With its soaring skyscrapers and glamorous boutiques, it's no secret that Dubai is a place where it's easy to spend lavishly. That doesn't make it off-limits for a more restrained vacation though, as Joy from www.thethrifttrip.com shares her secrets for saving money in the City of Gold.
It's all in the timing
Joy's first tip is to think carefully about your dates: "Tours and activities in Dubai vary depending on the seasonality. You can save more during low season as there are less people going for tours.
We know for a fact that Dubai is quite humid and hot for the month of June until September, so activities during these months are more limited. In the winter season, prices go up – sometimes double." Large groups can also help to cut costs: "People prefer to book activities earlier and in groups to save more."
When it comes to getting around, there are a few different ways to save. "Walking is an option for winter season but during Ramadan, it is not. The air is humid and the surface of the road is extremely hot, and most people prefer to stay in the comfort of their homes."
If you prefer to get around a little faster, Joy has a lot of faith in the local public transport: "Unlike other countries, it is safer to take public transport here. Maps are located on every drop-off spot, so you'll never have to worry getting lost...Marina area has the best public transport system because they have buses, Red Lane Metro, and the tram."
Our Radisson Blu Residence, Dubai Marina is at the heart of this area, making it an ideal choice for easy access to the rest of the city. Her top tip? "Use RTA's public transport. Downloading RTA apps and Google Maps will help you reach your destination. Plus, it's cool to sit with a stranger once in awhile."
See for free
For all its glitz and glamour, Dubai is making a conscious effort to keep its culture accessible. Joy explains, "The last time I checked, the Dubai Museum entrance fee is just AED 2, park entrance fees are only AED 5 per person, and art galleries are normally free of charge."
She also recommends the Dubai Calendar: "it's the most reliable source because they update it regularly", and joining meet-up groups, as "most hostesses know their area very well and are the experts on showing people around their community".
The timing of your visit could also affect in-store prices, as Joy tells us, "Shopping malls are generous on discounts during Dubai Shopping Festival, which runs for the whole month of January. For independent stores, I usually check out a few lifestyle shops like Centerpoint, Splash, and Max.
You can also find interesting things at day-to-day stores in Deira and Bur Dubai…. If you really want a real bargain, flea markets everywhere open once a month at parks like Safa Park." If you're planning on heading straight for the souks, Joy has some insider advice: "Just be friendly with vendors.
A little knowledge of the vendor's language may help for you to easily get discounts, and don't stick to one shop and try to compare prices from other shops."