How Much Does it Cost to go to Dubai?

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ave 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

 Estimated cost
Airfare$900
Accommodations$750
Local transportation$240
Attractions$400
Food and drink$360
Random spending$200
TotalUS $2,850

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 signup bonus of up to 85,000 American Express Membership Rewards points which have a minimum value of $850 (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.

Airfare

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 $900 but that’s if you’re coming from North America. Generally speaking, if you’re flying from Europe, Africa or Asia, then flights are 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 for 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 for you 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.

Accommodations

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 quite a few affordable options. For the purpose of this cost of trip to Dubai article, I’m using an average of $150 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:

Budget

Mid-range

Luxury

If you have the right credit card, you can save a fair amount of money on hotels. Americans should strongly consider the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card since you can earn up to 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy points and $200 back at U.S. restaurants as a welcome bonus.

Canadians should consider the Marriott Bonvoy American Express which gives you up to 55,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. That’s enough points for a few free nights at some hotels which could easily have a value of over $500.

Local transportation

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.

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 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.

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.

Attractions

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 tallest building in the world. 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 guided trip to Abu Dhabi. 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. The desert tour can be quite fun if you’ve never been to a desert.

Other attractions to consider include the Dubai Frame, a marina boat tour, a day at a resort/spa, skydiving, the Dubai aquarium 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.

Food and drink

Dubai has every international cuisine possible. As in, just about 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.

Random spending

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 maill 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 what I did buy was a bunch of coffee and packaged goods that I couldn’t get at home. What you spend is totally up to you but note that it’s not cheap to shop in Dubai.

Cost to go to Dubai

So how much does it cost to go to Dubai? I estimate you’ll spend about US$2,850 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 JordanEgyptIsraelJapanHong KongTokyo and Europe.

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.

What is the cheapest time to go to Dubai?

The busy season in Dubai is November – 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 their laws. Don’t display any public displays of affection and don’t 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.

How many days in Dubai?

This cost to go to Dubai guide recommends 5 nights and 6 days, but not everyone will have that much time. Generally speaking, you’ll want at least 4 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. You could easily remove things 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 booking a tour of Abu Dhabi is the obvious thing to do. If you prefer something with more adventure, then try a desert safari or 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.

How Much Does it Cost to go to Dubai?

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

15 Comments

  1. Jasmine on November 20, 2020 at 9:42 AM

    Wow. Thanks a lot! This is all the info I need, and you got straight to the points.

  2. thamesha fielding on January 18, 2021 at 11:18 AM

    This was very informative my cousins and I are planning our first trip there so that was very informative some from US and some from Canada and you make mention of both

  3. Ash on June 24, 2021 at 3:10 PM

    Dubai is a city and not a country. Nicely written article though.

    • Barry Choi on June 24, 2021 at 4:11 PM

      Ash,

      Thanks for catching that. I’ve corrected my mistake.

      • John Scavens on June 25, 2021 at 7:08 AM

        Well written and informative.Dubai looks like a fantastic place,just avoid public displays of affection!

  4. Kathleen on October 22, 2021 at 2:34 PM

    I’d love to go to Dubai. However, I’m handicapped and use a small, electric scooter to get around and I’m on oxygen. Is it still possible for me to enjoy a trip to this city? Thanks.

    • Barry Choi on October 23, 2021 at 7:36 PM

      Kathleen,

      I obviously wasn’t paying that much attention when I was there, but it appeared that most attractions in Dubai are accessible. Your biggest concern would be transportation within the city.

  5. Obijuru on January 18, 2022 at 3:15 PM

    I want to go to dubai and work there. I need a sincere agent. Help!

  6. Alko on March 5, 2022 at 4:42 PM

    Nicely written article. Do I need to be concerned about conmen charges, eg – taxis don’t have meters and then overcharge foreigners, or restaurants padding bills with unmentioned charges. What about Airbnb’s – are they reliable? What about pickpockets. Thanks!

    • Barry Choi on March 6, 2022 at 7:29 AM

      Aiko,

      Crime is very low in the UAE since the punishments are harsh. All taxis use meters, but of course, you can also use Uber since they can’t tamper with that. I personally never had a bad experience at any restaurants. Airbnb vs. hotel is a personal preference. That said, there are so many hotels available that you shouldn’t have any issues finding one in your budget.

    • Renee on March 15, 2022 at 2:00 AM

      Fantastic information with great details

  7. Sade on April 15, 2022 at 11:45 PM

    Hey, great article; how did you book your trip was it with an booking company like Booking.com; Lastminute.com or did you do everything separately???

    • Barry Choi on April 17, 2022 at 4:05 PM

      Hey Sade,

      I booked everything on my own, but I’ve used booking.com too.

  8. Camille on May 4, 2022 at 4:50 AM

    Wow this was very informative and I appreciate the time you took to do this as I’m interested in going to Dubai for my birthday next year. What about reggae clubs or clubs in general. Thanks

    • Barry Choi on May 4, 2022 at 6:17 AM

      Hey Camille,

      There are a lot of clubs and places to party in Dubai, but I have no idea where they are since that’s not something I personally enjoy.

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