Is Dubai Expensive? A Budget Forecast!

Burj Al Arab

Dubai is a city full of captivating sights. Nevertheless, being a desert city built from scratch, it’s quite natural for most people to believe that Dubai is an expensive city. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be, as there are a variety of smart choices to enjoy Dubai like a Sheikh and that too without breaking the bank. But with an array of swanky accommodation, indulgent culinary choices and world class attractions vying to grab your attention, you’ll have a tendency to overspend in Dubai, given you’re traveling to the city without a proper budget plan in place. So this breakdown of expenses will help you to spend wisely in Dubai.

Dubai Cost of Travel: Detail Guide

1. Visa & Airfare

People coming from most European, American and Far Eastern counties are eligible for a free visa on arrival at the Dubai Airport. But a visa is mandatory for all other nationalities (excluding GCC citizens) visiting Dubai and its prices range between AED 350 to AED 3000. Such factors as type of visa (for eg: single entry and multiple-entry), duration of stay etc. determine the visa rate. The same applies to the airfare as well, as it largely depends on from where you’re traveling and also the airlines you choose to travel with. But, keeping a close watch on online promotions, special deals, and festival offers will help you to purchase your airline tickets at unbelievable rates. You can also save money by making airline reservations in advance and traveling midweek.

2. Accommodation

As a global tourist hotspot, Dubai comes with a whole host of accommodation choices, whether you wish to stay in a hotel, resort, or a hotel apartment. You can choose one according to your budget, number of days you wish to stay in Dubai, and the level of hotel standards. This pricing table will give you an idea of accommodation rates in Dubai.

Cheap Mid-Range Expensive High-End
Karama Hotel Fairmont The Palm JA Oasis Beach Tower Burj Al Arab
City Premier Hotel Apartments, Business Bay Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach Le Meridian Beach Resort & Spa Atlantis, The Palm
Citymax, Bur Dubai Grand Hyatt Dubai Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights Kempinski Hotel & Residences Palm Jumeirah
Rose Rayhaan by Rotana Premier Inn Dubai International Airport Grosvenor House Dubai Jumeirah Beach Hotel
Winchester Grand Hotel Apartments Auriz Plaza Raffles Dubai
Cost per night: AED 150 to AED 270 Cost per night: AED 350 to AED 500 Cost per night: AED 700 to AED 900 Cost per night: AED 1,000 to AED 1,500

Quick tips to choose a hotel accommodation in Dubai

  • For those who wish to stay in a high end accommodation can opt for some of the super classy hotels or resorts located in Dubai’s hotspots, including Jumeirah, Dubai Marina, and Sheikh Zayed Road.
  • Avoid renowned hotel brands, especially during peak season from November to March, if you’re on a tight budget.
  • Most budget hotels are located in such areas of Dubai as Deira, Bur Dubai, and Karama, which surprisingly offer decent amenities and facilities, with the plus point of easy access to some of the city’s most popular leisure, shopping and sightseeing attractions.
  • Irrespective of your preference, make sure that you book your accommodation well in advance before your Dubai visit. This will for sure fetch you an accommodation at incredible rates.
  • Visiting Dubai during offseason also helps you to seemingly cut down on your Dubai accommodation, while even allowing you to stay in an uber opulent hotel.

Estimated cost of accommodation per night: AED 150 to AED 1,500 per day


Dining in Dubai is quite cheap when compared to that of most other global cities. Obviously, you needn’t have to pay through the nose for relishing a great meal in Dubai. Some typical prices for meals for two in Dubai are:

  • Meal in a budget restaurant like Karachi, Delhi Darbar, China Sea, Zaroob etc: AED 20 to AED 40
  • Meals in KFC / McDonalds: AED 15 to AED 25
  • Meal in a mid-range restaurant: AED 100 to AED 150


  • Small bottle of water: AED 1 to AED 2
  • Small can of Pepsi / Coke: AED 1.50 to AED 2.00
  • Tim Horton Cappuccino: AED 14 to AED 20
  • Bear: AED 30 to AED 40

On the other hand, if you wish to experience a royal dining experience in Dubai, you can head over to dining establishments within Burj Al Arab, Atlantis, The Palm, etc., which will cost you an amount of at least AED 450 to AED 500.

