5 Cheap Things To Do In Dubai

5 Cheap Things To Do In Dubai

Dubai is certainly not a backpacker’s paradise. It’s expensive! But we were kind of intrigued by Dubai as we have had so many friends and family who had stopped over there. So we thought we would make a 2 night stopover on our way from Adelaide to Tehran.

To be honest, Dubai is a bit of a strange city that feels like half construction site, half over-the-top skyscrapers. The outrageous wealth juxtaposed against the bus loads of dirt poor migrants being shipped around to build these crazy high-rises in the sweltering heat is kind of depressing. But, nevertheless, the glitz and glamour of the fancy parts of Dubai has its appeal, and many of us will find ourselves here at one point or another if we are doing long haul travel. And there are plenty of expats living there so maybe there is a charm we didn’t see.

So, what can you do in Dubai if you’re not a wealthy expat or an oil baron? Here are a few ideas!

1. Visit the Dubai Mall

The Dubai Mall is one of the world’s largest shopping malls, and is conveniently located right next door to the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. According to the Dubai Mall’s website, the shopping centre welcomed a staggering 80 million shoppers in 2014. But the Mall has much more than just shopping on offer. The mall also has an Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, indoor theme park, cinema complex and an Olympic-sized ice skating rink. You can easily spend a couple of hours just wandering around marvelling at the size of it all. You can also pick up a cheap(ish) lunch or dinner in the food court, or head to one of the mall’s many restaurants.

Getting there: Many hotels offer free shuttles to the Dubai Mall. You can also catch the metro to the Dubai Mall Metro stop, or catch a taxi.

Cost: Free.

Dubai Mall

2. The Dubai Fountain

The Dubai Fountain is the world’s largest choreographed fountain system, and we must admit that the show is quite spectacular. Dramatic music booms across speakers, while the huge fountain dances in sync with the sound. The show happens every half hour from 6pm to 11pm. The Dubai Fountain is located beside the Dubai Mall, at the foot of the Burj Khalifa.

Getting there: Simply head to the Dubai Mall, and follow the ‘Dubai Fountain’ signs. Many hotels offer free shuttles to the Dubai Mall. You can also catch the metro to the Dubai Mall Metro stop, or catch a taxi.

Cost: Free.

Dubai Fountain

3. Old Dubai

If you want a glimpse of what life was like in Dubai before all the swanky high rises, then head to Old Dubai. Old Dubai is spread across two districts – Bur Dubai and Deira. Bur Dubai is considered the oldest part of Dubai, and you can easily spend a couple of hours wandering through the maze of souks (markets). You can also visit the Al-Fahidi Fort, which was built in 1787. This historic building houses the Dubai Museum, which depicts life in Dubai before the oil barons arrived. After visiting the Dubai Museum, you can head to the Bur Dubai Abra Station to catch a traditional boat over the Dubai Creek to Deira. From where the boat docks, you can easily explore Deira famous souks: the Gold Souk, Spice Souk and Perfume Souk.

Getting there: Catch the metro to the Al Fahidi Metro Station, then head to the Bur Dubai Abra Station to catch the boat to Deira. To get home, simply catch the metro from Palm Diera Metro Station.

Cost: Entrance to Dubai Museum – 3 AED (US$0.80). Traditional boat ride – 1 AED (US$0.30).

4. Watch the sun set over the Burj Al Arab

The Burj Al Arab is one of Dubai’s most iconic buildings, and has been dubbed ‘the world’s most luxurious building’. It is home to an incredibly expensive hotel, so it’s unlikely you will get inside! But in our humble opinion, the best views are from the outside anyway. Head to Koubba Bar at the Madinat Jumeriah hotel complex, grab a cocktail and watch the sun set over the Burj Al Arab from the comfort of your chair.

Getting there: Taxi is the most convenient way to reach Koubba Bar. You can also catch the metro to FGB Metro Station, and catch a shorter taxi ride from there.

Cost: Expect to pay around US$20 per cocktail, and US$15 per beer. We used a Visa Summer Dining deal we found on Koubba Bar’s website and got 20% off our bill. Win!

Burj Al Arab

5. Visit the Burj Khalifa

It is actually quite hard to describe how ridiculously tall this building is – it seriously looks like it is piercing the sky. Standing at 829 metres, the Burj Khalifa is the tallest structure in the world. Looking up towards the tip of the Burj Khalifa’s tower will almost certainly make you thankful you weren’t the poor bloke who had the job of fixing the lights to the top spire. You can admire the Burj Khalifa from the outside for free, but we recommend heading up to the 124th floor to check out the views. Don’t buy your tickets at the entrane gate! They are more than twice as expensive than buying them online. You can pre-book online, or simply use the free wifi at the gate to buy tickets with your smartphone five minutes before you want to enter. However, sunset viewings do tend to sell out, so book those tickets ahead of time.

You can head up to the 128th floor, but these tickets cost almost double. We are not sure the views would be worth the extra money.  You can also get a drink at the Burj Khalifa’s restaurant/bar (At.Mosphere), but we heard there is a two drink minimum and the drinks are pricey AF! It’s much cheaper just to buy the 124th floor ticket online.

Getting there: Simply head to the Dubai Mall, and follow the ‘Dubai Fountain’ signs. Many hotels offer free shuttles to the Dubai Mall. You can also catch the metro to the Dubai Mall Metro stop, or catch a taxi.

Cost: 125 AED per ticket (online) for the 124th floor

Burj Khalifa

Big thanks to our friend Shanna who gave us great tips on what to do while we were in Dubai!

Have you visited Dubai? Do you have any recommendations for other cheap or interesting things to do? Let us know below!

5 thoughts on “5 Cheap Things To Do In Dubai

  1. I live in Dubai so am always interested in what travelers enjoy when they come here.
    Some additional info on atmosphere @ the Burj Khalifa, it’s a Dhs 350 minimum spend per person, but you do get 3 hours of viewing pleasure. Book for 5pm to see Dubai by day, during sunset and with the evening lights. It’s certainly a financial commitment but on a clear day with camera in hand it is worth doing once.
    Great post!

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