street Food
As a melting pot of cultures, Dubai is home to many cuisines, especially from the Middle East and Southeast Asia. The neighbourhoods of Meena Bazaar, Al Dhiyafah Road, Al Karama and Al Mateena boast of delicious street food. It may not boast of the most magnificent ambience, but it offers incredible flavours for its prices. For less than AED 10 per person, you can enjoy filling meals of Pakistani, Lebanese and Indian snacks. If you're willing to go on a mini street food tour, don't miss out on Sambosa House in Meena Bazaar, Ravi in Al Satwa and Special Ostadi on Musallah Road.
Despite Dubai's tag of a luxury shopping destination and its high standard of living, there are still ways to enjoy the city on a budget. For less than AED 30 (INR 500) per activity, it is possible to feed giraffes, explore Old Dubai, go ice-skating and munch on delicious shawarmas to your heart's delight, while exploring the glorious Dubai on budget!