Last Updated on June 21, 2023 by Ellen
The United Arab Emirates is not exactly a destination for people who need to watch their spending while traveling. It can be an expensive place! But there are ways to stretch your money in this Gulf nation as you enjoy all it has to offer. This post covers three easy budget slow travel tips for the UAE.
3 budget slow travel tips for the UAE
These three budget slow travel methods will save you money in this wealthy Arab country.
1. Look for rental deals in apartment complexes away from the tourist mega hotels
The hotels you see in all the ads will cost you hundreds of dollars a night. But a 30 minute metro ride away, you can find a basic modern flat that’s entirely suitable. Stay a week for the price of one mega hotel night.
For example, there are entire sprawling villages on the outskirts of Dubai. This is where *thousands of foreign workers live. These workers are people from developing nations who come to the UAE for jobs.
Our Airbnb place in Dubai was sub-rented to us by a Kenyan couple living in Dubai for work. They vacated to stay with friends while we enjoyed their modern, comfortable studio rental *on the metro line*.
Washing machine, giant TV, freezing cold AC, fast Wi-Fi, comfortable bed and couch. Even a view of the skyline, a 30-minute metro ride away.
At just $31 a night including the Airbnb fee, this was a steal for Dubai!
It was a new listing with only a couple of reviews, so they offered a discount. Theo felt they were responsive to his questions so we took a chance and booked it. It totally worked out!
2. Buy a silver metro card in Dubai, and a bus pass in Abu Dhabi
In Dubai, the rechargeable metro card is 6 dirham— just $1.60. Then top off as needed. One-day passes are a straight 22 dirham. However, unused money on a silver card will be reimbursed. From zone to zone, the card is the best deal.
The card covers the metro, tram, and buses. Dubai has an efficient public transportation system.
Abu Dhabi doesn’t have a running metro — yet. It’s under construction. For now, the only options are taxis, buses, and Careem rides (sort of like Uber and Grab).
The bus card in Abu Dhabi cost 10 dirham ($2.70), and short bus rides around town are about 2 dirham.
Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) has no metro or tram, and we never saw public buses. (But we stayed far from old town, down the road from Flamingo Beach.)
We used Careem in RAK. By the way, Careem doesn’t get great reviews, but it was better than walking around RAK in 110-degree heat.
An average careem ride in any of these cities was 20 to 40 dirham ($5 – $10). But using the public transport was only 2 to 3 dirham (50 to 80 cents)! Big difference.
3. Find the free events
This is something we’ve done all over Earth. From free museum days to concerts in Lisbon’s Foz Palace, there are things to see and do if you spend the time searching for them.
Four examples for the UAE:
Of course, the big tourist attractions like zip lining in RAK (the world’s longest) and the ride up to the top of the Burj Khalifah tower (the world’s tallest) will dent your travel budget.
So the last budget slow travel tip for the UAE: you can look for discounts online if you decide those tourist-type attractions are for you.
Thanks for reading, “Budget slow travel tips for the UAE.”
Keep reading other budget slow travel tips from Earth Vagabonds: