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Traveling to Dubai for the First Time (2024): 19 Tips & Tricks

By Author Jurga

Posted on Last updated: March 26, 2024

Traveling to Dubai for the First Time (2024): 19 Tips & Tricks

Traveling to Dubai (United Arab Emirates) for the first time  and not sure where to start? Indeed, planning a trip to Dubai might be overwhelming, even more so if this is your first time in this rapidly growing and continuously changing city!

When is the best time to visit? How much time do you need in Dubai? What are the best areas to stay in and how to travel around? Do you need to pre-book tickets or can you just go with the flow? How to save time and money and still see the best that Dubai has to offer?

Dubai is a city of contrasts, a place where modern extravagance and traditional values go hand in hand. From its towering skyscrapers to its pristine beaches and bustling souks, visiting Dubai is like stepping into a different world…

To help you plan your first trip to this dynamic and unique city, in this guide we share some of our top travel tips for visiting Dubai .

We have visited Dubai several times and all the information and tips in this article are based on our personal experience. Some of these tricks we only learned after several trips…

This practical guide includes all the info I wish we had known before planning a trip to Dubai. These tips will not only help you plan your trip, but will also show you how to make the best of your visit, time, and budget. Find out!

Top 5 Experiences in Dubai:

  • Burj Khalifa (book in advance + opt for the level 148 ticket for priority access).
  • Desert Safari.
  • Museum of the Future (book well in advance!).
  • Luxury Yacht Tour .
  • Abu Dhabi Day Trip .

What to know when traveling to Dubai - practical information and helpful travel tips for visiting Dubai UAE

Here are our top travel tips for visiting Dubai:

1. Avoid Traveling in Summer

Dubai is known for its scorching temperatures, especially during the summer months. To give you an idea, average daytime temperatures during June, July, and August are well over 40°C (104°F). Even in April or November, Dubai temperatures usually still exceed 30°C (86°F).

The best time to visit Dubai is during the winter months – between December and February. The daytime temperatures at this time of the year are usually around 25°C (77°F). So it’s still warm enough to enjoy beaches, pools, and waterparks, but the temperatures are also pleasant for sightseeing and outdoor activities.

Good to know: Winter is also the peak tourist season in Dubai. So expect accommodation prices to be higher and more crowds at the main attractions. However, with some advance planning and preparation, you can still have a very enjoyable visit, more than in the summer.

The shoulder season – the months of March-April or October-November – can be a good time to visit Dubai as well. If you don’t mind temperatures of around 30-35°C (86-95°F), you can take advantage of somewhat lower prices and fewer crowds than in the winter.

In addition, you may want to check when Ramadan is. During this month, most Muslims do not eat from sunrise to sunset, so many restaurants will be closed during the day. This may might impact your experience, depending on the places you visit.

TIP: No matter when you visit Dubai, be prepared for the heat by wearing lightweight, breathable clothing, using sun protection, and staying hydrated. Plan outdoor activities for the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the peak heat.

READ ALSO: What It’s Like to Visit Dubai in February

Camels in Dubai desert

2. Book Attraction Tickets in Advance

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when planning a trip to Dubai is not to plan/book attraction tickets in advance.

Booking in advance means more time slots to choose from, better prices, and less time wasted queuing.  After all, you want to make the most of your trip to Dubai and not spend all your precious time standing in lines.

Good to know: Tickets to many popular attractions in Dubai are often sold out at least a few days in advance. Furthermore, many tickets are cheaper if booked online. In addition, some attraction tickets, e.g. Atlantis Aquaventure , cost less if you book at least a week before your visit.

For some places, not reserving in advance means that you won’t be able to visit at all.  For example, the Museum of the Future is so popular that all tickets are usually sold out at least 2-3 weeks upfront. If you want to be able to choose the time slot that fits you best, you need to book at least a month in advance.

If you want to visit observation decks at Burj Khalifa or Dubai Frame , you also need to book ahead. In most cases, a few days in advance is sufficient, but it really depends on the period when you travel and how flexible you are. Also, consider visiting these attractions early in the morning or late in the evening for smaller crowds and better photo opportunities.

PRO TIP: For Burj Khalifa, we recommend getting a ticket that includes Level 148 . Not only you get to visit another level which is not included with standard tickets, but you also get skip-the-line access through the security check and at the elevators, and it includes some snacks and drinks. It’s well worth it.

Overall, we always recommend booking tickets and tours at least a month before your trip. But keep in mind that for many popular destinations worldwide booking a month or even two upfront is not sufficient anymore.

Tickets don’t get cheaper and there’s less availability the longer you wait. Plus, if you use GetYourG u ide for all attraction tickets and tours like we do, you can take advantage of their very flexible cancelation policy.

Good to know: Booking tickets/tours via websites like GetYourGuide , Viator , or Tiqets also saves you money on exchange rates. The exchange rate they use is the official rate and transactions are in your currency. Whereas if you pay on the spot, it will usually cost you quite a lot more (not only because many tickets are more expensive at the counter, but also because of credit card fees, exchange rate deviations, etc.).

Plus, booking and paying ahead makes it easier to budget for your vacation and keep your credit card’s spending limit available for other expenses during your trip.

READ ALSO: Top Places to See & Things to Do in Dubai

Burj Khalifa Dubai

3. Foresee Enough Time & Plan Wisely

There is one thing that you may not realize as a first-time visitor to Dubai and that’s how huge the city is. It’s not a place that you can compare to cities like Rome or London , or even New York City where you can still walk between many attractions and see a lot in a short time…

Dubai is totally different! It’s big, not really walkable (except in some areas), and the attractions are spread out all over the enormous and ever-growing city.

Plus, road works and traffic jams turn every ride into an expedition. The same trip that takes 20 minutes at night or early in the morning can take you an hour or even longer during the day. And yes, public transport can be a good option, but it also has its limitations – more about it further below.

Good to know: When planning your sightseeing itinerary, you will see that most Dubai attractions work with timed entry slots. Be sure to foresee plenty of extra time everywhere though! Even with timed entry tickets, you will often be standing in line for an hour or even longer, not to mention the time that it takes to actually visit the place or get from one attraction to the other.

TIP: So while planning what to see and do, foresee enough extra time between the sights and don’t try to do too much in a single day. Also, group the attractions based on their location, and go for a mix of top attractions with some lesser-known ones. That way, you don’t have to rush from one queue to another and your trip will be much more relaxed.

This brings us to the next tip – see below.

AYA Universe - Dubai travel tips

4. Don’t Try to See Everything

There is so much to see and do in Dubai that you could easily stay here for a few months and still not experience everything the area has to offer. So resist FOMO and the urge of having to see ‘everything’. It’s simply impossible, especially if you are only traveling to Dubai for just a few days or a week.

TIP: Choose a few places, attractions, and experiences that interest you the most and focus on those rather than ticking off boxes just because some guidebook told you that one or the other place is ‘a must’.

If you absolutely want to go to the top of Burj Khalifa, well – just do it and tick it off your bucket list. After all, how often will you get a chance to visit the world’s tallest building… In that case, book tickets in advance and be prepared to queue, or save time and avoid the crowds with priority access .

On the other hand, maybe you are perfectly content just seeing the building from the outside and rather spend your time visiting other viewing platforms like Sky Views , the View at The Palm , or Dubai Frame …

Or maybe you don’t care about any of these at all and much rather spend a day at a water park , exploring the old town souks (markets), or enjoying the views from a luxury yacht …

Dubai has so much to offer to all types of travelers. So personalize your itinerary based on what you really want to do, taking into account the time that you have, your interests, and your budget. If you are visiting Dubai with the family, try to incorporate some fun activities for the kids in your itinerary as well, even if it means that you’ll have less time for sightseeing.

READ ALSO: Dubai Itinerary (detailed guide for a week in Dubai)

Dubai tips - lazy river at Aquaventure water park

5. Consider Tours & Private Drivers

If you want to see a lot of Dubai in a short time or you don’t know where to even start deciding where to go, consider booking tours or private guides/drivers .

Sometimes, a private driver can also be cheaper than taking a taxi between all those places, and often, you can also find cars that can take up to 6 passengers (vs 4 in most taxis).

Just to be clear, I am talking about quickly seeing multiple places all over the city in a single day. If you want to spend more time exploring the sites, you better go on your own.

There are tons of different ‘city highlights’ tours that bring you to many of the main landmarks of Dubai in (half) a day. Keep in mind that in most cases, your ‘visit’ will be just a quick photo stop, so it’s not comparable to actually visiting the sights. But it’s a good way to get an introduction to Dubai and catch a glimpse of the top spots.

PRO TIP: If you do a city highlights tour, do it at the beginning of your trip! That way, you can later come back to some of the places that you like the most. An ideal way to explore Dubai is to take an introductory city tour first as you arrive and then thoroughly visiting some of the main landmarks and attractions on your own later.

Abu Dhabi day trip tip: One of the best guided tours we recently did in Dubai was this highly-rated tour. If you want to see the top sights of Abu Dhabi in a day, this tour has by far the best itinerary (I compared many tours before we chose this one and it didn’t disappoint).

READ ALSO: Best Abu Dhabi Tours from Dubai (+Review of the Tour We Chose)

Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed Mosque - day trip from Dubai

6. Save Time & Money with Combination Tickets

Dubai is expensive, there is no arguing about it. But with some smart planning, you can save some money on some of the main attractions.

One of the best ways to do this is by opting for combination tickets and/or city cards that include several popular places.

Here are some of the most popular deals:

  • Burj Khalifa + Dubai Aquarium (+-$20 savings per person).
  • Atlantis Aquaventure + Lost Chambers Aquarium (+-$25-30 savings per person).
  • GoCity Explorer Pass (up to 50% savings, depending on the attractions you visit).

Good to know: Some tickets cost more during the most popular times. For example, Burj Khalifa around sunset. So if you want to save money, be sure to check prices for different time slots/days when making reservations.

Lost Chambers Aquarium in Dubai

7. Stay Longer

You might be wondering how much time you need to see the best of Dubai. Well, there is really no straightforward answer to this and so much depends on your interests.

That being said, I recommend planning at least a week for a first visit to Dubai. But if you have time and your budget allows it, stay longer. You won’t get bored!

With a week in Dubai, you will be able to visit most of the top landmarks, explore several different parts of the city, and also find some time to relax and unwind. If you want to spend more time at the beach or by the pool, visit a water park or a theme park with your kids, or make a day trip to Abu Dhabi, ideally, you plan at least 10-12 days for Dubai.

But don’t worry if your trip is shorter and you can’t extend it. You can have a perfectly enjoyable visit and see a lot even if you only have a day or two in Dubai. Via the link below, you can find plenty of ideas for planning a shorter visit.

LEARN MORE: Dubai Stopover: How to See The Best of Dubai in 1-2 Days

Kids flying at iFlyDubai

8. Choose the Location of Your Hotel Wisely

Deciding where to stay in Dubai might not be as straightforward as you may think, especially if the main purpose of your visit is to explore the city.

There is not one perfect place to stay in Dubai – it’s simply much too big and too spread out for that.

However, some areas are better than others and some are really a disaster for commute. If you pick the wrong location, you might be stuck in traffic for hours every time you want to go anywhere and do some sightseeing. On the other hand, that same spot might be perfect for those who are mainly interested in swimming and dining, and are just looking for a relaxing vacation with maybe one or two excursions that include a pick-up and drop-off at the hotel…

TIP: I strongly recommend that you look at the map and the location of the places that you want to visit before deciding where to stay in Dubai. Also, consider how you will travel around.

