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Essential Information

How to save money as a tourist in Dubai

Fri, June 23, 2023

Read our thrifty tips and tricks to help you plan a budget holiday in Dubai.

Read our thrifty tips and tricks to help you plan a budget holiday in Dubai.


Plan an off-season visit

Dubai's peak travel season is between October to March, when the weather is at its best and the city is buzzing with activity. But the summer months are the ideal time to visit if you're on a budget. You'll find great deals on hotels, lower airfares and discounts at top malls and attractions. While the weather heats up, you'll still be able to make most of your trip as many of Dubai's top venues are indoors and air-conditioned. 

What's more, you can take in year-long sunshine at one of the emirate's many luxurious beach resorts at bargain prices during off-season months. Summer is also the time for the year's second biggest shopping festival, Dubai Summer Surprises, which is usually held during July and August (expect sales of up to 90 per cent off!).


Use public transport

Save some cash by hopping onboard the Dubai Metrowhich covers key areas of the city including the airport and popular tourist sites. Most major malls like Mall of the EmiratesCity Centre Deira and Dubai Mall are along the metro network.

The most cost-effective option is to purchase a 'Nol' card, which can also be used to access the tram in Dubai Marina, the Palm Jumeirah monorail and public buses that reach every neighbourhood in the city. Nol cards can be bought and topped up at all metro and bus stations, and several malls and supermarkets across the city. 

You can get closer to the sights by renting an e-scooter. There are several operators across the city, each offering flexible pricing options. Try Skurtt – their smartphone app lets you view nearby scooters, with a QR code to unlock your ride. Best of all? Pricing is set at a very reasonable 0.50 fils a minute!

If you're visiting Old Dubai, hop aboard traditional water taxis, known as abras, when crossing the iconic Creek. Not only will this wooden boat get you to the other side of town for just AED1, you'll also enjoy a scenic view of the traditional Arabian houses, wind towers and minarets, set to the backdrop of the new skyline.


Stay affordable

Alongside the many luxe resorts and hotels are several more affordable hotel options. Look out for Airbnb deals or hotel apartments in key locations, especially if you're travelling as a family or group and need some more space. Apartments or villa accommodations usually come with a fully stocked kitchen, so you can even cook or order takeout to save money on meals. Alternatively, choose a more affordable hotel outside the city centre that's located on the metro line for additional savings. Lucky for travellers, Dubai is home to many wallet-friendly hotels with convenient access to the city's best attractions, so you never have to feel left out. Be sure to also check out our exclusive hotel deals for some incredible offers for you and the family.


Dine on a budget

You can get a taste of Dubai's melting pot of cultures in the Karama, Bur Dubai and Deira neighbourhoods, where a string of hole-in-the-wall cafes and eateries offer delicious bites for as little as AED10. Our favourites include Pakistani fare at Ravi's and Iranian kebabs at Al Ustad Special Kebab. Mall food courts also cook up fast food and snacks that won't put a dent in your wallet.

If you’re staying at an apartment with cooking facilities, stock up on essentials at a nearby supermarket, where you can also pick up some snacks to keep you going through the day.


See more for less with an attractions pass

A little research can uncover an endless series of discounts and deals for food and beverages, spastheme parks and tourist experiences. Plan your dream deals-focused itinerary with Dubai Pass and get pre-paid, discounted access to some of the city's best attractions, tours and sightseeing packages.

You can also find deals on websites and apps such as Groupon, Cobone or The Entertainer, which lists hundreds of 2-for-1 discounts at restaurants, spas and more. Don't forget to ask your hotel concierge for value-for-money deals too.


Scout spots with free entry

A great way to save money is to minimise on paying entry fees. Lot of places in Dubai offer free access to attractions or alternate views. For example, free public beaches provide stunning views and sunny vibes for nothing at all. Head down to Kite Beach for the day to sunbathe, take a dip in the ocean or play some volleyball for free. You can grab a bite at one of the many food trucks or restaurants along the shore. One of Dubai's most popular attractions is The Dubai Fountain sound and light show, which is also free to view with a backdrop of the world's tallest tower, Burj Khalifa. For a scenic stroll by the water that comes with breathtaking urban vistas, head over to The Viewing Point in Dubai Creek Harbour or Dubai Marina Walk in its namesake neighbourhood.


Shop smart with Duty Free

Dubai International Airport's Dubai Duty Free has grown into one of the biggest travel retail operators in the world, offering designer merchandise, perfumes, cosmetics, electronics, food and toys. There are plenty of special deals and package offers across various product categories that can be a great bargain in comparison to what you'd pay outside of the airport.

The airport also has a special section for tourists to recover VAT paid on their expenses in the UAE, so don't forget to keep your shopping bills and food bills ready to get a tax refund before you leave the country.

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