Dubai boasts wealth, class, and confidence. What was once just a small fishing village in the United Arab Emirates has become an affluent world-class city, thanks to the discovery of oil.

Dubai is a mixture of old and new, traditional and modern. It one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. Anyone seeking opulence, shopping, business development, will find it here.

Things To Do In Dubai

From old traditional souks and historical buildings (now being preserved for cultural reasons or already part of the national heritage) to modern Dubai’s overwhelming shopping malls, incredible artificial islands and giant modern skyscrapers that include the world’s tallest building, Dubai is a world in itself and offers plenty of wonderful attractions.

Dubai has a reputation for over-the-top luxury service, with prices that go right along with that. However, there are still places you can visit and things you can do for free, even in Dubai.

EXPERIENCE DUBAI CULTURE AND HERITAGE

The Heritage Village and The Diving Village at Al Shindagha are two places that are a must visit, especially if you are a tourist on a budget.

Stunning exhibits of weavers, potters, traditional crafts makers, along with the pearls of diving, will have your attention for hours! he exhibits are open daily and are free of charge.

The exhibits are open daily and are free of charge.

VISIT THE CAMEL MUSEUM

In the same area of Al Shindagha, you will also find another interesting and free to enter museum, dedicated to camels. The expositions of the museum tell visitors the history of camel breeding in the UAE, the relationship between these fascinating animals and the country. You’ll also learn about camel racing and even about camel anatomy.

LEARN TO DO YOGA

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If you are into fitness and a healthy lifestyle, there is a lot for you to do in Dubai, even for free. However, the most interesting thing are the free yoga classes from Friends of Yoga. They are held in five different locations across the city so that you can choose the closest to you. 1-hour classes take place twice a day, starting at 5.30 am and 6.30 pm respectively. 

WATCH MOVIES IN OPEN AIR

If you are a tourist on a small budget, then watching a free movie under the starry sky of Dubai is a must for you! The films are shown at the Pyramids Rooftop Complex in Wafi complex, starting 8.30 pm every Sunday.

CHECK OUT THE DUBAI AQUARIUM

Going inside the famous Dubai Aquarium in Dubai Mall costs 70 Dirhams. But if you are a budget tourist, you can view the main tank of the aquarium for free from the outside.

ENJOY THE FOUNTAIN SHOW

The marvelous display of fountains outside the Dubai Mall is one of the most popular free places in Dubai. It is a fascinating show of fountains, dancing synchronically to a musical soundtrack.

The show lasts for 3-4 minutes and starts every 30 minutes. However, you should come in advance to take the best spot and get the best view of the show.

REST AT JUMEIRAH BEACH

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The 14 km long Jumeirah Beach Corniche runs from Dubai Marine Beach Resort to Burj Al Arab Hotel. It offers its visitors 800 meters of beach line, showers, children play area and a jogging track. And it is free!

WANDER THROUGH THE GOLD AND SPICE SOUKS

One of the most popular places to visit in Dubai is the bustling old souk, situated in the Deira district. It is an old market, famous for its gold merchants, exotic frankincense, spices of all kinds and pashmina shawls.

Of course, if you are on a budget, you probably won’t be able to buy anything there. That doesn’t mean that you can’t wander through the rows. Oriental markets are truly one of a kind experience.

Dubai has a justified reputation as a concrete jungle, but there are nice pockets of greenery within the city, such as Safa Park. The city parks are modern and very well-maintained, with the most popular located in Jumeirah.

The city has numerous museums and historical buildings, but Dubai Museum is a must-see for first-time travelers to the Emirates. It provides a glimpse of the old life of Dubai, its people and their culture and heritage. A number of other museums are located in nearby Sharjah.

Abra ride

Best done at night in the cool weather and to enjoy the city lights. Abras can be hired for a private tour (for a price negotiable with the driver, but usually very cheap). This is quite a popular activity at sunset on a clear day, particularly if the driver is able to enliven the tour with stories about the structures on either side of the Creek.

Just make sure that the purpose of one’s abra hire is made clear at the outset – otherwise, you will be in for a very expensive cross-river trip or a crowded private tour. See also the Get around section above.

