Last updated on June 4th, 2020
Last month, I took a trip to Dubai as part of a two-week work trip. While there, I had a few days to leisurely explore the city. I’ve written about my itinerary here and in this post, I will be writing about the travel costs of travelling to Dubai from Lagos, Nigeria. This breakdown is based solely on my experience and is only intended for the purpose of trip planning and to present a fair idea of how much to budget.
All prices stated here are either approximate values or exact values at the time of this writing.
Travel Costs: Dubai Visa and Flight Details
First things first, I have written a FAQ about Dubai in this fairly recent post. The post contains answers to questions such as the best time to visit Dubai, how to get there and so on. You can catch up here. To summarize, the Dubai visa is fairly easy to get. You can apply through an agent or through the Emirates VFS service if you book with the airline. I went with the former and paid 300 AED (app ₦31,400) for my visa.
Currently, Emirates operates two daily direct flights from Lagos to Dubai. This is the fastest route to the city. Other airlines like Etihad, Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airline also operate flights to the Dubai, with technical stops at their various hubs.
Depending on the time of your booking, you could get a direct flight on Emirates Airlines as low as ₦300,000. Other airlines offer cheaper alternatives as low as ₦170,000 (depending on the time you book).
While in Dubai, I mainly used Uber and the local taxis to get around. Each taxi trip cost me an average of ₦1,200 and my most expensive single Uber trip was getting from Downtown Dubai to the JBR The Walk area. That cost me the equivalent of ₦4,750. One useful tip for visiting would be to stay closer to the areas where you’ll be doing the most sightseeing. If you’re not able to do so, get a NOL card and try to use the local transportation options available.
Another Adhoc mode of transportation I used was the CitySightSeeing Bus. I paid 285 AED (app ₦28,500) for the 1-day pass. I, however, did not think this was a good value for money. The fare did come with a few complimentary tickets and perhaps if I got to use them all, I might have felt differently. But as of this moment, I do not recommend this service, especially if you have only one day to use it.
Transportation – Getting to Abu Dhabi from Dubai
There are a few budget-friendly ways to get to Abu Dhabi from Dubai and vice versa. One option is to utilize the free shuttle service provided by either Emirates or Ethiad Airlines if you fly with them. These airlines operate rides to and from both cities. They are only available on the day of your flights though. So, plan accordingly if you want to use them.
Another option is to take a bus from the Ibn Battuta Station in Dubai to the Main Bus Terminal station in Abu Dhabi (and vice versa). This service costs only 25 AED (about ₦2,500) and the trip takes about 2 hours. Lastly, you can opt for a shared taxi – which is the option I went for. I shared the taxi with 4 other passengers and paid 60AED (₦6,000) for the 1hr trip.
At the time of this writing, Uber is not licensed to operate in Abu Dhabi. To move around, you can simply hail a taxi or use the local cab-hailing service, Kareem to find one. All rides have a minimum charge of 12 AED (₦1,200).
I was in the UAE for 7 nights in total, however, I only had to pay for accommodation for 2 nights. For the first 5 nights of my stay, I checked into the Shangri-La hotel in Downtown Dubai. If you are not on a tight budget and are willing to splurge a little, I recommend this place. After my stay there was over, I moved to a hostel close to the beach in the JBR The Walk area, where I paid 82 AED + tax (₦8,200) for 1 night.
+: I thought this place offered great value for the price. It is in an excellent location – only a walking distance from the beach and a few minutes away from the Ibn Battuta Bus Station. Staff was courteous and helpful for the duration of my stay.
–: Shared bathroom was untidy when I checked in.
I spent the second night in Abu Dhabi at a hotel close to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. That cost me 432 AED (app ₦43,200).
Mini-Review: +: Loved my stay here – no downsides. The location is great. I was able to walk down to the Grand Mosque and back. They also let me check out late, so I hung around until it was time to get the Emirates Shuttle back to Dubai.
NB: Most hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi charge extra fees that cover taxes, service charge or a damage deposit. For example, at the hostel, I had to make a (refundable) cash deposit of 150 AED (₦15,000). Just be sure to double-check for how much you’ll really be needing for your stay.
For the days I was on my own tab, I really didn’t spend much on food. I had a meal on day 1 at the Dubai mall that cost me ₦3,100. The second day I had dinner as part of the desert safari tour and for the last day, I just went to the supermarket and bought pastries and drinks worth of about ₦4,000.
Like I mentioned in this post, I was aiming for a lazy laid back itinerary. In the linked post, you’ll find a more detailed breakdown of how I spent my time. To summarize, I checked out the souks at the Medinat Jumeirah and opted for an Abra Tour there (costing 100 AED – ₦10,000).
You can read my review of that here. I did the Citysightseeing bus tour – which I do not recommend. That came with a complimentary ticket to the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. Personally, I would skip this if I had to pay for it. I just didn’t think it was exciting enough for the price. I also did the desert safari tour (again) and ended my stay with a second visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.
Here’s an overview of everything I spent. Again, this breakdown is based solely on my experience and is only intended for the purpose of trip planning and to present a fair idea of how much to budget. All prices stated here are either approximate values or exact values at the time of this writing.