15 Cheap Things To Do In Dubai (Shopping, Food, Attractions) - Updated 2024

15 Cheap Things To Do In Dubai (Shopping, Food, Attractions) - Updated 2024
Contributing Writer
| 8 min read

Dubai is a powerhouse, a glamorous playground. It welcomes every traveller with an unmatched energy and optimism. On a very recent trip to Dubai, I was fascinated by its remarkable acceptance of people from different parts of the world. Also, Dubai has myriad new experiences to offer. Be it in terms of adventure, luxury, shopping, or food, this global city will take you by surprise as you venture further into exploring it.

With such vitality in every corner of the city, there comes a hefty price tag. Dubai may not be every budget traveller’s cuppa. Fret not! When it comes to shopping and indulging in great food, a traveller can always find cheap thrills irrespective of which part of the world he or she is in. Hence, without further ado, allow me to take you on a journey through these colourful streets of Dubai where you can eat and shop to your heart’s content.

From transportation tips to medical essentials and everything in between, the Dubai local guides share all the must-know information to help you plan your trip.

1. Shawarma at the Picnic Restaurant, Satwa

Lamb Shawarma
Source: Photo by Flickr user rick used under CC BY 2.0

Going to Dubai and not feasting on these succulent wraps is one big mistake you should avoid. Shawarma is a Lebanese delicacy that is available at different spots across the city. However, for the finest shawarma that falls into your budget, the Picnic Restaurant in the Al Satwa area of Dubai is where you need to be. Post 12 PM, this place offers amazing varieties of Shawarma that starts at a price of only 6 AED (1.60 USD). To do the math, that is less than 2 USD. Whether you want chicken, beef, or mutton, they’ll have it ready for you within minutes. This restaurant has outdoor seating, so you can enjoy your wrap with a beverage or two while admiring the bustling city life.

Picnic Restaurant

Address: Opposite Fakhree Center, Near Satwa Roundabout, Satwa, Dubai

Price: from about 6 AED / 2 USD

Opening Hours: 8 AM to 2 AM

Contact: +97 04 3444805

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2. Lunch at Karachi Darbar, Meena Bazaar

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

During your trip to Dubai, there will be days when you crave some spicy Mughlai food. Karachi Darbar will come to your rescue in those times. With an elaborate menu that includes everything from mutton biryani to chicken Afghani, this food joint will be your heaven. Stop by for a hearty lunch that’ll cost you between 30 to 40 AED (8 USD to ~11 USD) only. They are quite popular for their haleem, nihari, and chicken kadai. Since this restaurant is well renowned, you’ll just have to tell the taxi driver to take you to Karachi Darbar in Meena Bazaar. Also, metro is another viable option to reach this lovely lunch spot.

Karachi Darbar

Address: Near Carrefour, Behind Plaza Cinema, Al Fahidi, Meena Bazaar, Dubai

Price: from ~3.60 AED / 1 USD

Opening Hours: 5 AM to 2 AM

Contact: +97 04 3533177

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3. Evening snack at Bu Qtair, Umm Suqeim 3

Fish Fry Yummy!
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user siddhu2020 used under CC BY 2.0

After enjoying the magical sunset at Jumeraih Beach, visit this seaside seafood restaurant. No menu, paper plates, and plastic furniture may turn you off, but wait until you sink your teeth into their chili prawns, fried pomfret, and marinated hamour. For nearly two decades now, Bu Qtair has been ruling Dubai’s evening snack scene. This quaint shack may have limited options on the menu but the fresh delicacies that they offer are a true delight for every foodie.

