Downtown Dubai and Burj Al Khalifa

Dubai travel tips for unforgettable visit

Are you planning to travel to Dubai?
Check out the guide about Dubai travel tips for visiting this fascinating city in UAE 🙂

 

What to know before you come to Dubai for the first time

 

Dubai is a cosmopolitan city, but it is good to know some rules and travel tips before you visit. Look for at the essential information about the weather, visa, religion, culture, what to wear, what to see, etc.


Location and time zone

Dubai is the capital of the Emirate of Dubai, one of seven emirates in the United Arab Emirates.
It is located in the eastern Arabian Peninsula on the coast of the Persian Gulf.
Time zone: UTC + 4 (UAE Standard Time).
Weekend days are Friday afternoon, Saturday, and Sunday. But all cafes, restaurants, tourist sights, and entertainment places are open every day.

 

Dubai travel tips: how to get to Dubai

The best and the easiest way to reach Dubai is by plane. By the way, Dubai International Airport (DXB) was the busiest international airport in 2023, as well as in 2022 and 2019. This airport has three terminals, and it is a base for Fly Dubai and Emirates Airlines.
From the airport to Dubai, you can take a taxi, metro or bus. Bear in mind that for public transport, you have to buy the Nol card first.

The second one, Maktoum International Airport (DWC) is also known as Dubai World Central Airport (DWC). Currently, it is the world’s largest cargo airport, but it could become the world’s largest passenger airport as well.

There is another option: you can fly first to Abu Dhabi Airport.
From there, you can go to Dubai by taxi which costs around AED 250-300 (75-80 EUR) for one way. The second way is by public bus which goes to the Ibn Battuta shopping mall in Dubai. The ride lasts about 1,5 hours and the bus goes every hour; the ticket price is AED 25 (6 EUR). From Ibn Battuta Mall you can catch a metro or taxi to your hotel.

 

VISA requirements

Depending on your citizenship and purpose of visit (tourist, work, study, medical, transit), you may need various types of visas. First, you have to check whether you need a visa or not.

Citizens from about 50 countries (including Serbia) and citizens from GCC countries (Gulf Cooperation Council: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia) currently get a free 30-90 day visit visa when arrive in UAE.
The cost of a visa depends on the type and duration, and you can apply for it online.
For more information, please read which visa you need on GDRFA’s official website.

And don’t forget to buy travel insurance that covers medical expenses and your personal accident claims.


Currency

The official currency in Dubai and UAE is the Dirham (AED).
Approximately, 1 US Dollar is 3.67 AED; 1 EUR is 4 AED, and 1 AED is 30 RSD (Serbian dinars).
Coins are in the denominations: AED 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 fils, and 1 dirham. Notes are in AED 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000.

You can pay only in dirhams, meaning you have to change your money to dirhams at exchange offices across Dubai. International cards such as Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted. But it is always good to have some cash with you.

Uae Money Aed Dirham

UAE Money, AED Dirhams

 


Demography and religion

According to the latest statistics, more than 3,65 million people live in Dubai.
But only about 12% are Emirates (Arabs with origins in the UAE), while the rest are expats.

Do you know that there are about 200 nationalities in Dubai? About 71% of them are from Asia, mostly from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Islam is the official religion in the UAE, meaning that all Emirati citizens have to be Muslims by law. Regarding the huge number of foreign residents, other religions are tolerated (Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism).

Both the Civil Law System and Sharia Law are respected in Dubai.

 

Language

The national and official language of the UAE and Dubai is Arabic.
Also, English is spoken everywhere, and it is the primary business language in the UAE. Since many nationalities work and live in Dubai, you can hear other languages such as Hindi, Urdu, Mandarin, Farsi, Russian, German, etc.
By the way,  signs and information in all public areas including streets, restaurant menus, and tourist sights are bilingual, in Arabic and English.

 

Weather and best time to visit Dubai

It is warm in Dubai all year round because it has a desert climate. There are only two seasons: winter and summer. Generally, the best time for a visit is from November to April.

