How affordable is Dubai as a holiday destination?

Amazing dessert experience...

DUBAI is a city not foreign to many... Many of us probably relate Dubai as a transit area when travelling to Europe on Emirates Airline. Another would relate Dubai as a rich city with oil everywhere and housed the famous 7 star hotel plus having the highest building in the world. 

All this give a perception of EXPENSIVE when considering a vacation in Dubai or to extend a couple of days to explore this city during transit.

A study published on dailymail.co.uk in March 2016 rated Dubai as the most expensive tourist destination with New York city coming on second position. 

Having been there myself, I beg to differ. I do not deny the fact that there are a lot of expensive options for accommodation and dining but they also offer a variety of affordable hotel and food. 

HOTEL

If you are looking to stay at Burj Al Arab (the famous 7 star hotel), a quick check on Booking.com at a random date will set you back SGD 2345 per night for 2 person.

However, for the usual Novotel, Shangri-la, Holiday Inn, etc.. the price can be pretty affordable ranging from SGD 100 to 250 (with discount on booking.com as well as Agoda.com) and there are also other hotel which can offer as cheap as SGD 40 per night (though location might not be as convenient).


There is also another option to book through AirBnB for the added benefit of having a more home-ly environment. A quick check shows a two bedroom apartment located in Dubai Marina with amazing seaview at SGD 250 (sleeps 4 person).

EATS

When it comes to dining, it really depends on what you eat. There are lots of fast food chains (from America like Shack Shake, Elevation Burger etc), restaurant in the malls (Nandos, The Cheesecake Factory, Texas Roadhouse, Din Tai Fung etc) and also Pakistani restaurant. 

Prices are similar to restaurant prices in Singapore (maybe slightly more pricey). The only difference is there is no option to dine in hawker centre in Dubai. Food court are also available in shopping mall for a quick and more wallet friendly meal. 

The most expensive meal I had in Dubai is at The Cheesecake Factory which cost SGD 50 per person (includes drinks, food and cheesecake- ordered cheesecake and drinks to share. Main course is one set each)

TIPS: Forget about McDonald in Dubai, McDonald in Singapore tasted way way nicer.

One of my favourite restaurant in Dubai is Ravi Palace Restaurant. Order their Nan Bread (AED 1) and a couple of vegetable/meat based curry to goes with the Nan bread. Briyani is also something worth trying. And did I mention that the price is very affordable, I probably paid like SGD 5 per person for food and drinks.

Ravi Restaurant
245, Al Dhiyafa Road, Satwa, Near Satwa Roundabout.
Tel: +971 4 3315353
Opening hours: Daily from 5am to 3am (so there is no excuse for not trying, you won't regret it).


Our meal at Elevation Burger
Complimentary play area at Elevation Burger 
They even have a mini trampoline as part of the play area...and did I mention that their coffee is refillable !

TRANSPORT

My cab ride from Dubai International Airport to Mall of the Emirates cost SGD 35. When getting around the city centre, one could also take an Uber which I find very convenient as the queue for the cab can be very long at times. From my experience, I paid between SGD 8-20 for Uber when getting from places around the main tourist attractions in the city which I find very reasonable (very worth it if the price is shared between travelling companion) and similar to what we pay here in Singapore.

TIPS: Do not board the expensive looking taxi at the airport, they charge more. 

For the more adventurous traveller, car rental is also available once you landed at the airport. A quick search shows prices ranging from SGD 45 per day (Kia Picanto) to SGD 75 per day (Toyota) to SGD 130 per day (Mercedes). Most of the shopping mall in Dubai offers free parking so that is one added benefit for renting a car.

NOTE: Left hand drive in Dubai.

There is also another option to use the Metro to get around. I have not had personal experience taking the metro as there is quite a few of us travelling together plus we have young kids so it is more convenient to take an Uber. 

There is a lot of information available in this link on the metro station and ticket price. I am interested to give it a try just for its experience if I do visit Dubai again.



ATTRACTIONS 

There is no short of attractions in Dubai....From desert dune drive experience to dining under the stars in desert, bring on a skiing experience in a shopping mall (yes, Dubai offers skiing class in their manmade Dubai Ski. Imagine skiing in the middle of a desert, what an experience), view the city from Burf Khalifa, the highest building in the world, or bask in the history at Dubai Museum. Take a water taxi across to the Old Souk and visit the Gold Souk and Spice Souk. I can never take my eyes off the thick gold which is displayed.

Some other attractions include Miracle Garden (an amazing and huge garden which only operates between October to April), you will be amazed at the flowers that one could enjoy in desert.

Similar to Miracle Garden, Global Village also only operational for a couple of months each year from November to April. One could experience different landmark around the world all in one place with a unique shopping experience, being able to purchase food and clothing which are unique to different city around the world.

Some places are free of charge (Gold and Spice Souk, shopping mall (even if you are not interested in visiting the aquarium (you can see part of the huge tank from outside) or the ski area (you can enjoy watching others from outside)).


Just walking around their huge mall is fun!There is so much to see!
Part of the aquarium which can be view from shopping mall... 
Decoration at shopping mall.. so much to see...
Or one could just enjoy sunset strolling at their park...

Enjoy a sunset at one of the park (free entry)

Dubai Museum charge a minimal fees of AED 3 (SGD 1.20) for adult and AED 1 (SGD 0.40) for children.

Exhibits at Dubai Museum
Kids ticket at Dubai Museum

Global Village charges AED 15 per person (SGD 5.60) for park entry and Miracle Garden's ticket is priced at AED 40 (SGD 15) per person.

Big Ben at Global Village
@ Global Village
At Miracle Garden. Who would have thought this is Dubai...
Emirates airplane decorated in flowers..

For Ski Dubai , it will be more pricey. Depending on what you would like to do, prices starts from SGD 74 onwards. https://www.headout.com/category/295/ski-dubai?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIztu-osyV1wIVSRiOCh1luwixEAEYASAAEgIjm_D_BwE

Ski class
Snow slide at Ski Dubai

Desert experience prices varies between different provider. They do offer pick up and drop off from hotel. It is definitely an experience of a lifetime and price includes an entertainment show, henna painting, camel ride, shisha, and buffet dinner.

A quick search on the internet shows prices around SGD 70 per person all inclusive (except alcoholic drinks). There is even Groupon options which comes up to SGD 30 per person if you purchase the ticket in advance. Pretty good price I would say.

Dune drive
Sand playing in desert... once in a lifetime experience..

Getting to the top of the world cost SGD 47 onwards (depending on which option you select). 
More details on prices here: https://tickets.atthetop.ae/atthetop/

TIPS: Do check the weather forecast before going up. If it is hazy, you might not be able to see much.
Highest building in the world- Burj Khalifa

Having said that, personally I kinda like my vacation in Dubai. Lots of different and unique travelling experience I would say and definitely not as pricey as one would have imagine. 

TIPS: Do plan your holiday in Dubai in their winter months where the weather is nice . It can goes as low as 16 degree Celcius (yes, you have heard me right. 16 degree celcius!) in their winter months and definitely a nice cooling weather for a perfect holiday. Plus some of their attractions such as Miracle Garden or Global Village only opens during the cooler months as well. 


Super fun!


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