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This post is the first in a two part series detailing ways to save money it Dubai. Typically it is not a budget friendly destination to travel to especially as food, drink and accommodation can be expensive so I want to give you some tips and tricks for saving the pennies where possible. The second part will be more aimed at expats living here so I’ll talk more about rent, bills etc.
So whether this is your first, second or tenth visit hopefully there will be some tips in here that will help you save on your next holiday to Dubai
How to save money in Dubai as a tourist
Use the metro (and pick accommodation near a station)
Public transport in Dubai is not the best but over a week’s holiday getting taxis everywhere will add up so it’s worth spending a little bit of time planning around it. The metro runs as far north as the airport and all the way south to the Marina so covers a huge part of the city but only in a vertical line. Anything west or east of this area and public transport barely exists. All this is worth knowing so that you can pick accommodation based close to a metro and save yourself a small fortune as most of the key tourist sights can be accessed via the metro.
Metro cards are very similar to the London Oyster card and are easy to pick up as a tourist. Once you’ve got your card you can just top up at any station during your stay. These cards can also be used on the tram around the marina and the monorail to the Atlantis Hotel.
Stay in an apartment rather than a hotel
Another part of Dubai that can be pricey is the accommodation and this is for two reasons. Firstly, hotels here are fancy and therefore come with a price tag to reflect this. Secondly, staying at a hotel means you need to eat out for your meals and this can get pretty pricey! There are a few hostels in Dubai but you’re unlikely to find massive mixed bed dorm rooms like you would in other countries meaning you won’t find the same kind of budgets.
Another great place to look for accommodation is Airbnb where you can get some amazing deals for ideal locations and awesome facilities. This could be favorable over the hostels as you have much more choice and your own private space!
Drink less alcohol
I know, I know you are on holiday and you want to have a great time, let your hair down and relax. However, this is maybe not the best plan if you wish to keep to a tight budget while in Dubai. Alcohol is pricey no matter whether you buy it from a hotel bar, beach club or brunch. A pint of beer is going to be nearer the £10 mark unfortunately. Of course I’m not saying don’t drink, so here are a few tips.
- Buy a couple of bottles in duty free; you won’t be able to go to a supermarket and pick up some while you’re here unless you’ve got expat friends in the city with an alcohol license. Plus the prices in duty free are much cheaper anyway.
- Only head to places that have a special on drinks; happy hour, ladies night, gents night, it will all help your budget!
Use the supermarket
This stems from my earlier point about choosing an accommodation where you have the option to cook your own meals during the holiday. As I’ve already said eating out can add up fast unless you’re heading to the fast food section in the mall every day. Although supermarkets are still more expensive than in most of Europe it will certainly be cheaper than eating out everynight.
There are a range of supermarket brands to choose from including the UK favourite of Waitrose (sometimes known as Spinney’s) and France’s well known Carrefour which is a much more budget friendly option. Of course the same rules apply the bigger the supermarket the cheaper your shop will be! Mall of the Emirates has a huge Carrefour in case you’re not sure where to go.
Research offers in advance
Dubai loves an offer, it’s a little bit of a running joke that there is always something on offer in this city and you should never pay full price for anything. Of course that’s taking it a bit far but you get the idea. Time Out is a brilliant resources for all things but they tend to show you the best deals of the week in their magazine each issue as well as detailing these on their Instagram and website.
Another great time for offers in Dubai is during any holiday period; Ramadan brings the biggest deals while the holidays before and after this religious time are also full of bargains. They also have your typical offers like January sales and white (black) Friday.
Visit outside of peak season
Now this may not appeal to everyone or be available for you but changing the time you visit can really help. Dubai is most popular from October – March when the weather is cooler and people are trying to escape the northern hemisphere winter for a little sun. However, if you’re able to visit before or after these times you might be able to grab yourself some better deals especially on accommodation and flights.
I don’t suggest the above, however, if you hate the heat, no amount of bargain will make up for sweating constantly for a week on your holiday. If that sounds like you then there are still savings to be made if you just visit outside of the school holidays.
Get the Entertainer App Free Trial
The final one will completely depend if the Entertainer bring back their offer but in the latter part of 2018 they were offering a free two week trial of their app. For anyone not familiar the Entertainer is a money saving app that you pay a yearly fee for and you get to unlock thousands of offers on food, drink, attractions etc. These offers are mostly buy one get one free meaning you can get two main meals for the price of one.
Unless they bring back the deal this won’t be of much use to you as you’ll only receive one food and drink offer for free otherwise.