For example, staying within walking distance of a metro station might save you a lot of time and money on commuting if you plan to do lots of sightseeing. Whereas staying in a nice walkable area with lots of shops and restaurants will be ideal if you like to go out at night.

Here are two of the very best areas to stay in Dubai:

  • Dubai Downtown (the area around Dubai Mall – Burj Khalifa) is very central and is perfect for those who want to do a lot of sightseeing, but also for shopping and dining. Sofitel Dubai Downtown is a great choice in this area, close to Dubai Mall and just near a metro station. Remember, however, that this is the heart of the city, so very busy and far from the sea.
  • Dubai Marina in the south of the city is another popular area to stay in Dubai. It’s a great choice for those who are looking for a more relaxing vacation, boat trips, water parks, dining, shopping, etc. The beach is not too far from here, however, it will take at least 45-60 minutes to reach the city center. Millennium Place is a very popular hotel not too far from the main Marina area and close to the metro. On a somewhat higher budget, JW Marriott Hotel Marina is a wonderful choice if you want to be in the heart of the Marina.

TIP: On our most recent visit to Dubai, we stayed at Rove La Mer Beach Hotel . It’s close to the downtown area, so quite convenient for sightseeing, but also with direct access to a private beach – the best of both worlds. We loved this hip modern hotel, also because it’s much smaller and more intimate – a kind of place where you don’t have to worry about losing your kids at breakfast. It also offers great price/quality for Dubai. The only downside is that the area around the hotel is still developing with lots of construction going on, but it will only get more attractive in the future.

Rove La Mer Beach Hotel in Dubai

9. Beware of Tourism Taxes

Hotel stays (including hotel apartments, guesthouses, holiday homes, etc.) in the United Arab Emirates are taxed with various fees, surcharges, and taxes. These amounts might vary depending on the hotel, but it’s not abnormal that these taxes add over 20-25% to your room rate.

For example, our recent hotel invoice in Dubai showed a 10% service charge, 7% municipality fees, 5 % VAT, and an additional 10 AED (+-$3) Tourism Dirham Fee per night.

Altogether, we paid about 24,4% on top of the official room rate. The good thing is that we knew in advance how much we had to pay. Otherwise, this could be a very unpleasant surprise…

So when looking for accommodation in Dubai and comparing prices, make sure that you are actually comparing the same thing!

Many hotel websites show prices without (some/any) taxes, so you may think that booking directly with them is cheaper. Often, it’s not the case at all!

TIP: We always use Booking.com for our accommodation bookings, also in Dubai. With them, you see the total price, including all fees and taxes, so you know exactly how much you will spend. (Depending on booking conditions, you may have to prepay for the stay in advance whereas the taxes are charged separately when you arrive at the hotel, but the total amount you see when making a reservation is correct).

Burj Al Arab luxury hotel in Dubai UAE

10. Use Public Transport & Local Taxis

Dubai’s public transport system is efficient and inexpensive. Depending on where you are staying and traveling to, it might be very convenient to use the Dubai Metro, Tram, Monorail, or even local buses.

However, this depends on the exact trip you are planning to make and also on the size of your group. Sometimes, public transport is the best way to get around the city quickly and affordably. But there are also many situations when it’s a real hassle and doesn’t make your trip faster or much cheaper.

In those cases, you will be glad to know that taxis are rather affordable in Dubai . The most expensive taxi ride we recently took in Dubai was 25 kilometers, it took over 50 minutes, and it cost us 76 AED (+-$21).

However, be careful that you only use official taxis! Because e.g. Uber is often quite a lot more expensive. Not even to mention that they sometimes charge twice the price during peak times of increased demand. We learned this the hard way, after taking a few overpriced Uber rides…

Also, unlike in many other countries where we use Uber all the time, in Dubai, you never really know how much you will pay until the end of the ride. The price you see in the beginning is usually just an approximate indication.

TIP: Install Careem app on your smartphone and use it to request ‘Hala Taxi’. That’s the best way to get an official taxi in Dubai. If you request ‘Rides’, it works similar as Uber and is more expensive. We learned this from a local taxi driver after a few very unpleasant experiences with Uber and private drivers randomly offering their services at the main tourist spots, and it saved us a fortune.

To give you an idea, we were quoted 120 AED ($33) by Uber and 150 AED ($40) by random ‘kind strangers’ for a ride that in the end cost us 22 AED ($6) by official taxi. When it comes to busy times and popular tourist hotspots, getting a taxi ride in Dubai can feel like navigating the Wild West…

LEARN MORE: Tourist Guide to Dubai Public Transport

Dubai travel tips - metro

11. Start Your Days Early

One of the best ways to make the most out of your trip to Dubai is to start your days early.

There’s much less traffic in the morning, so you can get everywhere much quicker. But the main advantage is that there are hardly any other people, even at the most popular attractions. In addition – if you are visiting Dubai in the warmest months – getting up early is the best way to avoid the biggest heat.

Good to know: Be sure to check opening times of the places you want to visit. While some attractions don’t open until noon, many others are open from 9-10 AM. There are also places – like e.g. Burj Khalifa – that you can visit at 7 AM, and on some days even earlier if you like…

For example, we recently went to the Aquaventure Water Park at Atlantis around opening time. There were no lines at the entrance and we could also do many popular slides without any wait. A few hours later, people were queuing for 45-60 minutes at the same rides…

In addition, the taxi ride to get there in the morning took us just 22 minutes. That same ride to get back to our hotel in the evening was over 50 minutes, not counting more than 10 minutes for a taxi to arrive… So yes, it really pays to explore Dubai in the morning!

READ ALSO: Tips & Tricks for Visiting Atlantis Aquaventure

Dubai Creek traditional boat Abra ride

12. Stay Connected

While pretty much all public places and tourist attractions in Dubai offer free Wi-Fi, we highly recommend getting a local SIM card for your visit to UAE. There are so many situations when it’s just much easier to stay connected. For example, if you need to book a taxi ride, or book some tickets on the go, etc.

Depending on your data plan, roaming can cost a fortune in Dubai. My provider sent me an sms saying that using data in UAE will cost me 15 euros per megabyte (ouch! and no, thank you!). So the first thing I did after landing in Dubai was disconnect roaming.

There are several ways to approach this:

  • Pocket Wi-Fi. One of the easiest ways to stay connected on the go is by renting a pocket WiFi at Dubai airport . This is a very convenient option if you don’t want to change anything on your phone. It’s also convenient if you are traveling with a family/friends since you can connect up to 10 devices to it.
  • Local SIM card. Alternatively, you can opt opt for a physical SIM card, which is also available at the airport . With this option, you will need to place this card into your phone. If you want to keep your ‘own’ phone number working as well, see if your phone has a dual SIM option – then you can use both. Otherwise, you may want to bring an old phone to use with this local card.
  • eSIM. There are many providers available (just search online), but what’s included and the prices vary a lot. Depending on which one you choose and also on your device, this can be a very easy and simple process, but it’s also not very straightforward if you have never done it before. Also, not all phones allow eSIM – so be sure to double-check if your smartphone has this capability.

Dubai Frame with flowers - Dubai tips

13. Respect Local Culture

While Dubai is a very cosmopolitan city, it’s also a place with different cultural norms and traditions. Overall, UAE is very ‘Western’ and Dubai in particular is very laid back and relaxed. With over 200 nationalities living in Dubai, it’s a true melting pot of different cultures. Still, remember that you are a visitor here, and be respectful.

Dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites or public places. Also, avoid public displays of affection, as these can be considered disrespectful.

If you’re visiting during Ramadan, be mindful of local customs and traditions. Keep in mind that many traditional restaurants and cafes will be closed during the day but will come to life after sunset. If you are visiting during Ramadan and are planning sightseeing during the day or a day trip to e.g. Abu Dhabi, it’s advisable to pack your own lunch.

One of the most common questions we get is what to wear when traveling to Dubai. Well, you will see people wearing all kinds of clothing – from burkas that cover the entire body to revealing summer clothes that hardly cover much at all. However, while a lot is tolerated, it’s not always appreciated.

So when in doubt, remember that it’s always safer to cover your knees and shoulders. See-through clothing is also not the best idea, unless on a beach.

TIP: Wear loose light clothes – not as much for religious or cultural reasons, but also because of the heat. Long skirts/dresses or wide summer pants will be much more comfortable than tight clothes.

LEARN MORE: What to Wear in Dubai

Emirati woman baking traditional bread in Dubai

14. Use Credit Cards

The official currency in Dubai is the United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED) and all the prices are displayed in this currency. All regular businesses accept cash and electronic means of payment, such as credit cards or smartphone payments.

We haven’t encountered a single place in Dubai that wouldn’t accept a credit card. So if you want to make it easy and simple for yourself, you don’t even need to exchange money and can simply use cards everywhere.

Important! Inform your bank about your visit so that they don’t block your cards for ‘suspicious activity’. And even then… Despite precautions, one of my cards got blocked by a credit card company after a random payment at a restaurant in one of the main malls in Dubai. We had to call the bank to get them to unblock it again and they say that this happens when ‘the systems’ suspect anything suspicious, despite us having notified our bank in advance…

If you want to leave a tip to someone or purchase something small, you may want to have some local currency at hand. In that case, you can get some cash from local ATMs which you will find in malls all over the city. I strongly encourage you to only use ATMs attached to local bank offices as some others might charge additional fees and/or give the worst exchange rates.

PRO TIP: When using ATMs to withdraw money or paying by card, you always get an option between local currency (AED) and your own currency. Always choose local currency (AED) – that way, your bank will do the exchange and you will always get a better rate than the one offered by ATMs or pay terminals.

Good to know: We heard it on quite a few occasions that money is king in Dubai and it doesn’t matter in which currency you want to pay – they will accept it. Indeed, this is the case at the markets (souks) and some smaller private businesses. On a recent trip to Dubai, I could use Euros at the souk. The sellers also told us that they accept credit cards (just make sure to haggle – see below).

Dubai currency - United Arab Emirates Dirham notes and coins

15. Shop Smart

Dubai is a shopper’s paradise, but prices can vary a lot depending on where you shop. The prestigious locations like the Dubai Mall are home to some of the most expensive brands in the world and the prices here are usually very high. You will be able to find much better deals at the Dubai Outlet Mall, for example.

Also, if you go to various local markets (souks), be sure to shop around for better deals. Also, don’t forget to haggle – and not a little! Many sellers take advantage of tourists asking ridiculously high prices. Often, 3-4 times higher than what you should pay, and likely even more… Don’t be shy, offer the price that seems correct to you, and be prepared to walk away.

On a recent trip, I got intrigued by a perfume someone put on me while walking through the Dubai Spice Souk (this is common practice – people will (try to) put all kinds of stuff on you – from scarfs to perfumes etc.). So I asked how much it was. The prices depend on the size and the design of the bottle, they said, and so we settled on a medium-sized simple bottle and they told me it was 280 AED (+- 70 euros).

No way I would pay 70 euros for a tiny bottle of perfume at a market! And so we started the negotiations. In the end, I paid 20 euros in cash which – to me – felt like a correct price. The seller was telling me that this was way too low and he was only willing to do it because it was our last day in Dubai and my kids were cute… 😉

After that, I saw similar perfumes at Dubai Airport souvenir store and indeed, most of them were about 20-25 euros for about the same size I got. So don’t be afraid to negotiate and if you don’t feel comfortable with the price or the quality, simply walk away.

Arabic perfume at Dubai old town souk

16. Explore Beyond the Glitz

While Dubai is best known for its skyscrapers and extravagant landmarks, don’t miss out on its cultural gems as well.