Quick tips for eating in Dubai
Except you go out to mid-range or high-end dining venues, you can incredibly save on eating in Dubai by doing the following:

  • Eat local delicacies like shawarma wrapped with veggies and meat. They will cost you only less than AED 5, and amazingly, are filling as well.
  • Skip hotel meals: If breakfast is not included in your accommodation package, then better skip it, as you get more affordable yet delightful choices in a small café or a supermarket nearby.
  • Cook your own food. This is possible if you choose to stay in a hotel apartment replete with a well-equipped kitchenette. Besides enabling to save a fortune, this will keep you healthy throughout your trip.
  • Avoid dining at restaurants on prestigious thoroughfares.

Estimated cost of dining per day: AED 50 to AED 150


The best thing about Dubai is that it boasts of a well-integrated travel network that’s easy to navigate and get to almost anywhere you would like to visit in Dubai, from the ultra-modern, clean metros to cabs, public buses, and exceptionally cheap marine rides. The most convenient among them is undoubtedly metros.

Find here the different modes of public transport offered by the Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA), along with their pricing and other relevant details.

Mode of Transport Features Routes Price Range
Dubai Metro Fully automated & driverless Red Line: Running for more than 50 kilometers, from Dubai International Airport to Jebel Ali
Green line: Running for more than 20 kilometers, from Dubai Airport Free Zone to Dubai Healthcare City
AED 2.00 to AED 6.50 for a single journey
Local Buses Spotless, convenient & air-conditioned Total 79 routes AED 1.80 to AED 6.50 for a single journey
Taxis Efficient with professional drivers Minimum fare: AED 10
Abras Motorized Traditional Water Vessel Bur Dubai to Deira
Dubai Old Souk to Al-Sabkha
AED 2.00 to AED 5.00

Besides public transport, you can also hire a vehicle or opt to get around in a rental car with or without driver. This will cost you approximately AED 150 to AED 600 based on the type of vehicle, distance, duration etc. For AED 150 to AED 200 only, you can also book an all-inclusive city tour for sightseeing in Dubai.

Estimated cost of transport per day: AED 50 to AED 500

5. Activities

Dubai is crammed with a whole lot of things to do and experience, from thrilling desert safari and aquatic pursuits to theme park visits and shopping in malls and souks. A visitor to Dubai typically doesn’t want to miss out to do the following activities in Dubai.

  • Desert Safari: AED 150 to AED 650 depending on the package and inclusions
  • Dhow Cruise with Dinner: AED 150 to AED 300 depending on the type of cuisine & duration of cruise
  • Dubai Museum: AED 3 per person
  • Burj Khalifa Tour: Approximately AED 125 to AED 480 (Sky Dubai Tickets)
  • Ski Dubai: AED 250
  • Entertainment and Shopping in Dubai Mall: Depends on your spending capacity
  • Wonder Bus: Less than AED 150
  • Wild Wadi Park: Less than AED 250
  • Dubai Dolphinarium: AED 100

There are also a myriad of choices for luxury and adventure seekers, such as helicopter and seaplane sightseeing tours, private yacht tours, and scuba diving tours, most of which go beyond AED 1,000.

Quick tips to enjoy all Dubai has to offer

  • Purchase an all-inclusive holiday package with visa, dining, accommodation, transfers, sightseeing, activities etc.
  • Book a combo tour with desert safari and dhow cruise or city tour and dhow cruise / desert safari.
  • Look for special deals, coupons, promotion etc.
  • Try to book your tours and packages in advance
  • Estimated cost of activities during Dubai trip: AED 1,100 to AED 2,200 excluding shopping

Precisely, traveling to Dubai can be expensive or cheap as per your preference and budget. The abovementioned cost estimate serves only as a base point for planning your Dubai travel. It is always advisable to over calculate, as spending money is something very much a personal affair, and obviously, such pursuits as shopping and enjoying some ravishing drinks will only add some currencies on top. Moreover, you should also have adequate funds to tackle unforeseen and unexpected events.

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