25 Inexpensive places to visit in Dubai (Part 1)
Dubai is known as the city of gold and one of the top tourist destinations in the world. Millions of people flock to Dubai to experience its flashy and luxurious lifestyle. It is just been recently named among the 10 most expensive destinations in the world by TripAdvisor.
Being an expat for more than 10 years here, I can say that I have tried almost everything the city has to offer. I say “almost” as Dubai keeps on changing that there’s always new activity to try everyday aside from the fact that most of them require a fee that is not so easy on the budget.
Having relatives visiting us often, I learned to find activities to do and places to visit that won’t break the bank and I’m giving you a lowdown of things you can try without spending a fortune. Whether you are on a budget or just want to experience something different, you may find something you can enjoy on this list.
1. Poseidon Café at Atlantis The Palm Hotel & Resort Photo grab from Atlantis the Palm website
You don’t need to check-in to get awed with this beautiful hotel. Located in The Palm, one can just park outside the hotel and enjoy the view. Facing the ocean, Atlantis is picturesque tourist destination and it’s usual to find bus full of tourists having a stop-over outside the hotel for some photo-ops.
As a tip, I suggest visit Poseidon Cafe near the entrance of Aquaventure. Have your coffee, hot chocolate, croissants and pastries, and enjoy the wonderful large aquarium of the hotel. Although it’s just a small selection of pastries, you can easily forgive this with the amazing view in front of you.
2. Juice World
I’ve never been here but I heard very nice reviews about this place. As the name suggests, they serves all kinds of fruit juice imaginable. You can make your own concoction if you’re feeling a little more adventurous or choose from their menu if you want something tried and tested.
The extra ordinary thing that intrigues me about this shop is their colorful interiors and fruity decors. Hundreds, if not thousands of fresh fruits are hanging everywhere and used as decoration. It looks fun.
Ravi is a Pakistani restaurant and their famous branch is located in Satwa. Ravi is like an institution in Dubai and it’s not surprising to see non-Pakistanis enjoying their naan, chicken tikka and kebabs on seating areas outside. Word of caution, this is not fine-dining experience. Parking is difficult, place is crowded and it can get a little noisy and dusty if you are seated outside but if you are into great food without leaving a dent in your wallet, go and experience this restaurant!
4. Burj Beach
The Burj beach is a favorite destination of those who wants to have a photo of Burj Al Arab. It is a long stretch of beach, and tourists flocks this area for the perfect back drop. I’ve seen so many pre-nuptial pictorials with the famous 7 star hotel as their backdrop and it’s just amazing.
For those who want to lounge around after the photo session, there is a volleyball and football facilities on the beach that you can also enjoy.
Edit: As expected, my sister nagged me for days to remove her photos and sent my mom’s pictures to replace hers BUT I will not be harassed. Dear Jholen, I think the reason why I’m getting so many page views is because of your loving HHWW photo with Joseph. Love, Ate.
5. Zabeel Park
This is one of the largest parks in Dubai and quite popular for residents because of its vast grass field, children’s play areas, large amphitheater and covered areas dedicated for family and friend’s get together for some outdoor barbeques. I have attended several birthday parties here and it’s always a good time. Of course, just like everywhere outdoors in Dubai, this is best visited during the winter season.
Entrance fee is 5 dhs per person and for those who want to get connected every time, there’s free internet wifi access throughout the whole park.
6. Dubai Mall
Ahh, the famous Dubai Mall. One cannot come to Dubai without visiting Dubai Mall and see what’s this largest mall in UAE (if not the world) has to offer. You can spend one full day just walking around and hop from one store to another. That’s not even considering the shopping time! You can visit its large indoor aquarium, spend an hour or two in Kinokuniya Bookworld, walk through the Gold souk area, be a kid again at Sega Republic and if you’re good at it, try Dubai Mall’s olympic-size skating rink. After a long day of walking, you can just relax and dine in any of the restaurants and coffee shops located in almost every corner of the mall. Even choosing which restaurant to dine is confusing here. Nonetheless, price options are varied and all kinds of shoppers can find something to bring back home.
7. Dubai Fountain
MIL and FIL during one of their visits
Since you are already at Dubai Mall, you can just go head next door and visit the Dubai Fountain and see the world’s first highest building, Burj Khalifa, up close. The Dubai Fountain shows are free and there’s no need for entrance fee (that rhymes!). Shows start at 6 pm everyday with a repeat every 20 minutes. The show lasts about 3-5 minutes. While waiting for the show to start, this is the best opportunity to get that perfect shot with the famous Burj Khalifa. You will need a long arm or a selfie stick to take photo of you and that tall building. If everything else failed, ask some nice strangers to do it but don’t be disappointed if they don’t capture it perfectly.
8. Souk Madinat Jumeirah
Another beautiful place in Dubai which doesn’t require you to spend is a visit at Souk Madinat Jumeirah. The good thing about this souk or marketplace is it’s air-conditioned. You can visit during summer and haggle your heart away with all the beautiful trinkets and traditional items the souk is offering. Even if you don’t plan to buy anything, it’s a good place for sight-seeing with its own man-made lake and a view of Burj Al Arab on the other side before the cordoned area.
9. Global Village
This is seasonal place to visit as they are only open from November till April just before super-hot summer kicks-in. Ticket costs 15 dhs and if you are coming as a group, you can get family or group discounts. I always visit Global Village not only to shop but to enjoy the different country pavilions participating every year representing their cultures and what their country has to offer. Most pavilion has better designs than others but all of them are still grand. Ok, I’ll be honest. I actually go there because of the many food stalls spread everywhere and most can’t be found in your usual malls. Arabic sweets, Indian delicacies, Asian street food, name it and most probably you will be able to eat it 🙂
10. Mall of the Emirates
Photo credit to the owner
Only in Dubai you will find a ski inside a shopping mall. The temperature can reach 50 degrees outside yet below zero inside Ski Dubai. I’ve never been to Ski Dubai but my kids already visited and my son keeps on asking when he will go back. It looks that he really enjoyed his visit. But there’s more to Mall of the Emirates than Ski Dubai. Before Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates was the largest mall in UAE. With 560+ outlets and 90+ dining options you will sure find something to entertain and fill you. Yes, it’s not as big as Dubai Mall but at least you can really shop here without exhausting yourself to your limit.
11. Dubai Miracle Garden
Photo credit: my friend, Leilanie Mendoza
This is another interesting addition to Dubai’s number of tourist destinations. Amazing that you won’t feel being in the middle of the desert once you step inside this place. Thousands of flowers were arranged beautifully and artistically you wonder how they thrive. Note that this place is only open during winter so better check their website before going. Entrance is 30 dhs.
12. The Walk at JBR
Photo credit to the owner
The Walk is a long stretch of hotels, restaurants, cafes and shops just along the Jumeirah Beach Residence. Just a few steps away is a public beach which has its own attractions that kids would love such as sand sculptures, inflatables, kiddie splash pools with showers among others. The place gets very busy during the weekend especially in the evening that parking is quite a challenge so I suggest come there early or park elsewhere and then take the metro or tram. Several restaurants are open for breakfast so take this opportunity if you don’t like crowds.
This is Part 1 of my 25 inexpensive places to visit in Dubai. Read here for Part 2.