One of the best places to catch a glimpse of authentic culture is Old Dubai. Visit the historic Al Fahidi neighborhood, explore the spice and gold souks, and take a traditional abra ride along Dubai Creek. These experiences are also quite touristy, but they are also totally different from the main attractions in Dubai.

TIP: There are many excellent guided tours that visit Old Dubai . They all take you to the same area, do the traditional boat ride on Dubai Creek, and visit the same local markets. Most tours also include local coffee and dades, and some also food tasting. While you can just visit the area on your own, these tours are really affordable and give you a somewhat deeper insight and insider tips.

On our recent visit, we chose this walking/food tour . It started with some traditional food tasting at a local restaurant, followed by a visit to the old town, a boat ride, and ended at the gold and spice souks. A nice way to spend a few hours and get to know a different side of the city.

READ ALSO: Best Tours in Dubai

Dubai spice souk - tips for visiting Dubai

17. Avoid Weekends

If you think Dubai is busy on a weekday, try to imagine it on a weekend or on public holidays.

So if you can adjust your plans, avoid visiting the most popular attractions on weekends (Friday afternoon, Saturday, and Sunday).

If you are in Dubai for more than a few days, this is really not difficult to do. Visit the most popular places such as Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, Global Village , Miracle Garden , or theme parks and water parks on weekdays.

On weekends, you can do more relaxing activities such as a sightseeing a yacht trip , a speedboat tour , spend time at the beach or by the pool, go parasailing or jetskiing , or take a desert tour – see below.

Dubai Mall and Aquarium

18. Experience the Desert

No trip to Dubai would be complete without experiencing its desert. Book a desert safari tour for an adrenaline-pumping ride over the dunes, followed by a traditional Bedouin-style dinner under the stars. It’s an unforgettable experience!

There are many desert tour options , but when you look closely, they are very similar in what they offer. Depending on the option you book, you have one main activity – usually, dune bashing in a jeep, quad, or camel ride. Afterward, you spend time in a desert camp where you can partake in all kinds of different experiences.

Some of these experiences include taking pictures with falcons and camels, sandboarding, various shows (traditional dance, belly dance, fire show), henna tattoos, etc. There is always lots of local food and it’s surprisingly good.

Our experience: We have done two desert tours in Dubai (on different trips) and they were both very similar and both excellent. The first time we went on this dune safari tour and on a recent trip, we opted for this highly-rated tour that includes a longer camel ride . In both cases, the second part of the tour was quite similar, the main difference was that the first tour included an exhilarating jeep ride through the dunes, and the second one – a 45-minute camel ride.

The whole family really enjoyed these tours and I couldn’t say which one is better. All I can tell you is that it’s a nice experience that will make your trip to Dubai even more memorable.

Dubai desert safari - tips and tricks for visiting Dubai

19. Don’t Forget Little Important Details

Here are some additional travel tips for Dubai:

  • Bring a reusable water bottle. Dubai is so warm and dry that you will want to carry a bottle of water on you at all times. If you want to minimize plastic waste, you may want to bring your own reusable water bottle. Tap water is, in general, safe to drink. In addition, you will also see free water taps at some public areas, where you can refill your bottles.
  • Pack a travel adapter. UAE uses  Type G  plugs, same as in the UK. However, we noticed that in most hotels you can also simply use European plugs and sometimes a simple USB cable. Still, we always pack a Type G adapter just to be safe.
  • Bring a power bank to charge your phone on the go. Also, carry extra batteries for your camera.
  • Know that you are not obliged to tip, but it’s also appreciated. Many people tip 10-15% at the restaurants or give a small tip to tour guides. If you like to tip, make sure you have some small bills of local currency.
  • Bring a small crossbody bag for sightseeing. At some landmarks, you will be asked to leave bigger bags/backpacks in a locker. I like Hedgren crossbody bags for travel – they are light, sturdy, and very durable. The one I have is big enough to hold my camera, a power bank, documents, and even two water bottles, and I was never asked to use a locker. But pack the smallest backpack and you’ll often have to leave it behind…
  • Don’t forget sun protection. A sun hat, sunscreen lotion, and sunglasses are a must when visiting Dubai!

Drinking water refill station in Dubai old town

So, these are some of the most useful travel tips for Dubai that you may want to know when traveling to this fascinating city for the first time. I hope that this helps you make the most of your visit.

Have a great trip!

Before you go, you may want to learn a bit more about Dubai with some surprising and interesting facts that will leave you fascinated and eager to explore more. Check it out: Fun & Interesting Facts About Dubai .

More tips for visiting Dubai:

  • Budget:  How Expensive is Dubai
  • Getting around:  Public Transport in Dubai
  • With kids:  Best Things to Do in Dubai with Kids
  • Fun to do:  Best Free & Cheap Things to Do in Dubai

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Dubai travel tips and information for first time visitors

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Friday 23rd of February 2024

Thanks for the article. It is very informative.

Glad to help. Have a great time in Dubai!

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Dubai Travel Guide

It’s hard to believe when confronting the sheer scale of Dubai, but most of the city was built in just the last 50 years. It makes the world’s biggest shopping mall, tallest skyscraper, and a host of ultra-luxurious hotels all the more bewildering. Still, amid all the glamor and superlatives, there are vestiges of a pre-skyscraper Dubai, in its winding souks and the vast empty desert that surrounds the city. Here’s how to navigate both sides of this always-growing metropolis.

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Explore Dubai

Travel advice.

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Essential dubai.

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Where to stay

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Where to eat

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Dubai Travel Guide

Travelers' pro tips or experiencing dubai.

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Dubai's most popular restaurants are usually booked up quite far in advance. If you are only visiting for a short period, it’s advisable to book them as soon as you arrive in Dubai.

travelling dubai

There is no eating in public during the Ramadan months until evening time. So if you must eat, do it in your hotel room!

travelling dubai

Be polite to service staff in restaurants and take interest in the people who serve you. They are tuned in and can also offer great advice about a myriad of subjects in Dubai.

travelling dubai

sellsMiltonKeynes

Dubai is an amazing experience. You will never be bored. It has everything, desert dune buggy trips, ballooning, parachuting, cruises, art and culture, even skiing.

travelling dubai

HonestTravellers

Dubai is simply a City of Wonders that is in continuous expansion and development.

travelling dubai

Chakraberty

This city will never fail to entertain… and entertain all kinds of visitors — the thrill seeker, the shopaholic, the foodie, the beach lover, and the nature lover!

What is the best way to get there?

Dubai is served by two international airports: Dubai International Airport and Al Maktoum International Airport.

Do I need a visa?

Visit Dubai’s Department of Tourism  website  to determine visa eligibility and criteria.

When is the best time to visit?

Winter (November to March): Dubai has a hot desert climate with two distinct seasons. The winter months have the most pleasant weather, ideal for outdoor activities. The average daytime high is around 27°C with lows of around 17°C.

Careem BIKE offers pedal-assist bike hire through its bike-share app .

The Dubai Metro, run by the RTA, operates 2 lines — red and green — which run from about 5:00 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday. On Fridays, the service operates later — the red operates from about 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. and the green line operates from about 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.

For more information about the network and fares, see  here .

Dubai’s public bus service, run by the RTA, operates local buses on more than 120 routes.

Dubai Taxi Corporation operates government-licensed taxis 24 hours a day and can be hailed in the street, picked up at taxi stand or booked by phone. They are recognizable by their red roof.

For more information, to book a taxi or calculate a fare, see  here .

The Dubai Tram makes 11 stops with trams running from about 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday to Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday.

Abras are motorised traditional wooden boats linking Bur Dubai and Deira across the Dubai Creek via two routes.

For more information about the routes and fares, see  here .

The Dubai Ferry operates 5 major routes on a limited schedule.

ridesharing

Uber and Careem are available in Dubai on your smartphone.

On the ground

What is the timezone.

Gulf Standard Time

What are the voltage/plug types?

The standard voltage within the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is 230V and the standard frequency is 50Hz. Wall outlets accommodate plugs with three rectangular pins in a triangular pattern.

What is the currency?

United Arab Emirates Dirham.

Are ATMs readily accessible?

Are credit cards widely accepted, is it easy to find a bank, how much do i tip.

Tipping in Dubai isn’t compulsory but is customary and appreciated. Here is a rough guide:

Restaurants

Bellboys and valets, spa and beauty therapist.

For more information about tipping, see  here .

Are there local customs I should know?

The legal drinking age for Dubai is 21 years old but buying and consuming alcohol is only legal at licensed bars and clubs at major hotels -- and only for hotel guests and non-Muslim residents with government-issued liquor licenses. It is illegal for non-Muslims to sell or offer alcohol to Muslims. Public drunkenness -- no matter where the drinking occurs -- is also considered a very serious offense. Travelers should refer to the travel advice issued by their government before visiting the UAE.

The UAE is a mostly Muslim country with strict standards of dress and behavior. Dress modestly and ensure your shoulders and knees are covered. It is also recommended to research dress codes for tourist attractions, shopping malls, beaches, and other public places -- which can often be found on their official websites.

The holy month of Ramadan is a time of fasting, prayer, reflection for Muslims, so it is important to respect the religious and cultural customs at this time. During Ramadan, it's illegal to eat, drink or smoke in public between sunrise and sunset. The dates of Ramadan change each year, as it is celebrated in the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, which is slightly different from the regular Gregorian calendar.

Public displays of affection

You can be arrested for intimate public displays of affection, including hugging and kissing.

Sharing hotel rooms

It is against the law for people of the opposite sex to live together, or to share the same hotel room if they aren't married or closely related. De facto relationships and civil unions also aren't recognized in the UAE. This law is often relaxed for tourists, however, you may be asked to prove you're legally married when checking into a hotel as a couple. Travelers should do research, contact their hotel, and check their government’s travel advice before visiting the UAE.

Photography

It is illegal to photograph people without their consent, airports and other transport infrastructure, government buildings, some beaches, and palaces. Travelers should do their own research and be aware of signs that indicate where photography is prohibited.

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This Glamorous Middle Eastern City Has Luxury Hotels, Thrilling Desert Adventures, and Michelin-starred Dining

Here's how to plan the perfect visit to Dubai.

travelling dubai

  • Best Hotels & Resorts

Best Things to Do

Best shopping, best restaurants, best time to visit, how to get there, neighborhoods to visit, how to get around.

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Dubai is full of contrasts. There's the glittering skyline of skyscrapers so tall they defy imagination. There is the modern collection of stores and eateries, offering every option a traveler could want. And then there are the luxurious hotels, ready to welcome even the most discerning traveler in style and excess. Then there's the desert with its rolling hills of sand stamped with the footprints of Arabian oryx and gazelles; the souks with their labyrinth of stalls, bins overflowing with a rainbow of spices; and the traditional abra boats ferrying riders across the Dubai Creek.

“Dubai is the ideal destination for tourists, and there are a number of reasons why,” Farida Ahmed, a guide and owner of Frying Pan Adventures , told Travel + Leisure . “It is safe, whether you are traveling solo or as a family. That, for me, is one of the most pivotal points on which tourism rests."

The city, one of the seven emirates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has sprouted up from its desert port beginnings to become a sprawling metropolis full of vibrant neighborhoods, record-setting buildings, and over-the-top shopping centers all in the last several decades. "There is something for everyone and everyone's pocket — if you’re looking for budget travel you can absolutely do it in Dubai," said Ahmed.

Today, Dubai can be fast and slow at the same time — a place to grab an avocado toast and relax on the beach, a place to appreciate a desert conservation reserve, and a place to shop 'til you drop, all in the same day. It's these contrasts that make Dubai one of the most dynamic and interesting cities in the world.

Best Hotels & Resorts

Armani hotel dubai.

