Cost of travel in Dubai

futuristic Dubai

After Sri Lanka’s cheap living expenses, I reached Dubai. The place was rather expensive so I skipped touristy things like sand duning and desert trips, spending most of my time reading.

Dubai’s travel costs

In April 2013, Dubai’s exchange rate was around 3 dirhams to 1 Singapore dollar.

I changed my dirhams at Changi Airport before flying out to Singapore.

I figured that having some Dubai cash in hand before landing is a good idea since my plane arrive past 11pm.


Total spent (dirhams) # of days Daily average
1166.50 5 233.30

By Category

Accomo Transport Food Museums/ sites SIM
820 70.5 163.25 15


Duration: 5 days

Photos taken: 451 photos

Books read in Dubai: Several books from Song of Ice and Fire


Best dish: Shawarma! [I didn’t expect to see that many reincarnations of this dish for the rest of my trip but I did in Greece and Istanbul.]

Chicken shawarma

Favorite part about Dubai: Air-conditioning

Biggest surprise: Dubai felt very familiar. It was like Singapore but with a lot of heat and sand. The place was eerily clean and the buildings in the CBD were shiny metallic.

Worst experience: Receiving a note under my door on my first night. I didn’t mention it in my blog posts because it felt too scary then.

Biggest rip off: Dubai 3G price. It was so expensive that I refused to buy 3G for my phone.

Biggest regret: Staying in Dubai for so long. Accommodation price in Dubai was really crazy. I booked an AirBnb accommodation and that took up 70 percent of my total spending.

Related posts:

Round-the-world pre-trip expenses

Sri Lanka: Travel costs & summary

Sri Lanka: Travel costs & summary

Sri Lanka Train Ticket

[I always like reading travel cost posts by other bloggers. Now, I’ve finally got started with my own travel cost post. Enjoy!]

It’s been 50+ days into my travels and I haven’t been telling you about the cost and my thoughts on the different places.

Sri Lanka was the first stop of my trip. I’m very glad that I’ve visited Sri Lanka first because it was tough compared to the rest of the places.

For one thing, Sri Lanka’s tourism is not really prepared well for the cheapo traveller like me.

If you have the money, getting drivers/ tour guides to bring you around is easy and very relaxing.

But I have a budget to adhere to so I did everything on my own–even taking the long-distance public transport on the eve of a major public holiday.

Economy class train ticket
Economy class train ticket

Sri Lanka’s travel costs

In April, Sri Lanka’s exchange rate was 101 rupees to 1 Singapore dollar (something like that).

Oddly, getting my money changed at the bank in Kandy gave better rates than the airport did.


Total spent (rupees) # of days Daily average
35,937.5 8 4,492

By Category

Accomo Transport Food Museums/ sites SIM + data
15,025 3202 5450 7,575 1,210

I’ll be honest, I was trying to squeeze my money in Sri Lanka (even though there’s really no need to) because I want to see if I can spend less than S$50 a day. I think it worked out rather well.


Duration: 8 days (3 nights in Anuradhapura, 4 nights in Kandy, 1 night in Colombo).

Photos taken: 549 photos

Rice and curry eaten: 7  (On the last day, I had fried rice instead.)


Best room: While my room in Colombo was pricey and had all that you want in a modern hotel room, it was the Kandy hostel single room with shared bathroom that rocked my trip. For the price of a dorm bed, I got a whole room to myself. Woot!

Not-so-good room: My room in Anuradhapura was large but the only electrical socket was deliberately hidden behind a dressing table. The socket was falling apart and I was afraid of killing myself every time I plugged my charger in.

Best meal: Khotu, I LOVE YOU! This stir-fried dough stripes has the right amount of charred taste from the pan and the generous chicken bits are so tasty. I want to eat more of this!

But I like khotu a lot more than hoppers.
But I like khotu a lot more than hoppers.

Most valuable item bought: Umbrella. Do you remember how I got sunstroke from Sigiriya? If I had bought an umbrella, I would be as healthy as a bull.

Favorite part about Sri Lanka: The price of 3G! It’s so damn cheap and quite fast.

Biggest surprise: Christian shrines at the roadside.

Jesus loves you and wants to give you a hug.
Jesus loves you and wants to give you a hug.

Best experience: Kids boldly saying, “Hi.” to me and asked me where I’m from. Also, a kid asked me in a temple if I was from Japan or Korea and if I knew a particular Korean popstar.

Worst experience: Sitting in crowded third class train carriage with a monk sitting on the aisle across. The old monk’s hands grabbed at the sides of my seat, leading me to squeeze away uncomfortably as I did not think that it was proper for any parts of my body to touch his hands.

Later, some passengers had a shouting match with the monk. One guy offered me his his seat next to his mother.

Another man in purple shirt asked, “Did [the monk] harass you?”
“I don’t know,”I answered honestly.
“If he did, we need to report him,” he said, looking very pissed.

I know that monks are given reverence in Sri Lanka so I wasn’t very sure if I was taken advantage of or just too silly and not just let the monk grab parts of my seat.

Biggest rip off: Anuradhapura scared city entrance ticket for US$35. I know the money is used for conservation but the actual sites that you need to show the tickets are not that splendid. I could have listened to advice on the Internet and cycled in for free.

Biggest regret: Staying for too long in Anuradhapura and not staying a night at Dambulla.

Is Sri Lanka suitable for a solo female traveller?

Before I set foot in Sri Lanka, I asked two girls who have been to the country alone what they thought about solo travel there. Phebe from The Travelling Squid and Stephanie from Pearls and Passport both liked the country and felt it was OK for a single woman to travel there.

After being in Sri Lanka, I think that it’s quite safe to travel as a single woman in Sri Lanka, but some sights are better suited for this than others.

For example, I was more comfortable in Kandy than in Anuradhapura where I didn’t see another East Asian-looking tourist. The beach areas should be tourist-friendly too.

However, the journey to Sigiriya from Kandy was very tiring since I was one of the few single female walking about. Standing on a cramped local bus for 3 hours didn’t help with my level of comfort at all.

In conclusion, I think Sri Lanka is a place that is best visited with a buddy to look out for you. If you really want to travel to Sri Lanka alone, I’d say, “Go ahead!” It’s a safe country but as some of the places are not as lazy-tourist-friendly as Thailand.

If you are interested in reading more about my days in Sri Lanka, check out the archives.

YQrtw: Round-the-world pre-trip expenses

old timey receipt

Get ready for an overload of posts on my round-the-world (RTW) trip the whole week [#YQrtw](minus Friday where I will be sharing food from my East Coast trip). During the week, I’ll be writing about the destinations I am going to and a special post on cruising.

Today, I will be talking about my pre-trip expenses.

old timey receipt

Receipt for “Confederate States Court” Upholstery, 12/1861
Photo credit: National Archives at Fort Worth, TX.

The most frequent question I get from people when I tell them about my round-the-world (RTW) trip is: “So, how much will your trip cost?”

I look sheepishly back at them, “I’m not sure.”

“How much are you saving?”

“I’m thinking S$10,000 but I’m not sure.”

So, to be open about my expenses, I will share the cost of RTW.

Since I’ve not been on the trip yet, I’ll list down my pre-travel expenses.

To be honest, I was a little shocked when I saw how much I’ve spent even before leaving. However, this also means that I will have less in-trip expenses (is that even a word?)

I also want to note that I have paid for everything myself. My parents do not have a trust fund for me and they are not paying for the trip (at least not yet. haha).

Let’s get back to the topic: Here is the spreadsheet of expenses and detailed explanation of each price.

Pre-trip expenses

Air tickets (Total: S$4,436.10)

Air tickets took up more than half of my pre-trip expenses (~60 percent). I have a split of budget airlines and full-service airlines.

For my budget flights, I booked them myself through the airlines’ website (AirAsia, Tiger Air and Easyjet).

For the rest of the flights, I didn’t get one of those RTW tickets sold by airlines. The first time I tried cobbling up a route, I was very shocked about the price. I sort of gave up on it in the end.

Instead, I booked the flights though Airtreks which specializes in multi-destination flight routes. I did a mock booking and sent my purchase query to the company. Later, an agent (mine’s Justin) set up a time to call me so we can book the tickets together.

One good thing about using Airtreks instead of looking on my own was that I didn’t need to look at different routes on my own. Also, I wouldn’t have known about South American airline TICA if I had booked on my own. I managed to add in a week in El Salvador since Justin told me there was a layover there (US$60 extra).

