Qatar is becoming increasingly popular both for its expat life and as a tourist destination. The capital city of Doha is a premier Gulf city with an impressive skyline. The city has modern infrastructure and world-class shopping facilities. It is a great destination for arts and culture lovers. However, the city has a reputation for being extremely expensive, thanks to all those luxury amenities. But seeing Doha on a budget is actually quite easy. Here are some best ways to save money on your trip to Doha:
1. Get in for free.
Qatar has visa-free entry for citizens of 80 countries. You can completely offset the cost of air tickets by visiting the country on a layover. I did just that and was able to add a free holiday in Qatar at the end of my month long trip in India.
2. Score a discounted hotel room if traveling via Qatar Airways.
Qatar Airway often offers discounted hotel rooms for passengers on a layover. While discounts range anywhere from 75% to 10% off, offers of a free 1-night stay in Doha are very common. The airline also has free city tour offers which are great if you are in Doha for just a few hours. You can check Qatar Airways website for updated offers.
3. Book a hotel near the souqs to save more.
Even if you have to book a hotel on your own, it need not be costly. Hotels on the Doha Corniche or the waterfront promenade along Doha Bay are expensive because of their view of the Bay and Doha skyline. Hotels in the interior of the city or near the souqs are less expensive.
4. Check out the largest collection of Islamic Art in the world for free.
The Museum of Islamic Arts in Doha is simply magnificent. The building itself is an architectural gem and the extensive museum collection spans Islamic artwork from three continents. Museum entry is always free.
5. Take in the best views of the Doha skyline from MIA Park.
MIA Park (Museum of Islamic Arts Park), which surrounds the museum, has plenty of space for long romantic walks, family picnics, and enjoying the breeze from the Doha Bay. However, the best thing about the MIA Park is the spectacular views it offers of the shimmering Doha West Bay skyline.
6. Make your dhow ride worth the cost.
Another way to enjoy the views of Doha skyline is by taking a dhow cruise. The dhow is a traditional Qatari boat and you can hire one to take you around Doha Bay. Highlights of the cruise include views of the Corniche, Doha skyline, Emir’s Palace, and other attractions. Dhow rides come from half-day trips with BBQ and music to simple hour-long rides. While the former are luxury experiences, you can easily haggle over the cost of the latter to suit your wallet.
7. Explore the inner alleys of Souq Waqif.
Souq Waqif is a recently renovated traditional Qatari market. It is both fascinating and bewildering. Shops tout their exotic merchandise to attract visitors while restaurants offer lively music and shisha lounges for relaxing. However, the outer streets of Souq Waqif are touristy and often have inflated prices. If you explore the inner alleys you will find cheaper souvenirs, spices, teas, perfumes, and budget restaurants that are frequented by the locals.
8. Learn about the ancient sport of falconry.
Falconry is an ancient and expensive sport. Falcons often sell from $5000 to as high as $250,000 for pedigree birds. While owning and housing a falcon might be out of your budget, you can learn all about the sport at Doha’s Falcon Souq. Shop owners and customers are happy to talk about their falcons and sporting accessories. Walking through the Falcon Souq is a unique experience and visitors can also step in into the Souq Waqif Falcon Hospital to learn about the importance of these birds in Qatari culture.
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