Have you ever wondered how much does it cost to go to Dubai? The city is often viewed as the city of the future with its skyscrapers that touch the clouds and surreal man-made attractions such as islands in the shape of the world. While there’s no denying that Dubai can be an expensive city to visit, you might be surprised to find out what a Dubai trip cost looks like.
How much you spend depends on where you stay, what you want to do, and how long you’ll be there. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to focus on 5 nights and six days, but you could easily see the entire city in just three days.
This Dubai guide will give you a good idea of what to see when you’re in the city and how much you’ll spend. Remember, my estimates are based on a single traveller, so if you’re travelling as a couple, double your costs (minus the hotels).
Dubai trip cost
Local transportation $240
Food and drink $360
Random spending $200
Total US $3,325
The above estimate is in American dollars, so please use xe.com to find the average costs in your home country.
If you’re Canadian, you may want to consider applying for one of the best travel credit cards in Canada to help offset your costs by collecting points. For example, the American Express Platinum Card gives you a generous welcome bonus that’s often worth more than $900 (potentially more if you transfer your points to Aeroplan or Marriott Bonvoy). There’s also the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card that has no foreign transaction fees, and it comes with airport lounge access.
For reference, I was able to fly to Dubai in business class on EgyptAir using my Aeroplan points. To get home, I used AlaskaMiles and flew Emirates A380 First Class which is a bucket list item for many travellers.
Although Dubai has one of the busiest airports in the world, it’s still relatively expensive to fly to. I’ve estimated a flight to be around $1,000, but that’s if you’re coming from North America. Generally speaking, if you’re flying from Europe, Africa or Asia, then flights will be around the $600-$700 range. Flights from within the Middle East can also be reasonably priced.
One thing to note, Dubai is the hub of Emirates. If you fly Emirates, you can get a free stopover in the city. In other words, if you’re travelling anywhere where Emirates services, it could be a good value to stopover in Dubai for a few days first. For example, you could do New York to Dubai before continuing on to London. This won’t necessarily reduce your Dubai trip costs, but it’s a good way to maximize your vacation plans.
Like any other city, Dubai hotel costs can vary quite a bit. They have plenty of luxurious hotel properties, including the self-proclaimed 7-star Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel and several affordable options. For the purpose of this cost of trip to Dubai article, I’m using an average of $225 a night, but there are cheaper options.
Traditionally, when picking a hotel, many people focus on location, but I don’t think that’s as important in Dubai. The reason I say this is that the city is pretty spread out so there’s no one central location where you want to be. That said, Downtown Dubai and the Marina/Jumeirah are easily the most popular spots. Check out my detailed guide on the best hotels in Downtown Dubai.
Some areas to consider with reasonably priced hotels include Business Bay, Dubai Internet City, and Al Barsha. Cheaper accommodations can be found in older areas such as Deira. Honestly, it takes about 20mins by car to get just about anywhere in Dubai, so look for price and comfort.
One thing to note, Dubai doesn’t really have any traditional hostels that you’ll find in many parts of the world. The hostels in Dubai are often just big apartments that have been turned into hostels. This may or may not be a good thing for travellers.
If you’re looking for some hotel recommendations, consider the following:
Dubai’s main mode of public transportation is the metro which has two lines. The red line runs above ground, mostly parallel to Sheikh Zayed Road and goes all the way to the airport. The green line is underground and goes through Al Karama, Al Raffa, Al Rigga and Al Qusais.
The Dubai Metro does not accept cash fares, you must buy a Nol card which is reloadable. Tourists will want to buy the red card. The amount you pay is based on how many zones you travel. One zone is 4 dirhams, two zones are 6 dirhams, and 3+ zones will set you back 8.50 dirhams. Every station has someone working in a booth selling tickets. Alternatively, you can buy a ticket from a machine.
The Marina area is serviced by a tram that’s not directly connected to the metro. Rides cost 4 dirhams. There’s also the monorail that services the Palm Jumeirah Dubai, which will cost you 20 dirhams for a one-way ticket or 30 dirhams for a return ticket. Dubai also has many public buses.
