How much does it cost to visit Dubai? I disclose my entire budget breakdown for 2 weeks in Dubai, as well as plenty of tips on how to do things cheaper! Don’t forget to also view my post on free or cheap things to do in Dubai!
I know some people were interested to know how much stuff cost in Dubai and how I managed my budget. So here it is!
In total, for a 2-week trip to Dubai, I spent just right around $1,800. This is including my flights, my accommodation, and all food and activities. Dear lord, it kind of makes me my heart palpitate (and not in a good way) to type that. But honestly, it’s not toooo horrible for 2 weeks in Dubai.
Here’s the general breakdown (all prices in this post are in USD):
- Flights: $500
- Accomodation: $680
- Eating out: $279
- Activities: $168
- Transportation in Dubai: $89
- Shopping: $47
- Misc.: $33
Take out the flights and accomodation and this comes out to just $616 over 2 weeks.
And now lets get into the detailed breakdown in each category. You can do Dubai for cheaper than I did, and you can also do it for a lot more expensive. I splurged on the stuff that really mattered to me and saved on others.
Here is the complete breakdown of how much things cost in Dubai!
Okay not much to talk about here. Because obviously, we’re all going to be coming and going from different places. My flights from Beijing > Dubai, and then from Dubai > Kuala Lumpur, came out to just around $500 even.
I feel like $680 for 14 nights was a pretty decent deal for Dubai. This breaks down to about $48.57 per night, including Airbnb fees. I always book Airbnbs because hotels are too expensive and I don’t want to do hostels. If interested, check out my Airbnb here, and get $40 from me!)
I did not stay in the city center. I stayed in the residential Indian neighborhood of Kamara with a lovely young Indian family. My private room was large and comfy. The bathroom was shared but they have a daily cleaner, so it was always clean. Okay I’m starting to sound like an Airbnb review so I’ll stop here.
I was originally debating between staying here or in a room right next to the Dubai Mall (which was a tad more expensive, and the room was literally a box). I was worried about this place being out of the way, but in the end, I’m SO glad I went with this. Taking public transportation was convenient and easy from there.
Now, the neighborhood. It’s a little out of the way, but I loved staying in a local area and seeing another part of Dubai that’s not all glitzy buildings. And there was SO many delicious Indian restaurants within walking distance of my place. My hosts said that the Indian food there is even better than back home in India! And the best part, food in this Kamara neighborhood is CHEAP. You can eat a very delicious meal for just $5-$15. I will talk about food next!
If I had stayed in the room by the Dubai Mall, I honestly don’t know what I’d have eaten for 2 weeks. Maybe just at the food court in the mall?!
The only thing about the Airbnb was that their 4 year old son is rather… boisterous (read: likes to run around screaming early in the morning). But the family was lovely. If anyone wants to visit Dubai on a tighter budget, I highly recommend the Airbnb I stayed at.
Wow, I didn’t realize that I spent this much on food, but I guess it only evens out to $20/day. You can go as cheap or as expensive as you want on food! I balanced out pricier meals with cheaper meals.
– Brunch at Mövenpick ($70): Let’s talk about my splurges first. One of Dubai’s famous weekend brunches was a MUST on my list. Andrea found a cheaper one for us at “just” 250 AED. Was it worth it? HECK YES! Worth every penny! You can read the full post and see all the pictures.
– Dinner at Khan Murjan ($32): Based on my friend Omair‘s suggestion, Andrea and I went to the nice Khan Murjan restaurant at the WAFI mall (the one that looks like a pyramid). This restaurant isn’t the cheapest, but the courtyard setting is gorgeous. The food is also delicious and the portions huge. I would definitely recommend a visit. You can go for a LOT less. Andrea and I completely over-ordered. They give you free unlimited freshly-baked bread (which we didn’t know), so really all you have to order is just one dish.
– Drinks ($43): Drinks are really expensive in Dubai. This price was only for 3 drinks (once at a local pub and once at a fancy lounge)! We did go to The Vault (on the 70th floor of the JW Marquis Marriot, which is the tallest hotel in the world) to see the night view. Which meant that we had to purchase overpriced drinks.
– All other food ($134): So those three things together is half of what I spent on food. Most of the other time, I ate in my Kamara neighborhood. I was so happy living off of Indian food! There was a small eatery where I could eat breakfast or an evening snack (dosa or idly) for just a little over $1. Proper meals (biryani, or curry and naan) would only cost about $8-$12.
Here are some examples:
By comparison, most of the restaurants in the Dubai Mall will cost about 50-100 AED (or $14 – $28 USD).
– Desert safari ($132): The only real splurge here was the desert safari (see awesome photos and details!). But I picked one of the most expensive ones because it was exactly what I wanted. I picked a morning sunrise safari that had more of the activities I wanted to do.
