VISIT DUBAI – TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR DUBAI TRIP
If you are heading to Dubai, you are probably looking for some Dubai travel tips because it is different than any other place – whether in the west, east, or any other city in the Middle East.
Dubai – the city of superlatives, the city that polarizes. Not everybody loves the city in the United Arab Emirates, but I can say that I love it.
I have been to Dubai quite often and have written many different posts about activities, hotels, restaurant reviews, and travel tips. I finally summarized all the important information for tourists and travelers visiting Dubai and prepared this Dubai Travel Advisory.
DUBAI TRAVEL INFORMATION
You’ll find general information, info on how to get around and about the different areas, top tips on what to do in Dubai, and some extra tips for female travelers. If you are looking for more detailed information, click on the link you’ll find in this post.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my link (no extra cost). More about it here.
Before discussing the best Dubai travel tips, here are some facts that can help you plan your Dubai itinerary/trip.
- The biggest city (emirate) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
- More than 2 million inhabitants
- Only about 14% are actually from the UAE
Language in Dubai
Arabic but English is very common, and in all stores, restaurants, hotels, good English is spoken by most (basic English by almost all).
Money in Dubai
- Currency: Dirham, though € and $ are often accepted, I mostly used credit cards and had some change for smaller amounts and tips in Dirham.
- Credit Cards are accepted at most places (American Express, however, is not always accepted)
- Tip: If you dine, the tip is often included in the bill (10%), have a look at the bill. If it is not included, I always tip about 10% ( don’t forget to tip taxi drivers and hotel housekeeping)
- Dubai is expensive – not everything but accommodation, for example, is costly – however, you can buy food and do activities that are cheap and save money there. Here is my full budget travel guide to Dubai
Religion in Dubai / Don´ts in Dubai
- Though there are many foreign workers, the main religion is Islam, so Fridays are official rest days (most shops, malls, and restaurants are open, though, and actually public places are even more crowded than regularly.
- Dress and behavior code for people: women can wear what they want at the beach (not topless, though) but should respect the dress code in other areas. More information about the dress code here. Also, men should follow dress rules.
- Intimacy between couples is not welcomed in public.
- Homosexuality is illegal in Dubai.
- Sex before marriage is forbidden in Dubai – you might have heard of the case of foreigners that were raped and reported it to the police. And not only the alleged rapist got arrested but also the victim. So, thus it is even more important to be aware of your surroundings. Though, as mentioned, Dubai is safe, you might have to deal with these issues – especially if you drink alcohol and then report such a crime, etc.
Is Dubai Safe?
- I think Dubai is one of the safest places to visit – in every aspect. Even as a female solo traveler, you are safe to visit. Dubai’s crime rate is among the lowest globally. More about security and safety issues here.
Best Time to Visit Dubai
- One of the main and best Dubai travel tips I can give: is to choose wisely when you visit Dubai.
- I do not recommend visiting during the summer months (May – September). The average temperature ranges from 32.4 °C (90.2 °F) in May, 36.5 °C (98 °F) in August and 34 °C (93°F) in May.
- Even October and April were too hot for me already. But it depends on what kind of weather you prefer.
- Some activities are not possible in the summer months because of the heat.
- The winter months from November to early March are the best times to visit in my opinion.
- The average temperature ranges from 19.5 °C (67.5 °F) in January.
- Hotel prices, however, go up during the winter months and it gets busier. Regardless, my tip is to visit in these months.
- Check also for the fasting time (Ramadan) because life is different during that time. You cannot do many activities during that few weeks (also, alcohol is less available). In 2022 Ramadan is from the 3rd of April to the 2nd of May and in 2022 it is from the 23rd of March to the 23rd of April.
How to Get to Dubai
Dubai has two airports – the Dubai International Airport is the main one, and if you fly into Dubai, you will most likely arrive here. The airport is well connected to the rest of Dubai, and you can find taxis in front of the airport (there is a small surcharge for taxis starting at Dubai Airport). But there is also a metro station that you can use.
My most favorite airline ever is Emirates Airlines – a Dubai-based airline. Check out their prices here, and if you can, book via them (they are amazing!).