Despite the many public transportation options, it’ll likely be easier for tourists to use a taxi, Uber or Careem (the local Uber). Generally speaking, Dubai taxi fares are roughly 75 cents a minute. Remember, it usually won’t take you more than 20-25 mins to get anywhere in Dubai. Yes, it would be cheaper to take public transportation, but despite the network, it takes quite a bit of time, and you’ll need to do a lot of walking. For example, it could easily take you an hour to get from your hotel in Downtown Dubai to the beach or Marina. Taxis are cheaper than Uber/Careem, so always try that option first.
For the purpose of this how much does it cost to go to Dubai trip estimate, I’m estimating $40 a day with the assumption you’re just taking taxis most of the time.
Although Dubai has some free tourist attractions, such as the beach and the Dubai fountain show, you’ll likely be spending a good amount of money on attractions.
The most obvious thing to do is to go up the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building and the most iconic landmark in Dubai. For $40USD you get access to levels 124 and 125. At the Top, Burj Khalifa SKY ticket costs $103 and gets you access to floor 148. If you want access to the World’s highest lounge and levels 152,153, and 154, it’ll cost you $168. Just go with the cheapest option but note that you should purchase your ticket in advance since it’s a timed entry.
Many people will also decide to take a desert safari tour and a full-day guided trip to Abu Dhabi, which is the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Both of these tours will cost you about $40 – 70 each. I personally think the trip to Abu Dhabi is worth it if you have time, but note that these tours won’t be able to fit every attraction in. Make sure your tour does visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, it’s one of the most beautiful mosques in the world and the largest mosque in the UAE. The desert tour can be quite fun if you’ve never been to a desert. The landscapes are beautiful, and if you are adventurous you can’t try sand boarding on the sand dunes.
Other attractions to consider include the Dubai Frame, a marina boat tour, a day at a resort/spa, skydiving, the Dubai Aquarium, the Dubai Museum, Wild Wadi Water Park, a dinner cruise, and more. Mind you, not every attraction is paid. There are many free beaches, and quite a lot of people just enjoy walking around looking at the architecture of Dubai. The Al Fahidi Historical District has many free or inexpensive galleries and museums. Right next door is the textile souk. From there, you can take the abra boat across the Dubai Creek for about 30 cents. You’ll now be in Al Ras, where you can see the gold souk and spice souk.
Depending on the type of travel you like to do, the hotels in Dubai can also be an attraction in themselves. If you are looking to splurge properties like the Atlantis Dubai have beaches, clubs, bars, a huge outdoor pool, and full-service spa on hand.
Food and drink
Dubai has every international cuisine possible. As in, almost every major chain from around the world has a location somewhere in Dubai. In one day, I saw L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele from Italy, Tim Horton’s from Canada, Shake Shack from the United States, Paul from France and Din Tai Fung from Taiwan.
You can literally get every type of cuisine you want but generally speaking, I found food prices to be about 30% more expensive compared to what those same chains would cost you back in their home countries. What I’m getting at is that you should budget a fair amount of food.
With that in mind, an average budget for daily meals will look something like this.
- Breakfast: $10
- Lunch: $15
- Dinner: $35
That works out to $60 a day which isn’t cheap. Mind you, you can easily spend less if you eat light or get fast food. You could also spend much more if you’re into fine dining and alcohol. I just wanted to give you a reference point for your planning. One thing I should mention is that tipping in Dubai is not common. Most people will just leave the coins or 10 dirhams regardless of how much the meal costs.
Dubai is known for its malls. It’s insane how many malls the city has. You literally can’t visit the city without going to a mall. As a result, it’s pretty easy to spend. In my Dubai trip cost guide, I’ve estimated $200 for random spending but you could easily spend more or less than that amount. For reference, the best mall is the Dubai Mall. The Mall of the Emirates is also cool since it’s home to ski Dubai.
For reference, when I went, I didn’t buy any real souvenirs or clothes, but I did buy a bunch of coffee and packaged goods that I couldn’t get at home. What you spend is up to you but note that shopping in Dubai is not cheap.
