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Cheap holidays to Dubai

Sunday 24 March 2019 (UAE)   

Cheap budget holidays to Dubai and the UAE

Money saving tips for traveling to and around Dubai

Dubai is not on the list of cheap destinations worldwide. If you're looking for flights and hotel for a week in the sun for £100 from the UK, you might get as far as Turkey or Spain but not Dubai. From overseas, the best deals are going to be one of the following choices:

  • Travelling in the summer when it's extremely hot with daytime temperatures of 45-50 C or over 100 F and high humidity.
  • A last minute special at a travel agent but that's less likely outside the summer months.
  • Charter flights from Eastern Europe or Asia.
  • Waiting for a special offer and being flexible enough with dates to take advantage of it.
  • Staying in one of the neighbouring emirates - Sharjah or Ajman are close to Dubai in distance but heavy traffic means travel time is an hour or more. Ras Al Khaimah is further but has good road access to Dubai. If you really want to spend time in Dubai though, whatever you save in package costs will be sucked up by taxi fares from the other emirates. Seriously reconsider staying in a more expensive hotel in Dubai if Dubai is where you want to be.
  • Locating a friend of a friend or distant relative who lives in Dubai and plundering their castle in the sand - then all you have to do is find a cheap flight to Dubai.

A holiday package with a scheduled flight from Europe to Dubai and 7 nights in a 3 or 4 star hotel is likely to cost about 1,000 euros per person at best, maybe 100 euros less if you're really lucky. From the UK, the cheapest deals are going to be about £600-£800 per person. A charter flight from Eastern Europe with 7 nights in a 2 star hotel will be half to two-thirds of those prices. From the USA or Canada, the cheapest holiday packages to Dubai will cost $1500-$2000 per person.

Internet bookings for holidays in Dubai are rarely bargains but you might save a few pennies.

  • Check the airline websites for details of any special offers. Emirates Airlines is the carrier based in Dubai and they often have promotions of one sort or another - visit www.emirates.com or www.emirates-holidays.com - but they're not what you'd call bargain basement.
  • FlyDubai and Air Arabia are budget airlines with cheaper fares than Emirates or Etihad (the Abu Dhabi based carrier).
  • Other well known travel websites like expedia.com, lastminute.com, and travelocity.com sometimes have good deals but they're hard to find. Amadeus.net has a search of airfares and hotels separately but not holiday packages.
  • A combined package and hotel deal usually cheaper than organising flights and accommodation separately.
  • A rental car is not a great money saver, and unless you know your way around, traffic density, driving standards, and navigation can be frustrating. Buses are very cheap but frequency can be erratic - they'll do the job though. Taxis are cheap compared to western countries and expensive compared to most Asian countries. The Dubai Metro is a cheap and efficient way to get around as long as you are staying near a station and going to places near metro stations.
Cheap holidays in Dubai

The cheapest way to have a holiday in Dubai is to bum a bed off someone you know. Preferably a relative since they'll still be related even if you fall out with them, and you can probably invade their homes again in a couple of years. Friendships can and do fade away unfortunately.

With the ubiquity (or plague according to some) of the internet, you can make friends online to replace the ones you lost last time you visited Dubai, and hopefully they'll offer you a place to kip before your next visit to Dubai. Dubai FAQs staff all have unsanitary living habits and terrible BO just in case you were thinking of trying that scam on us.

For more realistic and less annoying options, try finding an airline from your originating city that offers a package deal including a hotel, but don't bother with a hire or rental car unless you've visited Dubai before. Traffic conditions are unpleasant, it's difficult to navigate around the place, and taxis are relatively cheap. For journeys further afield, consider renting a car for a day once you get here.

Charter flights are rare. There are some from Russia and other Eastern European countries to Terminal 2 of Dubai International Airport, and there's a handful to Ras Al Khaimah International Airport.

Finding good cheap hotel accommodation in Dubai can be difficult depending on the time of year, how many exhibitions and conferences are going on, what other major events are happening, and if the world or Dubai is in the middle of a financial and economic crisis or not. If you are looking for a good deal on accommodation, your best option is to try and get a package deal with the airline you use to fly to Dubai, or try one of the budget hotel chains in the UAE - see cheap hotels in Dubai for a list.

Hotels in Sharjah are often cheaper than in Dubai, but think twice before making a booking if you plan to spend time in Dubai. The traffic is thick enough most of the time that you could be spending a much larger time of your holiday sitting in a car or bus than you expected. If you plan to be in Dubai at specific times for appointments, allow 1-2 hours travelling time each way, and 3 hours to be safe if during rush hours (0600-1000, 1200-1500, 1700-2100), especially if you're in one of the hotels on the Sharjah beach strip. Of course, if you want to concentrate your tourist time in Sharjah - the museum area for example, then it makes more sense to book a hotel in Sharjah. And for those wanting a beach holiday, the sand looks much the same as in Dubai, and the water temperature isn't any different.

Saving money in Dubai
  • Public buses are very cheap (only 1-2 dhs per trip) but can be irregular and/or full, and trying to find a bus route map is difficult - try the main bus stations in Deira or Al Ghubaiba at the mouth of the Dubai Creek on the Bur Dubai side.
  • Eating in Dubai shopping mall food courts is relatively cheap, a meal will cost a third to a quarter of a similar meal at a five star restaurant, although the quality won't be as acceptable for some.
  • Eating in some of the roadside cafes and restaurants, especially in areas where foreign workers on low salaries are concentrated, can be a bargain - try Karama and do a bit of cheap shopping also. Satwa, Deira in the Gold and Spice souk areas, the Dubai museum area along the creek are also good places to walk around, enjoy the sights, and find a cheap restaurant. Meals can be found from less than 10 dhs to 40 dhs per person for a good feed of Indian, Chinese, or Arabic food.
  • Many tourist sights in Dubai are cheap and/or free.
  • Entry to parks is about 5 dhs or less per person - Jumeirah Beach Park on the Beach Road has lots of grass, basic eating and drinking facilities (no alcohol though), and BBQ areas if you want to throw a few snags on the barbie.
Last update Sunday 01-Dec-2013
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