Dubai Budget Trip: Where to Stay, Where to Go, Where to Eat | Lady & her Sweet Escapes

Sep 8, 2015

Dubai Budget Trip: Where to Stay, Where to Go, Where to Eat

Dubai and Budget are two words that may not seem to go along very well. People have associated Dubai with ultra-luxurious lifestyle, the 7-star hotel and the world's tallest skyscraper that it scares the budget savvy travelers.

I've been here for 7 years and I can say that Dubai is not a cheap travel destination if you want to experience the glitz and glamour that it is famous for. But, there are ways on how you can appreciate its wonders without breaking the bank.

Dubai on a budget

Over the past years, I have convinced a few friends and family members to come over, and together, we made their Dubai Budget Trip happen. It's possible! 

Dubai Budget Travel Guide
Dubai Travel Guide: How to experience Dubai without breaking the bank

Now, it's time to fulfill your Dubai travel plans. Here are our recommended accommodations (tried and tested by my family and friends) and ways to explore the city on a budget.

Budget Accommodation in Dubai

  • Hostel: 100+ AED per night for a single bed in a dormitory
    • What my friends love: 
      • Dubai Youth Hostel - a budget accommodation for backpackers and solo travelers. The hostel has a swimming pool, cafeteria, and laundry service. It is located in Al Qusais, quite far from the tourist attractions but can be accessed by the Metro. Stadium metro station is about 10 minutes away by foot. 
  • Budget Hotels: 300+ AED per night for a Double Room
    • What my friends love: 
      • London Crown Hotel - a contemporary, clean and comfortable accommodation in Bur Dubai. Location-wise, it is excellent as it is a short walk from BurJuman metro station and shopping mall
  • Hotel Apartment: 400+ AED per night for a 1-bedroom hotel apartment
    • What my family loves: 
      • Flora Park Hotel Apartments - a fully-serviced aparthotel in the heart of Deira. Deira City Centre shopping mall and metro station are just a few minutes walk. 
      • Star Metro Deira Hotel - affordable and spacious accommodation perfect for families. It is located across Reef Mall and a short stroll from Salah Al Din metro station. 
Family Suite in Star Metro Deira Hotel
at the Family Suite in Star Metro Deira Hotel

Public Transportation in Dubai

  • Purchase NOL Card in a metro station and take the bus, the metro or the tram.
    • NOL Red Card (recommended for occasional travelers) 
      • Card: 2 AED 
      • Fare: 4 AED/trip in 1 zone, 6 AED/trip in 2 adjacent zones, 8.5/trip in more than 2 zones
    • NOL Silver Card 
      • Card: 25 AED (19 AED e-purse value)
      • Fare:  3 AED/trip in 1 zone, 5 AED/trip in 2 adjacent zones, 7.5/trip in more than 2 zones 
  • For more information, please visit Dubai RTA's official website.
  • Please also check my previous post on how you can reach the tourist attractions via the Dubai Metro: Dubai City Tour via The Metro
Public Transportation in Dubai
Public Transportation in Dubai

Things-to-do in Dubai on a Budget

  • Old Dubai Walking Tour 
    • Spend: 
      • 1 AED for an Abra Ride
      • 3 AED - Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House entrance fee
      • 3 AED - Dubai Museum entrance fee
    • Here's a guide on how to explore Old Dubai at your own pace: Old Dubai DIY Tour 
  • Desert Safari
    • Spend around 150 AED for a thrilling adventure in the desert which includes dune bashing, camel ride, henna, belly dancing, bbq dinner at the camp. 
  • Burj Khalifa
    • Because it's the world's tallest tower, it can be seen from almost every point of the city for FREE! For best views, head to Downtown Dubai! 
    • To appreciate it more, spend 125 AED to access Burj Khalifa's At The Top observation deck at the 124th floor.
  • Dubai Aquarium
    • See the world's largest acrylic panel for FREE at The Dubai Mall.
    • Spend 70 AED to explore the Aquarium Tunnel and Underwater Zoo.
  • Dubai Dino
    • See the remains of a real skeleton for FREE at The Dubai Mall's Souk Dome.
  • Dubai Fountain
    • Watch the world's largest fountain dance to classical, Arabic and International songs every 30 minutes at the Burj Lake for FREE.
  • Burj Al Arab
    • Admire the world's most luxurious hotel from Umm Suqeim open beach for FREE
  • Palm Jumeirah
    • Spend 25 AED to travel via the Palm Monorail from the trunk to the crescent of the man-made island.  
  • Atlantis The Palm
    • Explore the Avenues at Atlantis The Palm for FREE.
    • Spend 100 AED to see 65,000 marine animals at The Lost Chambers and to appreciate the unique concept of Atlantis even more. 
  • Dubai Marina
    • Take a stroll at Marina Walk and see the world's tallest twisted tower (Cayan Tower) for FREE.
  • Ski Dubai
    • glance at the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East from the tall glass windows at Mall of the Emirates for FREE
    • Spend 250 AED for a Super Pass which includes entrance to the Snow Park, access to the thrilling rides, and a pair of gloves.

