Is it possible to visit Dubai on a budget? Before our visit to Dubai, everybody told me about how expensive this city was. With this in mind, we planned a short visit here so we didn’t blow our budget. Searching for hotels online, we soon realised there were many 4 star hotels for very affordable prices. This was a big surprise, perhaps we could actually visit Dubai on a budget?

dubai on a budget beach and city

Yes, visiting Dubai on a budget is possible! Let’s show you how!

Getting Around – Buy a Metro Card at the Airport

Do yourself a favour and buy a silver transport card at the arrivals hall at the airport. This will save you heaps of cash on transport in this city. All of the small convenience shops sell them.

Pay 25 AED (6.80) for the card, which is 6 AED for the card purchase and 19 AED credit.

We walked out to the front of the airport and waited for a bus to take us right near to our hotel. Buses and metro are air-conditioned. Buses keep the front half of the bus separate for women and children only. Metros have two carriages dedicated only to women and children also.

Each metro or bus ride one-way costs between 3-5 AED ($0.80 – 1.30)

Taxis are affordable too

Taxi from the airport is relatively cheap, however, an airport flag fee of 25 AED ($6.80) is charged to you on top of the fare. Walk out of the arrivals terminal and catch one further out on the street to avoid paying this fee.

Stay Connected

You can purchase a sim card within 5 minutes in Dubai. We recommend getting a sim card with ‘Esilat’. The cost is 105 AED ($29.00) to register for a sim card, you must show your passport to get one. Better yet, buying an eSIM would be cheaper and easier.

Either way, a sim card or eSIM is great to have for navigating around the city using buses and the metro. 

Using public transport is a must if you want to see Dubai on a budget.

Where to Stay in Dubai on a budget?

We booked the Monaco Hotel in the Deira area of Dubai. We paid $27 per night, including tax. Our room was great! Very clean and comfortable which included a kettle, a small fridge and great wifi.

Dubai is a great city, very well planned and easy to get around. The city is separated into districts and the area we chose to stay in was a working-class district.

This was good for us as this was the epicentre of all the great, cheap food! It also allowed us to visit Dubai on a budget while still staying in a great place!

dubai on a budget monaco hotel

Our 4-star hotel room in Dubai on a budget

Our hotel was only 7 minute walk to the Al Rigga Metro station. We knew that if we wanted to visit Dubai on a budget, we had to learn how to use public transport.

Best place to view the Palm in Dubai on a budget

Within 4 stops of our hotel, the metro took us to Dubai Mall and Burj Kalifa and other sights. We rode the metro for 35 minutes to reach the other side of town. From here it was a short walk to view ‘the Palm’ from the Marriott hotel Observatory Deck, located on the top floor.

Tip: Go for a drink between 4-8 pm for Happy Hour (cocktails and most drinks 30 AED or $8.00). Sit at the window and watch the sunset.

This part of Dubai is also full of beautiful skyscrapers, and stunning 5- star hotels and it’s popular with tourists and expats.

We walked around the marina after leaving the bar. You can find many great restaurants here (although expensive ones). It’s a nice place to take a walk as Dubai is a visually pleasing city.

Where to Eat in Dubai on a Budget

Choosing awesome, affordable places to eat – our favourite thing to do in any new city! Below are some of our favourite small eateries and restaurants in different districts around Dubai. Most meals we enjoyed at these places cost between $5-10 each.

RELATED POST – 7 Tips – How to find the best food when travelling

Location: Deira District – A working-class district, we really enjoyed it. Lots of deliciously cheap food can be eaten around here, including great Middle Eastern and Filipino food

Sultan Dubai

We ordered a plate of hummus, a plate of falafel, and lots of bread and olives. The total was 24 AED. ($6.50). They serve good Turkish coffee for 7 AED.

dubai on a budget cheap food

Dubai on a budget is easy. There is so much great, affordable food available.

You can also order amazing manakeesh and shawarma.

Where to Find the Best Sweets

A few doors down is Qwaider Al Nabulsi – A sweets shop that serves the freshest Arabic sweets available. My favourite was the kanafeh. It reminded me of all those wonderful sweets I ate during my trip to Syria

dubai on a budget kanafeh

Visiting Dubai on a budget doesn’t mean you miss out on the best food. My favourite Middle Eastern sweet – Kanafeh.

Are you craving the best baklava in Dubai? – go to ‘Al Samadi’ and buy more than you think you’ll be able to eat, it’s so good.

Damascus Restaurant – Middle Eastern Food.

