Explore Bur Dubai’s old souk: shop for kaftans, spices, perfumes and more

Dubai: Speaking of souks in Dubai, visitors and residents should not overlook this waterfront souk in Bur Dubai. Named Bur Dubai Grand Souk, it is popularly known as Bur Dubai Souk or even Old Souk.

From embellished kaftans and other garments to spices, tableware and perfumes, this is a great place to spend the evening shopping. For residents and tourists, this is definitely a great market to visit. Traders have their best wares laid out, with slips of paper with their best deals pinned to certain products. When you walk in, be ready to use all your bargaining skills and bring change.

Entrance and hallways

The entrance is marked by an arch and a sign with “Bur Dubai Grand Souq” written in English and Arabic. Don’t forget to take the silver photo of the entrance to the interior, which shows the shopping street stretching inwards.

The entrance to the souk
Image Credit: Reader Photo/Denin Jacob

During your visit, you will be stopped by several traders. Feel free to politely reject in case you are not interested. If you’re stepping in to check out the products, ask for prices before they even try to measure and package – and trust us, they’ll swoop in to do it as soon as you look at something.

However, the shopkeepers are very friendly and won’t bother you in case you leave and are more than happy to open wrapped items to help you find ones you could buy. You will find traders from many parts of the world in the souk – most speak more than 3 languages.

Bur Dubai Souk

The souk is divided into small alleys offering various assortments of goods – be sure to bargain
Image Credit: Reader Photo/Denin Jacob

what can you buy

Most of the stores here sell clothes and textiles. Many spice and tableware shops are also available. There are also a few carpet vendors. There is also an alley in this souk that sells all kinds of flowers and puja (Hindu prayers) materials that people buy before visiting the nearby Shiv temple.

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Archive image of the Bur Dubai souk during Diwali

When shopping for clothes here, be sure to ask about care instructions – some may not survive a washing machine cycle. Some stores allow you to return and exchange clothes if they don’t fit, given that they are returned in salable condition and within a limited number of days. Be sure to ask for these options, especially if you’re staying somewhere nearby or planning to return. Some clothing stores also have fitting rooms, but we generally suggest that when visiting bazaars like these anywhere in the world, don’t use them if you’re worried about privacy.

When we say crockery, we mean earthenware or terracotta bowls of different sizes, coasters, plates with beautiful colorful patterns on a white background. These start at Dh10, but you can negotiate and lower the rate depending on how many you plan to buy.

Bur Dubai old souk

Pick up some cute souvenirs from the Burj Khalifa or pick up dinner table centerpieces from the shops in the souk, like these colorful bowls, coasters and plates
Image Credit: Reader Photo/Denin Jacob

You can also buy Dubai souvenirs here, such as sand glass bottles, bags, magnets, perfumes, etc. Be sure to check prices in at least two stores before making a purchase. You’ll also find heaps of turmeric, ginger, and other fragrant spices, as well as plenty of oud (agarwood) options.

Hang out near the souk and food

Just outside the souk is a seating area next to abra stations. On both sides of the souk you will find small cafes and stalls where you can sit and have a bite to eat. Families visit this area to take advantage of the cooler weather by strolling or hanging out with kids on the free seats by the water.

Besides the usual soft drinks, tea or coffee from the stall just outside, for 10 Dh you can get fresh tender coconut water – they cut the coconut right in front of you. You can also try freshly pressed sugar cane. There is also a shawarma stand on the opposite side of the road from the station side.

BC Dubai Abra

After exploring the souk, you can take an abra to the Deira side to visit the gold and spice souks.

Just outside the souk you will find other shops, including one for whole spices, sweets and oud. A few steps away is a parking lot near which you will find other commercial stores.

How to get there: The nearest metro station is Al Ghubaiba metro station or you can drive to the area (Google Map below). Paid RTA parking is available near the souk – 3 Dh per hour. Schedule: 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Sarah C. Figueiredo