This luxurious hotel is located in one of the most famous buildings in Dubai and the world: the Burj Khalifa. Armani Hotel Dubai takes up the first eight floors as well as the 38th and 39th floors of the world's tallest tower, offering incredible views of the city and the Arabian Gulf below. Rooms are designed by the hotel's namesake, Giorgio Armani, and feature muted colors that will relax any guest after a long day of shopping at nearby The Dubai Mall.

Burj Al Arab

If the Burj Khalifa is the most recognizable building in Dubai, the Burj Al Arab is a close second. Inside this iconic sail-shaped building floating in the middle of The Gulf is one of the most stunning hotels in the city. Each colorful room comes with Hermes amenities and butler service as well as access to the hotel's private beach.

Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort and Spa

Set against rolling sand dunes and roaming oryx, Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort and Spa offers guests an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city with 42 individual suites all with their own private pools overlooking unobstructed views of the pristine desert. During your stay, book a dune drive to get your heart pumping or go on a guided nature walk in the desert. In the morning, sit down to breakfast on the veranda and keep your eyes peeled for a few gazelles popping by to say hello over coffee.

Queen Elizabeth 2

This unique property was once a working cruise ship that has been converted into a hotel , permanently docked in Dubai. The 13-deck ship features 447 refurbished hotel rooms and suites — including the Royal Suite with a large wood-lined private deck — restaurants, a spa, and a theater. History buffs can tour the ship's bridge and see what the cabins looked like in the 1960s before settling in for a leisurely afternoon tea complete with finger sandwiches, traditional cakes, and warm scones with clotted cream.

XVA Art Hotel

XVA Art Hotel is a boutique hotel that feels like stepping back in time with its romantic shaded courtyards, dark wood, and rich textiles. The hotel, which was built in what used to be a home in the historic Al Fahidi neighborhood, has 15 individually designed rooms all located around three courtyards. And don't miss a chance to walk through the hotel's art gallery, which features contemporary art from both established and emerging artists.

Frying Pan Adventures

One of the best ways to experience a place is through its food and these food tours offer to paint visitors a culinary map of Dubai, which Ahmed said has “now established itself as one of the culinary meccas of the world.” Try sweet milky tea in the back alleys of a souk, meat and rice pilaf , stuffed falafels, or learn about the custom of making Arabic coffee while also learning about the history of the city with one of the many female guides. 

Global Village

Dubai's Global Village is unlike anything else, showcasing more than 70 cultures at different country pavilions where visitors can shop, eat, and more. Bring a camera and capture a cool photo "for the 'gram" at one of the "selfie spots" or catch one of the many shows.

Skiing in the desert is possible at Ski Dubai where an indoor slope in the Mall of the Emirates allows ski and snowboard enthusiasts to clip or strap in and hone their skills. Playing in the snow more your thing? Try the twin-track bobsled experience or take some time to hang out with the resident gentoo and king penguins.

Burj Khalifa

The Burj Khalifa is the tallest tower in the world and the view from the top is rightfully spectacular. Take in Dubai's many neighborhoods with this bird's eye view from the 125th floor or book a spot on the world's highest observation deck with an outdoor terrace on the 148th floor. The Burj Khalifa VIP experience includes access to the world’s highest lounge on the 154th floor. 

Ahmed recommended checking the weather forecast before you book a trip up the Burj Khalifa, noting that “if it's not a clear day you are not going to be seeing anything but haze.” For your best chance of a clear view, she noted that “the sky tends to be clearer before sunset.”

Royal Shaheen

Learn all about falconry from a team of professional falconers on a tour with Royal Shaheen — and get the chance to handle some of the magnificent animals yourself. These tours are interactive and family-friendly, and allow guests to learn both traditional and modern falconry training techniques.

The Dubai Mall holds the Guinness World Record for the largest shopping center in the world with more than 1,200 retail outlets, including two major department stores: Galeries Lafayette and Bloomingdale's. It also has more than 200 food and beverage outlets. Basically, it's so big you could easily get lost for days. The mall even developed its own app with turn-by-turn navigation to help shoppers reach (and return from) their destination. Beyond shopping, the mall has an aquarium and an Olympic-sized ice rink. The vibe and decor change depending on which part of the mall you're in, so plan to spend some time exploring. An added bonus: it's air-conditioned.

Mall of the Emirates

The Mall of the Emirates is slightly smaller than the Dubai Mall, but still features more than 630 brands and more than 100 places to grab a bite. Beyond the stores themselves, visitors will find the city's indoor ski slope and a bowling alley. (If your phone dies while you're shopping, you can borrow a portable charger for free.)

The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence

This shopping destination stretches along more than one mile of beachfront and features both international designers and fun pop-up markets. Check out Sauce for beachy and boho-inspired dresses and cool rattan bags before grabbing a bite at one of the restaurants overlooking the gulf.

Textile and Gold Souks

Arnaud_Martinez/Getty Images

Dubai may be known for its modern skyscrapers, but there's another side to the city where traditional souks sell everything from souvenirs to beautiful scarves. Choose from towering racks of fabric at the Textile Souk in the historic Bur Dubai neighborhood or hop across the Dubai Creek to browse endless rows of jewelry stores selling gold bangles and sparkling gems in the Gold Souk . And remember: haggling is all part of the fun.

Al Khayma Heritage Restaurant

Al Khayma Heritage Restaurant is part museum and part eatery. The restaurant, which boasts a covered dining courtyard with a tree, has live music, and fresh-made bread, and the staff is dressed in traditional robes. “Do not leave the city without trying Al Khayma Heritage Restaurant," said Ahmed. "It is one of the few restaurants in Old Dubai that's been recognized. The food is great and I love the decor.” The restaurant has earned the Michelin's Bib Gourmand designation.

Al Farooj Al Shami Restaurant

The Syrian fare served at Al Farooj Al Shami is second to none. Grilled meats, fresh-made sauces, and a mouth-watering list of hot appetizers make this local spot one of Ahmed’s must-visits.

Comptoir 102

You'd be forgiven for thinking you were in California or Tulum when you settled into the shaded courtyard of Comptoir 102 . Order an avocado crostini, halloumi salad, or gluten-free buckwheat pancakes, and recharge with a chai latte made with homemade almond milk. After you're done eating at this organic cafe, pop over to the attached concept store where you'll find boho dresses, unique glassware, jewelry, and more.

Al Hadheerah at Bab Al Shams

Dinner at Al Hadheerah is more than just a meal, it's an experience. Ten live cooking stations delight guests as they feast under the stars in the middle of the desert, offering classic dishes like shawarma and lamb ouzi cooked underground as well as salads like hummus and tabbouleh. And don't forget dessert where you can sample favorites like kunafa and baklava. Reservations are recommended.

The best time to visit Dubai is during the winter when the year-round hot weather starts to cool. In general, temperatures start to dip in October and it remains only moderately hot through May. While the hot season is from June to September, it's worth noting that air conditioning is plentiful across Dubai.

“The really amazing months for me are November to February,” said Ahmed, who noted that when winter arrives in Dubai, “we literally crawl out of our hibernation phase and it's all about spending time at the beach and desert BBQs.”

Winter is also when the Dubai Shopping Festival takes place. It's a December and January event that is known for its great deals, live entertainment, and raffles.

nantonov/Getty Images

The best way to get into Dubai is by plane. Thousands of flights arrive at Dubai International Airport (DXB) each week, making it one of the busiest airports in the world. It is located in the northern part of the city, making it the best option for travelers who will be staying and playing on the northern side of Dubai.

The newer Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC), also known as Dubai World Central, started welcoming travelers in 2013 and is still under construction. The airport provides access to the growing southern end of the city. When it is completed, it will be the world’s largest airport.

Lara Antal/Travel + Leisure

This area is a collection of neighborhoods around Dubai Creek (Khor Dubai) , including Deira and the Al Fahidi historical neighborhood . A stroll through this area — lined with low-profile gypsum, sand, and coral buildings — will give visitors a small taste of what Dubai was like before the modern construction boom. Spend some time exploring the area's souks or hop on an abra for a boat ride along the creek, which used to be the entry to the pearl diving port.

Angelo Cavalli/Getty Images

Jumeirah Beach Residences and Dubai Marina

These neighborhoods, which sit next to each other, form one of the best places to go for a waterfront stroll. Grab a bite to eat with a view of the gulf in Jumeirah Beach Residences before getting ice cream and walking over to the marina to watch the sunset on the water, surrounded by towering modern skyscrapers.

Downtown Dubai

This is one of the most iconic neighborhoods in the city, home to the Dubai Mall, the Burj Khalifa, and the Dubai Fountain , which puts on a fantastic show every 30 minutes each night. Shop 'til you drop, head up to the top of the tallest tower in the world, or grab a seat at one of the many restaurants surrounding the fountain for dinner and a show.

Palm Jumeirah

This palm-shaped island is man-made and dotted with luxury hotels and beach clubs. Kids will love the over-the-top waterpark at Atlantis, The Palm , while adults will enjoy whiling away the day at one of the many pool decks. For a bird's eye view of the island itself, try skydiving — just remember to stop screaming long enough to take it all in.

kolderal/Getty Images

Taxis are the default way to get around Dubai, but if you want to really explore the city and the neighboring emirates, Ahmed recommended renting a car. “It will make your life easier plus it will open up the possibility for you to explore the other emirates in the UAE. If time is of the essence, get yourself a car,” she said.

She noted that the metro is great if you’re staying in and traveling around Old Dubai, but if you want to explore New Dubai or go further afield, taxi hires and car rentals are the easiest way to get around.

Taxis: Dubai has an extensive network of taxis that bring travelers throughout the city. It's easy to hail a taxi at popular attractions like the malls and the beach. For women who feel more comfortable with a female driver, the city even has " Ladies and Families " taxis, which are always driven by women. Those looking to schedule a taxi ride can use apps like Uber and Careem, which operate throughout the city.

Trains: The Dubai Metro is cooler than your average subway, featuring automated and sleek cars, WiFi, and even separate cars that women and children can use. (The Red Line even holds the Guinness World Record for the longest driverless metro line at more than 32 miles long.) There are nearly 30 metro stations and a good amount of the track is outdoors, passing by iconic landmarks like the Burj Khalifa and making it a great way to see the city and get from Point A to B. Passengers can purchase single, return, or day-pass tickets — or get a cashless smart card called Nol.

Buses: Dubai has more than 1,500 buses that cover a hefty majority of the city's urban areas.

Abra : Travelers can ride these traditional wooden boats between the Bur Dubai area and the Deira area where Dubai's Gold Souk, Textile Souk, and Spice Souk are located.

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Headed to Dubai? Don't go before you catch up with these top tips

Aug 16, 2019 • 7 min read

travelling dubai

Prepare yourself for a city of extremes: Dubai is home to the world's tallest building, the most gargantuan mall and the largest indoor ski slope. There are restaurants from just about every nation on the planet, beaches where both the bikini- and burka-clad relax, vast empty deserts and crowded urban backstreets to explore.

So where to begin? Make sure you're aware of the most recent COVID-19 safety protocols in place for travelers before starting with these top sights.

Crossing Dubai Creek on an abra, a traditional wooden boat used to taxi people across the creek. The sun is low on the skyline, and partially obscured by office buildings. A single man is steering the boat and there are no passengers.

Dubai's must-see sights

The world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa , is visible from just about anywhere in the city – on a clear day, you can see it from 95km away. It’s currently home to the world’s highest observation deck at a vertiginous 555m. At its feet you’ll find the Dubai Mall , the world’s busiest, as well as the all-singing, all-dancing Dubai Fountain , which is the world’s … ah, you already guessed.

