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Things to do in Dubai in 5 days on a low budget

In this guide, you can find some of the top things to see and do in Dubai in 5 days on a low budget.

aquarium mall of the emirates

When talking about some of the most luxurious destinations in the world, Dubai is usually on the list.

It’s the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates and the second largest after the capital, Abu Dhabi. In just a few years, Dubai went from being an anonymous and scarcely populated fishermen’s village to being one of the fastest-growing cities in the world and renowned luxury capital.

How did the Emirates manage to do so? The oil, discovered in 1966, helped, but today, the main sources of income are tourism and real estate. In Dubai, you can find the tallest building in the world and many other incredible skyscrapers and malls.

Oil extraction represents just about 5% of the city’s income today.

Where to stay on a low-budget

What does all of this mean for those who love traveling? It means that Dubai is generally a very expensive city. It is, however, possible to find some good deals for accommodation and flight tickets if you search well in advance.

If budget is your priority, then you should avoid the New Dubai area (the area near the famous Palm-shaped Islands) and look for something cheaper near the creek, in the east of Dubai. I’m sure that you can find good deals on Booking.com or Trip.com. Remember that your hotel should be as close as possible to the subway. I’ll tell you later why this is a priority.

To find cheap flights to Dubai, book well in advance. Another idea, and that’s what I did, is to take advantage of any Emirates flight that stops in Dubai: spend a couple of nights in the city before continuing to your final destination.

What to do in Dubai in 5 days

Dubai is quite big, but with good planning, you can see all the important landmarks in a few days. Here are a few ideas:

Dubai Mall

It was the biggest mall in the world (the new biggest mall is the New Century Global Center in Chengdu, China). There are over 1200 stores and a huge 3-stories aquarium. If you love shopping, this is your paradise.

You can also find a skating rink and a cinema inside the mall. Cultural events and art exhibitions are held throughout the year. In short, something is interesting for everyone. You will find something to do even if you’re not planning to spend much money.

The Burj Khalifa

burj khalifa of dubai and dancing fountains

With its 828 meters, it’s the tallest building in the world (so far) and the landmark of the UAE. This building tells you how much money there is in this country.

There is an observation deck from where you can view the city, but honestly, I don’t think it’s worth the money. First, you won’t have a 360° view since the area where you can stay is pretty small, and second, the deck is not at the very top of the building.

This means that the Shanghai Tower, though a bit shorter, has the highest observation deck in the world, and the view is even better (a complete 360° view of the city).

The dancing fountains in front of the Burji Khalifa are much better than the view of the city from the deck.

If saving money is your priority, don’t waste it on the Burji Khalifa. But if you want to visit it, you can book the ticket online and save a few dollars.

The Spice Market and the Gold Souk

The Spice Market and the Gold Souk are two popular attractions in Dubai, located in the historic Deira area.

The Spice Market, also known as Deira Old Souk, offers an incredible selection of spices and other exotic products worldwide. You can also find traditional clothes, fabrics, and souvenirs. But watch out for scams!

The Gold Souk is a market specializing in selling gold and jewelry. With over 300 shops, it is one of the largest gold markets in the world. Gold can be purchased in all shapes and sizes; the only limitation is the size of your bank account. The Gold Souk is also known for its bargaining culture; visitors can expect to haggle with vendors over prices.

To reach this area, take the subway and get off at the Al Ras stop. Alternatively, you can take a cab, which is relatively cheap in Dubai, but remember that traffic can be really bad.

A tour of the Dubai Creek

creek dubai

The Dubai Creek waterway runs through the city’s heart and is a must-see for those visiting the city. The canal stretches 15 km from the coast to inland Dubai. Crossing it only costs 1 Dirham (a few cents). The entire area is the heart of Dubai’s culture and history. Along its banks is Dubai Creek Park, a large park that offers a variety of recreational activities, including walking and cycling paths, playgrounds, and a mini-golf course. It is a family-friendly place.

Another popular attraction near the Creek is the Dubai Museum, located inside Al Fahidi Fort, one of the oldest buildings in Dubai. The museum offers an overview of the history of the city and the region, with exhibits on traditional Bedouin life, the history of trade and pearls, and the cultural heritage of the Emirates.

To reach Dubai Creek, take the subway to Al Fahidi station. The Creek is also accessible by car or cab. You can also park your car nearby and explore the area on foot.

Mall of the Emirates

ski slope dubai mall

The Mall of the Emirates is the other major mall in Dubai. It is mainly famous for its indoor ski slope: Ski Dubai, the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East. This place allows visitors to ski and snowboard in the snow in the desert.

The mall offers a large entertainment section, including a multiplex cinema, a children’s entertainment center, and an indoor theme park. There are also numerous restaurants and cafes, and art exhibitions, fashion shows, and other cultural events are held regularly.

The Mall of the Emirates is located in the Al Barsha area of Dubai and can be reached by car or cab. The mall also has its subway station, the Mall of the Emirates Station.

Swimming near the Burj Al Arab

7 stars hotel dubai

Honestly, the sea in Dubai is not even close to the Mediterranean Sea, but swimming near the world’s most luxurious hotel and relaxing in the warm water are things to try at least once.

The Burj Al Arab is one of the city’s most iconic and recognizable buildings and is often called “the most luxurious hotel in the world.” The hotel was designed to resemble a ship’s sail and is built on an artificial island just off the coast of Dubai.

One of the most interesting things about the Burj Al Arab is its height. At 321 meters, it’s the fourth tallest hotel in the world. Another interesting aspect is the hotel’s interior, which features a grand atrium, the tallest in the world at 180 meters, and a large dome covered in gold leaf. The hotel also has a fleet of white Rolls-Royce cars to drive guests to and from the mainland.

Desert Safari tour

The Desert Safari tour usually begins with a ride over the dunes in a 4×4 vehicle. Then, it includes a stop at a traditional Bedouin camp, where you can glimpse the local culture and traditions. You can enjoy activities such as camel riding, henna tattoos, traditional Arab coffee, and arab dates (the fruit).

The tour includes a traditional barbecue dinner, typically served under the stars, belly dancing, and Tanoura (a typical dance) shows.

Overall, a desert safari is a good (but also very touristy) experience that offers a chance to immerse yourself in the culture and landscape of the United Arab Emirates.

Numerous tours organize this activity. Transportation to and from the hotel and the meals are included in the price.

Is Dubai a safe city?

Yes. Dubai is very safe, and the crime rate is considerably lower than most cities in Europe and America. Since tourism is heavily encouraged by the government, citizens of most countries won’t need a Visa for up to 30 days.

Useful tips

gold souk dubai
  • If you want to visit Dubai, look for a hotel near the subway. Dubai is very hot (actually incredibly hot) for about 6 months, and it’s not pleasant to walk in the sun, not even for 5 minutes. Plus, there aren’t many walkways. Taxis are cheap, but finding an apartment or hotel near the subway is better.
  • I strongly suggest you avoid summer because it’s simply too hot. It can get up to 50° C!
  • Respect the local culture and pay attention to the dress code. There are many tourists, and sadly, some don’t pay much attention to how they dress. Other cities of the Emirates are stricter. In Abu Dhabi, for example, you can’t wear shorts or sleeveless shirts.
  • If you can’t find a place, take a taxi. They are very cheap.
  • If you have time, visit the White Mosque (Sheikh Zayed Mosque) with one of the many one-day tours in Abu Dhabi to
  • Some websites, like Skype, are censored. Don’t forget to get a VPN before leaving.

Here are more pictures I took in Dubai.

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