Tips for Shopping at Souks in Dubai
Dubai’s souks —traditional covered markets—offer a more atmospheric shopping experience than modern malls. Largely located in the old quarters of Deira and Bur Dubai, souks specialize in a single type of product such as textiles or gold. Here’s what to know before diving in. Compare, haggle, and pay cash. Always shop around and explore each souk thoroughly to compare the stall prices. Then, be ready to haggle—it’s expected. Start by offering 50 percent of the quoted price and work from there. Then, if you’re not happy with the final price, walk away—the vendor may call you back. Paying cash should help you push down prices, too. Shop at all the souks. Dubai’s main souks clustered near each other, making it easy to visit them all in one outing and compare prices. Start at Deira’s Gold Souk, Spice Souk, and Perfume Souk—all within steps of each other—before riding an abra boat across Dubai Creek to Bur Dubai’s Textile Souk. Know the day’s gold price. Gold at Deira’s Gold Souk is government-checked, so you can be sure it’s the real deal. Check the day’s fixed gold prices (as shown on the electronic stands), then haggle on the “making” charge: the additional fee that reflects the intricacy of each piece. Check customs rules for spices. The aromas and colors of Deira’s Spice Souk make it an unmissable experience. If you’re shopping for goodies here—think saffron, frankincense, nuts, or coffees—check your home country’s customs regulations beforehand and ask the vendor to seal and label whatever you buy. Visit in the mornings and evenings. Time your shopping for the mornings or evenings; souks are open 9am–10pm Saturday–Thursday (with a break between 1pm–4pm). On Fridays, most souks don’t open until 4pm. Cover up. Dubai’s souks are traditional spaces that reflect local customs, so wear clothes that cover your shoulders and legs. Book a guided tour. If you’re unsure about shopping or navigating the souks, book a tour for valuable pointers. A guided souk shopping tour will help you get your bearings, scope out what each souk sells, and give you useful haggling tips.