The distinctive sail-shaped Burj Al Arab is the city’s emblem and houses the so-called world’s only seven-star hotel. It sits next to the sprawling Madinat Jumeirah complex, an atmospheric take on a Middle Eastern city of old albeit with high-end hotels, restaurants, bars, shops and Venetian-style waterways that offer top views of the iconic hotel.

For a hint of what Dubai was like before the oil boom, head to Dubai Creek. Take an abra  (a traditional wooden boat, used to ferry people across Dubai Creek) across the creek from Deira to Bur Dubai (or vice versa) and explore the various souqs, where you live and die by your ability to haggle for gold, spices and garments. Delve into the emirate’s fascinating history at the Dubai Museum in the Al Fahidi Fort, the oldest building in the city and then take a short taxi ride to the Etihad Museum in Jumeirah, which looks at the formation of the United Arab Emirates in the 1970s.

If you like this, try this: Top 10 things to know before visiting Dubai .

It can seem like the only thing that never changes in Dubai is the vast desert, but in fact it’s constantly evolving, the wind altering and renewing it every day. There are many companies offering excursions into the red dunes, varying from wild off-roading trips to more educational tours designed to help you better understand life in the sands.

Restaurant with a view of Burj Al Arab in Dubai. The photo is taken from a varnished wooden balcony decorated with woven rugs and wooden, cushioned seats.

Where to eat in Dubai

Dubai has an incredibly diverse and multicultural dining scene, ranging from fine-dining restaurants from the likes of Yannick Alléno and Heinz Beck to hole-in-the-wall shawarma joints. For the inside track on the city’s melting pot of cuisines, take a walking tour of old Dubai with Frying Pan Adventures , which offers fantastic foodie itineraries year-round.

If you like this, try this: Taste of Dubai, the city's best Emirati eats .

Popular dining districts include The Beach at JBR  and The Walk at JBR for unlicensed, mid-range restaurants; Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and City Walk for high-end licensed restaurants; and Deira for cheap eats (head to Al Muraqqabat Rd and Al Rigga Rd). Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates also have a wide selection of unlicensed restaurants, cafes and fast food outlets.

As you would expect, there’s an excellent choice of Middle Eastern cuisine. Try succulent grilled kebabs at Aroos Damascus in Deira, Lebanese street food at hip chain Zaroob and authentic Emirati fare at Al Fanar in Festival City Mall. The city is also awash with great-value Indian and Pakistani cuisine, thanks to its substantial population of expats from the sub-continent. Top picks include the legendary Ravi in Jumeirah, Karachi Darbar in Satwa and for something fancier Indego by Vineet in the Grosvenor House hotel.

While Dubai has plenty of imported restaurant concepts, there’s also a growing number of exciting homegrown eateries serving fuss-free food in cool surroundings. Make a beeline for 3 Fils at Jumeriah Fishing Harbour and Salt ’s silver food trucks parked permanently at Kite Beach, or push the boat out at Play , helmed by ex-Zuma chef Reif Othman at the H Hotel.

If you’re in town on a Friday  – the first day of the weekend in Dubai  – head to one of the city’s famously hedonistic brunches . Two of the most decadent all-you-can eat-and-drink options are Bubblicious at The Westin and Giardino at Palazzo Versace , with more relaxed affairs at Marina Social and Bread Street Kitchen .

Where to stay in Dubai

Dubai is known for its palatial hotels and five-star beach resorts, but there is a good selection of hotels and apartments to suit all budgets.

The city is roughly split into two parts: ‘Old Dubai’ in the north, encompassing the districts of Deira and Bur Dubai around Dubai Creek; and ‘New Dubai’ towards the south, including the strictly modern skyscrapers of Downtown Dubai, DIFC and Dubai Marina. It’s a fairly compact city that’s easy to get around, so you can stay at the beach and still sightsee comfortably. Luxury desert resorts, such as Al Maha and Bab Al Shams , are destinations in their own right and located less than hour’s drive from the city centre.

Downtown Dubai has some of the swankiest city hotels including the Armani Hotel and The Palace Downtown , while nearby Business Bay and Al Habtoor City across the Dubai Canal also offer top hotels with easy access to the major sights. Beach resorts are concentrated around Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR), Dubai Marina, Umm Suqeim (home to Burj Al Arab and Madinat Jumeirah) and Palm Jumeirah, although the latter’s man-made beaches are not as good as the coastal stretches.

More modest digs can be found in the older parts of town around Deira and Bur Dubai, while the neighbourhood of Al Barsha, home to the Mall of the Emirates, is becoming a hub for midrange hotels. Government inspectors keep a close eye on hotel standards, so you can rest assured that even budget hotels will be clean and comfortable.

Dubai's water parks

Whatever your age, Dubai’s water parks should be on your itinerary. The two most popular – and rightly so – are Wild Wadi , located in front of the Burj Al Arab, and Aquaventure , found in the Atlantis resort at the end of Palm Jumeirah and set to become the world's biggest water park (shocker, we know). They boast adrenaline-pumping slides, lazy river rapids and brilliant kids’ areas, while Legoland Water Park at Dubai Parks & Resorts is designed especially for two-year-olds to preteens.

If you like this, try this:  How to choose your Dubai theme park .

View of Dubai Metro station at dusk with skyscrapers in the background. To the right of the tracks there is a busy motorway.

Getting around Dubai

Dubai’s metro system is cheap and excellent, linking the airport with many of the city’s key spots. You’ll need to buy a Nol pre-paid smartcard (available at metro stations), which can be used on the metro, tram and bus network.

Taxis are abundant, metered and reasonably priced (the minimum fare is Dhs10). There are taxi stands at malls and hotels, or you can flag down a cab on the street. They are the quickest way to get around, except during rush-hour traffic when you’re better off taking the metro.

Uber and local ride-hailing service Careem are popular alternatives to traditional taxis. You can hail a ride using either app, with fares calculated on factors such as distance, wait time and demand.

You can also hire a bicycle with Dubai’s public hire scheme, Byky . There are stations dotted around tourist hubs such as Dubai Marina and Downtown, and an easy route is the 11km-long ride around the crescent of Palm Jumeirah.

  • The best time to visit is November to March, when temperatures are around 30°C. If you’re visiting in summer, keep cool at indoor theme park IMG Worlds of Adventure or hit the slopes at Ski Dubai .
  • Make sure to grab a free SIM card when you land in the airport so you can use maps and websites when you’re out and about. Mobile providers Etisalat and Du have stores at the airport and most malls if you want to buy your own.
  • Pre-book tickets for the Burj Khalifa online, and you’ll pay less than half the price of an immediate entry ticket during non-peak times (and save yourself a third during peak hours).
  • Sign up for a cultural meal at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre of Cultural Understanding , which involves an Emirati feast followed by a frank discussion about local culture and religion.
  • Don’t worry if your budget won’t stretch to a beach resort – free public beaches such as Kite Beach and JBR Beach have sun loungers, showers and cafes.

This article was originally published on September 2017.

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11 Things To Know When Travelling to Dubai, UAE

For most travellers, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, can provide the exotic escape we seek from life. Be it the city’s mystical beaches, the mesmerising nightlife or the materialistic indulgences, there’s undoubtedly something for everyone in this oasis of the desert. However, just like all oases, one must beware of the mirages. Like sirens, they lure you down the path to temptation, desire, risk, and tragedy. There are a lot of things to know when travelling to Dubai. Read below to learn more about when is the best time to travel to Dubai, what to wear, things you can do, and more importantly, things you can’t do in Dubai.

Table of Contents

Is dubai expensive keep reading….

  • Public Transportation in Dubai. NOL means YES.

What to Wear in Dubai – Dressing Respectfully in a Muslim Country.

Alcohol in dubai – don’t booze ‘n’ cruise., public displays of affection – quell your passion for romance..

  • Experiencing the Real Dubai.

Words matter in Dubai – Be mindful of your statements.

What, when, and how to eat during ramadan in dubai., in dubai, make sure you’re well-hydrated., sun safety in dubai. don’t forget the sunscreen..

  • Desert Safari Safety when your name isn’t Indiana Jones.

Shop Wisely and Legally. Be careful of counterfeit items.

We hope you found these 11 things to know when travelling to dubai uae helpful when planning your adventure..

Dubai PIN

What’s the Best Time To Travel to Dubai? Timing is Everything .

The best time to travel to Dubai depends on the types of adventure you wish to take. I, personally, live for winter in Dubai. The best month to visit Dubai is definitely December. It’s when the weather isn’t too hot or too cold but just right. It’s the perfect time of year for you to take to the beach for pure relaxation as the cool breeze runs through your hair eroding away your worries. Most importantly, it’s Christmas in Dubai! Streets will be decked out with holiday decor. People will be jolly, and the weather will be forgiving. In my opinion, the winter season is, without a doubt, the best time to travel to Dubai.

Looking for other warm places for December travel ? Here’s a great list.

travelling to dubai by boat

The problem with all this joy is that it comes with a high price tag. Airline prices to Dubai will be higher during the winter months. Hotel rooms will be more expensive, and shopping may leave a more significant dent in your wallet. Generally, items such as jewellery, souvenirs and clothing tend to be more costly during the winter season as that is the time when the tourism industry is at its highest. For you, that might mean it’s not the best time to travel to Dubai.

Since the summer months of May are scorching hot, people tend to stay within their homes for as long as possible. This leads to prices being lowered to entice shoppers into the malls. So, if you’re looking for a more affordable visit, the best time to travel to Dubai is during the summer when air tickets and hotels are more budget-friendly. Your visit will still be a pleasant experience but, due to the summer heat, a lot of your experience will be indoors in places such as malls, movie theatres, and restaurants. Of course, you can still spend your time in Dubai, exploring the splendid outdoors; you’ll have to remember to stay hydrated and pack some sunscreen.

Public Transportation in Dubai. NOL means YES .

travelling in dubai using taxis and buses

Among things to know when travelling to Dubai, when it comes to the question of how to get around, there are a few options from renting a car, taking a taxi, to utilising Dubai’s public transportation.

The most popular mode of transportation that travellers think of are city taxis. And to be fair, taxis offer a pretty comfortable ride. In Dubai, the cars are in pristine condition, the drivers are quiet and friendly, and most importantly, the drivers take safety seriously.

As tempting as a taxi cab may appear to be, it isn’t ideal for daily exploration and commutes due to the excessive expense and dent on your travel budget. For this reason, I recommend purchasing an NOL transit card at your nearest petrol station. This rechargeable card will give you access to the city’s reliable metro system and extensive bus services. Before you go on a long and relentless tirade about how you detest the thought of utilising public transit in all its forms, allow me to tell you that Dubai ensures that their public transportation system is affordable, safe, and comfortable. Most importantly, the buses and metros are punctual. Those qualities are rare for a public transit system in most cities.

PRO TRAVEL TIP : You must have a NOL card in order to ride public transportation in Dubai. Drivers will not accept cash.

travelling dubai

Deciding what to wear in Dubai can be a little challenging to explain especially if visiting Dubai as a woman. Now, Dubai loves to present itself as a diverse and westernised tourist hotspot in the Arab world, a region of the earth that isn’t reputed for its enthusiasm towards those very ideals. Although those adjectives can be attributed to Dubai in many respects, it is still a traditional Islamic nation at heart. A lot of tourists in Dubai find themselves summoned to the nearest police station as they have failed to keep this in mind.

When it comes to clothing, deciding what to wear in Dubai might be a little easier because the city is far more lenient than its regional neighbours in the Middle East. Women don’t necessarily have to wear the abaya (a long robe or cloak) at all times, and people are allowed to show a little more skin than they could if they were in say, Saudi Arabia. If you’re out in public, one good rule of thumb is to cover everything from shoulders to knees. Avoid accentuating cleavage or hips. Bikinis and swimsuits are permitted, if you’re in a beach or swimming pool that is. If you’re planning on exercising those travel-weary biceps, wear a track shirt and long pants.

