Dubai is not an overly budget friendly city. It is a city built around extravagance and excess, bright lights and all things shiny. So what exactly was the cost of 4 days in Dubai?

Before touching down in the UAE, I didn’t really clock that Dubai was an odd destination for me to visit until another blogger commented.  She was right though, Dubai is not a place you would associate with backpacks and/or bunkbeds. There may be the odd backpacker passing through by way of a hostel or guesthouse, but for the most part it’s people looking for luxury and whom have a decent credit card limit. 

And that’s why I’m actually glad I visited Dubai, to see how travel can be different, and to step outside of my comfort (budget) zone and experience something different. I realise it’s not necessarily in keeping with the theme of this blog, but I do think that by experiencing what you could call ‘luxury travel‘ every once in a while, will allow me to write more balanced posts. Well, that’s the plan/hope at least.

Anyway, on with the show.  First a little about Dubai itself, and then we get into the numbers, and look at the cost of 4 days in Dubai.

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Getting Around Dubai

First up the metro is pretty awesome … to a point. It runs smoothly and on time, is clean, air conditioned and safe (there are women only carriages). It may be a little crowded, but it’s really affordable, and on that basis was a winner with the Mrs and I! 

However, similar to to NYC and its metro, there was a lack of lateral options, leaving you quite often using the metro to land you roughly where you needed to go, and then hiring a taxi to complete the journey. 

Payment for the metro takes the form of NOL cards, and while you can queue up and buy a card for each journey, it’s worth considering an Oyster Card esq topup number. 

The exception to this rule was the JRB, Palm and Marina area, which was its own mini tram system, but which is linked to the metro and used the same NOL card payment method. 

The taxis/uber like the metro offer good value. There are PLENTY of them around, and some of the taxi’s will accept card, but others will claim their card readers do not work – heard that one before. On the whole though, taxi’s are a good bet when in Dubai, and again in terms of safety it is possible to order yourself a ride with a dedicated female driver if you wish.

Buses, erm not for me this one. Trying to catch a number 7 bus at. Business Bay left me in a state of mini meltdown.  The buses just did not stop where they were indicated as to stop, essentially leaving us running up and down the different stops in the hope of finding a bus and being able to jump on it. Never been a fan of buses anyway, but this just put the nail in the coffin.

Things to do in Dubai

So much to do, but so little time! 

We had 4 nights in Dubai which, we did not however reckon on loosing the hours between 11 and 2 due to the heat.  These hours effectively became siesta time, and allowed us to catch up on some sleep after another late night. As such we found ourselves breaking our days down into AM and PM sessions for taking in the sights and doing things, always retreating to the safety (read: air con) of our hotel room around lunch. 

So either side of naps and cooling down sessions, here’s what we got up to in and around Dubai.

Sandboarding (AM)

Having been sandboarding once before while in South Africa, I couldn’t wait for another change to get out into the desert and ride a knackered old snowboard down some dunes.

I jest, sandboarding is seriously good fun but also incredibly hard work climbing back up the dunes!  The drive out to the dunes is also an eye opener in terms of seeing more of Dubai outside of the tourist area, and the dune bashing required to reach your sandboarding site is also great fun.

One of the more expensive items of my cost of 4 days in Dubai table below, but also one of the more unique.

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Shopping at the Malls (AM)

Shopping, it’s not my cup of tea and I certainly didn’t get along with the extreme crowds and somewhat aggressive nature of The Dubai Mall, but what I could appreciate was the vast and stunning waterfall complete with swan diving human sculptures , its epic food court, and the massive aquarium.  If however shopping is your thing and you don’t mind the hustle, you could easily spend all day(s) at The Dubai Mall and/or Mall of the Emirates. 

We chose to visit The Dubai Mall on the basis of its proximity to the Burj Khalifa, but maybe the Mall of the Emirates, and its indoor snow centre would have suited me better.  Snowboarding in the desert anyone?

Dubai Mall

Spa/massage (AM)

Again not really my thing, but the mrs gave it the thumbs up having enjoyed a 30 minute massage at our hotel.  Dubai is not short of spas, so it could well be worth shopping around, although the connivence of having one within your own hotel cannot be easily overlooked.  

Beaches (AM)

Ah the beach, much more my thing, just maybe not my skins favourite thing. 2 hours in the sun lathered in factor 50 and I had still turned a lovely shade of red.  

I’m as pale as they come, but a lack of shade options on the public beach of Jumeirah is a bit of an issue in my eyes, but the beach is free so you cannot have too many complaints I guess.  I would however recommend the purchase of an umbrella or two before hitting the sands beneath the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah.