How to Get Around in Dubai
- Public Transportation in Dubai
Dubai is developing pretty quickly, and so is public transport. The Metro is fast, reliable, operates regularly, and is super clean – it even has its own women-only-departments, and the prices are okay.There are only two metro lines (the green and red line), and the main line starts in Dubai Downtown and ends after Dubai Marina. However, the stops are spread out quite far, e.g., the “Dubai Mall Stop” does not mean you are actually at Dubai Mall.
It just means it is the closest station to Dubai Mall, and it includes another 1-kilometer walk.
In Dubai Marina, there is also a tram, and there are many buses throughout Dubai. The metro ticket allows you to use buses as well. BUT tickets are not available on the bus, so you need to buy a ticket beforehand.
Thus, the metro/public transport is not my preferred means of transport, but it is pretty good for long distances, especially because the red line travels along Sheikh Zayed Road for most of its length. (Btw: Sheikh Zayed Road is THE main road in Dubai.)
- Taxis in Dubai
There are several kinds of taxis: the black Lexus taxis are a bit more expensive and apparently more service-oriented, but the other, the “normal,” taxis are totally fine to use. A display shows you not only the price but also the driven kilometers.
Petrol is cheap in Dubai – and so are taxi rides. There is a minimum charge of about €4, but it gets you some kilometers. Other than that, taxis charge about €0,50 per kilometer. I had some great conversations with taxi drivers (mostly Afghans, Pakistanis, or Indians). If they speak English, they will actually give you a lot of insights, and you’ll probably get a different view of Dubai.
A display shows you not only the price but also the driven kilometers. Petrol is cheap in Dubai – and so are taxi rides. There is a minimum charge of about €4, but it gets you some kilometers. Other than that, taxis charge about €0,50 per kilometer.
However, if you do not want to visit a main attraction or a very famous hotel, I would advise you to google the address beforehand and/or take a screenshot of the route since most taxis do not have a GPS. Many drivers might not be aware of less famous hotels/places.
- Hop-On and Hop-Off Buses in Dubai
I admit I am a huge Hop On and Hop Off fan. I recommend getting a ticket if you stay longer and want to see several places and do more activities.
Female Travel Tips for Dubai
- Dubai is very westernized, but still an Islamic city. Respect the dress codes (read more about What to Wear in Dubai as a Woman)
- Here are my favorite activities for solo female travelers
More Dubai Travel Tips
- If you take medication, read this post on “Traveling to the Emirates with Medication” it will help you find out what you are allowed to take and what not. Find some unusual Dubai facts.
- Alcohol is allowed in Dubai – however, only in certain hotels and restaurants. To be on the safe side, don’t take any bottles/glasses of alcohol and drink it on the streets.
- Nightlife is also big in Dubai – if you like to party, Dubai is the perfect place for you (though you shouldn’t get totally drunk). Here are my favorite places to visit in Dubai at night (though there are non-party places.
- Use these free Dubai apps to plan your trip
Neighborhoods in Dubai
No post about the best Dubai travel tips would be complete if we didn’t talk about areas to stay and visit in Dubai – because Dubai has many faces, and it is important which places you add to your itinerary.
My favorite areas in Dubai are:
Dubai Downtown is home to some major tourist attractions like Burj Khalifa, Dubai Fountain, or Dubai Mall and some top-notch hotels, like the Armani Hotel, etc. (inside Burj Khalifa).
Though I do not think it is the most charming part of Dubai, it is a must-visit area, and it is not far from Dubai Deira or the public beach.
Dubai Deira and the Creek
The old part of Dubai is located in the eastern part of Dubai and is very charming.
You’ll find the lively Gold and Spice Souk. There are also some museums to visit, and you can spend much more time in the Souks. Dubai’s oldest part is located more or less next to the airport (9km). It is a busy area, and the Gold and Spice Souks’ small and narrow streets give you probably one of the most authentic feelings – though the shopkeepers are mostly non-Arabs.
As a solo female traveler strolling through Deira, I definitely felt safe, BUT not always comfortable. It is widespread to be constantly approached by men – either by people trying to sell you stuff or because they are hitting on you. I met a couple of female expats who told me they do not visit Deira anymore because of that reason.
If you are in Dubai, I still think it is a lovely place, and you should not miss out on it. They are also some museums and riding an abra from one side to the other is a lovely experience (and very inexpensive).