attractions in Dubai
must-do and must-see attractions in Dubai

Pocket-friendly Foodie Destinations in Dubai

  • Fast food chains 
    • 15-25 AED for a combo meal
    • What I love: 
      • Taza Means Fresh - Lebanese fast food
        • Locations: The Dubai Mall / Satwa / Al Rigga / Sheikh Zayed Road (near Financial Centre metro station)
      • Umami - Japanese fast food
        • Locations: Mall of the Emirates / Ibn Battuta Mall / Al Ghurair Centre
      • Bombay Chowpatty - Indian fast food
        • Locations: Deira City Centre / Lamcy Plaza / Karama / Mall of the Emirates
      • Al Farooj - Lebanese fast food
        • Locations: Deira City Centre / Mall of the Emirates / Mirdif City Centre
      • Chowking - Filipino-Chinese fast food
        • Locations: Deira City Centre / Al Ghurair Centre / The Walk / Satwa / Karama / Airport Terminal 1
  • Budget Specialty Restaurants
    • 30-50 AED for a main course and a drink
    • What I love:
      • Betawi - Indonesian Restaurant - must try: Nasi Padang 
        • Location: 4B street in Karama
      • Seafood in a Bucket - seafood restaurant - must try: Tilapia in black pepper sauce 
        • Locations: New Al Attar Centre near Karama metro station / Ansar Gallery in Karama / Centurion Star building near Deira City Centre metro station
        • Update (January 2017): This restaurant is now closed. 
      • Ravi - Pakistani Restaurant - must-try: Fish Biryani 
        • Locations: Karama / Satwa / Al Nahda
      • Pita - Filipino Restaurant - must-try: Bulalo 
        • Location: near BurJuman metro station Exit 2
      • Special Ostadi Restaurant - Iranian restaurant - must-try: Khorak Bahraini
        • Location: near Al Fahidi metro station in Bur Dubai
      • Automatic - Lebanese Restaurant - must-try: Boneless Grilled Chicken 
        • Locations: near Al Rigga metro station / Bin Sougat Centre / Al Khaleej Centre in Mankhool 
      • Dampa Seafood Grill - seafood restaurant - must-try: Baked Mussels
        • Location: Centurion Star building near Deira City Centre metro station
      • Zaroob - Levant street eatery - must-try: Man'ouche
        • Location: Sheikh Zayed Road near Financial Centre metro station
  • Budget Snacks
    • 5-10 AED for a light meal
    • What I love:
      • Shawarma and Falafel from small cafeterias in Karama and Bur Dubai
      • Cheese Manakish from Al Reef in Karama or Automatic in Al Rigga
      • Luqaimat from a barasti stall at the Heritage Village in Al Shindagha
      • Fresh coconut water from the stalls in Old Dubai souks
      • Chaat from Indian restaurants in Meena Bazaar
      • Mix Layers from Juice World in Al Rigga
cheap eats in Dubai
cheap eats in Dubai 

Online Deals and Buy1 Get1 Free Vouchers 

  • Check out the Daily Deals Websites Cobone and Groupon for amazing discounts on food, activities and hotel stays.
  • Purchase The Entertainer for buy1 get1 free offers in Dubai's top restaurants and attractions.   

buy1 get1 vouchers in Dubai
some of the buy 1 get 1 free deals in The Entertainer 2015 app

Did I miss your favorite cheap thrill? Tell me what it is in the comment box below! :)
100 Things To Do in Dubai
Downtown Dubai Do-It-Yourself Tour

Spending 3 full days in Dubai? Here is a sample itinerary: The Ultimate 3 Days Dubai DIY Tour

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