Bu Qtair

Address: Near Burj Al Arab, Street 4D, Opposite Fishermans Accomodation, Umm Suqeim, Dubai

Price: from ~73.50 AED / 20 USD

Opening Hours: 11:30 AM to 11:30 PM

Contact: +97 0557052130

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4. Kebabs at Afghan Kebab House, Deira

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user هتلر بغداد used under CC0

Afghani food is known as one of the most exciting cuisines of all times. Dubai offers the best of it at Afghan Kebab House in Deira. As the name suggests, the kebabs are a must-try at this eatery. Some of their specialities include Afghan mutton tikka, mixed kebab, and the kebab lofta Afghan that are charred on skewers and paired with tasty Afghan bread or pulao.

Afghan Kebab House

Address: Behind Al Ghurair Mosque, Near Al Manal Center, Naif, Dubai

Price: from ~37 AED / 10 USD

Opening Hours: 12 Noon to 12 Midnight

Contact: +97 0508645218

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Dubai Tour Guide

Dubai Local Tour Guide

Dubai Local Tour Guide

Welcome, Hello, bonjour, Hola, Namasty, Salam! It brings me great joy to extend a warm welcome as you embark on your journey to explore our vibrant city during your visit to the United Arab Emirates. Here, in this land of hospitality, you are not just a guest; you are welcomed as a member of our extended family. Allow me to introduce myself, I am Rafiq, a seasoned professional in the real... Read more

Tours by Dubai local tour guide

5. South Indian at Sangeetha Vegetarian Restaurant, Al Karama

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Dubai can be slightly difficult for vegetarians sometimes. Thus, Sangeetha Vegetarian Restaurant turns out to be a good option. This southern Indian chain of restaurants has different outlets in the city, but you’ll find the finest food in the Al Karama outlet. Known for offering a delectable breakfast menu, this restaurant can be a vegetarian’s paradise. It brings the authentic taste of South Indian cuisine for you at a reasonable price of only 30 AED (~8.17 USD). Don’t forget to try their ghee sada dosa and idli vada.

Sangeetha Vegetarian Restaurant

Address: Near Lulu Supermarket, Al Karama, Dubai

Price: from 22 AED / 6 USD

Opening Hours: 7:30 AM to 3:30 PM, 5 PM to 11 PM

Contact: +97 04 3367111

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6. Shop and bargain at Meena Bazaar

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Roaring horns, shops draped in bold, decorative lights, and people haggling at shops is a common scenario that you’ll witness upon arrival at Bur Dubai’s Meena Bazaar. This is a holy grail of traditional shopping in Dubai where you can skim through hundreds of items and negotiate as much as you can. The place gets charming by the evenings as shops, lights, the fragrance from perfume souks, food, and chocolates, all scream for your attention. From Iranian spice shops, haute-couture boutiques, lively eateries to exotic chocolates, you’ll find this to be a shopper’s paradise. You can shop and eat all within your budget at this bustling place in Dubai, which was originally known as Cosmos Lane.

Meena Bazaar

Address: Bur Dubai - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Opening Hours: Always open

Duration: around 4 to 5 hours required.

Access: Take a metro. Closet metro station is the Al Fahidi station

Near by Food: Eat at Karachi Darbar

Website: Meena Bazaar

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7. Hit 1 to 10 stores for souvenirs

Source: Photo by user Michael Theis used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Planning to buy souvenirs and gifts for family? Check out these interesting superstores that have all items available within the price range of 1 AED to 10 AED (0.25 USD to 2.72 USD). The stuff available at these stores are good in quality and easy on the pocket. You can grab the finest clothing, home decor items, toys, and more even within a slim budget. You can spend all day at these supermarkets without burning a hole in your pocket.

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8. Visit the Global Village

Dubai Global Village
Source: Photo by user Av@TaRGuru used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Global Village at Dubailand is known to be the world’s largest tourism, entertainment, and leisure project. It is Dubai’s first cultural, family entertainment, and shopping destination. In addition to shopping, you can enjoy concerts, kid’s shows, and exotic dining experiences here. This open-air theme park opens from November to April each year and hosts over 70 countries presented in more than 36 pavilions. You can shop for items belonging to different nations at a nominal price. The park opens from 4 PM to 12 AM and the entry fee per person is just 15 AED (about 4 USD).

