Dubai 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). Here’s how much it costs to go to Dubai
Dubai trip cost
Local transportation $240
Food and drink $360
Random spending $200
Total US $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 Gold Rewards Card gives you a signup bonus of up to 30,000 American Express Membership Rewards points which have a minimum value of $300 (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 $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. 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 luxury 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.
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:
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 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy points as a welcome bonus.
Canadians should consider the BMO World Elite™* Mastercard®* since it typically has a sign up bonus worth more than $200 and the annual fee is normally waived for the first year. There’s also the Marriott Bonvoy American Express which gives you 51,000 Marriott Bonvoy when using a referral link. That’s enough points for up to five free nights at some hotels which could easily have a value of over $650.
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.
Although Dubai has some free attractions such as the beach and the 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. 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 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 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. 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, 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.
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. That said, it’s also possible to do Dubai on a budget.
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.