A very busy place with outdoor dining. We shared a fatteh with shawarma meat, a fattoush salad, lots of bread, a big salad and pickles. Total of the bill was 42 AED ($11.50). We’d definitely eat here again. Look forward to huge portions too, perfect for sharing.

Location: Al Satwa 

One of the Best Meals Ever

RAVI Restaurant – Best Pakistani food I have ever eaten. It was definitely on par with all that food I consumed on that awesome Food Tour in Karachi, Pakistan.

Ravi Restaurant has ticked all the boxes here! Great price, good portions and very busy.

We ordered Palak paneer 15 AED, mutton Peshwari (the best I’ve ever eaten) 22 AED, dahl fry 8 AED, as much fresh naan bread as you want and large chilled water.

The total bill was 55 AED or just under $15.

dubai on a budget riva restaurant

Marty is just as excited as I was for this delicious Pakistani meal. We love visiting Dubai on a budget when we get to eat this well.

This was hands down one of the most memorable meals I’ve ever eaten. The restaurant is clean and quite basic, but the food was something to write home about. I look forward to returning to eat here again for my next visit to Dubai, that’s for sure.

Location: Karama

Al Ustad – Persian kebabs.

This place has been serving kebabs for over 38 years. Busy every night of the week, the small canteen-style eatery has it sorted. The menu is short, the options are awesome.

Take your pick from hummus, chicken soup and a range of different kebabs. These are all served with either rice or bread and tomato, cucumber, onion and a side dish of garlic sauce.

Expect to pay around 40-50 AED ($10-13) per person for a generous meal.

The Sights

dubai on a budget city views

This city is AMAZING! Dubai on a budget is very possible too!

Dubai is a city just full of things to see and do! To help with planning your trip to Dubai on a budget, check out Viator or GetYourGuide to keep you entertained in this spectacular city.

Travel Options After Dubai

Check for any great flight deals with Skyscanner. Search for flights to other Middle Eastern countries, Africa or Europe from Dubai. If you’re not sure where you’d like to go next, just enter the origin (Dubai), and then put EVERYWHERE in the destination box. You’ll be given cheap flights to many countries, in ascending order. I always do this on Skyscanner; it’s a great feature and it’s a great way to save money for more travel.

If you enjoy the UAE, we recommend making the time to discover the beauty of Oman. This country borders with UAE, and we absolutely loved our time spent here. What a surprising gem this was!

Check out our post Road Trip in Oman 7 Day Itinerary. This is the perfect itinerary that details distances covered, where to stay, where to eat and so many amazing things to do in Oman

TRAVEL PLANNING RESOURCES

✈️ Flights: Aviasales & CheapOair are the best websites to book cheap flights.

🏨 AccommodationBooking.comAgoda, and Hotellook are the top platforms to search for fantastic hotels and accommodation options at the best price.

🏥 Travel Insurance: Don’t forget travel insurance! We recommend World Nomads or SafetyWing.

🚌 Transportation: To book trains, Trainline is the best and cheapest website. To book transport in Europe, USA & Canada, we use Omio & FlixbusUS. For travel in Asia, we use 12Go. For all other countries, we use BookaWay to compare and book Bus, Ferry, or train tickets to get around.

🚘 Car Rental: DiscoverCars, & Europcar are reliable platforms to book rental cars.

👫 Group ToursG Adventures or Expat Explore offers the best group adventures around the world. Use our promo code VERYHUNGRYNOMADS at checkout to receive 5% off your Expat Explore Trip!

📸 Day Tours & TripsGetYourGuide & Viator are the only platforms you will need. They offer everything at unbeatable prices.

🎒 LuggageOsprey Farpoint 40L Backpack or Samsonite Luggage Range (we love this Stack’d Carry-On Spinner Suitcase).

🛄 What to Pack: To help you get started on packing, here is our ULTIMATE Packing List for all Travellers.

🐶 Become a House Sitter: Join Trusted Housesitters and enjoy FREE accommodation around the world. Use our personal invite to receive 25% off your new membership.

💰 Send Money Anywhere: WISE is the best online account that lets you send money, get paid, and spend money internationally. It’s so easy to use and way cheaper than any bank transfer.

📶 Stay Connected: Airalo eSIM allows you to get connected the moment you land at your destination and you can avoid those expensive data roaming charges. We LOVE this product! Use promo code VHN20 for a 20% discount on ALL eSIMs (new Airalo users only – Read Terms & Conditions) OR use promo code VHN15 for a 15% discount on ALL eSIMs (for existing Airalo account users – Read Terms & Conditions)

✅ Check out our Travel Resources Page for more Useful Tips to Save you Money!