Top Things To See And Do In Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai is often used as a stopover for travelers traveling within and outside the United Arab Emirates. While Dubai can be an easy stopover city where you hit the big spots in two days, there are plenty of amazing things you can do here for those who want to spend more time. I loved my time in Dubai more than I thought I would! It is a city besieged between old and new. Place in a conservative culture with old world habits while at the same time Vegas Middle East where anything goes (as long as it is behind closed doors). I was amazed at how much to do in this city - and how hardly it scratched the surface within a week. Dubai is a wonderful and multicultural city worth more than just a stop, and I hope you use this guide to help plan a trip that will not lose your budget!

Top Things To See And Do In Dubia, United Arab Emirates

Typical Costs

Hostel prices - hostels are not common in Dubai. There are only a few here and most fees are between 100-120 AED for basic accommodation. If you want a private room, expect to pay between 250-375 AED. Most will include free Wi-Fi and 2 free breakfast areas. If you can avoid them, I don't like it in the city.

Budget Hotel Rates - Hotel rates start from AED 200 to AED 250 per night for a basic double or double room. Free Wi-Fi is standard. Many budget hotels also include additional services such as a free airport shuttle or swimming pools. Average hotels start at around AED 250 per night, but if you're looking for something more luxurious, the sky will be here! Airbnb is also an option here (I suggest you avoid other paid sharing economy services because they are reliable here). The shared room on Airbnb starts around AED 100 per night, while the entire house or apartment will be closer to AED 400.

Average food cost - you can find cheap meals in Dubai for around AED 30, while the cost of fast food is slightly lower (around AED 25). The best meals are usually shared on the table and consist of chickpeas, pita, falafel, cream, fattoush, sesame paste salad and grilled halloumi cheese. Operation Falafel is a great cheap restaurant chain with 7 locations throughout Dubai. If you want a meal at a mid-range restaurant, expect to pay more than AED 100. For an all-day lunch, expect to pay at least AED 375 per person. If you plan to cook your own meals, groceries will cost between AED 175-225 per week. Debonairs restaurant at The Dubai Mall offers a special lunch worth AED 15 (US $ 4). It's one of the best deals I've found. Make sure you head to Old Dubai to eat cheaply. Meals in restaurants in this area usually cost 20-30 dirhams (5-8 USD). I really liked Ousted Restaurant, an Iranian restaurant near Al Fahidi Metro.

Transportation costs - metro, although not broadband, is efficient and well maintained and public buses can take you anywhere. The cost of one fare ranges from AED 4-8.50 (prices depend on the distance you go) and the daily duration is AED 20. Taxis are on the cheap side, but if you need to call them, contact Uber instead because the addresses here may be a bit annoying to clarify by phone for the taxi company. Prices between the two are comparable, so you must stick to everything that is more convenient. A bus to Abu Dhabi costs around AED 40 (you can also take a taxi for AED 290 per way).

Proposed daily budget - AED 300 / US $ 80 (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you are staying at a hostel, eating a little out, cooking most of your meals, doing a lot of free activities, keeping your drinking to a minimum, and using local transportation. Using the budget tips below, you can always lower this figure, however, if you live in fancier accommodations or eat more frequently, expect this to be higher! Dubai is not cheap but it doesn't need to be too expensive either!)

Money Saving Tips

Walk around - Dubai is full of free places to enter and amazing to walk around. Spend your day in any mall or shopping area: Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Mall, Ibn Battuta Mall, City Center Mirdif, Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Sunset Mall, Souk Al Bahar, etc. There's a lot to see and if you leave Dubai without going to a mall - you did it wrong!

Eating hummus - there are plenty of hummus-style restaurants and tapas. Eat a filling meal by ordering 2-3 instead of ordering a main meal. This is especially good if you eat with others so you can split the bill too! 

Skip the Burj Khalifa at sunset - if you depart from Burj Khalifa (not my favorite activity), tickets during sunset hours will be much more expensive. Since the view of the sunset was not really much better, skip it. You will pay about 30% less! 

Talk to the locals - the people here are incredibly hospitable, making them a great source for the bold traveler. Feel free to ask the locals to make suggestions on places to eat, things to do, etc. Not only will you interact with the population, you will certainly get a great local vision! 

Pick Your Accommodation Wisely - Walking distance from the metro station. The subway is very cheap, so if you can walk to the station, you are able to reach many places without much money or effort .

DIY Desert Safari - Do not rent a car. If you know anyone who lives in Dubai, ask if they have a friend who will take you to the desert. This is not a big problem as locals head to the desert in the colder months. You may be lucky to find someone who wants to camp there. 

Use Groupon - Groupon is very popular in Dubai. Use it to find discounts on restaurants, activities and attractions. If there's something you want to do, check here first. You're likely to find a discount!

Bring a happy hour of budget - the lifeblood of any drinker, and happy hours where you can go to save money: from McGettigan's beverage offer (AED 29 (US $ 8) for selected home drinks) AED 100 (US $ 27) bottle of wine. Dubai is full of happy hours (special beverage offers can be found at The Entertainer as well). 

Get The Entertainer - This magazine contains discounts and special offers for hotels, restaurants and activities, including 2 for 1 offers. You can get a hard copy from a supermarket or bookstore for AED 495 or download the app for AED 445. Although it is not cheap, it is likely that you will get your money if you plan on doing a lot.

