Dubai: Cheap-Thrills That Won’t Break Your Bank Account

Dubai has a reputation for being a city of extravagance, and probably the least backpacking-friendly country I have ever been to so far. Saturated in contemporary ambiance, Dubai is considered as a city of luxury leisure. A lot of travellers are hesitant to visit not just because of cultural sensitivity but also fear of spending every penny to enjoy Dubai during a holiday.

Targeting to become the top destination in the world for luxury tourism, it is no doubt that much of the city’s offerings are designed to be exclusive, mainly for the rich and famous. Yet, there are still tons of things to do for regular travellers like you and me!

Window-Shopping at the Malls

There are lots of unique entertainment to enjoy apart from splurging on shopping. Here are some of the malls which I would highly recommend to visit but do take note to dress appropriate (if not, you might be asked to leave by the security guard). And yes, all these malls provide free wi-fi too!

The Dubai Mall

How does it sound to walk around the size of 50 soccer fields? I have been there 3 times and still can’t say I had properly explored the whole mall. How does it sounds to visit the largest candy store, view fishes from one of the largest suspended aquarium in the world and meet DubaiDino, a 155 million-year-old dinosaur skeleton!

Nearest Metro Station: Burj Khalifa/The Dubai Mall Station

Mall of the Emirates

Who says you can’t meet penguins in the desert? In order to enjoy 365-days of Winter, Ski Dubai Resort was built in this mall with real snow!  

Nearest Metro Station: Mall of the Emirates

Ibn Battuta Mall

Being the World’s Largest Themed Shopping Mall, Ibn Battuta Mall has 6 themed-courts inspired by the young Moroccan adventurer who explored six different lands: Tunisia, Egypt, Persia, India, China and Andalusia. This is probably my favourite mall of all cities I’ve visited.

Nearest Metro Station: Ibn Battuta

Captivated by the Largest Choreographed Fountain

Right outside The Dubai Mall is Burj Lake which offers the tallest performing fountain in the World. The Dubai Fountain sways to the tunes of international artists daily from 6:00pm to 11:00pm (every 30-minutes interval). 

Nearest Metro Station: Burj Khalifa/The Dubai Mall Station

Awed by the World’s Tallest Structure 

Burj Khalifa is another stunning Dubai tourist attraction right beside the Dubai Mall. An evening spent at the illuminated Burj Khalifa and dancing Dubai Fountain is a free of cost spectacle not to be missed on your Dubai trip. Instead of paying a premium price to go up Burj Khalifa, why not watch it from the bottom for free?

Nearest Metro Station: Burj Khalifa/The Dubai Mall Station

Sunbathing at Free Public Beach

There are many private beaches in Dubai and a few beaches such as Jumeirah Beach and JBR Beach are free for public. Any style of beachwear is acceptable in these 2 beaches as long as it’s not topless. In addition, alcohol is not allowed on the beaches and men should be advised that certain days at beaches are ladies day!

Marvel the Street Arts at JBR Walk

Jumeirah Beach Residence (also known as JBR) is a luxury residential area with waterfront view. I was lucky to have a friend staying in this area, allowing me to indulge in this extravagant lifestyle. 

Nearest Metro Station: Jumeirah Lake Towers Station/ Dubai Marina Station

Catch Sunset by the Most Iconic Hotel

It doesn’t cost you anything to watch a beautiful sunset on Arabian waters and enjoy views of Dubai’s exquisite cityscape.

Discover the Rich Culture of Dubai

Escape the skyscrapers of the city center and travel back in time with a trip to “the other side” of Dubai. The original town was built along the Dubai Creek and that area still maintains an authentic feel with traditional wind towers, bustling courtyards and maze of winding alleyways. You can explore the whole of Old Dubai in one day by foot.

Diera Old Souk

This Dubai’s largest and oldest market is full of treasures: traditional spices, gold, and perfume side by side with Chinese electronics and plastic toys. Do you know the World’s Largest Gold Ring is on display in one of gold shop at Gold Souk?

Nearest Metro Station: Al Ras Station

Bastakiya Quarter

One of the oldest residential area in Dubai, which was destroyed during the ’80s to build an office complex. However, thanks to a preservation campaign, the project was stopped and the houses were restored. Nowadays, traditional Arab Gulf buildings and homes still stand along its streets.

Nearest Metro Station: Al Ras Station

Dubai Museum

Al Fahidi Fort houses the Dubai Museum. For only 3 dirhams (less than USD1), the museum gives you a great summary of the UAE’s history, from before the black gold times. The exhibits are using simple technology considering Dubai’s modern whizz bang image. Life size dioramas depict before the discovery of oil.

Nearest Metro Station: Al Ghubaiba or Al Fahidi Stations 

Dubai Creek

Skip the expensive boat tours and take an abra across the Creek for 1 dirham between Diera and Bur Dubai. In Deira area, there are two stations, one near the Spice/Gold Souk and the other one near Riviera Hotel/ Deira Twin Towers. On the opposite side, there are two stations as well: one near the Textile Souk and the other one near Bur Dubai bus station.

Take a Monorail to Man-made Island

You don’t need to stay in this 5-stars aqua themed resort in order to visit the Palm Island. The fun thing here is to take a monorail across and enjoy the view. A return ticket for monorail ride is AED25 (USD7).

Nearest Metro Station: Palm Jumeirah station

Get Lost in the Largest Flower Garden

Dubai Miracle Garden is the Middle Eastern city’s latest mega super project. It has the record in Guinness Book of Records for having the longest wall of flowers which will give a new landmark for Miracle Garden and for the City of Dubai, which is believed to be the leader in diverse and cultural tourist attraction. Entrance fee: 30AED (USD8)  

Getting there: Take Bus 105 from Mall of Emirates (outside Metro Station), 5 Dirhams (USD1)

Cruising on Dubai’s water

Apart from getting around via Metro, you can travel on water as well! The Dubai Ferry is another great alternative for tourists to see the city from the sea and get a glimpse of some of the most popular parts of Dubai including the Burj Al Arab and The Palm Jumeirah. Round trip from Dubai Marina: 50 AED (USD13)

Nearest Tram Station: Dubai Marina Mall Station

Lastly, if you want to keep a track of all my photos and travels, remember to follow @wanderrsaurus on Instagram!

Visiting Dubai soon? Pin this post to read later!

Aloha! I'm Bunzy, a curious dreamer who is passionate about roaming around the world getting lost, experiencing new cultures and meeting the locals. My superpower is to be able to sleep anywhere, anyhow!

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