Global Village

Address: Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, land - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Price: from about 11 AED / 3 USD

Opening Hours: 4 PM to 12 AM, November to April

Duration: Around 3 hours required.

Access: The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority has set up two dedicated bus routes to serve the venue. The first route (103) starts from Union Station, while the second route (104) starts from Al Ghubaiba Station. The service runs from 3:15 pm until 11:15pm, with 30 minutes of travel time.

Contact: +971 4 362 4114

Website: Global Village

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9. Don't miss Dragon Mart

Dragon mart
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Shiju.em used under CC BY-SA 3.0

From wonderful to weird, Dubai’s Dragon Mart is transforming the shopping scenes of the city. Filled with all manner of ‘made in China’ goods that you didn’t know you needed, prices are negotiable. You can buy items like accessories, phone cases, hoverboards, shoes, and more at astonishingly low prices. Don’t forget to shop at Dragon Mart for an exciting, unique experience.

Dragon Mart

Address: Al Awir Road,International City - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Opening Hours: 10 AM to 12 AM

Access: Rashidia metro station is the nearest metro station to Dragon Mart in Dubai.

Contact: +971 4 433 6200

Website: Dragon Mart

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10. Dubai Outlet Mall for brand-name clothes on a budget

Shop for Name-brand Apparel at Affordable Prices
Source: Pixabay

Dubai Outlet Mall was opened in 2007. Ever since, it has been a go-to destination for shopping lovers who want to buy brand-name stuff at reasonable prices. If you visit the mall on Monday, you will be in for a treat as the price might be half of what you’d normally pay with an event popularly known as ‘Half Price Monday.’ This mall is one of the best places in the city to bargain shop. It houses over 200 stores that offer top brands at heavily discounted prices.

Dubai Outlet Mall

Address: Dubai Al-Ain Road (Route 66) - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Opening Hours: Saturday to Wednesday 10 AM -to10 PM | Thursday & Friday 10 AM to 12 Midnight

Duration: Around 2 to 3 hours required.

Access: Dubai Outlet Mall has a shuttle bus services to many hotels in Dubai.

Contact: +971 4 423 4666

Website: Dubai Outlet Mall

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11. Abra Ride (Water Taxi)

DubaiCreek Abras
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jpatokal used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Travelers who wish to see more of the tradition and humble beginnings of Dubai should make it a point during their trip to check out Dubai Abras. This is one of the locals’ means of transport across the Dubai Creek which is the most efficient way to get to Bur Dubai from Deira to avoid rush hour and traffic in the city. This Arabian Water Taxi has two routes, one from Deira Old Souk Abra Station headed towards Bur Dubai Station which will take just five quick minutes and accepts passengers as early as 5:00 AM till midnight. The second route starts from Sabhka Abra Station to Dubai Old Souk Abra Station which is just two minutes longer than the first route and is open for 24 hours. Both routes cost 1 AED (0.27 USD).

Ride an Arabian Water Taxi

Address: Deira Old Souq Station, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Website: Dubai Abras

Opening hours: Deira Old Souk Abra Station:5:00 AM to 12:00 AM, Sundays to Mondays; Sabhka Abra Station: 24 hours, Sundays to Mondays

Price: 0.27 USD

12. Spend a day at the Jumeirah Public Beach

Jumeirah Public Beach - panoramio (6)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user V0L0DYA used under CC BY 3.0

Whoever said that Dubai is all structure and skyscrapers obviously haven’t seen the scenic blue waters of UAE. Strolling around luxury malls ad sky towers can be exhausting, a day outdoors will balance out all the mall hopping and a day at Jumeirah Open Beach is a great way to do so. Located in the heart of Jumeirah, this public beach is a go-to for families on weekends and is a great place to spend time with friends and families. There are volleyball courts and even a jogging track on its soft white sand for those who wish to go for a morning or late night run. This public beach is popular for its cleanliness and consistent maintenance among locals, there are lifeguards present in the beach and has proper changing facilities on site. Spend some time lounging under the sun and visit Jumeirah Open Beach when in Dubai.

