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How Much Money do I Need to Travel to the UAE?

18th February 2020

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a country in Western Asia comprised of seven emirates. The country's location and Islamic roots transcend into a unique mix of ancient customs and modern lifestyles. Once thought as just a stopover city on the way to Europe, the UAE has well and truly distinguished itself as a holiday destination in itself. 

The UAE is notorious for having a high cost of living, with many living lavish lifestyles against a desert backdrop. This doesn't mean you can't travel there on a budget, though, quite the opposite. While there are plenty of options for those ready to splash their cash and live like Arabian Kings and Queens, those on a budget can still very comfortably visit and experience everything the UAE has to offer. 

Regardless of whether you're weighing up if the UAE is the place for your next holiday, or if you've already booked and are in the thick of planning, our travel budget planner is here to help. It combines Numbeo data with daily exchange rates so you can get the most accurate idea of how much you'll be spending each day in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras al Khaimah or any of the seven emirates. 

Before we dive into the budget planning, let's take a look at what is included in a travel budget for the UAE. 

What goes into a budget for the United Arab Emirates?


While there are plenty of direct flights running daily, there is no denying that getting to the UAE from Australia is quite the trek. The 14-hour flight from the East Coast and 11-hour flight from the West will generally be your most significant expense (unless you're staying in a boujee resort when you land). Expect to pay anywhere between $800 (absolute bargain) and $1800 (a bit of a rip off) for your flights to the UAE. 

Once you arrive, the best way to travel between major cities and the Emirates is either bus, taxi or private car. If you're on a budget, the bus network covers most corners of the country and is very affordable, with a trip from Dubai to Abu Dhabi setting you back less than 20 AUD. If you're travelling in luxury or have more cash to splash, book a taxi or private car to drive you around. As a comparison, the same route from Dubai to Abu Dhabi in a taxi is about 100 AUD. 

In the cities themselves, you have a few means of transport to choose from. 
Buses - The bus network connects you to all major landmarks in air-conditioned comfort. Running every 15-20 minutes, expect to pay around 1-2 AUD for your fare.
Metro - Another popular and affordable way to get around Dubai. Keep in mind the first car is reserved for women and children under 10. Depending on where you travel, fares are between 1 and 3 AUD.
Ferry - In Dubai, catch the water bus from Bur Dubai to Deira for less than 3 AUD.
Taxi - Very popular in the cities, so expect long lines outside malls and major attractions. The initial fare starts at 3 AED (about 1.50 AUD) and then increases by 1.6 AED per kilometre. Taxis are quite affordable for inner-city travel; however, traffic can be pretty hectic at times, causing lengthy delays.
Car hire - The UAE is well known for their fancy cars and relative lack of speed limits and road rules. With this in mind, you can very easily live out all of your fast car fantasies, just be ready to splurge as it isn't cheap. 


There are plenty of exquisite accommodation options in the UAE; it really just depends on how much you are willing to spend. You can choose from boutique hotels, lavish private suites, desert camps, the Queen Elizabeth II cruise ship, Airbnbs and hostels. 

If money is no issue, there are rooms at Palazzo Versace and Atlantis the Palm that will set you back over $30,000 per night. If that is a bit out of your price range, there are plenty of other accommodation options for every budget. While hotels are still on the costly side of things, more budget-friendly options are opening up as the UAE gains in popularity. 

December and January are generally the most expensive months for accommodation, so try and avoid those dates if you are on a budget.


Cuisine in the UAE has a strong Middle Eastern and Indian influence; however, the multicultural nature of the city means you can find something to satisfy any craving. Dining at hotels and top-end restaurants can take quite a chunk out of your holiday budget, so if you are looking to spend less consider some street eat options and shopping at one of the many supermarkets. If you are looking to eat cheaply, make friends with the locals and see where they recommend - chances are they know what's good. 

While you're in the UAE, be sure to sample the following:

  • Camel milk. Very popular and a great alternative to those lactose intolerant travellers out there. Make sure you dig into some camel milk ice cream - delish. 1L for 16 AED.
  • Shawarma. Kind of like the kebabs we are used to at home, shawarma has either chicken, lamb, beef or falafel in flatbread. AED 6 - 10
  • Shish Taouk Sandwich. Thin pieces of chicken stuffed in flatbread with spices, herbs, veggies and pickles. AED 10-115
  • Oman chips roll. Cheese spread and smashed Oman (potato) chips in a roll. I've never heard anything more Aussie. AED 3 - 5
  • Harees. Wheat mixed with meat that kinda looks like porridge. AED 20
  • Samboosa. Basically a samosa with a twist. AED 15
  • Mananish. Lebanese flatbread filled with cheese, vegetables, meats, oils and spices. AED 15-30
  • Luqaimat. A dessert made of crispy fried dough balls with date syrup or honey. AED 10 - 30
  • Karak. The national drink of Dubai. Buy for 1 AED at roadside shops.
  • Fareed. Meat and potato stew with a twist. AED 20-30
  • Falafel. Deep-fried chickpea patty. AED 6 - 30
  • Knafeh. Known as the Queen of desserts, this is a pastry dish made with sweet cheese and topped with rose-syrup. AED 20-25

It's also worth keeping in mind that alcohol is costly in the UAE, and is generally only served at hotel restaurants and bars. 


In between soaking up some sun at any of the beaches, learning about the local culture and escaping the heat at one of the many extravagant shopping malls, you can fill your time with some of the following activities:

Burj Khalifa observation deck - about 155 AED
Indoor skiing - about 180 AED for 2 hours
Dubai museum - 4 AED
Malls - Prices will vary based on how cray-cray you got at the shops
Sheikh Zayad Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi - free entry
Desert Safari - 200AED to 1000 AED +
Ferrari world - AED 295 adult
Yas Waterworld - AED 250

Pre-travel expenses

If you are travelling to the UAE for less than 30 days as a tourist, you can get a visa on arrival. For any stays longer than this, we recommend speaking to a travel agent for more information. It's also worth having a chat with your doctor to see if you require any immunisations. 

