When you think of Dubai, you probably think of five (or seven) star hotels, shopping malls that only sell gold, and the rich and famous doing whatever they want. However, there are two sides of every city – you can just as easily enjoy Dubai without burning cash at every corner. Equally, if you want to flash the cash and enjoy luxury, then this is the city for you.

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Food

In Dubai you’ll truly have the pick of the world’s best cuisine. And in a restaurant in Dubai, you don’t just get gorgeous food; you get incredible décor and amazing service too. While they aren’t measured by Michelin stars, luxury Dubai restaurants are often modeled on those that are, so you know you’re getting the best. For a romantic atmosphere, head to Pierchic; set on a pier on the Arabian Gulf, it offers fine seafood and stunning views. If Asian food is more your thing, then try Eauzone. A spot for casual dining during the day, at night it is transformed into a beautifully refined restaurant positioned on the pool.

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However, if you want to save your dirhams rather than splash them, then budget alternatives are available for every cuisine in existence. Head to Ravi for very generous helpings of Pakistani curry and naan breads bigger than your head, or to Zaroob and Zaatar Z Weit for Levant street food to fill you up without emptying your wallet. For cheap drinks, be on the lookout for “Ladies’ Nights” and “Gents’ Nights” at clubs and bars.

Getting Around

If you’re looking for luxury, your hotel may provide you with a limousine or you can hop in a taxi to take you to wherever you want to be. They obviously come at a premium, and there is a much cheaper way to see the sights of Dubai. The Metro is clean, efficient, one of the cheapest forms of public transport (in the world!), and the best way to see the city. You can even travel Gold Class and enjoy free Wi-Fi!

Hotel

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There are so many luxury hotels to choose from in Dubai. They dominate the skyline wherever you look – from the Jumeirah Beach Hotel to Fairmont the Palm, you’re spoilt for choice. If you’re looking for something more modest, there are lots of deals and budget places to opt for instead; it’s something of a myth that Dubai only caters for the glitterati and upper echelons of society. A great budget-friendly option is the Ibis Al Barsha hotel.

Free Attractions

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You don’t have to dish out a lot to experience some of Dubai’s unique attractions. For instance, Jumeirah Beach and the Dubai Museum (3 dirhams entry fee) are both a steal! Another budget-friendly experience is a tour of the Jumeirah Mosque (everyday 10 AM, except Fridays). Lastly, you could forgo the expensive malls and stroll through traditional souks. The Gold Souk and Spice Souk in Deira are exciting, vibrant, and definitely an experience even if you don’t buy a thing. Souks are open 7 days a week (close early on Fridays).

However you want to enjoy Dubai, you can make sure that your trip doesn’t break the bank whatever your budget.

Have you been to Dubai? What are your favorite things to do, see, or eat? Leave us a comment!