Madinat Jumeirah is a re-creation of ancient Arabia and one of my most favorite parts. Once you enter Madinat, it is like nothing of the hustle and bustle that is so common in Dubai. Little shops sell souvenirs, jewelry, etc., and some restaurants and cafes allow you to enjoy the lovely atmosphere. There is also an outdoor part, and you get the best view of Burj Al-Arab. You could also ride an abra, which is much more expensive than in Deira, though.
The desert is actually my favorite area in Dubai. I have been to the desert the times (the hot-air balloon ride, a Sundowner Dune Dinner Safari, and a Morning Dune Bash), and I cannot wait to visit again.
Dubai Marina is a beautiful part of Dubai and was created in 2003. It is still constantly changing and expanding, and thus you’ll always have to see construction work almost everywhere you look. Currently, it is the second biggest artificial marina, but Dubai would not be Dubai if it did not plan to break records and make it the biggest in the world. It is home to many hotels, including the world’s highest hotel, and the perfect place for nice strolls and beautiful views.
JBR Walk is, unlike Dubai Marina, located along the beach with many shops, restaurants, hotels, and bars. However, I also enjoy the proximity to Dubai Marina and love going there for a walk.
When I heard about the Palm(s) on TV for the first time, I was more than skeptical about the negative impacts on the environment. However, on my second and third trip to Dubai, I stayed at one of the Palm Jumeirah hotels.
There were supposed to be three palms but actually, one got only finished, and a second one is supposed to be finished eventually. The third one was stopped as a result of the financial crises, which also hit Dubai.
Best Places to Stay in Dubai
Accommodation in Dubai is top – even a 3* hotel is better than other 3* hotels worldwide.
To get the best deals on your Dubai hotel, click here. Not surprisingly, 5* hotels are better than in other parts of the world. Following are some hotels I have visited and reviewed in the past:
5* Hotel and Resort: Atlantis Hotel – The Palm Dubai The hotel is a bit old (if you look at the interior, you can tell at some parts) but after all, it is a very luxurious and fun place to stay in Dubai. It is also the perfect choice for families and people who want to indulge at a hotel property.
5* Resort: Review: Anantara The Palm Dubai: I really liked the vibe and the hotel itself. It is so different from all the other places in Dubai and perfect if you prefer a quieter place with a touch of Thailand.
5* Hotel: Review: Grosvenor House in Dubai – one of my favorite hotels in Dubai. Elegant and quiet (not the perfect place for families with smaller kids) and a great location.
5* Hotel: Review: Intercontinental Dubai Marina – another of my favorite places. A modern and bright interior and a good location make IC Dubai Marina a fantastic place to stay.
4* Resort: Review: JA Ocean View Hotel Dubai
What to do in Dubai
Before I visited Dubai for the first time, I thought Dubai is just skyscrapers and shopping malls, but I was proven wrong. There is soooo much to do and see, and there’s something for almost any taste.
- Do a Dubai desert safari, either a Morning Dune Drive or a Sundowner Dune Dinner Safari.
- Take a hot air balloon ride in Dubai.
- Visit Dubai Deira and the Gold and Spice Souk and ride an Abra.
- Visit Dubai Mall, the biggest shopping center in the world (check out Dubai Mall Quick Guide)
- Watch the Dubai Fountain (once or twice an hour)
- Visit “At the Top of Burj Khalifa”
- Stroll through Dubai Marina
- Do a boat tour from Marina
- Stroll along JBR Walk
- Visit Miracle Garden
- Discover The Palm and rent a bike (the Palm is perfect for a bike ride)
- Check out Madinat Jumeirah and discover the souks and the best views of Dubai Burj Al-Arab
- Spend time at Kite Beach
- Visit the Gold and Spice Souks in Dubai Deira
Click here to book one of the tours now and save money.
Want to read more about Dubai? Head to my archives and read about the top things to do in Dubai.
More Tips For Dubai
You’ll find plenty of tips on my blog for your Dubai trip.
Find out “How to spend a layover in Dubai (6,8, or 10 hours),” and if you are lucky and spend more time there, read “How to Spend 2 Days in Dubai”.
I also have itineraries for
How to travel Dubai with kids
Hopefully, these Dubai travel tips will help you for a smooth and yet exciting trip! There is a lot to see, and you will find out there is so much more to Dubai than most people think. I hope you are now well-prepared and know everything you need to know before visiting Dubai.