Top Things to See and Do in Dubai

Visit the Burj Khalifa - the world's tallest building that lets you go to the 128th floor for AED 100 (US $ 27). From there, you get panoramic views of the city and the desert. When I went it was somewhat blurry, but it was still a beautiful contrast. Highly recommend (but I don't pay 500 AED (US $ 136) on the 148th floor. That's not much difference!). At night, the building is illuminated by an amazing display of light from fish, palm trees and other sights while the fountain fountain below on music. 

Take a desert safari - if you want to enjoy a taste of the desert, choose a day long safari with an Arabian adventure. You will be able to ride camels, carry a falcon, explore the desert, and eat some traditional foods. The cost of a day trip is about 315 dirhams. (Note: there are other desert safaris that may be cheaper, but this is the full experience.) 

Visit Global Village - a tremendous entertainment splendor, where shopping, dining and live shows all combined to create an incredible cultural experience. This is like the Epcot Center at Disney World, but it shows the different cultures in the Middle East. There are dance and sword performances, as well as plenty of local foods to try. Admission is only AED 15! 

Dubai Miracle Garden - This exotic and colorful garden is well worth spending time watching. Opened in 2013, the park spans over 72,000 square meters, making it the largest natural flower garden in the world with more than 109 million planted flowers. Don't forget your camera for this. Admission is only 40 AED. (Note: best to see in the day.) 

Visit Kite Beach - If you are interested in windsurfing or water sports, this is a great place to catch some waves. The wind picks up in the afternoon, making it a good time to hit the water or just sit back and watch others do it. If water sports aren't your favorite thing, just come here to catch some rays and relax. My favorite restaurant is Jumeriah, the most "local" restaurant, located on the promenade between Kite Beach and Burj Dubai Hotel.

 The Marina - The marina area is surrounded by high-rise buildings and has a beautiful corridor. You can see the luxury boats and get some amazing pictures of the harbor and skyline. Be sure to check out Pier 7, which is seven floors of restaurants and bars on the water. Asia has loved Asia, with its festive Asian theme (it has special offers for two at The Entertainer too!) 

Souk Madinat Jumeirah - This market is a modern building designed to look like something from Aladdin, but it's home to some amazing restaurants, like Agency, Bar A modern wine with a large selection of wines, delicious meats and cheese dishes. There is also a beautiful interior courtyard in this complex. 

Dubai Museum - a small museum in old Dubai that doesn't have much information but offers some really great displays. Teach you the history and culture of Dubai and life in the desert. When you accept one US dollar, you can't go wrong. 

Visit Old Dubai - this is Dubai as it used to be. Markets (such as the famous gold market) adorn the area, where small shops are scattered on the streets, and you can get lost in a maze of alleys. Take a boat across the river, wander aimlessly, visit the Dubai Museum, dine in some traditional restaurants, explore the artistic area, and see Dubai as it is far from the surprise of the malls and high-rise buildings. 

Hit The Malls - Malls in Dubai aren't like any malls in the world. Between the Dubai Mall and the Mall of the Emirates, you'll find plenty of great things to see and do. In addition to shopping, you can watch the night fountain show (Think Vegas), visit the aquarium at the Dubai Mall, or go for indoor skiing at the Mall of the Emirates. Just be sure to wear appropriate clothing (avoid tank tops and small skirts). 

Visit the Grand Mosque - Located in nearby Abu Dhabi, the Grand Mosque is definitely worth a half day trip. It is a 90-minute drive from Dubai (about AED 290 each way in a taxi or AED 40 on the bus), and you want to make sure you wear the right clothes. They have cover elements available there, however, for anyone without proper clothing. Free admission. 

Stroll along Jumeirah Beach - a great place to sunbathe and stroll along the boardwalk. There are plenty of shops to visit and there is even an outdoor movie theater. This is not only a great place to visit, but a great place to stay because you are surrounded by many things you can do. 

Enjoy the Ripe Market - this outdoor market has many locations in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Browse organic food and handicrafts made by people living in Dubai. This takes place in a wonderful park, so you can dine from the food trucks and sit on the grass for a relaxing meal.

Dancing at Barasti - this lively outdoor bar is full of locals and expats. It is multi-level with a beach at the bottom (so don't wear heels). There is a huge ballroom, hookah smoking, food, food truck, and many different lounge areas. Drinks range from AED 45 to AED 75 (normal for Dubai). Watch an outdoor movie - from the office. 

Source : Nomadic Matt

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  1. Thank you for sharing this comprehensive guide. I am vising this spectacular country next week. Luckily I landed on your post well in time. Now I can explore the extravagance of this amazing Middle Eastern city without overspending. Excited to visit Burj Khalifa!

    1. sooo happy to know that my post help you in your next travel, thank you dear Emily Wilson for taking time and leaving that comment, and have a safe travel dear.

  2. I would love to enjoy the top things to see & do in Dubai. A few of my cousins have been asking me to tag along with them on their Dubai trip. I might as well get a Dubai Visa UK by clearing all the formalities with the embassy. I would love to have a great time with my cousins & make memories for life.