Visit Jumeirah Open Beach

Address: Jumeirah Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Opening hours: 7:30 AM to 10:00 PM, Sundays to Wednesdays

Price: free admission

13. Go crazy in Dubai's best souks and get great bargains for less

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Balou46 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Dubai’s trading history is a long one that commonly took place in the market place, although, to date, all seven of the emirates make their money from oil, the retail space still makes an economic impact in the country’s tourism. One of the country’s best go-to experiences includes strolling around souks. Souks are bazaars where people come to sell and purchase goods and authentic products made around the emirates. Some of the goods often purchased here include jewelry selling gold, silver and other precious stones, as well as spices, perfumes, and textiles, where haggling for the best prices is utmost doable.

Dubai Gold Souk

Address: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Opening hours: 9:30 AM to 9:30 PM, Saturdays to Thursdays, 4:00 PM to 9:30PM, Friday

Price: free admission

14. Get a multi-sensory experience watching Burj Khalifa's Dancing Fountain

Burj Khalifa Dancing Water Fountain show (8276924313)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Susanne Nilsson used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Located in the Burj Khalifa Lake in Downtown Dubai, travelers in the area can get a visual experience like no other as the world’s best dancing fountains can be found here. The fountain is 275 meters (905 feet) long central arc of jets and when combined with the smaller arc is 5 circles of jets in total. Water sprays as high as 150 meters (492 feet) once the music starts playing in harmony when fountains start to spray water in perfect trajectory. There are more than 6,000 powerful lights, lasers, and 50 color projectors that lasts as long as a 5-minute song. The symphony of lights and music ranges from classical, pop, and contemporary music like Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and Symphony No. 9 in E Minor by Antonin Dvorak among others. Heighten your senses and experience the best of Dubai’s dancing fountain.

Dubai's Dancing Fountain

Address: Fashion Parking - Dubai Mall - Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Blvd - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Website: The Dubai Foundation

Opening hours: 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM, Mondays to Sundays

Contact: +971 4 567 2030

15. Bask in the stunning architecture of Jumeirah Mosque

Jumeirah Mosque
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Leandro Neumann C... used under CC BY 2.0

For those fond of architecture and historical structures that make a place a cultural heritage, then the Jumeirah Mosque is one to check off your bucket list when in Dubai. This mosque welcomes all people from different walks of life, locals, travelers, religious practitioners, and whatnot, everyone can come visit the Jumeirah Mosque. Built back in 1979, this mosque is made from pure white stone and can occupy up to 1,200 people. There are guided tours travelers can participate in which is 75 minutes a day six times a week that will truly encapsulate mosque life. The tours also provide guests with Arabic snacks, coffee, dates, and all sorts of food that promote Arabic cuisine. Make the most out of your visit to Dubai and experience local religious life like nowhere else.

Jumeirah Mosque

Address: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Website: Jumeirah Mosqe

Contact: +971 4 353 6666; smccu@cultures.ae

Dubai on a shoestring budget

Sunset of Dubai Jumeirah beach
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Phil6007 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

So, all those friends who told you that Dubai is going to blow your budget to bits, this is the answer you have for them. Be it food, shopping, or travelling within the city, Dubai does have cheaper alternatives that are just as much fun as their pricier counterparts. Shopping at malls like the Dubai Mall and the Mall of Emirates may sound fancy, but haggling at small bazaars also has its own beauty. While you are in Dubai, explore as much as you can and don’t be afraid to experiment.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Hello. I'm Teesha, a freelance writer and an aspiring travel blogger. My affair with travelling doesn't have a lot of history as of now but I'm determined to make it one of the most passionate love...Read more

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