PRO TRAVEL TIP : Should you find yourself face-to-face with an individual who sees your attire unsuitable (this rarely happens) , speak calmly and say you’re going back to your residence to change. Don’t escalate the situation further. Remember, even if what you’re wearing may not be illegal, a lot of people may not embody the same mentality as you.

Alcohol in Dubai

When it comes to the topic of alcohol in Dubai, there are a few things you should know. The excellent news for visitors is that Dubai (unlike most Islamic countries) does permit the consumption of alcohol. In Dubai, the legal drinking age is 21. Only state-controlled stores such as MMI and African + Eastern are allowed to sell alcohol. If you intend on buying a bottle of liquor, then you’ll have to bring your passport and fill out a form. All this being said, it is illegal to drink in Dubai if you are a Muslim or don’t have a license. But to be honest, if you’re grabbing a drink at a bar, you needn’t worry about the bartender policing these rules.

PRO TRAVEL TIP : When travelling to Dubai, no matter how brave you may be feeling or how thirsty you are, it is imperative that you do not take your alcohol out in public! This rule includes drinking inside a parked car. Don’t drink and drive people!

Being intoxicated while in public will mean a world of trouble for you if caught. Especially if you’re seen vomiting or causing fights. You could be fined up to Dh5,000 ($U.S. 1361) and jailed for six months if you’re found drunk in public. So drink in moderation, keep a good hold on your senses, and you should be fine.

couple on the beach in Dubai

In addition to figuring out what to wear in Dubai, it’s best to be careful when it comes to public displays of affection in Dubai. Professing your love in an exotic locale for your one and only in the most dramatic of ways can feel euphoric. But you might want to suppress your inner Dicaprio when travelling to Dubai. The Dubai government has some pretty strict laws concerning public acts of intimacy.

Be mindful of how you conduct yourself with your romantic partner. While couples may occasionally hug in public, kissing is definitely outlawed. Stroking or petting your significant other is also prohibited. Married couples may hold hands but to be honest, no one’s going to come after you if you hold the hand of your girlfriend in The Dubai Mall.

As much as I support the cause of LGBTQ rights everywhere, one of the things to know when travelling to Dubai is that the nation of UAE does neither recognise nor respect the rights of LGBTQ individuals. Individuals can face deportation or imprisonment for ten years if the government perceives them to have committed inappropriate acts. In 2017, a Scottish man was faced with a three-year jail sentence after putting his hand on a man in a bar to not “bump and spill drinks”.

Experiencing the Real Dubai .

Marina in Dubai Creek

It’s easy to think of Dubai as a glistening, skyscraper-studded, newly-inaugurated city with little native culture. As such, tourists often ignore the more traditional experiences Dubai can offer in favour of more opulent ones. But make no mistake, Dubai is most certainly a land of rich and vibrant history. One that is still prevalent in the manner modern Dubai conducts itself.

To experience the real Dubai, I recommend you take a boat ride through Dubai Creek . Before the discovery of oil, pearl diving and fishing were the main occupations of the Emirati people. And so, to immerse yourself in the Emirati spirit, hop onboard one of the traditional wooden Dhow boats instead of the modern water taxi for a lovely tour.

Once the Emirati heritage starts flowing through your veins, take the time to visit the various souks of Dubai. “Souk” is an Arabic word for marketplace. If you ever find yourself longing for the Aladdin experience , I highly recommend taking the time to explore the numerous souks of Dubai. Soak up the atmosphere and be transported to ancient Arabia whilst browsing through the bazaar in search of fragrant spices, sparkling gold, or luxurious cloth.

Among the most important things to know when travelling to Dubai? Be careful about what you say. Despite being reputed for many things, the promise of free speech is not one of them. Just as you have to be careful about what to wear, while you do have access to popular social media sites such as YouTube, Twitter and Google, do think twice about what you post on these platforms while you are visiting Dubai. Speaking ill of the Emirati government is a very serious offence. Criticising Islam or the policies of the government is also severely punishable by imprisonment.

It’s not just the government you risk offending. If you find yourself in an online feud with an Emirati resident, it’s best to wait till you’re out of the country before you unleash the entirety of your internet wrath. Dubai has some pretty strict cyber laws and spares no expense enforcing them. An unfortunate example of this would be the case of British national Laleh Shahravresh, who was arrested for calling her ex-husband’s new wife a “horse” in a Facebook comment thereby violating the city’s strict cybercrime laws.

Long story short, avoid discussing religion or politics on any public platform while visiting Dubai.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

Taking place on the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and the month that the Qu’ran was introduced to the Prophet Mohammed, Ramadan is a time of spiritual and mental enlightenment for many. For some, the holy month is the best time to travel to Dubai as it holds a special place in the hearts of Muslims worldwide. 

Read the article: 6 Travel Tips While Visiting a Mosque

During the holy month, Muslims everywhere fast from sunrise to sunset. If you’re in Dubai during this time, you too can associate with the spirit of Ramadan.

As much as I despise being Captain Obvious, do not eat or drink in public from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan. Apart from getting a hefty fine, you’ll also risk upsetting nearby locals. Even though there are designated areas where you can eat or drink, I recommend waiting until you get home.

Iftar dinner

PRO TRAVEL TIP : Chewing gum and eating inside your car is also prohibited during the hours of fasting. If you do get invited to an iftar dinner (breaking of the fast) , by all means, accept the invitation. It’s a great honour to be asked, and the food served will be heavenly.

Staying hydrated

Being in Dubai means drinking lots of water. Tourists often underestimate how much water they’ll need, especially in the middle of the desert. I cannot stress this enough – drink, drink and keep drinking water. Lack of adequate water increases your chances of heat stroke and dehydration. For your well-being, make sure to drink at least eight glasses of water every day. Eating plenty of hydrating foods such as watermelon, tomatoes, and radishes will also help in surviving the Arabian heat.

Although I’ve already told you what to wear in Dubai, one of the most important things to carry is sunscreen. I don’t mean to sound like a nagging mum but do put some on. One could say that we are in the midst of a skin-disease epidemic. If you’re out in the sweltering heat of Dubai, issues like dark spots and ageing can be disastrous.

PRO TRAVEL TIP : I recommend using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Make that you reapply the sunscreen every two hours.

Desert Safari Safety when your name isn’t Indiana Jones .

Cars driving in the Dubai desert

While a desert safari can provide a memorable and enchanting experience, it’s essential to take precautions. Although a generally safe activity, there are a few tips you can keep in mind to make sure that you and your travel companions have a good time.

Don’t travel in the desert alone : The thought of exploring the desert while driving in your enormous four-wheel rental is enticing and may lead you to venture out into the sand alone. Exploring the desert alone is by far, the most foolish thing you can do. Always make sure that you travel in a group. Being in Dubai, you’ll find no shortage of tour groups willing to take you on a desert safari.

Pack a few essential items : Although the tour company you hire will have all the necessary things for your adventure, it’s always wise to carry a few essentials of your own. Items such as extra bottles of water, a small first aid kit, some food, and an extra can of petrol might end up saving you.

PRO TRAVEL TIP : It’s a good idea to carry a satellite-guided GPS in the desert as there may not be a robust cellular signal where you may be.

Be aware of your health conditions : Dune bashing is the practice of ramming your car against the sand dunes possibly terrifying the occupants inside! Always remember to wear your seat belt (take it from a guy who was almost knocked out for not doing so) . If you’re pregnant, then dune bashing is a terrible idea. If you’re a parent of little kids, you might want to leave them out of this one as well. End of the day, if you think embarking on this journey could put your life at risk in any way, skip it altogether.

Interior view of the Dubai Mall

If you need to stock up on a few clothing items after figuring out what to wear in Dubai, remember to be careful where you shop. Counterfeit items continue to hinder the Dubai market and economy till this date. In 2020, Dubai authorities destroyed nearly 48,000 counterfeit products. Some of the most counterfeited brands are Vogue, Apple and Chanel. If you’re keen on shopping in Dubai, I recommend buying from vendors situated in malls or at brand-name outlets to ensure you are purchasing legitimate goods. Do not risk buying from street vendors. Play it safe and purchase from a retailer you trust.

PIN

At the end of the day, Dubai is a fabulous place to visit and is one I recommend to everyone I meet. Dubai is a place like no other. You don’t have to spend every moment of your journey in excruciating angst or worrying about offending someone or being wronged. Figure out the best time to travel, make sure you know what to wear, and keep these things to know in mind. Join the 3 million of us who have had the privilege of calling this land our home.

Related adventures:

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travelling dubai

Sidharth Krishna

Sidharth Krishna writes as an intern at Calculated Traveller. An aficionado of travel and nature, Sidharth revels in manifesting his escapades in his articles. Growing up as a precocious child in Dubai, he’d constantly pester his parents to take him sightseeing. Be it arduous road trips or a quick stop at the beach, Sidharth cherishes every moment of whatever journey he’d embark on. If you ask him what his prized possessions are, he’ll most certainly mention his camera as seen by his Instagram profile. When not on the road, he spends his time reading, working on his blog and listening to music. As of now, he finds himself in the automotive capital of Canada, Windsor, Ontario as he educates himself on the finesses of the journalistic discipline.

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travelling dubai

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United Arab Emirates

Warnings and insurance.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice . 

Before you travel 

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide as well as support for British nationals abroad which includes: 

  • advice on preparing for travel abroad and reducing risks 
  • information for women, LGBT+ and disabled travellers

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter , Facebook and Instagram . You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated. 

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If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance . Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

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What You Should Expect When Traveling To Dubai As An American

  • Last updated May 28, 2024
  • Difficulty Beginner

Alain Brady

  • Category Travel

what it is like travelling to dubai as an american

Dubai is a vibrant and dynamic city that promises an unforgettable experience for travelers from all corners of the world. It is a mesmerizing blend of tradition and modernity that can leave any visitor in awe. For Americans planning a trip to Dubai, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. From the awe-inspiring architecture to the delicious cuisine, and the extravagant shopping malls to the traditional souks, Dubai has something for everyone. So fasten your seatbelts and get ready to explore the wonders of this bustling metropolis as an American traveler.

What You'll Learn

Preparations and documentation needed for travelling to dubai as an american, cultural etiquette and customs to keep in mind while visiting dubai, top attractions and must-visit places in dubai for american tourists, tips for an enjoyable and smooth experience travelling to dubai.

quartzmountain

Dubai, the dazzling city in the United Arab Emirates, is an incredible destination for American travelers. With its futuristic skyline, luxurious hotels, and world-class attractions, Dubai offers a unique blend of modernity and tradition. However, before hopping on a plane to this enchanting city, there are a few preparations and documentation that you need to take care of. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you plan and prepare for your trip to Dubai as an American.