After my booking, Airtreks also sent me e-mail updates on some of the flight timing changes which was a nice touch. Another great thing that happened with Airtreks was that they had an offer of either a night in a fancy hotel or US$100 Amazon vouchers (I chose Amazon!).

The down side was that the tickets were about US$400 more than what it would have been if I booked them separately on my own. Of course, if I booked the flights on my own, I would have to religiously check if there are any flight changes.

Even though the flights are pretty expensive, it’s actually about the same as a Singapore-Brazil roundtrip flight (according to people who told me about it).

Cruise (S$1429.9)

Before you go “What on earth, you are taking a cruise? Are you old or something?!”, I want to tell you that I will have a separate post on why I chose the 15-night repositioning cruise during my RTW.

This time, I want to talk about the expenses. This cruise to Italy wasn’t my first booking with Royal Caribbean.I made another booking for Dubai to Barcelona since the Italy route wasn’t open when I first booked.

I found out about the Italy cruise later and cancelled Barcelona to buy the new cruise. Even though I had to forfeit S$100 of my deposit, I still managed to save S$50 because it was slightly cheaper.

I paid for the full ticket in February (S$2,030). However, I found out that the price for the cabin of my class had dropped significantly in March. I think it’s because the cruise had very low booking and they had to slash the price to about S$1,500 per person.

I was rather angry. My friends advised me to call up the cruise line to complain. I did and I managed to get a verbal agreement that they will refund me the price difference. (I asked for an e-mail update but I haven’t received it yet.)

The cruise does seem expensive. S$1,500. However, you must remember that it’s for 15 nights of accommodation and all-you-can-eat buffets. Plus, it stops in Egypt which would cost quite a lot if I had decided to fly in and out to visit the pyramids.

I still need to include the tips which will probably be around S$200 for the trip.

Insurance (S$582.00)

I bought a 22-week insurance from Chartis during the Natas Travel Fair. It was 40 percent off which was a very good offer.

I did consider getting World Nomads (which is popular among the long-term travellers) but I decided that I want someone in Singapore whom I can talk to in case (touch wood) anything bad happens.

Yellow fever vaccine (S$188)

I still have a few vaccines I need for the trip but I decided to get the yellow fever vaccine in Singapore, just in case they didn’t have any in Sabah.

I went to Singapore General Hospital’s Travel Clinic. Even though I told the nurse that I only wanted the yellow fever vaccine, she gave very detailed explanation about what other shots I will need. She also checked if I needed to bring any malaria tablets. She figured that if I skip a few of the high-risk areas, I wouldn’t need any tablets.

She also advised me to cover myself up with long sleeves and trousers. I also need to use repellent with high DEET. Gulp.

The other vaccines I need are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhiod, rabies. I’ll probably skip rabies and refrain from touching the cute cats on the trip.

The rest of the expenses are small change compared to the above but here they are anyway:

Train tickets in Italy: (19 euro per trip)
I bought train tickets for Civitavecchia to Pisa and Florence to Rome. They were on promotion and were only 19 euro each way. I still need tickets from Pisa to Florence but those weren’t available online yet and can be bought on the spot for less than 9 euros anyway.

Backpack: S$63
I bought a new backpack that was larger than my old one (which was breaking down anyway). I haven’t figured out how to pack neatly so I can stuff more things in the 20L bag.

I will only bring the backpack as my major storage unit. It’s just too difficult to bring too many things. Also, mom’s coming to Turkey too so she can pass me winter clothes for South America.

Feature phone: S$89
My old 3-year-old Nokia broke down last month. I have an iPhone as my smartphone/portable map/Whatsapp device but I really need a feature phone for local SIMs. I bought a new feature phone when I passed one of the phone shops. It has two SIM slots which mean I can use two at a go!

Visa for Sri Lanka S$38.22 (US$30)
I bought this visa before I found out that AirAsia cancelled the KL-Colombo route. At first I thought about giving up Sri Lanka because the alternative flights were too expensive. Luckily, Tiger Air was selling cheaper budget tickets. Even luckier was that the flights were shifted to an earlier time and I will be able to reach in the morning.

I still lack the visa to the United States. I didn’t have time to get them while in Singapore so I plan to apply in South America before my plane leaves for the transit. Even though I will only be transiting to 4 hours, I still need to pay US$160. WTF.

So these are my pre-trip expenses. I’ll be writing more as I go.

Do you think I am paying too much? Share them in the comments below.