1. November is the time to go!
Travelling during off-season is no brainer-but how cool is it when the weather is also the best! Visiting Dubai during first weeks of November has so many advantages- the season is about to kick start in another couple of weeks, the Global village has started its pavilions, days are not too hot and nights are not too cold, the accommodation and flight rates are very low, crowds start to get denser so you get the festival feeling without getting jammed and the beaches are less crowded.
2. Metro to & from the airport
The main red line in Dubai metro runs through the center of Dubai from the airport to the Old Dubai to the Dubai mall to the Dubai marina and further. You could get a one time red ticket or a daily pass or a NOL card to travel in metro which is the cheapest way to get to and from the airport. It is easy, convenient and fast.
3. Take the local cab instead of Uber
I learnt this after the initial couple of days in Dubai- the local yellow and beige cabs are maintained by the RTA like the metro and buses and it has a fare meter. No bargaining, no mishandling- it’s as clear as travelling in a metro and is infact cheaper than taking an uber.
4. Check entry ticket prices & plan itinerary/Groupon & online booking
Keeping in mind the fact that Dubai is a major tourist destination, most of the attractions have a hiked up entry price on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays (weekend). Similarly, Burj Khalifa has different entry prices at different times of the day (highest during sunset hours). Groupon & other similar sites comes to the rescue in getting combo offers (I got a 4 member groupon to the aquarium on a discounted rate that I used up on a weekend when the actual ticket price is higher). Check the entry tickets to all your planned attractions and chart your itinerary in a way that helps you spend the minimum.
5. Read reviews & skip some “must-see’s”
Although I visited most of the must see’s in Dubai, I wish I had not for some of them- like the Miracle garden for instance, which is good but not over the top. Comparing it to the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, it is totally skip-able as it does not offer you anything unimaginable. The Aquarium is another visit I regret considering it’s not-so-cheap entry cost- you could totally give it a miss if you have visited similar ones in other countries. Read, read & read the reviews!
6. Eat from the malls
This isn’t a Dubai specific tip but in general if you are travelling to a country with quite a few malls, you could choose to have your lunch or dinner from a nearby mall food court that offer multiple cuisines on a reasonable rate. I found even ice creams and juices expensive outside the mall in Dubai especially around the beaches.
7. Take Dhow cruise instead of speed boat in Marina
From private yachts to speed boats to jet ski’s that are available for rental, Dubai marina is lined on either sides with boat tour companies. You could book a reasonable offer online or if you prefer to book it on ground, take the Dhow cruise- it is a slower and cheaper 90 min ride on a traditional wooden boat. It has got its own downsides- it doesn’t take you to the Atlantis or the Burj al Arab and it is not adventurous. Anyhow, I personally loved the slow ride as it gives you enough time to absorb the views (highly recommend the sunset hours) and click pictures.
8. Take an abra ride to the spice & gold souq
Old Dubai is a cheap area to spend a day that helps you soak in as much authentic Dubai vibes as possible. The food is cheap, entry ticket to the Dubai museum is AED 3, a ride in Abra to the other side of the water is AED 1 and everything in Diera souqs are on a much reduced price-an ideal place to shop souvenirs, Arabic spices, perfumes, dates and cheap chocolates.
9. At the top of Burj Khalifa after sunset
Travelling till Dubai and admiring the mighty Burj Khalifa just from outside didn’t seem worth the wait for me. Ticket prices were highest during the sunset hours as one can enjoy the view in daylight as well as at night. After a short googling, I found the night pictures more charming than during the day. You could get an aerial view from the Dubai frame also during the day so I decided to go to the top of Burj Khalifa after sunset when the ticket prices are the lowest- guess it was the best decision.
10. Food & Shopping from Global village
Do not miss Global Village- Just do not! I loved the whole vibe of the place with lots to eat and shop. You could even bargain at the pavilions and cut prices by half un-apologetically. Taste the sticky mango rice with coconut milk from Thailand, shop African tribal mask décor, catch your ice cream cone from the famous Turkish ice cream guy, taste the very concentrated Bosnian coffee, try out the beautiful Afghan jwellery, get your hands on the South American tribal ornament, taste the very famous Khunafa and many more- all at very reasonable price.
Hope you have a wonderful time in Dubai!