  • Valid passport: Before traveling to Dubai, ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of entry. If your passport is due to expire soon, it is recommended to renew it before your trip.
  • Visa requirements: As an American citizen, you can obtain a visa on arrival in Dubai. This allows you to stay for 30 days. However, it's important to note that the visa regulations can change, so it's advisable to check the latest updates from the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in the United States or the Dubai Tourism website for the most accurate information.
  • COVID-19 requirements: Due to the ongoing pandemic, it's essential to stay updated on the latest COVID-19 requirements for traveling to Dubai. You may need to present a negative PCR test result taken within a specific timeframe before your departure. Additionally, you may be required to complete health declaration forms and undergo further testing upon arrival.
  • Travel insurance: It's highly recommended to have travel insurance that covers medical expenses, trip cancellations, and any unforeseen circumstances during your trip. Check with your insurance provider to ensure that you have adequate coverage for your travels to Dubai.
  • Currency exchange: The currency used in Dubai is the UAE dirham (AED). It's a good idea to exchange some currency before your trip or withdraw cash from ATMs upon arrival. Dubai is a modern city, and credit cards are widely accepted, so carrying cash may not be necessary for all transactions.
  • Dress code: While Dubai is a cosmopolitan city, it still follows conservative Islamic traditions. It's important to dress modestly, particularly when visiting religious sites or public places. Women should cover their shoulders and knees in public, and men should avoid wearing sleeveless shirts or shorts that are too short.
  • Medications and prescriptions: If you require any specific medications, ensure that you have enough for the duration of your trip. It's advisable to carry your prescriptions and a doctor's note explaining your medical condition, especially for controlled substances.
  • Electrical adapters: Dubai uses a three-pin plug system with a voltage of 220-240 volts. It's a good idea to bring a universal travel adapter to ensure that your electronic devices can be used without any issues.
  • Safety precautions: Dubai is generally considered a safe city for tourists. However, it's always essential to take basic safety precautions. Avoid displaying excessive wealth, be cautious of pickpockets in crowded areas, and follow the local laws and customs.
  • Local laws and customs: Respect for the local culture and traditions is vital when traveling to Dubai. Familiarize yourself with the local laws and customs before you arrive to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip. For example, public displays of affection, consuming alcohol in public places, and disrespectful behavior are strictly prohibited.

By following these preparations and having the necessary documentation, you'll be ready to embark on your Dubai adventure with confidence. Remember to stay informed about the latest travel advisories and guidelines to ensure a safe and memorable experience in this captivating city.

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Travelling to Dubai as an American can be an exciting and enlightening experience. However, it is essential to be aware of the cultural etiquette and customs in order to have a respectful and enjoyable trip. Dubai is a Muslim country, and while it is known for its tourism and openness, there are still certain rules and customs that need to be followed. Here are some important things to keep in mind:

  • Dress modestly: Dubai is a conservative city, and it is important to dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites or public places. Women should avoid wearing revealing or tight-fitting clothes, and it is recommended to cover shoulders and knees. Men should also avoid wearing shorts in public places.
  • Respect Ramadan: If you are visiting Dubai during the holy month of Ramadan, it is important to respect the customs and traditions associated with it. Non-Muslims are expected to refrain from eating, drinking, or smoking in public during the daylight hours. It is also polite to avoid playing loud music or engaging in any behavior that may be deemed disrespectful during this time.
  • Greetings and interactions: When meeting locals or even fellow tourists, it is customary to greet them with a warm smile and a handshake. However, it is essential to remember that public displays of affection, such as hugging or kissing, are not acceptable in public. It is also important to be respectful and avoid any offensive language or gestures.
  • Ramadan rules for non-Muslims: While non-Muslims are not required to fast during Ramadan, it is important to be considerate. Avoid eating, drinking, or smoking in public during daylight hours. It is best to consume food and drinks in private areas or designated restaurants. If you have any doubts or questions, it is always best to ask locals or check with your hotel staff for guidance.
  • Respect for local customs and traditions: Dubai is a city rich in culture and traditions. It is important to show respect for local customs and traditions. For example, when visiting a mosque, it is necessary to dress modestly and remove your shoes before entering. It is also common to be invited for a cup of Arabic coffee or tea when visiting someone's home – accepting this gesture is a sign of respect.
  • Be mindful of the laws: Dubai has strict laws, and it is important to be mindful of them. Understand that public displays of affection, public intoxication, and indecent behavior are considered offensive and can result in legal consequences. Also, it is vital to adhere to regulations around photography, especially in sensitive areas like government buildings, airports, and military installations.
  • Public behavior: It is important to maintain a respectful and polite demeanor in public. Avoid speaking loudly, using offensive language, or engaging in confrontations. Dubai is known for its tolerance and hospitality, and by showing respect for local customs, you will enjoy a warm welcome from the locals.
  • Social media etiquette: Dubai is a city that loves social media, but it is vital to be cautious of what you post online. Avoid posting pictures of locals without their permission, and refrain from sharing anything that may be deemed offensive or disrespectful to the local culture and religion.

Visiting Dubai as an American can be an incredible experience, but it is important to be aware of the cultural etiquette and customs. By showing respect for the local customs and traditions, you will be able to enjoy all that this vibrant city has to offer while creating meaningful connections with the locals. Remember, a little understanding goes a long way in ensuring a memorable and enjoyable trip.

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Dubai, known for its stunning skyscrapers, luxurious hotels, and vibrant culture, is a dream destination for many American tourists. Whether you are interested in exploring the city's modern architecture, experiencing its rich history and heritage, or indulging in some retail therapy, Dubai has it all. Here are some top attractions and must-visit places in Dubai for American tourists.

  • Burj Khalifa: Start your trip by visiting the iconic Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Take the elevator to the observation deck on the 148th floor and enjoy panoramic views of the city's skyline. It's an awe-inspiring experience that shouldn't be missed.
  • The Dubai Mall: Located adjacent to the Burj Khalifa, The Dubai Mall is one of the world's largest shopping malls. With over 1,200 retail outlets, including high-end fashion brands and international cuisine options, it's a shopper's paradise. Don't forget to visit the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, located within the mall, where you can see a wide range of marine creatures up close.
  • Palm Jumeirah: This artificial island in the shape of a palm tree is a must-visit attraction in Dubai. Take a leisurely stroll along the crescent-shaped Palm Jumeirah Boardwalk and enjoy the stunning views of the Arabian Gulf. You can also opt for a cruise around the Palm Jumeirah and admire the opulent villas and hotels that line the coastline.
  • Dubai Marina: Known as the "Venice of Dubai," Dubai Marina is a vibrant waterfront district with a bustling atmosphere. Take a relaxing walk along the Marina Promenade, lined with cafes, restaurants, and shops, or hop on a traditional abra boat and cruise along the marina's stunning waterways.
  • Dubai Creek: For a glimpse into Dubai's rich history, visit Dubai Creek. Take an abra ride across the creek and explore the traditional souks (markets) on either side. The Spice Souk and Gold Souk are particularly famous for their vibrant atmosphere and unique shopping experiences.
  • Jumeirah Mosque: Discover the city's architectural gems by visiting the Jumeirah Mosque, one of the few mosques in Dubai open to non-Muslim visitors. Take a guided tour to learn about Islamic traditions and culture while admiring the mosque's stunning architecture.
  • Desert Safari: Experience the thrill of dune bashing in a 4x4 vehicle and witness a breathtaking sunset in the Arabian Desert. Afterward, enjoy a traditional Arabian feast and entertainment at a desert camp, where you can try activities like camel riding, henna painting, and belly dancing.
  • Dubai Museum: Located in the historic Al Fahidi Fort, the Dubai Museum offers a fascinating insight into the city's transformation from a fishing village to a global metropolis. Explore the various galleries that showcase traditional Arabic artifacts, archaeological finds, and interactive exhibits.
  • Dubai Opera: If you're a fan of the performing arts, catch a show at the stunning Dubai Opera. With its impressive architecture and world-class performances ranging from opera and ballet to concerts and comedies, it's a must-visit cultural venue.
  • Atlantis, The Palm: For a fun-filled day with family or friends, head to Atlantis, The Palm. This luxurious resort offers a variety of attractions, including an underwater aquarium, waterpark, and pristine beach. Don't miss the opportunity to swim with dolphins at Dolphin Bay, a truly unforgettable experience.

When traveling to Dubai as an American tourist, it's important to familiarize yourself with the local customs and traditions. Dress modestly when visiting religious sites and public areas, and be respectful of the local culture. Additionally, be aware of the conservative laws in Dubai, such as the ban on public displays of affection and the consumption of alcohol in public places.

Dubai is a city of contrasts, where modernity blends seamlessly with tradition. With its abundance of attractions and unique experiences, it's no wonder that Dubai continues to capture the hearts of American tourists. So pack your bags, put on your adventurer's hat, and get ready to explore this dynamic city. Dubai awaits!

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Travelling to Dubai can be an exciting and enriching experience for anyone, including Americans. However, there are a few things that American travelers should keep in mind to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip. Here are some tips to help you navigate Dubai's unique culture and customs:

  • Visa Requirements: Before traveling to Dubai, make sure to check the visa requirements for Americans. Most American tourists can obtain a visa on arrival or apply for an e-visa in advance. Ensure that your passport has at least six months of validity remaining.
  • Dress Code: Dubai is a Muslim country, and while it is relatively liberal compared to other Middle Eastern destinations, it is important to dress modestly out of respect for the local culture. Avoid wearing revealing or skimpy clothing, especially when visiting religious sites or public places. Women should keep their shoulders and knees covered, while men should wear shirts and avoid wearing shorts in public areas.
  • Ramadan: If you are planning to visit Dubai during the holy month of Ramadan, be aware that it is a time of fasting from sunrise to sunset. Respect the local customs by refraining from eating, drinking, or smoking in public during these hours. Many restaurants and cafes remain closed during daylight hours, but you can still find some establishments catering to non-fasting individuals.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Dubai has strict laws regarding the consumption of alcohol. It is only allowed in licensed establishments such as hotels, bars, and restaurants. Remember that public drunkenness and drinking in public places are highly discouraged and can result in penalties or imprisonment. Non-Muslim residents and tourists can purchase alcohol for personal consumption from licensed liquor stores but should avoid excessive drinking or public intoxication.
  • Public Affection: Public displays of affection are frowned upon in Dubai, so it is advisable to avoid excessive physical contact, holding hands, or kissing in public. Respect the conservative culture and save your affectionate gestures for more private settings.
  • Photography: Dubai offers breathtaking architectural marvels and scenic landscapes perfect for capturing stunning photographs. However, always ask for permission before taking pictures of locals, especially women and religious sites. Avoid photographing government buildings, military installations, and sensitive areas, as it is strictly prohibited.
  • Transportation: Dubai has a well-established transport system, including taxis, public buses, the Dubai Metro, and ride-sharing services like Uber and Careem. The Dubai Metro is an excellent way to explore the city, as it is convenient, affordable, and offers stunning views. If you plan on renting a car, familiarize yourself with the traffic rules and regulations, and be cautious while driving.
  • Respect for the Local Culture: Dubai is known for its warm hospitality, and while it is a city that welcomes diverse cultures, it is essential to respect and abide by local customs and traditions. Greet people respectfully, remove your shoes when entering mosques or homes, and avoid sensitive discussions about religion, politics, or the royal family.
  • Currency: The official currency in Dubai is the UAE Dirham (AED). It is advisable to carry some local currency for small expenses, as cash is still widely used. Most establishments also accept credit cards, but smaller shops and local markets may prefer cash. It is also essential to notify your bank and credit card companies about your travel plans to avoid any issues with card transactions.
  • Health and Safety: Dubai is generally a safe city to visit, but it is always wise to take necessary precautions. Stay hydrated, especially during the summer months, when temperatures can be extremely high. Use sunscreen and dress appropriately for the weather conditions. Obey traffic rules and cross pedestrian areas with caution. Keep important phone numbers, including the local embassy or consulate, handy in case of emergencies.

By keeping these tips in mind, American travelers can experience a memorable and hassle-free trip to Dubai. Embrace the cultural diversity, try local cuisine, and enjoy the unique attractions that make Dubai a truly remarkable destination. Safe travels!

