Dubai

9 Cheap Things to Do in Dubai

From out-of-this-world architectures to sites rich in history, you can save a lot of money with this list of cheap things to do in Dubai.

Cheap Things to Do in Dubai – When we think of Dubai, we conjure images of the Burj Khalifa towering at 828 metres making it the tallest skyscraper in the world and police officers cruising down the highway in a Lamborghini.

While it is true that Dubai is an expensive city to visit, this ostentatious destination attracts travelers from all walks of life – even those on a shoestring budget can discover the splendours of this gem located on the Persian Gulf.

Allow us to dispel the myth that Dubai is notoriously exorbitant with a list of 9 things you can do for free or a meagre amount of dirhams. Also if you are a tourist, rejoice because pretty much everything in Dubai is tax-free!

Frolic in the sea, sun and sand at Kite Beach

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Image credit: Shyjith Kannur

Beat the scorching Arabian summer heat at the Kite Beach juxtaposed against the majestic Burj Al Arab which resembles a traditional dhow boat. Sink your feet into the white powdery sand and inhale the briny aroma while the gentle sea breeze rustles through your hair. The ambience is enlivened by ebullient children basking in the sun as vigilant lifeguards keep an eye on them.

With a plethora of activities to keep you busy, including kitesurfing, beach tennis and paddle boarding, you can have all the fun in the sun imaginable. There is also a library kiosk onsite where you can rent a book or two and unwind on the pristine stretch of sand; an ideal respite for all you bibliophiles. Satiate your hunger pangs at one of the multifarious eateries dotting the extensive coast hereafter.

Kite Beach has so much to offer, but you know what is best of all? Entry is completely free and there are a number of washrooms and changing rooms at your disposal after a dip in the inviting warm waters. Remember to pack your swimming essentials if you are planning a trip to Dubai!

Spend a day window shopping at the world’s largest mall

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Image credit: Visit Dubai

Ever wondered what it is like to look around a shopping haven boasting more than 1,300 stores in a luxurious city? As far as shopping is concerned, there are no limits in Dubai. We have often seen the media portraying Arabs as exorbitant spenders, but retail therapy is a guiltless lifestyle of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates. So, be prepared for a window-shopping experience like no other.

Dubai Mall is colossal. It comprises a giant ice rink and aquarium, a dinosaur skeleton, indoor theme parks and a range of food outlets. After ogling at the display of goods in the high-end stores and chic retail outlets, you can head to the grand atrium and be captivated by the skeletal display of a dinosaur that roamed the face of earth more than 155 million years ago. It is completely free of charge and you get to snap photos of a really precious relic.

That isn’t the only visual treat you will be in for. You can watch thousands of aquatic creatures swimming gracefully in the Dubai Aquarium tank for free through the world’s largest acrylic panel at the ground floor. There are also great cheap eats in Dubai Mall for you to satiate your taste buds after an eventful day. Cheap Things to Do in Dubai

Gaze at the breathtaking spectacle of lights, water and sound at the Dubai Fountain 

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Image credit: The National

The Dubai Fountain is the world’s tallest performing fountain and it was designed by the creators of the iconic Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas. Watch the magical symphony of colourful visual projections and powerful water spouting to incredible heights dancing to melodious tunes of various genres ranging from classical to contemporary Arab music and evergreen Bollywood tracks.

It is admirably positioned on the impressive Burj Lake at the centre of downtown Dubai and the spectacular performance scheduled is free for all. You just have to scour the best spot along the promenade preferably away from the thronging crowd or discover an elevated spot to behold the Dubai Fountain whirling beneath your feet.

Five-minute performances are held daily – shows commence at 6pm and rerun every 30 minutes until 11pm. You can also catch the visual spectrum at 1pm and 1.30pm daily, except for Fridays when they are shown at 1.30pm and 2pm instead.

You will have ample time to catch the extravagant display, but we suggest going once before sunset and again after the last speck of sunlight illuminates Dubai’s skyline – for two unique but equally exceptional experiences.

Cheap Things to Do in Dubai

Behold the focal point of Dubai’s mesmerising skyline

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Image credit: Thomas Drouault

Your trip to Dubai wouldn’t be complete without capturing snapshots of the tallest skyscraper in the world – or from it. You can enjoy panoramic views of the magnificent city and beyond while perched on the observation deck of Burj Khalifa from 149 AED (SGD$56).

Let’s face it though, the price is steep. Why not forego that frill and settle for a cheap thrill? Make your way to the terrace of Palace Downtown, overlooking the shimmering blue pool. Hold your head up literally and be in awe of the majestic Burj Khalifa glistening in all its glory. It’s arguably the most luxe place to get an unobstructed view of the iconic landmark and you don’t have to fork out a single dirham!

