Alyssa Writes

Hipmunk City Love: How to Visit Dubai Without a Sheik’s Budget

Photo by Nawab via Trover

Dubai is possibly the richest city on Earth, and they’ve done well to draw a picture of its luxury. Opulent hotels, fine food, and glamorous shopping, all under the glorious sunshine – Dubai is certainly dressed to impress. In a city where the streets are paved with gold, it may leave you wondering: What does the average Jane do for fun around here?

For those of us who aren’t withdrawing our money in ingots, there are still ways to have some fun in the City of Gold. Here are five things you can do in Dubai on a budget:

Tour the Palm Jumeirah by monorail

I have a feeling there was this meeting of sheiks over non-alcoholic drinks and one of them said, “I bet you $10 million you can’t build an island!” And another guy was like, “LOL, I’ll build three.” And so the Palm Jumeirah was born.

The best way to see the palm-shaped island is from a helicopter or plane (or a spaceship if you’re flush), but you can still enjoy views of the island and surrounding water by taking a monorail ride. The journey starts at the bottom of the palm and heads to the tip. If you have the choice, visit during sunset for the most beautiful views.

Walk the length of the Dubai Marina

Photo courtesy of K Alabbar via Trover

If there was ever an image that represented the aphorism that money can’t buy taste, it would be of the Dubai Marina. This 7-km pedestrian walkway extends along the marina bay and is lined with super-luxury yachts, most of which are probably bigger than my family home.

The marina is especially beautiful at night when the skyscrapers offer a twinkling backdrop and the area is buzzing with locals and tourists.

Book online for the Burj Khalifa

The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world, and you can see what the city looks like from the 124th floor (Instagram-worthy? You bet!). The observatory deck offers a 360-degree view over Dubai where you can truly appreciate the architectural feat they have accomplished.

Booking online is cheaper and allows you to skip the long wait to buy a ticket on-site. The best time to visit is around sunset – not only for the views, but also because you’ll probably burst into flames in the blazing hot sun at that height.

BBQ on the beach

If you’re visiting Dubai when it isn’t too hot, buy some vegetables and sausages (skip the pork, though) and take it to a public beach. Most have BBQ facilities and access only costs 5 Dirhams ($1.36). Be aware that some days the beaches are for women and children only, so double-check before you go.

See the “real” Dubai

Deira souk spices | Photo courtesy of Paris Lavalle via Trover

Head over to Deira and Bur Dubai in Old Dubai where you can see the traditional Al Bastakiya Quarter, smaller souks, and local eateries. Take a boat ride in a traditional wooden boat (called an abra) across the city for just 1 Dirham. You’ll see the city’s skyline and a juxtaposition of the past and future.

Planning a budget trip to the UAE? Check out Hipmunk for cheap hotels in Dubai starting at $68 per night!

Featured imageby pipina_juno via Trover.