top of page
  • Writer's pictureEmmanuel Adu-Awuku

How to spend 36 hours in Dubai - and how much it will cost you!

Updated: Mar 30

Dubai’s Museum of the future

First of all, Dubai was amazing. What a time December 2023 was!

I only had 36 hours in the city built for play, so let me tell you how it went.

I had initially planned to celebrate my 30th in Dubai. However, visa issues held me back for a week. No such issues on the second take. My mate and I got the right visas - cost us SAR 550 (ZAR 2,750). For flights - I had to rebook my flight to Dubai - this was SAR 750 (ZAR 3,750) and I had to move my return flight which was still valid. Ticket price was SAR 720 (ZAR 3,600) and it cost me SAR 900 (ZAR 4,500) to move my flight - I cried!! Bottom line for your budget, visa will cost you SAR 550 (ZAR 2,750) and return flights from Riyadh to Dubai will cost ~ SAR 1,480 (ZAR 7,400)

I was nervous doing all the check-ins and immigration stuff but it was all good. We got on our 3am flight and arrived in Dubai at 6am (+1 hour time difference to Riyadh). The clock starts….

We got off at Terminal 3 and dashed to Terminal 1. Immigration was simple - you get a free 1GB tourist sim for staying connected in Dubai. At Terminal 1, we took the red line to the Financial Centre. This cost AED 20 (ZAR 100) for a return trip to Dubai International airport. Our mate stayed at Carltown Downtown Centre so we were sorted on accommodation. Basically accommodation was AED 0. But since I’m nice I’ll tell you what your budget should be - AED 750 (ZAR 4,000) per night for five days for a couple.

Let’s get back to being in Dubai…

Metroline passing through the  Financial centre

My homies tried to tempt me with Prosecca at 9am in the morning but I wasn’t having it. Three hours later after a nice nap it was time to explore Dubai. First order of business…gallivanting.

My mate and I walked down the metro line until we got to the Museum of the Future - stunning, stunning, stunning. We took some nice photos, caught a few stares on the streets and just kept it moving. My mate found Leen’s - a posh, low-key restaurant with a lovely view of the Museum. My mate indulged in sum sum, I kept it clean. Lunch came to AED 245 (ZAR 1,250) per person.

Leen’s bar and restaurant

We were reunited with our mate. We went for dinner at Dubai mall, at a restaurant called Tribes Carnivore (owned by a South African) that had a stunning view of the Burj Khalifa and the waterfront. Dinner was a modest AED 155 (ZAR 785). It was time to catch vibes, we had 24 hours left in sin city😂.

View of Burj Khalifa and Dubai mall waterfront from Tribes Carnivore

Lekki Dubai - the option was so obvious. I told my mate, find us a place we can fetch Afrobeats vibes. Lekki Dubai served up for days! They also play hip hop, RNB, and grime - but the Afrobeats section is the main attraction. Just note that vibes heat up at Lekki from 12am usually, so time your arrival so you can have a smashing time till 4am. 

Read neon-lit sign of Lekki Dubai

Entrance had a couple of options - you had the option to pay AED 2,000 (ZAR 10,000) for bottle service and a table for more than five or you could stand by the bar with your bottomless-drinks-at-the-bar tickets for AED 200 (ZAR 1,000). Bottomless drinks are only served till 1am, so that 12am to 1am slot was lit. Lastly, you could also get normal entrance tickets for AED 100 (ZAR 500) where you pay for your drinks off the menu.

Lekki was lit, wow! That Afrobeats stretch was just amazing. People danced all round, Amapiano sprinkled into the mix here and there, and all of us just losing it over and over again.

4am hits, time to head home…or as my mate came to tell me - time to head to the afterparty. We made friends at the club so we went back to their place, vibed some more and slept. 

We got back to the crib at 10am. Honestly, there’s no point in booking accommodation in Dubai 😂. Just go out, meet new friends and party. Less than ten hours left, the clock is ticking. We rushed to brunch because we were really hungry. Brunch was at Circle’s and it was really nice and peaceful. All the tea was spilt and never to be shared again. Brunch was a cool AED 155 (ZAR 785).

Three hours left in sin city? We just slowed it down, enjoyed a picnic and sunset vibes by the beach. A proper moment to catch up on the chaos and just reflect on how brilliant Dubai was. Definitely one to be repeated….

Sunset on the beach

The last few hours were admin. Back to the hotel at 6pm…Took the metro rail at 7pm…Caught my flight to Riyadh at 10pm and got home at 1am. I had to be up for work at 8am. I cried 😭

One last note on…safety in Dubai - Dubai is really safe but as a traveller in a foreign location, always keep safe, remain aware of your immediate surroundings, and keep your guard up.

Here’s a collation of my budget across the two days:

Local currency

ZAR currency


SAR 550

R 2,750

Flight tickets (return)

SAR 1,480

R 7,400

Train fare

AED 20

ZAR 100


AED 800

ZAR 4,000

Lunch @ Leen’s

AED 245

ZAR 1,250

Dinner @ Tribes

AED 155

ZAR 785

Party @ Lekki

AED 200

ZAR 1,000

Brunch @ Circles

AED 155

ZAR 785


SAR 2,800

ZAR 14,000

* excluded from total

Follow me on social media and stay tuned to discover and live new destinations with Global Ville



bottom of page