The Ultimate Guide on Traveling from DMK Airport to Trio House

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UAE's visiting visa rules: What has changed, what should travellers keep with them

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Dubai: The latest guidelines regarding the UAE visiting visa have become a matter of concern for many who were planning a trip to the country. Affi Ahammad, MD of Smart Travels said that the passengers should keep all the documents ready at hand to be produced at the airport, to ensure hassle-free travel. The guidelines state that the passengers arriving in the country on a visiting visa should carry: 1) A valid return ticket 2) Address of friends or relatives with whom they plan to stay. It's better if they travel from India with the relative with whom they are going to stay 3) Passport with a validity of six months 4) Copy of their Emirates ID 5) 5000 dirhams in account or equivalent amount as currency

Meanwhile, the guideline that one should carry a bank statement for the last six months isn’t strict. Also, if not 5000 dirhams, they should have at least 3000 dirhams with them or possess a credit card with the stipulated limit. Rules relaxed in 2020, but... The above rules existed earlier too, but they were relaxed in September 2020. The directives were repealed when the travel agencies expressed concern that it would disappoint job aspirants who wish to come to the UAE and that it would adversely affect the businesses. However, now, many are troubled that the government has made it stricter again. Many passengers, including Malayalis, who failed to fulfil these guidelines or produce necessary travel documents were detained at the Indian airports and were not allowed to board the planes.

Some others who managed to land in Dubai were reportedly detained by the immigration authorities there. The government’s move to make the visit visa guidelines stricter has quashed the dreams of many youngsters who were eager to find a good job in the UAE. People who belong to families that aren’t financially sound have struggled to arrange the money for purchasing visas and air tickets. Now, they can't arrange Rs 68,000 more so that they could adhere to the directives. In the beginning, the passengers were reportedly detained at the Dubai airport. However, now, checking has been made stricter at the Indian airports too. It was reported that a few passengers who hail from the Idukki district in Kerala were detained like this and sent back to India. But, the Dubai immigration authorities haven’t issued any official statement regarding this.

No new vacancies, boost for tourism The number of job seekers who arrive on visiting visas has gone up significantly, especially after the COVID-19 outbreak. Since the vacant posts were filled as soon as the pandemic subsided and the financial sector was recovering slowing, new vacancies weren’t created. Currently, hundreds of job aspirants are in UAE, trying hard to land a job. Among them, most Keralites are highly educated and experienced too. Inspections are conducted regularly at the airports in Dubai to ensure the safety of the passengers. Lots of cases have been reported for overstaying. Experts in the travel and tourism industry observe that the latest actions by the authorities would only boost the tourism sector in the Emirates. They say that strict inspection would make the immigration procedures transparent and would save the passengers from difficulties caused by miscommunication.

Most didn't have address proof The passengers who were detained at the airport in Dubai were the first batch of flyers who faced a crisis as they couldn’t produce proper travel documents. Even though most people could prove that they had the stipulated amount at hand, they failed to provide the address proof of relatives or other accommodation details. When some of them said that they were residing with their relatives, the officials inquired about their address and Emirates ID. But, the passengers had to return as they couldn’t produce these details. Meanwhile, some others had to wait at the airport for hours before returning. These people had to suffer such hardships at the airport as they weren’t informed about the guidelines by the travel agents. However, the travel agents say that they too had no idea as these weren’t stricter earlier. 

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Requirements for tourists arriving in dubai, before you travel .

Effective 8 November 2022, passengers are no longer required to present COVID-19 vaccination certificates or negative PCR test results to enter the UAE. 

Please check the following before you travel: 

1. Ensure you meet entry visa requirements to visit the UAE. You can check if you need a visa here .

2. If you are travelling onward from Dubai or are in transit, you must still comply with the travel requirement of your final destination.

3. As destination requirements can change on short notice, you are advised to check for any updates with your airlines before travelling.

4. Wearing a mask is optional at Dubai Airports and all locations in Dubai, except hospitals and medical facilities. Airlines can request passengers to wear masks, if deemed necessary.

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More From Forbes

6 dubai bars for marvelous mocktails.

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This hotel impresses with its zero-proof menu.

The popularity of zero-alcohol cocktails has significantly increased in recent years in Dubai , even as the city’s dining and nightlife scene shows no signs of slowing down. Whether it’s a result of most of the local population’s culture or shifting lifestyle preferences, there’s never been a better time to browse the non-alcoholic drinks sections of menus around town.

Expect to sip on elevated mocktails at these Dubai hotel restaurants and bars.

Tucked away at the Restaurant Village at Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach, Coya Dubai impresses with its lush interiors (plush velvet sofas, carved wood panels, Peruvian art and artifacts, antique mirrors and abundant indoor plants) set against beautiful views of downtown Dubai. As chefs plate Peruvian dishes in the open kitchen, talented mixologists shake up cocktails at the Pisco Bar and resident DJs create a lively vibe late into the night.

While the drinks are inspired by some of the oldest bars in Lima, those looking for non-alcoholic cocktails will be delighted by creations such as Purple Rain, crafted with Chicha morada (a purple corn drink), pineapple juice, passion fruit purée and fresh lime juice, or the Cúmachata, featuring housemade tropical water, lucuma (a sweet South American fruit), horchata and date syrup.

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The Cloudy Passion.

Hakkasan Dubai

At Hakkasan Dubai at Four-Star Atlantis, The Palm , intricately carved wood screens, moody lighting, a sleek bar and elegant dining areas create a sense of intrigue, cementing this Chinese restaurant’s status on Dubai’s dining scene.

Though you can expect to sample a bold and modern take on Cantonese cuisine, Hakkasan is also renowned for its innovative mixology. The non-alcoholic winners include the Cloudy Passion, made with Lyre’s American malt, passion fruit, lime, basil and kumquat syrup, and the Juzi Spritz, which includes peach pure, orange juice, 0% ABV Italian Spritz and lemonade.

Masti Dubai

In The Dubai EDITION, Masti Dubai’s dramatic chandeliers, colorful chainmail tunnel, velvet chairs, eclectic art hanging on textured walls and stained glass bar create a glamorous setting for a contemporary Indian meal and innovative pours.

While gin is the star of the show, mocktails such as the Mellow Yellow (mango cordial, cinnamon, 0% chardonnay and rose water) and Fig Brew (Lyre’s Amaretti, fig, orange, basil and strawberry sparkle) are equally appealing choices.

Sip an Orange Spritzer.

Amelia Restaurant and Lounge

The retro-futuristic, steampunk-inspired Dubai outpost of Beirut’s Amelia Restaurant and Lounge at the Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Address Sky View is one of Dubai’s hottest nightlife venues. Inside the lounge, the DJ booth looks like a pipe organ, a plane propeller hangs above the bar and illuminated ceiling arches lend the fine-dining restaurant grandeur.

The dinner menu features Japanese-Peruvian dishes, and the extensive cocktails roster includes a host of non-alcoholic choices. Try the Orange Spritzer, made from Lyre’s spritz, or Green Garden, which infuses Lyre’s London Dry spirit with cucumber, mint and anise flavors.

At NoLo, Dubai’s first dry bar on the 24th floor of Dusit Thani Dubai , expect to sip on drinks in a sophisticated setting complete with luxurious velvet seats, wrought-iron chandeliers, skyline views and soulful jazz.

The menu reflects the founders’ vision to redefine the idea of a fun night out with non-alcoholic hops, wines and cocktails, such as the Lavender Bees Knees Royale, made with Lyre’s London Dry, lavender honey and lemon juice, and the Spice Date Espresso Martini that features Lyre’s dark cane, cold espresso and spice date syrup.

MayaBay Dubai

Within the regal Five-Star Jumeirah Al Naseem , MayaBay Dubai’s lagoon views, glamorous crystal chandeliers, carved wood panels and Japanese kokeshi dolls set a stylish scene. Between your feast of Japanese and Thai dishes, sip from a cocktail menu featuring alcoholic concoctions influenced by Thai and Japanese flavors and another list with zero-proof takes on classics such as the London Mule (non-alcoholic gin, lemon and ginger ale) and a Campari Spritz made with non-alcoholic sparkling wine.

Natasha Amar

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travelling dubai

Planning A Dubai Visit? Comply With UAE's New Visa Rules Or Face Issues

D ubai has instituted some changes in its visit visa rules, urging travellers to carry Dh3,000 cash, a valid return ticket, and proof of accommodation boarding a flight, Khaleej Times reported on Thursday citing travel agencies. Several Indian tourists who failed to comply with these guidelines were either denied boarding or found themselves 'stuck' at the airport.

According to the Khaleej Times report, authorities are ensuring these strict entry guidelines are followed. Firoz Maliyakkal, founder and CEO of Tahira Tours and Travels, told the media outlet: “People travelling to Dubai must have a valid visa with a passport having validity of at least six months. One must carry a confirmed return ticket. These are checks that are being done earlier.”

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Maliyakkal further added that authorities are ensuring a traveller has enough money as 'proof of funds to sustain your stay in Dubai'.

“The amount is any currency equivalent to Dh3,000 in cash or credit card. One has to provide a valid address proof of accommodation in the UAE; it can be either a relative's or friend’s home or a hotel booking,” he told Khaleej Times.

Another travel agent said that this step will positively impact the tourism sector of the emirate and ensure people don't overstay.

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“Stringent checks provide transparency and prevent any discrepancies for people travelling to the UAE," he told the Dubai-based outlet.

Khaleej Times also quoted travellers saying they were not allowed to board or were stranded at the Dubai airport. Local media outlets further stated that airlines are making sure that visiting visa holders must have hotel reservation paperwork. Passengers whose flights were cancelled were not allowed to reschedule.

The UAE Is Giving A 10-Year Residency Visa To Sustainability Champions

The UAE currently offers three types of visiting visas —14 days, 30 days and 90 days. The 14-day visa is available for single-entry permits but does not have an extension possibility. But the 30 and 90-day visa can be extended twice.

planning a dubai visit? comply with uae's new visa rules or face issues

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Arab Media Summit being held from 27-29 May 2024, at the Dubai World Trade Centre

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TRAVEL SUPPORT

Travel requirements for Dubai residents

The following process applies to all UAE residence visa holders flying back to Dubai. The information changes frequently so please check back before you travel.

Travelling to Dubai

morning view of Dubai Water Canal

Before you travel

All passengers travelling to Dubai are no longer required to present a COVID-19 vaccination certificate or perform PCR tests. 

Passengers travelling from or through Dubai are only required to comply with the transit requirements and travel requirements their final destination.

Nationals of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar & Saudi Arabia) can travel within GCC countries and enter Dubai with their National Identity Card (ID Card).

The UAE government has specified designated laboratories in each of our current destinations (Opens a PDF in a new tab)  .

This includes a list of COVID 19 test laboratories in Dubai (Opens a PDF in a new tab)  .

You can either use the recommended laboratories in the list or any trusted and certified laboratories in your country of origin to get your COVID 19 RT PCR test.

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COMMENTS

  1. All You Need to Know Before Traveling to Dubai

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  2. Tourists travelling to, from, and through Dubai

    Travelling to Dubai. All passengers travelling to Dubai are no longer required to present a COVID‑19 vaccination certificate or perform PCR tests. Passengers travelling from or through Dubai are only required to comply with the transit requirements and travel requirements their final destination. Check if you need a visa .

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  23. Travel requirements for Dubai

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  26. 6 Dubai Bars For Marvelous Mocktails

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  27. Discovery Dunes: Dubai's ultra-luxury desert community is ...

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  28. Planning A Dubai Visit? Comply With UAE's New Visa Rules Or Face Issues

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  29. Photos: Arab Media Forum 2024 kicks off in Dubai

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  30. Residents travelling to, from and through Dubai

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