Cheap things to do in Dubai
Looking for cheap things to do in Dubai? Dubai has a reputation for being a pricey place to visit, and you can certainly splash the cash with abandon on a visit to one of its many malls. But if you play your cards right, a trip to the stylish UAE city can be perfectly affordable.
Know Your Beaches
Navigating Dubai's gorgeous coastline can be a costly experience, since many of the prime lounging locations have been snapped up by the many luxury beachfront hotels - most of which charge entry for use of the beach. However, there are still plenty of fabulous beaches that don't charge an entry fee in Dubai, including Jumeirah Beach Park - which has showers, shops and a running track, and Kite Beach, which has become a key destination for kite flyers and surfers, who provide a colourful free show for anyone who wants to enjoy the view.
Of course, if you're already booked into one of the beachfront hotels, you'll be able to use its beach at no extra cost. Just go easy on the sun-lounger cocktail service!
Enjoy Hi-Tech Travel
Dubai's answer to public transport is the fun and futuristic Metro - a driverless monorail service that offers a quick, clean and scenic route across the city. It's also a highly affordable alternative to taxis and car hire, particularly if you equip yourself with a Nol card - a smart-card granting access to all modes of public transport in Dubai, available at different tariffs depending on your needs and preferences. The entry-level silver card is ideal for visitors, and is yours from just AED 25 (less than £5).
See the Free Sights
Some of the best things to do in Dubai are free - and that includes many of the key sightseeing attractions. The Dubai Museum is housed in the city's oldest building and has free admission, as does the Jumeirah Mosque - the city's largest mosque where tours are run at 10am daily at no fee. At the end of the day, you can even catch a movie free of charge at the outdoor roof garden cinema at Pyramids Restaurant - with a different 'movie under the stars' every Sunday from 8.30. Get in early to grab a bean bag.
Book the Burj in Advance
Being on a budget should not mean missing out on 'must see' attractions like the Burj Khalifa - the world's tallest manmade structure. However, failing to plan ahead could result in a 'sky high' ticket to ride the lift to the top of Burj Khalifa - up to 400 AED, versus a much more wallet-friendly 100 AED for an advance ticket.
Dubai - to Buy or Not to Buy?
If you're determined to indulge in a little retail therapy on your trip to Dubai - and we can hardly blame you for being tempted in one of the best shopping destinations in the world - there are plenty of ways to make your Dirhams go further. One way is to stick to old-style shopping at one of the bustling backstreet souqs like Karama Market, where haggling is a way of life. Prices here are rock bottom, but you'll need an eye for quality to ensure you get a genuine bargain.
If you're not up for a bit of bartering, you may prefer to shop for cut-price fare at Dubai Outlet Mall, where a host of well-known brands and designer names sell goods on perpetual sale. They even hold regular half-price Monday events, where all items marked at a 50% reduction or higher are placed outside the stores, creating a buzzing market atmosphere where you could bag some bona fide designer swag at a very reasonable price.
Good news for female travellers: Tuesday night is 'ladies' night' in many of the city's bars, so if you like a drink, we recommend you note this down in your list of things to do in Dubai. This is essentially just a happy hour for women, and bars will differ in what they have to offer - ranging from two-for-one cocktails to free drinks all night with or without canapes, so it's worth doing a bit of research into where the best deals can be found at your time of visiting.
There are dozens of websites devoted to Ladies Nights in Dubai, but take a look at this recent Time Out article to get a flavour of some of the best rated recent events. Gentlemen are allowed to attend these events of course, but only their female drinking partners will be eligible for the discounts - still cheaper than a full-price night on the town.
Before you fly back home, book yourself into a Dubai airport lounge for an affordable VIP experience guaranteed to end your holiday on a high note.