Don't forget to budget for travel insurance! A must for every traveller regardless of their holiday destination. 

How much does a trip to the UAE cost?

Step 1

Enter your destination (United Arab Emirates)
Let us know how long you'll be away
Choose your currency. In this case, it will either be AUD or AED.
Get set for a desert safari! You've officially started your holiday budget.

Step 2

Here you need to decide how much you plan on eating out while on holiday. Will you be dining at high-end restaurants, munching on street eats or opting for supermarket snacks? Remember to put yourself in a holiday mindset; chances are you'll go for fresh shawarma over a muesli bar. 

Step 3

It's time to shop! Will you be frequenting Dubai's malls every day, or reducing the temptation and avoiding them at all costs? Estimate how much you plan on spending on shopping in this section. 

Step 4

This is for all of your transport outside of flights and cross-country travel. Taxis, buses and metros will be your primary options, with taxis being the more expensive choice. 

Step 5

The hard work is done! Here you'll find a simple layout of your planned expenses in both Australian dollars and the United Arab Emirates dirham. From here you can either go back and edit, or start saving for your holiday!

It's important to note here that this only accounts for your most basic expenses. You'll need to add in travel insurance and other daily expenses. It's also worth having a bit of wiggle room in the kitty for unexpected costs, like a last minute decision to upgrade your hotel suite, or splurging on some gold-leaf ice cream. 

UAE Budget Examples

Here are some examples of what the bones of your travel budget would look like. Please note all of these examples are based on seven nights of accommodation and are quoted in Aussie dollars. Prices will, of course, vary with seasonality and availability. 

Couples trip

This couple is splurging on a week of luxury in Abu Dhabi. They are willing to splurge on a few things to make the most of their time in the UAE. 


$1185 per person

Sydney to Abu Dhabi return with Virgin. 



Deluxe twin room at the Rosewood Abu Dhabi five star hotel. 


$300 per day

A few meals at the hotel restaurant, while also exploring the cuisine options throughout the city. 


$300 per day

Massages, desert safaris, Mosque visits and shopping sprees will keep the couple busy. 

Total for couple 


Bump it up to 7k for a little extra spending money at the malls. 


Family getaway

Mum, Dad and the two kids are heading to Dubai for a week exploring a new country, experiencing a new culture and eating some incredible food. 



Sydney to Dubai return with Qantas  



Family Quad room at Atana Hotel, a location popular for families. 


$200 per day

A few dinners out to enjoy the incredible cuisine, mixed with some cheap street eats and supermarket snacks and breakfast.


$250 per day

Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld are on the agenda, with plenty of time exploring the city and culture. 



The kids won’t stop raving about their epic holiday to Dubai. Coolest parents ever. 


Solo traveller

This vagabond is headed to Dubai with the aim of sticking to a pretty tight budget. Can it be done? We think so. 



Sydney to Dubai return with Qantas



Deluxe double room at a three-star INN 


$50 per day

Visit the supermarket for snacks and breakfast before indulging in fragrant street fare for lunch and dinner. 


$80 per day

A desert safari will be the highlight of the trip, alongside plenty of time spent enjoying the beach and exploring the city streets. 



Dubai on a budget? Too easy. 


Last-minute tips

  • Avoid travelling during Ramadan as many things will shut down during the day
  • The UAE weekend is Friday and Saturday, with Friday being an Islamic holy day when many business' close.
  • ATMs are widely available at banks and shopping malls.
  • Tipping isn't required, though it is common at restaurants and for service jobs.
  • You'll find free public wifi on beaches and hundreds of other places.
  • If you are keen for a drink, keep an eye out for happy hour deals
  • There are pink taxis in Abu Dhabi and Dubai that are driven by women, for women.
  • AED notes get bigger with value and have an English and Arabic side.
  • If paying by card, make sure you choose to pay in the local currency and not AUD.
  • Research your 'per day' budget and include the things you want to do. Once you know the costs, you have a savings goal to work towards.
  • Take advantage of Travel Money Ozs Best Price Guarantee. If you find a better price from a competitor, we will beat it*.
  • Hostels are a great way to save cash and meet like-minded travellers.
  • Check out reviews if you think something is too good to be true. Chances are it might be.
  • Don't forget to factor in pre-travel costs like travel insurance, immunisations and visas.
  • Sign up for Rate Alerts. We'll let you know when the AED is doing well against the ARS so you can purchase and maximise your travel money.
  • Make sure you respect local customs, covering up in mosques, using your right hand to accept money and food and taking your shoes off when entering sacred buildings. 

Flight costs are based on search from and are indicative costs only for travel dates 4 - 11 August 2020. Prices were sourced on February 13th 2020^. Accommodation costs are based on an average per night price for budget, moderate or luxury hotels, as indicated in the table. ~Food based on the average cost of 1 coffee, 1 fast food meal and 1restaurant meal per person, per day. COST COMPARISON TABLE: All costs are based on estimated approximate costs from major metropolitan cities. "From" costs indicate costs that start from the indicated price and may be higher than shown. Average prices indicate a typical estimated cost you would pay for the indicated item. Prices may vary from time to time, and in different cities and towns within Hong Kong. This blog is provided for information only and does not take into consideration your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the information and suggestions contained in any blog entry are appropriate for you, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs. While we take reasonable care in providing the blog, we give no warranties or representations that it is complete or accurate, or is appropriate for you. We are not liable for any loss caused, whether due to negligence or otherwise, arising from use of, or reliance on, the information and/or suggestions contained in this blog.