Although most people head to Dubai to shop in the modern malls, make sure you take the time to explore some of the souqs (markets) in the older parts of town. On the Deira side of the Creek we visited the Spice Souq and the Gold Souq. When then crossed the Creek and checked out the Bur Dubai Souq.
The Gold Souq is a must see. Dubai has one of the largest retail gold markets in the world, and the Gold Souq has more than 300 outlets. Even if you don't want to buy anything it is well worth a browse as the window displays need to be seen to be believed. Window after window of gaudy displays of bright yellow gold bracelets and amazing necklaces worn by brides in Bollywood movies. There are also some more tasteful shops with lots of diamond rings and more 'normal' stuff. One other cool thing about the Gold Souq was the drain covers with a diamond on them.
The Spice Souq consists of some very narrow lanes, lined with small shops with displays of things like cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, incense, dried fruit and nuts. The spices are apparently imported from all over the Middle East, and are sold here straight out of large sacks. I must confess to have been disappointed in the Spice Souq, compared to the ones I had visited earlier in the year in Marrakech. The colours here were much more subdued and I was less inclined to chat to the shop keepers and learn about the spices.
The Bar Dubai Souq is located on the western side of Dubai Creek. Under beautifully restored wooden arches, you can browse in the numerous textile shops, and the occasional souvenir shop. Apparently the market is geared towards the large community of Pakistanis and Indians who live and work in Dubai. This market was very quiet when we visited and lacked that hectic 'market vibe'.
Dubai has a number of traditional souks, each one specialising in certain products.
For example, there are souks dedicated to the sale of gold, spices, perfume, fruit and vegetables, fish, electronics and even a moneychangers souk.
It is a pleasure to stroll through the souks in Dubai, to shop for a bargain or simply to watch the locals haggle. Unlike in some other countries, there is little, if any, hassle and hard-sell tactics from the sellers, so it is a much more relaxing experience.
Pictured here is the Old Souk in Bur Dubai, which, amongst other items, sells a vast array of clothing and fabrics.
I have been to Dubai more than 10 times and this is a list of the best things the city has to offer (only my opinion) and in no order: Dubai Museum, Majlis Gallery, Basta Art Cafe, Dubai Souq, Jumeirah Beach, the Creek, Vus Bar in the Emirates Tower for the view, Jumeira Mosque, Wild Wadi Waterpark plus countless bars and cafes!! Have fun!!
Souks - most of the souks are near the Gold Souk Bus Station. We visited the gold souk, perfume souk and spice souk. The souks are open air so very very hot during the day. Many shops close for a long lunch so it's not good to visit in the middle of the day. Vendors will approach you frequently to try and sell you copy watches, designer hand bags and tailored clothes. While it was a bit hassley, the vendors were not particulary persistant. Or maybe I just look poor. The area was certainly worth a look but very very hot when we were there.
The spice souk is just across the road from an abra station. You can take an abra across the creek for 1 diarahm. It only takes around 5 minutes to cross, but it is fun and gives a good oportunity for taking photos. The old souk, the grand mosque, Iranian Mosque and Dubai Museum are walking distance from the abra station on the Bur Dubai side.
The souk is where locals do their shopping. You can buy anything from a tee-shirt to superfine persian carpet made of silk. At the souk called Al Kabeer I bought: a pashmina, a pair of "aladdin" shoes, and an alarm clock in the shape of a mosque that issues a call to prayer instead of the usual buzz.
The Souks are fab, very fun, you have to be in the mood to bargain. Politness will get you everywhere, don't be obnoxiouse, and don't admit your a tourist always say you live here, so you don't get stung on prices.
Abbra rides, really cool, only last for about 5mins, but the coolest way to get across the Creek and dirt cheap.
Desert day trips, excellent for the tourists, a day out in the desert with respectable companies organising the trips, reasonably priced about 40-50 UK pounds for the day, they keep you well entertained and well feed through out the day.
These souqs are right next to the Gold Souq Bus Station. Not too far (at least in winter) from Al Ras Metro Station. They are quite colourful and interesting and offer good photographic opportunities.
The poorest souk in Dubai is the cloths area - it's easy to understand, that, with so many malls and brands around, things are not favorable to traditional commerce in this area.
Maybe for locals, but... who are them? Where are they?
In the malls, like everybody else, of course!
It's worth coming here only if you know how to bargain and if you have pacience about guys asking you to check their stores.
It's an amazing place for pictures, for movement and for cheap merchandise.
There are 3 main Souqs: Spices, Textile and Gold
You can walk from the Spices to the Gold Souq but you need to take an Abbra (=little ferry) to the other side of the creek to go to the textile souq. Besides the specific souqs there shops selling pirate DVDs and everything else that you can imagine.
Before you go to the spices souq it's good to go to the supermarket and check how much a packet of pistachio, cinammon, curry is so you know how much you can bargain it down at the little shops. This is my favourite souq! It has lava stones for rough feet, it has traditional arabic incense, dry roses, crandberries, limes...almonds...its amazing to walk here and smell all the special spices!
It is not really a place with a sign saying ‘Perfume Souq’ but you would know you are here when the smell of Arabic or Indian fragrance permeates the air. The place is just near the Gold Souq. There is some number of shops here offering perfumes for sale for those who love the lingering smell!
Deira is the most atmospheric side of the city with a distinctive Middle Eastern flavour. This is best exemplified in the area's souks, the traditional markets of Arabia.
You can see why Dubai has been called the "City of Gold" in the Gold Souk, a lively market littered with jewellers and craftsmen selling all manner of gold artefacts, including jewellery. It is far more than an opportunity to shop, you should admire the arched entrance and soak up the vibrant atmosphere as well as keeping an eye out for a bargain or two. It is impossible to fail to soak up something of the atmosphere of the Perfume Souk next door, just follow your nose to where craftsmen create unique perfumes from careful blends of spices.
More aromatic entertainment can be had in the spice sellers' area of the Old Souk by the river. The Old Souk also does a good line in just about anything else, make sure you check out the rugs and carpets.
Lot's of bars, restaurants and craft shops... Newly made in traditional style.
Instead of paying 50 dhs for a boat ride, maybe it's better to do the real thing and pay 1 dhs to cross the Dubai Creek?