Beaches and sea

There are endless water sports opportunities as Dubai has some of the whitest and sandiest beaches in the world. Ocean temperatures range from 22°C in winter up to 35°C in summer, there are few wave breaks and the strong winds can make swimming difficult.

The water is also very salty so many prefer to use their hotel swimming pool. Diving activities have been severely affected by offshore construction work for the Palms and The World; consequently, long boat trips are necessary to reach wreck sites.

Alternatively, one can make the 90-minute road journey to the East coast Emirate of Fujairah or the Sharjah enclave, Khor Fakkan, for top class diving on coral reefs supporting extensive marine life.

Camel Race Track

One of the more unusual attractions, with races being held on Thursday and Friday in the winter. You can watch the races, and you’ll have the opportunity to visit the paddocks. Vendors sell everything from beads to rugs and blankets, so you can purchase souvenirs.

Desert Safari

Head out to the desert in an SUV with specialist desert drivers. The drivers will take you for a thrilling roller-coaster ride over sand dunes, show you the sunset from a strategic vantage point and then take you to a traditional Arabic Bedouin campsite where you’ll be offered lavish barbecue buffet dinner with music and belly dance to complete the atmosphere.

The duration of the tour is usually around five hours and cost per person at around 150 dirhams. You may want to stay clear of the dune bashing if you get carsick easily.

A desert safari is one of the best things to do while in Dubai. Another option would be renting/buying a 4×4 and joining the many growing 4×4 clubs in the UAE, but only if you’re an extremely experienced driver and hold an international driving license.

Many of them have websites including Emarat 4×4 and UAEoffroaders. Neighboring cities including Abu Dhabi also have their own, such as AD4x4. For all of the Dubai-based clubs, membership is free of charge and they conduct trips for beginners into the desert on a regular basis.

Natural Outdoors

Although at first glance the outdoors may seem dull and uninteresting, and even dangerous due to the desert conditions, there are actually amazing natural destinations in the Emirate of Dubai, which extends into Hatta. There are pristine waterfalls, cliffs lined with fossils, even freshwater lakes.

Yacht charter

An easy way to explore the man-made Palm Islands and coastal skyscrapers. Fleets are available for hire from Dubai Marina from many of the yacht charter agencies.

Dubai Creek

Dubai Creek is the foundation from which Dubai grew. It was built as a port for trading vessels plying to and from India, Africa, and the Middle East. Today a bit of the old shipping culture still remains. In and around the Creek one can see some of the original buildings that have served as customs houses and defense structures.

You can book a ride (usually four hours) on the Dubai Marina cruise or rent a private boat to take you on an hour-long ride up and down the Creek.

Burj Khalifa

Visit the tallest building in the world with the magnificent centerpiece of Dubai, Burj Khalifa is surrounded by hotels, must-visit shopping destinations and a world of entertainment options. More info can be found in the Jumeirah district article.

Sand Golf

Not that Dubai doesn’t have green world class golfs money can build in a desert, but we recommend trying a more local flavor, aka, Sand Golf. Yes, sand golf exists and it is actually quite fun. Plus, where else you would get to swing in the sand. 

Hot Air Balloon Ride

Great fun seeing all the sand dunes and mountains early in the morning or during sunset. It is pricey though, so make sure to call and check.

Big Bus City Tour

You can take a bus tour, both daytime and nighttime, of many of attractions in Dubai.

Explore Downtown Dubai

Bur Dubai is in essence of downtown Dubai. It stretches from the southern side of Dubai Creek to 2nd of December St or D 73 Rd, formerly Al Dhiyafa Rd. It has experienced the most development in the past decade. Jumeirah is to the south, and Deira to the north, across the creek.

Downtown Dubai can be explained in one word: mammoth. Everything from buildings to shopping centers is immense. The hotel Burj Khalifa is located in the central part of the city.

The Satwa is a mine where shoppers can both explore and buy gold in tons. Occupants here are primarily Indian. If you are craving food that is both authentic and spicy, dine in one of the many restaurants here!

