Figuring out how much spending you need to do on a holiday is not the most exciting part of travel planning, but it has to be done.
Depending on your destination of choice, you can either holiday on a budget or splash the cash. And for those looking to come to Dubai, it’s usually the latter.
With a host of activities to choose from, restaurants at every step and impressive malls with Guinness World Record status, spending is an easy task in this city.
Those with deep pockets will never be short of things to do. But for the more conscious spender, holidaying on a budget is, believe it or not, still possible.
Visitors looking to soak up the rays in Dubai have a host of outdoor options to choose from with plenty of access to free public parks and beaches. Cheap eateries dotted across the city also offer an authentic taste of the world that won’t leave you broke.
Check out The National’s guide to holiday spending and work out how much you should take on your next visit to the desert metropolis. If you plan smart, you could spend as little as Dh2,548 (Ghs 4,044) for a week-long trip.
Average cost per day: Dh50 (Ghs 80)
Always allow some spending money for travel once you arrive. If you’re not on a package holiday, you will have to pay for airport transfers to your self-catering accommodation. If you’re staying in a hotel, it should be free, so always double check before your trip as it will save cash.
If you want to venture out and see more of the city, catching the nearest public transport is a great option. Taxis, buses, metros and trams are just some of the ways to get about and – for the most part – it can be cheap.
Buy a nol card when you touch down. The contactless travel card can be purchased at the airport as well as most groceries. The initial charge is just Dh25 (Ghs 40) then you top up as you go. The card can be used to pay for trips on the Dubai Metro, Dubai Tram and the Roads and Transport Authority buses, among others.
The nol ‘red ticket’ option enables you to make single trips and pay only for the exact trip you travel. Prices depend on the number of zones you transfer through. It costs just Dh4 (Ghs 6.4) to pass through one zone, Dh6 (Ghs 9.5) to pass through two adjacent zones and Dh8.50 (Ghs 13.50) for more than two zones. Taxis are a little more expensive and operate on a meter system.
You can register at dubaitaxi.ae and use its fare calculator to plan the cost of your trips before arriving in Dubai. For instance, a 20 minute journey from Dubai Marina Mall to Dubai Mall should cost about Dh15 (Ghs 24) during off peak times.
Food and drink
Average cost per day: Dh164 (Ghs 260)
If you’re not staying all-inclusive, eating and drinking out can end up being costly in the city so think about your daily intake of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Eating out in Dubai can vary. According to budgetyourtrip.com, the average cost of food per day is Dh164 (Ghs 260).
A buffet breakfast at a hotel in Dubai can range from Dh30 (Ghs 48) to Dh120 (Ghs 191), depending on the hotel and part of town. Small grocery stores are scattered throughout the city so you will save a lot of cash if you do a couple of supermarket visits to load up on snacks and drinks.
A 500ml bottle of water costs less than Dh1 (Ghs 1.60) in a grocery compared to nearly triple the price in a hotel. Try and work out how many bottles of water, soft drinks, coffees and other drinks you’ll need every day then load up every few days.
Dinners in Dubai vary in price. A hearty meal for a family of four can cost less than Dh100 (Ghs 159) if you opt for a small eatery in older parts of town like Bur Dubai, Satwa or Deira. For something more elaborate in a hotel or mall, a similar meal could set you back up to Dh300 (Ghs 476) or more.
Average cost per day: Dh150 (Ghs 238)
You’re in a new city, you will be itching to check out everything it has to offer. While activities and excursions do eat into your spending money, they are often the experiences that make your trip.
If you’re one for water parks, hiring a jet ski or taking a trip into the desert for some dune bashing, you’ll need to check out the costs before you go.
Browse online before your flight and try and get a daily plan together. Remember, booking in advance often means bigger discounts. Another good tip is to book with a local provider as they don’t charge commission like some tour operators. Use Google to search for discounts too.
Right now, a morning desert safari with sandboarding and a camel ride can be snapped up for Dh148 (Ghs 235). Keen to soar to the high floors of the world’s tallest building? Tickets to Burj Khalifa cost from Dh129 (Ghs 205)per person.
To save money on general sightseeing, you can skip the tour bus and use public transport to get around instead. The Dubai Metro system is more than 74km in length and takes you from old Dubai to new.
Average cost per day: depends on you
Just like budgeting for food and drink, the money you set aside for shopping really depends on you. Before you embark on your overseas adventure, calculate how much you plan to allow for gifts and souvenirs.
Shops in old Dubai sell magnets, trinkets and fun keepsakes for as little as Dh3 (Ghs 4.8) each so why not set aside a budget for each person and go from there.
Malls are all part of the attraction in Dubai, so if you’re planning to visit and want to buy some treats for yourself, good spending money is needed.
Remember, prices in Dubai are often higher than most places including the UK, India and the US, so check the stores online before you arrive to get an idea of what each item will set you back.