Dubai, United Arab Emirates


Dubai is famed to be an elite, expensive destination for obvious reasons, like being home to the most exotic fleet of cars, impeccable infrastructure, endless number of high-end hotels, mesmerizingly massive shopping malls, sophisticated restaurants, and of course, Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world. But, surprisingly, the best things in life don’t necessarily come with a hefty price tag, and neither does an idyllic visit to this sensational destination. The city has plenty to offer without you having to break the bank.
Kick start your day with a caffeine fix at the Dubai Coffee Museum, tucked away in the heart of the city’s historical Al Bastakiya district. Sample traditional Arabic coffee, along with complimentary dates, while discovering ancient coffee grinders, roasters and vessels. Housed in the vicinity is also Dubai’s oldest building dating back to 1787, the Al Fahidi Fort, which skillfully exhibits chronicles of the city’s incredible transformation from a simple fishing village to a glamorous, modern metropolis.
Swap a fancy yacht cruise for a traditional ‘Abra’ ride instead, across the Creek which divides the city into two areas: Deira and Bur Dubai. Prior to construction of the first bridge in Dubai in 1963, Al Maktoum Bridge, the only way to get across was in an ‘Abra’, which undoubtedly remains the most affordable, fun and experiential way of commute.
Whether travelling on a budget or not, paying tribute to the Dubai Gold Souk is a must when visiting the famous city of Gold. Window shopping here is almost as exhilarating as purchasing the glistening metal itself, considering the seemingly endless rows of captivating shops and boutiques, showcasing exquisite designs and varieties of the precious metal. However unusual it may seem, sometimes bargaining may be a bonus when negotiating a purchase.
Destination discovery is never complete without experiencing the local marketplace. Brand new Dubai Waterfront Market is a culmination of traditional local culture and contemporary style shopping, at a ‘mall-like’ venue. Available here are the main ingredients of Emirati cuisine, ranging from assorted spices, dates and nuts, to designated zones selling diverse varieties of fresh fish, poultry and meat. Unique souvenir shops, retail outlets and fun food trucks lace the entire area, so you’ll never be far from a cup of ‘karak chai’ (flavorful spiced tea), an ATM, a pharmacy, or mini replica of Burj Khalifa. For those with an affinity for organic produce, the Ripe Market at Zabeel Park, Al Barsha and Times Square Centre, is the perfect place to be.
Another ‘definitely do’ is a visit to one of the world’s largest shopping malls, The Dubai Mall, for an ultimate window shopping experience. You also get to sample a multitude of free activities like exploring marine life in one of the largest suspended aquariums in the world at the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, or indulge in an all year round winter wonderland experience with periodic snowfall at the Dubai Ice Rink. Try out an authentic ‘Shawarma’, the legendary traditional Emirati grilled meat wrap, with pickled veggies and fries, as you enjoy close-up views of the beautifully orchestrated Dubai fountain, and star of the night, Burj Khalifa, along with weekend special laser shows, to complete your perfect Dubai experience.

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