If you want a slightly more shaded and luxurious beach experience, there is the beaches of the Jumeriah Beach Hotel, but that costs in excess of £50 per adult a day (ouch!).  Somewhere in the middle could be the Jumeirah Beach Park.

Either which way, you’re not short of beach options in Dubai.

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360 Bar (PM)

As day turns to night, Dubai lights up like an Xmas tree and with that visitors don their best threads and head out in the night. An incredible evening experience can be had by visiting the Jumeirah Beach Hotel and its 360 bar, which sits on a small spit just off the mainland. 

The location and 360 views (duh) are phenomenal, and you pay for it when ordering drinks (£11 a beer), but we found it to be worth it, especially as we arrived on Ladies Nights (Tuesdays – an idea we stole/borrowed from Jane at Girl Tweets World) and as a result the GF received four of her drinks for free.

Great views, great music, great food and drink, great company – definitely worth the bar bill.

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dubai skyline

Outdoor Cinema (PM)

Wow, what an amazing place to watch a movie.  OK so going to the movies may not be considered particularly cultural, but I do love me a trip to the flicks, especially when there’s a bit more room to move around and not lose the feeling in my legs.

The VOX outdoor cinema sits atop of the Galleria Shopping Mall, and offers a really great cinema experience, combining your movie choice with great weather, views, and a tasty dinner.

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The Lost Chambers Aquarium – the Palm (PM)

First up, riding the Palm monorail to reach the Lost Chambers Aquarium is a great, inexpensive way to see the enormity and brilliance of the palm.

The Aquarium itself is pretty amazeballs, but does come at a fair old cost (as you will see in my cost of 4 nights in Dubai table below).  We had a great time, but feel that a lot more could have been done with the story of the ‘The Lost Chambers’.  It verged on a Stargate Atlantis story, but never quite got there in terms of full engaging us and making us believe if you know what I mean.

Still, the sealife on show was incredible to witness, and the ‘Seven Sage Chamber’ provided a hypnotic viewing experience. We also loved the mini albino alligators :)

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The Walk @ JRB (PM)

When initially reading about The Walk @ JRB, I initial thought that it sounded like another expensive area of boutique shops and restaurants.  To that end I had no real plans to visit.

Of course you can see where this is going right?

On our last evening in Dubai and having finished at the Lost Chambers Aquarium, we caught the Tram to JRB and ended up loving the place! A great beach with shade and facilities, an abundances of shops, outdoor sports facilities, markets, fairground attractions and great food options.

After spending an hour donning my Sungod Classics in the afternoon sun and watching the sun go down, we then had a lovely meal alfresco while watching a spot of volleyball.  It was a fine way to see out our time in Dubai.

JBR the walk. Dubai

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Burj Khalifa (PM)

I mean you have to, don’t you?

Despite the Burj itself being the best thing about the Dubai skyline, logic dictates that you still need to make to journey to the 124th floor and take in those views.

Dusk is the obvious time to ride the elevators skyward, so to see Dubai in both light and dark, but expect MEGA crowds at this time and an unquantifiable amount of people wanting to take selfies.  To that end, while the views were amazing, the the overcrowding and ‘window hoggers’ did impact our experience.  

… Luckily, the equally extravagant and elegant water fountain display at the foot of the Burj Khalifa was able to restore a sense of calm and enable us to end our evening at the worlds tallest building on a high.

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Etiquette in Dubai

Right so this is very much open to interpretation and what I read prior to our visit to Dubai, and what I saw on display were very much the opposite, so what is wrong and what is right I still do not really have a clear idea.

However, to be on the safe side I would say that good etiquette would include BOTH men and women covering shoulders and knees, and also being careful not to be overly affectionate/romantic in public.  To play it safe, I would go as far as to say that you should avoid even holding hands, although we did see plenty of this going on.

When riding public transport, men should also be careful to avoid female only carriages/areas. These are clearly marked.

Money

MasterCard and Visa are accepted pretty much everywhere, but there were some cabs who were cash only, so it definitely paid (no pun intended) to have at least a few dirham in your wallet in case of emergency.

Going back to the Mastercard bit though, if you’re looking for a travel money card which has zero withdrawal fees and better exchange rates than you’re used to, might I suggest you check out my post about the Monzo Mastercard. Honestly, you won’t regret it, and as I will show, this card had an impressive influence on the cost of 4 days in Dubai.

The cost of 4 days in Dubai

So here it is, the cost of 4 days in Dubai.  As per usual the exchange rates I have used to create the below are subject to change.

In a change to my regular reports however, I have removed the cost of flights.  This is on the basis that when flying to Dubai I used a ton of air miles I’d earned and effectively got my flights half price and silly cheap.

I should also add that we additionally tried to arrange a helicopter tour of Dubai at £150 each, but the tour companies had no availability for us on our chosen dates, we’d left it too late.  Had we been able to take the tour, the below would have swelled ever so slightly.

 

When GBP USD Euro AED Description Notes
  1 1.3 1.19 4.76   Rates correct at time of writing, but obviously subject to change
Essentials
325.28 422.86 387.08 1548.33 Hotel Atana Hotel
10.00 13.00 11.90 47.60 Insurance Single Trip Couples Insurance
Tuesday
4.46 5.80 5.31 21.23 Road N Transport Autho Metro tickets
8.55 11.12 10.17 40.70 Uber Uber to 360 bar
11.06 14.38 13.16 52.65 360 Degrees 9 Drinks at 360 bar
15.96 20.75 18.99 75.97 360 Degrees 5 Drinks at 360 bar
22.34 29.04 26.58 106.34 Jumeirah Beach Hotal Food at 360 bar
7.18 9.33 8.54 34.18 Uber Uber home
3.51 4.56 4.18 16.71 Khair Al Madeena Smkt Water / snacks
Wednesday
5.32 6.92 6.33 25.32 Cars Taxi Taxi to beach
4.26 5.54 5.07 20.28 Uber Uber to the CORRECT beach (public beach)
6.24 8.11 7.43 29.70 Uber Uber back to hotel
23.79 30.93 28.31 113.24 Dxb Metrointernt Cty2 Puchase of prepaid metro tickets
21.24 27.61 25.28 101.10 ATM Cash wirthdrawl (taxis’s and Palm monorail tickets)
5.78 7.51 6.88 27.51 Uber Uber to outdoor VOX Cinema
55.38 71.99 65.90 263.61 Majid Al Futtaim Cinema Outdoor Cinema tickets (inc food + drink)
6.08 7.90 7.24 28.94 Uber Uber home
Thursday
31.73 41.25 37.76 151.03 Atana Hotel Fz Llc Single Person Massage @ Hotel
47.88 62.24 56.98 227.91 Viator Tours Single Person Sandboarding Tour
23.59 30.67 28.07 112.29 Al Faris Restaur22195 Lunch
56.98 74.07 67.81 271.22 Burj Khalifa Burj Khalifa Standard Tickets x2
11.42 14.85 13.59 54.36 Marka P.j.s.c= Ice Cream x2
Friday
46.67 60.67 55.54 222.15 Dolphin Bay/acuqaventu Atlantis Aquarium
40.18 52.23 47.81 191.26 Rf The Beach Br Of Mer Food at JRB beach promenade
8.46 11.00 10.07 40.27 Cone Street Ice Cre738 Ice Cream x2 (again)
 –
TOTAL 803.34 1044.34 955.97 3823.90    
TOTAL Per Person 401.67 522.171 477.9873 1911.95  

Verdict

Since returning from Dubai, friends and and family have naturally ask me ‘how was it?’, and still I’m struggling to find an answer that feels right.

You may have gathered from my tone in the paragraphs above that I’m a little unsure on my Dubai trip.  I know that I’m fortunate to be able to travel to these places, but while Dubai is a fun and exciting destination, it just isn’t somewhere which left a particularly lasting memory or a feeling of we MUST come back here!

There was so much going on in Dubai and we enjoyed some great times over the 4 days.  I do not regret the extra expenditure versus my usual destinations, although the knowing that I got my flights super cheap does help.  I just (naively) thought that with destinations such as Dubai and extra cost, would come less hassle, and that everything would run super smoothly.  That wasn’t always the case, and I doubt it is ever the case anywhere, I was just super naive.

This will sounds weird, but my own frustrations at my bodies inability to cope with high temperatures also played a role.  I like to be busy when travelling, so spending hours hiding from the sun around midday left me feeling frustrating and like I was wasting time, when really I should just have been relaxing.

Essentially a lack of planning on my part and travelling outside of my comfort zone massively impacted on my ability to simply enjoy Dubai for what it is, or more likely what it will become.  I say that because I personally was a little taken by surprise at just how much of the place is still under development.  With so many building sites I’m also left wondering if I visited to soon, and whether I should have waited another year or two.  Equally, had I waited for more attractions to be built up, might the cost of 4 days in Dubai increased?  So many ifs, buts and maybes.

Anyway, back to my point, which was the cost of 4 days in Dubai. Dubai was by no means a waste of money and a trip I regret taking, I am glad that we went, I’m just unsure at how much of a lasting influence it had on me.  Usually I will get back from a trip and think that was the best, this time it just didn’t happen.

Can’t win em’ all, but grateful to have had the experience.

Until next time, Du-bye.

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the cost of 4 days in Dubai

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