Most of the occupants here are primarily Indian. If you are craving food that is both authentic and spicy, dine in one of the many restaurants here!

Bur Dubai is next to a creek. Enjoy the unique experience of floating restaurants here. Both Emirates Hills and Arabian Ranches are beautiful, affluent areas. The International City is home to a considerable Chinese population. It also has affordable accommodations.

Mirdiff is near the airport. You’ll spot classy apartments in this neighborhood. Deira is the epitome of old Dubai. Attend its markets, which are both traditional and exotic.

Dubai Marina holds a sizable population of both Europeans and Americans. It has posh restaurants which can serve you a one-of-a-kind meal. Jumeirah is very diverse, and also boasts gorgeous villas lining its beaches.

Dubai’s souks are a treasure to discover. You’ll find a little bit of everything, from aromatic spices to intricate handicrafts. Open museums in Shindagha are full of culture. Jumeirah Mosque, Burj Khalifa, Burj al-Arab Hotel, Dubai Fountain, Palm Islands, Dubai Marina, and Al Safa Park are also landmarks you must visit while you are here.

How to Get Around in Dubai

Dubai is known as a very expensive city tailored for luxury vacations. The taxis there are clean, comfortable and relatively cheap. For example, a trip from the airport will cost you around $25, which is not the worst price.

Also, if you are a single female traveler you can even choose the Ladies’ Taxi with a female driver. However, if you are a budget tourist, getting a cab every time you want to go somewhere will burn a huge hole in your wallet.

So, here are some other options for getting around Dubai for the budget traveler:

WALKING

Dubai is clean and very safe, so you don’t have to be afraid of getting mugged when you go for a walk around the city. Dubai also offers its pedestrians very wide sidewalks and several bridges for safe crossing of the highways.

Of course, you need to keep in mind the weather. Outdoor temperatures may be so hot that you won’t be able to move far away from your accommodation on foot. The best months for taking long walks through Dubai are December and January. October through March is also tolerable. However, it is almost certain; you won’t be able to enjoy a walk during the summer months and even September, when the temperature reaches up to 40-50 oC, with high humidity.

METRO

The Dubai metro is still under construction. There are currently two lines in operation. The Red Line runs from the airport towards Rashidiya, the western part of the city. And the Green Line connects Al Qusais, which is also situated not far from the airport, with Al Jadaf, a neighborhood to the east of downtown. The Metro in Dubai is clean, fast and comfortable. Each train offers a section for only women and children.

Furthermore, the Metro operates from 5:30 AM until midnight, Thursdays from 5:30 AM until 1 AM and Fridays from 10 AM until 1 AM. You will need a Nol ticket to enter the Metro, which you can buy at any station. Plus, the fare ranges from 2 to 6.50 dirhams, depending on distance and duration of travel. If you are planning to use Dubai public transport several times you should get a Nol card, which you can use for the Metro, buses and waterbus rides. You can use it as a pay-per-ride card or a day pass, whichever is more convenient for you. Just load it with money, and you are ready to go.

BUS

There are over 75 bus routes within Dubai city and 15 inter-emirate routes. The bus costs the same as the Metro, and can also be paid by a Nol card. Buses operate from 5 AM until midnight. They are clean, comfortable and have air-conditioners, which are a necessity when the temperature reaches 50 oC. However, the route scheme can be rather confusing. Thus, to save yourself time and nerve, we recommend going down into the subway instead.

MONORAIL

The modern monorail will take you all the way from the Palm Jumeirah to the Atlantis Hotel on the island’s crescent. It operates from 8 AM to 10 PM and costs 15 dirhams one-way or 25 dirhams for a round trip ticket. In the future, it is planned to connect the monorail to the Metro system.

WATERBUS

In addition to private boats called Abras, which cost 1 dirham and will get you across Dubai Creek, there is a city-owned boat service known as the Dubai Waterbus. These boats are more spacious and high-tech than Abras. They have air-conditioning and service stations right outside of the downtown area. One trip costs two dirhams, but you can pay with a Nol Card. On Abras drivers only take cash.

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October 1, 2016 7:44 pm Published by

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