While traveling to Dubai can be pricy as the hotels are grandiose and the attractions are all superlatives, once you’re there, moving around the city is very affordable and provides some of the best authentic experiences.
Traveling Around Dubai Cheaply
Traveling Around Dubai by Boat
While you can travel across Dubai by taxi or metro, the best way to see the old city is by boat. Jump on one of the traditional boats, called abras, to move between Bur and Deira. The cost is one dirham, though the boats do wait until they have twenty people before they leave. If you’re not in a rush, it’s well worth the wait. You can spend the better part of an hour cruising all fourteen kilometers of canal, passing by the minarets launching from the old city and the turquoise-topped trading vessels that move spices and electronics in and out of the canal. Or, if you want to impress a date, pay twenty dirham (or about six dollars, which is half the price of a beer in Dubai) and you can have the whole boat for yourselves. It’s also a great way to travel between souks.
With the world’s longest automatic metro, at 57 kilometers, you can purchase a day pass for about $5.00. At the moment, the metro accesses the entire city except for the beach. The pass allows you to travel via water taxi, bus, train, and water tram. The abras are not included.
Taxi rides are rather affordable in Dubai as compared to the rest of the modern world and the price tag on most other expenses in the city. Everyone will explain that you don’t have to worry about getting scammed by taxi drivers. For the most part, this is true. I, however, during my first cab ride in the city, had the unfortunate experience of having a driver who ripped me off. He hid his meter during the ride, which normally would have made me suspicious, but numerous people explained that nobody scammed tourists in Dubai because those who attempted any level of crime would be sent home to their countries, (since 80% of the city’s population is made up of expatriates). When we arrived at my destination, he showed me a price that was twice the amount that it should have been. (I had also asked multiple people to estimate the price of my ride before I got into the cab. Deep down, I guess I’m always skeptical.) I lied to the cabbie and told him that I had taken the same ride yesterday and that it was half the price. But my cab driver insisted that this was the price. I called him a liar and met him in the middle, between the fair price and his inflated charge. I couldn’t believe that of all the countries that I had ever visited, where scams are rampant, in Dubai, a country known for its absence of most crimes, I was had.