Dubai: While talking about souks in Dubai, visitors and residents shouldn't overlook this waterfront souk in Bur Dubai. Named the Bur Dubai Grand Souq, it is most popularly known as Bur Dubai Souk or even as Old Souk.
From embellished kaftans and other clothes to spices, dinnerware, and perfumes, this is a great spot to spend the evening for some bargain shopping. For residents and tourists, this is definitely a great market to visit. Shopkeepers have their best wares laid out, with scraps of paper with their best offers pinned on certain products. When you go in, be ready to use all of your bargaining techniques and carry change.
Entrance and lanes
The entrance is marked with an arch and a board with 'Bur Dubai Grand Souq' written in English and Arabic. Don't forget to take the money shot from the entrance inward, which shows the shopping lane stretching inward.
As you walk through, you will be called in by several shopkeepers. Don't be hesitant to politely reject in case you're not interested. If you do step in to check the products, ask for prices before they even attempt to measure and pack - and trust us, they will rush to do so the minute you look at something.
However, the shopkeepers are very friendly and will not trouble you in case you walk off and are more than happy to open up packed items to help you find the ones you may end up buying. You'll find shopkeepers from many parts of the world in the souk - most speak more than 3 languages.
What can you buy
Most stores here sell clothes and textiles. Many spice and dinner-ware stores are also available. There are also a couple of carpet sellers. There is also a lane in this souk that sells all kinds of flowers and puja (Hindu prayers) materials that people buy before visiting the Shiv temple located nearby.
When buying clothes here, ensure you ask about care instructions - some may not survive a washing machine cycle. Some stores allow you to return and exchange clothes in case they don't fit, given they're returned in saleable condition and within a limited number of days. Make sure you ask for these options, especially if you stay somewhere close or plan to return. Some clothes' stores also have fitting rooms but we usually suggest that, while visiting bazaars such as these anywhere in the world, don't use these if you're worried about privacy.
When we say dinner-ware we mean clay or earthenware bowls of various sizes, coasters, plates with beautiful colourful designs on white. These start at Dh10, but you could bargain and lower the rate depending on how many you plan to purchase.
You will also be able to buy Dubai souvenirs here such as sand art glass bottles, bags, magnets, perfumes and more. Make sure you check prices at least two stores before making a purchase. You will also find heaps of turmeric, ginger, and other fragrant spices, along with many options of oud (agarwood).
Hanging out by the souk and food
Just outside the souk is a seating area next to abra stations. On both sides of the souk, you'll find small cafes and stalls where you can sit down and have a bite to eat. Families visit this area to enjoy the cooler weather with walks, or hangout with kids in tow at the free waterfront seating.
Apart from the usual soft drinks, tea, or coffee at the stall right outside, for Dh10 you can get fresh chilled tender coconut water - they cut the coconut right in front of you. You could also try freshly juiced sugarcane. There is also a shawarma stall on the opposite side of the road from the station side.
Just outside the souk, you'll find more shops including one for whole spices, sweets, and oud. Just a short walk away is a parking area near which you'll find more commercial shops.
How to get there: The nearest metro station is Al Ghubaiba metro station or you could drive to the area (Google Map below). Paid RTA parking is available near the souk - Dh3 per hour. Timings: 10am to 10.30pm