Cheap Things to Do in Dubai

Learn about the religion and culture of Emiratis at the Jumeirah Mosque

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Image credit: Afar

Emiratis are predominantly Muslim and it comes as no surprise that they are many mosques in Dubai – 1418 till date to be precise. While there are a large number of Muslim places of worship, the Jumeirah Mosque is the only one that welcomes people of all creeds and cultures six days a week to gain an inisght on Islamic life and admire the architectural masterpiece.

Built entirely from pristine white stone, a prevalent style during the Fatimid dynasty, the dome encircled by the towering twin minarets adds on to the resplendence of the mosque. Once you step inside, you’ll see how the interior enhances the exterior facade. It is large enough to hold 1,200 worshippers at any time.

For just 35 AED (SGD$13), you can enjoy a 75-minute guided tour led by local representatives to learn more about Islamic holidays, rituals, traditions, cuisines and customs. You are encouraged to ask questions to deepen your understanding about the monoetheistic faith, which is also the second largest religion in the world.

As it is a sacred place, you are advised to dress modestly and behave appropriately. Females are expected to wear a scarf over their heads, ensuring their shoulders are covered. In case you are not equipped, you can borrow the right attire from the mosque.

Soak up the bustling vibe of a traditional Souk

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Image credit: Ankur P

Vivacious and vibrant, the Bur Dubai Souk, colloquially known as the textile souk, will entice you with its tapestry of colours from the wide array of fabrics on display and the reverberating jibber-jabbers of amiable Arabian vendors putting up their wares for sale.

Take your time to navigate the labyrinth of walkways lined with compacts shops displaying high-quality textiles along with accessories. Pashmina, satin, wool and cashmere …. you name it. There are even stores selling souvenirs at an affordable price. Get your camera ready to snap photos of the buzzing atmosphere and the rustic interior of the bazaar.

The best time to visit this ancient marketplace is on Friday evenings, when the souk is especially lively – you’ll get the quintessential Arabian experience and pick up a few good bargains. Do not shun away from haggling as it is an indispensable part of the souk custom.

Cross the Dubai Creek in an abra

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Despite the glitz and glam of the booming metropolis, Dubai has successfully retained its archaic charm. You can get a sense of the atmospheric older side of the city by hopping on board an abra, a traditional boat made of wood, and cruise along the Dubai Creek.

For just 1AED (that’s less than SGD$1), you can make your way across Dubai Old Souk Station to Al Sabkha Abra Station and vice versa, at any time of the day; or travel from Bur Dubai Abra Station to Deira Old Souk Abra Station and vice versa, between 5am  and 12am daily.

Dubai Creek used to be the central hub of activity for the Emirates. It was here where trade with the outside world began centuries ago. You can catch sight of trade cargoes and wooden dhows along the extensive bank – redolent of its maritime trade. Abracadabra!

Have an adventure of a lifetime at Aquaventure Atlantis Cheap Things to Do in Dubai

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Image credit: LamaDubai

Imagine gliding down a clear tube, right through an aquarium swarming with sharks, or diving into a marine realm to uncover the aquatic creatures up close and personal. And if it’s your birthday, you can have a whale of a time at this water park for free. This will set you back 320 AED* (SGD$120) on a regular day.

Your birthday calls for a celebration and there is no better place to spend it than at Aquaventure Atlantis. Simply register your date of birth here to receive a free aquaventure day pass that can be redeemed on your birthday and up to six days later.

You should endeavour to visit Dubai during your special day so you get to tick this thrilling adventure off your bucket list without spending a cent!

Spectate an exhilarating camel race Cheap Things to Do in Dubai

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Image credit: Visit Dubai

At Al Marmoum Racetrack (located half an hour’s drive from the city), you can join zealous locals and cheer for hundreds of racing camels. Robot jockeys are fastened to the sturdy beasts and they are operated by the owners coursing down an adjacent track in their SUVs – adding a modern twist to this primitive culture. Winning camels not only receive hefty amounts of money, but they also gain widespread respect and admiration.

Camels are heralded as the ships of the desert in Dubai and camel racing has been an ingrained tradition since the bygone era of the Beoduin. Still running deep in the hearts of denizens, you can experience the passion Emiratis feel for this ancient sport.

Entry to the racetrack is free, but it is advisable to call ahead or check with your hotelier so that you can avoid disappointment. Also, races tend to take place early on Friday and Saturday mornings, so make sure you get a good night’s sleep. If you are in Dubai, you cannot give camel racing a miss. Don’t worry though, there will be nothing for you to humph about.

Who would have thought that you could get a bang out of Dubai without forking out too much money? We have sorted out a budget-friendly travel plan for you. What’s left is for you to book your flight tickets and you can be on your way to immerse yourself in the eclectic scene of Dubai!

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