How to Visit Dubai on a Budget – From an Expert

When you think of luxurious travel destinations, one of the first places that come to you is going to be Dubai. Dubai’s tourism and marketing sector have always tried to focus their assets in developing exclusive areas to draw the attention of the people who want to have a comfortable vacation experience. Unfortunately most people only dream of visiting Dubai as an unplanned trip can be a costly one. This is why I have put together some expert advice on How to Visit Dubai on a Budget.

As a seasoned traveller to Dubai I know only too well how failing to plan can cost dearly. Dubai is such a fantastic and extravagant place that if you do not plan ahead, you will be lured into the luxury lifestyle all too easily.

Check out my tips below to learn how to visit Dubai on a budget.

1. Get a Nol Card

How to Use the Nol Card in Dubai | The Vacation Builder

As soon as you land in Dubai you will probably do what most others do, grab a taxi. Once you’ve been in the taxi for anywhere up to an hour and you pay the taxi driver only enough for a bottle of Gin you will soon fall into a trap.

Taxi rides in Dubai are cheaper than other countries due to the low cost of fuel but frequent use can still eat into your holiday spending money. However, Dubai is a large city and you are going to want to travel a lot to see the many wonders it has to offer.

My biggest piece of advice is to get yourself a Nol card. This is going to save you a lot of money; money which you can then spend on activities and seeing Dubai! Nol cards are much like the Oyster card for travelling on public transport in London, only cheaper, and more efficient.

Whats more, travelling by bus and rail allows you too see more of the fantastic architecture in and around Dubai. The metro in Dubai is extremely efficient and is very well cleaned and maintained too.

You can check out the full guide here on How to Use the Nol Card.

For more information on the metro and bookings check this link – Dubai Metro.

2. Book Your Hotel Wisely

When is the Cheapest Month to Stay in Dubai?

Just like any other big cities, hotels in the city centre will charge more than average. If you want to save money then book a hotel next to a metro station so that you can travel easily. This will make your trip both affordable and efficient.

Furthermore, the month of which you travel says a lot about the cost. We have that covered in our previous article, The Cheapest Time to Visit Dubai.

Hotels in Dubai don’t have to be expensive. Many of the hotels offer fantastic service whether you stay 3 star or 6 star. Avoid areas such as Jumeirah Beach Residence and The Palm Jumeirah to find cheaper hotels.

Jumeirah Beach Residence is one of the best tourist area’s in Dubai but just a stones throw away there is Dubai Marina, which offers fantastic stays for a fraction of the cost. That way you save money and are able to visit the main areas. Dubai Marina by the way is still a top place to stay!

In one of my previous posts; How Much is a Week in Dubai, we took a look at the average cost of hotels for every budget. Check it out here. For those who can stretch their wallets a touch, I have a post on The Best Hotels in Dubai for Medium Budgets.

Whatever you choose from the above, the key is not to rush. You may be blown away by some of the photo’s of hotels in Dubai if you are a first time visitor but believe me, most of the hotels here are top class!

Alternatively, AirBnB offer some amazing apartments for rent in Dubai.

3. Make the Most of Free Attractions

Free Things to do in Dubai | The Vacation Builder

Most people would assume that you cannot visit Dubai without doing some of the paid tours. Well let me tell you how wrong they are!

I’ve got you covered (again) with this full guide on Free Things to do in Dubai. Once you’ve explored the many free things to do I am sure that a few paid excursions wouldn’t break the bank and would make your holiday a good one!

If you are going to partake in paid excursions make sure you book online and in advance. Dubai has a tendency to increase prices of excursions with demand. Whats more, booking on sites such as Viator can save you a few quid.

4. Dine-in at Local Restaurants

Dine in at local restaurants in Dubai | The Vacation Builder

The food in Dubai is just fantastic. However, you don’t need to dine at one of the many fancy restaurants to tickle your taste buds. If you explore the old towns of Dubai or “take a hike off the beaten track” you will find many smaller independent restaurants who offer better value and greater taste.

Food in supermarkets is relatively priced too; so if you’re looking to visit Dubai on a budget, why not grab some croissants and juice from the supermarket? You’d spend as much for a week as you would in one sitting at Starbucks or the like.

Similarly, when shopping for souvenirs, make sure you visit one of the many souks in Dubai. My personal favourite is the Souk Madinat (yes I have another article on this !).

Make sure you barter at the souks and you can get a really good deal on some authentic Dubai souvenirs.

5. Resist Alcohol Cravings

Drinking in Dubai | The Vacation Builder

Alcohol isn’t as easily available in Dubai as it is in other western countries. Whats more, it is important to respect the Muslim culture when in Dubai. Don’t over do it and become disorderly on the streets and make sure you only consume alcohol within bars and restaurants.

Furthermore, the cost of a good cocktail in Dubai is quite extortionate. You would be looking at treble the price of your local in most hotels in Dubai.

Another good way to visit Dubai on a budget would be to abstain from drinking alcohol. Treat yourself on the odd night to a few in the city, but why waste all that money when there is so much to get up for in the morning!

One crafty way of budgeting alcohol into your trip to Dubai would be to buy it at the airport on your way in, where it is cheap. You can then enjoy a tipple at your hotel room or apartment.

For those who do like a drink you may think Dubai isn’t a great place for nightlife reading the above. However, Dubai continues to surprise everyone and constantly tries to challenge to be the best at everything! Check out this article on Nightlife in Dubai if you want to learn more.


So here you have it, visiting Dubai on a budget IS possible after all.

Thank you for reading my post on How to Visit Dubai on a Budget. For more useful travel information on Dubai check out my blog. You can also follow me on Pinterest and YouTube too.