Dubai has a reputation for being a playground for the rich and famous; boasting the world’s only 7 star hotel and more luxury cars than you can poke a stick at, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you need to take out a second mortgage to holiday here. There is no denying that this city does a fantastic job of liberating the wealthy of their mega bucks, but you can still enjoy Dubai on a budget too. For just 10 Dirham (AED) (about U$3) or less you can have a grand day out!
Here are 10 things to do in Dubai for 10 Dirhams or less:
1. Visit the Dubai Museum
Discover the history of the Dubai at the Dubai Museum which is housed in the Al Fahidi Fort built in 1787, the oldest existing building in the city. Kids will love the life size dioramas of traditional homes and shops as well as the section on desert animals and marine life. It also includes an exhibit on pearl diving, with sets of pearl merchants’ weights, scales and sieves. Entry is only AED 3 for adults and AED 1 for children (under the age of 6).
COST: 3 Dirham
2. Wander around the gold, textile and spice souks
No trip to Dubai is complete without experiencing a traditional Arabian Souk. You’ll be dazzled by the stunning displays of jewellery at the Gold Souk. Keep going and you’ll discover the Spice and Perfume Souks full of colour and heady aromas. The Textile souk is just over and Abra ride away over the Dubai Creek. The souks are open 7 days from 10am to 10pm but many stores close from 1-4pm so either get there before or after. Fridays is a shorter trading day and most store open around 4pm.
If you are there to shop, be prepared to haggle. Best to pay in cash for the best bargaining power.
3. Cross the Dubai Creek in a traditional Abra
The Dubai Creek is runs right through the heart of old Dubai so it’s not surprising that a crossing by boat is a popular mode of transport for locals and tourists alike. Abras haven’t changed much through the decades, this little wooden boat is a quick and cheap way to get across the creek, and is truly one of the most authentic experiences in the city. Go in the late afternoon or evening for stunning sunset views over the Dubai Creek. The fare for an Abra ride is just 1 Dirham per person, pay it directly to the abra driver with the exact money. There are no rails so ensure children remain seated during crossing. Collapsible prams are permitted.
COST: 1 Dirham
4. Enjoy the Dubai Fountain Show
The Dubai Fountain is located right outside the Dubai Mall and is the biggest of it’s kind in the world. Every 30 minutes a choreographed sound and light show amazes spectators with dancing jets of water that shoot up to 150m in the air. The power of the water shooting into the sky is spectacular and an evening show is not to be missed. Every performance is different and music for the fountain is very diverse and can range from opera and Arabic classics to Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side. You never know what you are going to get. Afternoon Shows Daily 1:00pm & 1:30pm (Friday: 1:30pm & 2:00pm), Evening Shows every 30 min from 6:00pm to 11:00pm.
5. Ride the Dubai Trolley
The newest form of transport in Dubai is super high tech but looks very vintage indeed. It’s the world’s first zero-emission, hydrogen-powered trolley car system that will eventually link all of downtown Dubai’s main attractions. At the moment there are only 3 stations which link several hotels to the mall and fountain area (about 1 km) but it’s handy to save your feet if you’ve been walking all day, and who doesn’t love a double decker vintage tram ride. Best of all it’s FREE, just hop on and off at the conveniently air conditioned stops.
6. Go to the Beach
Hit the beach for a day out that won’t break the bank. Most of the waterfront has been divided up into private beach clubs or hotel front beaches, but there are still areas that the public can use for free, like the Jumeirah public beach. Facilities are limited, so if you are willing to shell out a measly 5 Dirham, head for Jumeirah Beach Park which has toilets, showers and change rooms, picnic and barbeque facilities, parks and playgrounds, and importantly a clean patrolled beach. Umbrellas, towels and beach chairs are available for hire from 5 Dirham. The sand gets hot so wear sandals or swimming shoes.
Open Hours: Daily 8am-10:30pm. Thur & Fri till 11pm. Monday for children and ladies only
COST: 5 Dirham
Jumeirah Beach Park Info
7. Grab a Falafel at Automatic
You’ll find Automatic, a Lebanese food restaurant and grill, in shopping areas and food malls dotted around the city. The menu is extensive but if you just want a snack, a Falafel Wrap will only set you back 6 Dirhams. If you are feeling spendy go for the Shawarma Meal Deal that comes with pickles, a soft drink and hot chips for only Dh12 (it was actually only Dh10 when I was there, but has gone up in the new year).
COST: from 6 Dirham
8. Go to the races
Did you know that all modern Thoroughbred horses are descended from three Arabian horses? Bedouin tribes have been breeding, racing and trading horses for centuries, it’s no wonder that this region has such a strong connection with modern horse racing. The Dubai horse racing calendar runs from Nov-Mar ending in the prestigious Dubai World Cup. Head to the track to watch all the excitement of the races, fashions on the field and lots of other entertainment. There is even a kids play area. General Admission is free for regular race days and don’t worry, there are no betting facilities on site so you won’t loose your shirt.
If you fancy something a little more adventurous, head for the Camel Races! Camel racing is a more relaxed and dusty affair compared to the horse races. Interesting fact: Human camel jockeys are banned in the UAE, they have now been replaced by small remote control robot jockeys controlled by operators driven along side the track in fancy Range Rovers. The season runs from Oct-Feb. Admission is free and families are welcome.
9. Ride the Dubai metro
Caught the metro in Dubai today. I felt like I was in a SciFi movie. #mydubai #dubaibloggerati It was cheap, fast and super clean. A video posted by Cintia :: My Poppet (@mypoppetblogs) on
Riding in the front carriage of a Dubai Metro driver-less train feels like you are in a scene out of a sci-fi movie. The elevated tracks run along side Sheikh Zayed Road and through a sea of shiny sky scrapers. You’ll notice the super modern metro stations running the length of the city, they look like giant space ships. You can head from Old Dubai to Jumeirah for around Dh6.5 or less, kids under 5 travel free
COST: from 6 Dirham
10. Explore the Dubai Mall
Because every mall needs a real dinosaur skeleton! Only in Dubai. This is the most complete skeleton in the world and the bones are real not casts! It’s over 155 million years old. Mind blown!#mydubai #dubaibloggerati The purchase price is top secret. In the millions I’m guessing.
A photo posted by Cintia :: My Poppet (@mypoppetblogs) on
There is really nothing like the Dubai Mall anywhere else in the world. The huge selection of luxury brands, boutiques and department stores from all over the globe make for fantastic window shopping. From a Japanese book store (one of the biggest in the world) to a store that just sells dates, this place has every retail need covered. But that’s not all! If shopping isn’t quite your thing there is also a giant aquarium which can be viewed for free from the outside, the largest, most complete dinosaur skeleton in the world named the DubaiDino, and an indoor souk.