Don’t worry, you can go on a desert safari for a lot cheaper. Most standard evening safaris cost around 120 AED to 180 AED ($32-50 US), and you get to see sunset, as well as have dinner and traditional dance entertainment.
– Going up the Burj Khalifa ($35): The only other paid activity was going up the Burj Khalifa. This $35 (130 AED) was cheapest ticket available. I went during non-prime hours (before 3 pm), and I didn’t go allll the way up to the 148th floor. I only went up to the 125th.
In comparison, prime time (3:30 – 6:00 pm) cost for the 125th floor is 200 AED ($54 US). And if you wanted to go up to the 148th floor during prime time, the cost is 500 AED (or $140 US). That’s just ridiculous!
Honestly, there’s probably not much difference. Once you’re that high up already, what difference does 20 more floor make?!
For most people, this experience is a must. However, if you just want to see a view of Dubai high up, I suppose you could go to The Vault at the JW Marquise Marriott. It also has an 360-degree view. The view will be somewhat limited though and you’d have to purchase something. But they open at 5 pm, so you can stay for sunset without the exorbitant price. And there’s no dress code to enter.
– Dubai Museum ($1): The only other cost in this category is 3 AED ($1) to visit the Dubai museum in Old Dubai. Definitely worth it for that.
Thankfully, there are PLENTY of free things to do in Dubai. Read my post on free or cheap things to do Dubai! Don’t worry, there are plenty of things to keep you entertained for a few days.
I feel like this is a little pricey in Dubai. Let’s break it down.
– Transport from/to the airport ($26.50): It costed me 60 AED ($17 US) to get from the airport to my Airbnb… which is really only 15 minutes away. Going out of the airport is very expensive because taxis need to pay a parking fee. Going to the airport is about half the price. At the end of the trip, I paid 35 AED ($9.50 US) to go to the airport.
I just did a taxi to save the hassle, but there is actually a metro that goes from the airport into the city. So you could just do that, if you don’t mind lugging around your bags. The metro into the city costs just 5 AED. And then you could taxi (or walk) from the closest station to your residence.
– Metro card ($23): The metro card can be used on the metro and buses. Since I was there for 2 weeks, I loaded 80 AED ($23 US) unto my card. It was a good estimate, because I only had 3 AED left on it when I left!
The metro costs an average of 5 AED per trip ($1.35 US). I also took the bus, which costs about 3 AED per trip (80 cents).
– Taxis during stay ($24.50): I took a taxi a few times (after late nights and in Abu Dhabi). I feel like they’re expensive. To go from the city center back to my place cost around 25 AED (or $7). But really, if I weren’t so lazy, I could have just walked to the metro station and taken that. It’s completely safe to walk around in Dubai, even late at night and as a solo female.
Part of this taxi price includes taxi to get around Abu Dhabi as well. See how that works in this post.
– Bus to Abu Dhabi ($14): This is pretty cheap for going to another UAE country. The bus each way cost 25 AED (or $7). The bus station is located right next to the Al Guibaiba metro station. Very easy.
I walked A LOT too. Basically if a place takes about 30 minutes to walk from a metro stop, I’ll just walk. But I also went during a time of the year when it wasn’t hot yet.
I did pretty good, I think. I bought a solid shampoo at Lush (a travel ESSENTIAL) and a couple of scarves (Andrea was a bad influence here!). Just $47 total.
– Data card ($27): The biggest spending in this was a data card for the phone. Etisalat is the largest provider in Dubai. Their visitor package costs 100 AED for 700 MB and 14 minutes of calling. Kind of expensive, but oh well. It’s a necessity.
– Postcard ($1): I got a postcard at the top of Burj Khalif gift shop for my dear ex-boss back home. I still have yet to mail it…
– Daiso ($2): Something random I needed there
– Junk food at airport ($3): I managed my cash so well! By the end of the trip, I only had 10 AED left, so I spent it on candy at the airport.
Other notes/tips about $$ in Dubai
- Credit card (Visa or Mastercard) is accepted just about everywhere. I was able to pay by card at all restaurants that wasn’t a tiny local eatery. My card has no foreign transaction fees, so this was great for me.
- Tipping is usually the norm in Dubai. A 10% tip is usually acceptable, so your meals will cost a little bit more.
- You can only pay cash for taxis. Some taxis have a credit card swiper thing, but you can never seem to be able to pay with it. I think the only things I really needed cash for were taxis and the small local eateries around my Airbnb.
Tell me, do you guys like seeing budget breakdowns? I hope this breakdown helps for anyone thinking of planning a trip to Dubai!