Cost to go to Dubai
So how much does it cost to go to Dubai? I estimate you’ll spend about US$3,325 for five nights and six days. This isn’t terribly expensive, but it’s also not cheap. For many people, Dubai is a bucket list destination, so it’s well worth the cost.
The nice thing about Dubai is that it’s a major hub for flights and cruises so it’s easy to get to the region. For more inspiration, check out my guides to Jordan, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Europe.
Frequently asked questions
Can you visit Dubai on a budget?
Dubai on a budget is possible. It just depends on what you’re willing to sacrifice. There are plenty of budget hotels in Deira and Sharjah. You could also use public transportation instead of taking taxis everywhere. It’s not hard to find cheap food, just don’t expect anything fancy. It’s hard to save on attractions since the top sites typically have an admission fee. Your Dubai travel costs can be reasonable if you put some effort into it.
How can I reduce my expenses in Dubai?
Dubai is not a cheap destination. Admission fees can add up pretty quickly to the attractions and while there are more affordable places to eat and hotels, it’s by no means ‘cheap’. You can also cut down on your time here. You don’t need six to seven nights to see the highlights. If you are worried about money then it might be better to spend three to four nights.
What is the cheapest time to go to Dubai?
The busy season in Dubai is from November to January when the heat is manageable. Since Dubai is in a desert, the heat can be quite intense from June to August, so that’s the cheapest time to go. Don’t expect December to be cheaper, as that’s still a relatively busy time for Dubai.
What should I avoid in Dubai?
Dubai is a very religious and conservative city, so you need to be aware of its laws. Don’t display any public displays of affection or make any jokes about the rulers. Don’t even think about committing any crimes, as the punishments are quite severe. Medicine can often be considered controlled substances, so ensure you have doctor’s notes with you if you’re bringing any into the city.
It’s also important to keep in mind that since Dubai is so religious and conservative, you should dress respectfully. Leave the swimsuits for the beaches and beach clubs (Dubai has many since it is located on the shores of the Persian Gulf).
How many days in Dubai?
This cost to go to Dubai guide recommends five nights and six days, but not everyone will have that much time. Generally speaking, you’ll want at least four days in the city which will still be enough time to go on a day trip. If you check out my Dubai itinerary for 5 days, it gives you a good idea of what your schedule could look like. That said, since Dubai International Airport is such a huge travel hub, many people come just for a day or two as a stopover. It’s definitely worth it and you could easily adjust the suggested itinerary to fit your timeframe.
What is the best way to get around Dubai?
The quickest way to get around Dubai is with a taxi or rideshare. Of course, that’s also the most expensive option. If you want to keep your costs down, the metro can get you relatively close to many of the major attractions. If you’re headed to the Dubai Marina area, you may also have to take the tram. The bus network is quite extensive and gets you everywhere, but you need to know which ones to take. Your Dubai trip cost will be lower if you stick to public transportation.
What are the best day trips in Dubai?
The best day trips in Dubai are purely subjective. If you want to explore more of the United Arab Emirates, then a visit to Abu Dhabi is the obvious thing to do. You can book a guided Abu Dhabi city tour as discussed above, or, you can also visit on your own. This is ideal if you want to visit spots like Ferrari World which isn’t included on most guided itineraries.
If you prefer something with more adventure, then try a desert safari or the Musandam Peninsula. There’s also Sharjah which is a short drive from Dubai. Many people think of Sharjah as a suburb of Dubai, but it’s actually another city. It has a few museums and a butterfly house which may be of interest.
What is the best time to visit Dubai?
October to February are typically considered to be the best months to visit Dubai and the UAE in general. This part of the world can get incredibly hot during the summer months so you want to visit when it’s cooler and you can explore the main highlights and walk around outside without struggling in the heat.
Is Dubai safe?
Yes, laws here are incredibly strict meaning there is very little crime and plenty of travellers agree that Dubai is one of the safest places in the world. You don’t need to worry about hiring guides or booking a Dubai vacation package, it’s totally safe to do on your own.