Today we have a guest blog post “Dubai – Not For Backpackers?” from Neha Singh and here’s a little bit about her:
A postgraduate in Mass Communications, Neha loves everything about life. Traveling is extremely close to her heart and writing came to her naturally.
An avid trekker & explorer, who often takes off some time from her busy life for mountaineering, she loves meeting new people & gets attached to their culture very easily. Her ambition is to explore as many places as she can in her life. She strongly believes in Gandhian principle – “simple living high thinking”.
Yes, you’ve heard accounts of Dubai and seen enough pictures and videos of the city’s magnificent marvels. You’ve shaken your head and decided that it’s just not a place for a backpacker on a budget. We disagree. We will prove all the naysayers wrong and debunk this myth with a Dubai for backpacker’s guide.
Budget-friendly Attractions and Things To Do
You can enjoy several sights and do many exciting things in Dubai without breaking the bank.
- Dubai Museum and Al Fahidi: Dubai’s oldest commercial gallery is a sight to behold.
- Shindagha and Sheikh Saeed Al-Maktoum House: Entry is free. Built in the 19th century, the house is the best example of olden days Emirati life.
- Dubai Heritage Village: Just around the Corniche from Al-Maktoum house.
- Jumeirah Mosque: Open to non-Muslims, this glorious mosque is a sight to enjoy.
- Heritage House and Al-Ahmadiya School: Situated side by side are these two top examples of the UAE’s traditional architecture.
- Dubai’s Parks: There’s the Creek Park, Safa Park, the Dubai Desert Conservation Area and many others with BBQ facilities and play areas.
- Dubai’s Souks: Not to miss are Bur Dubai’s Meena Bazaar and Deira’s Spice, Gold and Perfume Souks.
- Expeditions: Look for cut-priced desert and zoo safaris and dhow cruises online. Enjoy a Dubai dhow cruise dinner under the night stars.
Figure Out How To Beat Travel Costs
Travel to Dubai is quite cheap on Emirates and other indigenous airlines as Dubai actively encourages tourism. Look up cheap flight rates online. Joining a cruise liner as staff for the travel duration is one good idea. Picking up last-minute flight cancelations is another.
Look For Cheap Accommodations
Tips: Most hotels, cafes and large malls offer free Wi-Fi. Also, PC use is free at the Living Rooms in Festival City Mall.
Dubai Youth Hostel:
Located at Al Qusais near the Sharjah border, a room shared with 6 others costs Dhs100 a night, with single rooms at Dhs200. Private rooms come with toilet, shower, TV, phone and fridge. The hostel is only a short distance from the Stadium Metro Station, which is ideal to move around Dubai. Breakfast is free. See www.uaeyha.com for more information.
Other Cheap Accommodations:
- You’ll find cheap accommodations at Al Qusais and Al Nahda Roads.
- A walk through Old Dubai will lead to cheap hotels, which offer lower rates for walk-in guests.
- Book cheap stays online. You might be able to leverage huge discounts from time to time.
- The Citymax Al Barsha hotel chain does offer reliable and economic accommodation. The hotel is close to the Mall of the Emirates. Meal promotions and cheap drinks are on offer, and the metro is close by.
- Close to the Jebel Ali Free Zone at the edge of town is the easyHotel, which offers cheap rooms. The Metro is not far off which is a definite advantage.
- The Marina Byblos Hotel in Dubai Marina is not as cheap as Bur Dubai hotels, but fairly economical for the location.
Close to the Youth Hostel is Lulu Hypermarket, which has many cheap eateries. Plus, there’s a McDonald’s and KFC within 5 minutes of the hostel. The nearby Karachi Darbar hotel is a cheap eatery much favored by Dubai’s taxi drivers. You’ll also find Freddy’s Bar at the nearby Fortune Plaza Hotel, where beer costs only Dhs30.
Here are several other cheap eateries in Dubai:
- Eat and Drink Restaurant, Al Wasl Road for cheap shawarmas
- Mama Tani, Town Centre, Jumeirah Beach Road – sweet and savory Emirati delights
- Abshar, Iranian restaurant, Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah; cheap sweet shop next door.
- China Sea, Al Maktoum Street, Deira – authentic seafood at cheap rates.
- Klayya Bakery and Sweets, Al Barsha Mall –Emirati breakfast, baked breads and hot drinks
- Lola’s Best Restaurant, Mankhool Road, Satwa – cheap Filipino steak and chicken
- Ravi’s, Pakistani street eatery, Satwa – Indian and Pakistani dishes served cheap
Cheap Transport Within Dubai
- Taxis: Taxis are fairly inexpensive; you can book them online as well. Avoid hotel metered cars. Special pink-roofed taxis are for ladies only.
- Metro: Dubai’s metro is fast, clean and economical, connects to the Dubai Airport and several major attractions.
- Buses: Buses go where metros don’t reach, they are cheap, accept Nol payment cards, and travel to other emirate cities.
- Abras: Dubai’s wooden water taxis will take you across the Dubai Creek in a jiffy, at very low costs. They are great for sightseeing and visiting Bur Dubai and Deira.
- Water Taxis: Dubai’s fast and economical water taxis operate on the Arabian Gulf, docking close to major attractions.
- Dubai Tram: Fairly cheap and efficient, the tram accepts Nol cards and provides quick access to attractions. The tram connects to the Palm Monorail and Metro stations.
- Palm Jumeirah Monorail: Efficient and cheap system to travel within the Palm Islands.
Tip: Obtain the Nol card to pay for all public transport and save money.
- Goan Shack: The Pub Grub: Best Old Dubai hangout; two beers for Dhs36 – 6 and 9pm.
- The Observatory: Amazing views of the palm, Dhs20 for drinks every day.
- Malecon: Latino bar with Che Guevara on the walls, comic house band and cheap drinks
- Girders: Half-priced drinks between 4 to 8 p.m. at this Scottish-themed bar
- Time Café: 50-plus TV screens streaming global sports, and cheap drinks
Do a thorough due diligence online before you plan your trip. You might be able to discover discounts, cut-rates and other perks for backpackers that are not covered here. Also, several landmarks have free or half-rate entry days. Look out for them.