Winter lasts from October to May, with temperatures ranging from 20 to 35°C. Summer lasts from June to September and temperatures are very high, about 40°C and higher. Also, the humidity is very high in these months, and the warmest month is August. During this period, some tourist sights are closed, such as the Miracle Garden, and the Global Village. Because of the outside heat, prepare to spend more time in the air-conditioned spaces.

The peak tourist season is in December, for New Year, in January and February. During the low season for tourism, from April to October, prices for hotels and flights are lower than in the rest of the year. Even residents, if they can, travel somewhere during the summer to avoid extreme heat and humidity.

 

Adapters and voltage 

Dubai and UAE operate between a 220V-240V supply voltage and 50Hz. The power plug is a type G, rectangular and 3-pin-socket. Usually, the hotels have multiple sockets for all plug types, but it is always good to bring a universal adapter.

 

Dubai travel tips: Transportation

Dubai public transport is managed by the RTA Government company. So you can go around Dubai by bus, taxi, rail, tram, water, and on foot, but only a few areas in the city. Also, you can rent a car, with a valid international driving licence.

NOL card

It is important to know that you need an NOL card to use public transport. It is a rechargeable card and it is used for metro, bus, tram, and water bus. You can buy it at ticket offices or vending machines in metro stations. In fact, it is not possible to pay in cash for a ride on public transport. The new way is to purchase it online using the Nol Pay Application.

Depending on the price categories, there are four types of NOL cards: Red, Silver, Gold and Blue (personal card). Also, it can be weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual passes, depending on whether is a single-use fare or if you use it frequently.
Dubai has 3 metro zones (T1, T2 i T3). The price of one ride is from 3 AED (0.75 EUR) for a T1 zone up to 3km) to 8.5 AED, i.e. 15 AED (2-3.75 EUR) for a gold card.

So you have to tap the card every time before and after a ride at stations. The amount is automatically calculated, and you can see how much money is left on the card.

Usually, the Silver Nol card is recommended for tourists. It costs 25 AED (approximately 6 EUR), i.e. the card costs 6 AED and the prepaid credit is 19 AED. This card is valid for five years.

Dubai Nol Card

Dubai NOL card

 

Dubai metro lines

By the way, the metro is the cheapest way to explore Dubai.
There are two lines and usually, trains run about every ten minutes.
Interestingly, Dubai Metro is completely automated, without drivers. 

Dubai Metro Station

Dubai Metro Station

 

The Red Line starts close to the Dubai airport, from Centrepoint and connects the main attractions along Sheikh Zayed Road (Business Bay, Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, Dubai Marina and Mall of the Emirates).

The Green line leads you to the historic part of the city, Dubai Creek. You can take this line if you like to visit Al Fahidi Quarter, Deira, Gold and Spice souks.

Dubai Metro Network

Dubai Metro network

 

The metro runs every day from 5 AM until midnight, and they are crowded in peak hours.
So, there are three types of metro cabins. Silver (standard) cabins are for all persons, while Gold cabins are more spacious, have leather seats, and cost double. The third type is the pink cabin, marked with a pink line. This cabin is dedicated only to women and children, just to feel more comfortable.

Dubai Metro Pink Cabin for Women and Children

Dubai Metro pink cabin for women and children

 

Metro is extremely clean, meaning eating and drinking are not allowed.

Dubai Metro Stations

Dubai Metro Stations

 

The Palm Monorail on Palm Jumeirah

One of the interesting ways to see the Palm Jumeirah is by the Palm Monorail.
The route starts at Gateway Station and then goes to Al Ittihad Park Station. The third one is Nakheel Mall station, and from here you can go to The Palm Tower, The View at the Palm Observatory, St. Regis Dubai, and Club Vista Mare.
The last station is Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark, close to the famous Atlantis Hotel.

The price ticket is 20 AED (5 EUR) for one way, and 30 AED (8 EUR) for a round trip. The trains depart every 15 minutes from 9 AM to 10 PM,  and you can buy the ticket online or at the station.

Dubai Palm Monorail

Dubai Palm Monorail

 


Dubai buses

The Dubai bus network consists of 119 lines, including 12 lines which transport passengers to the other emirates. There are more than 1,500 busses and the network covers almost all urban parts of Dubai.

Dubai Buses

Dubai Buses

 


Taxi service 

The beige-coloured taxis are the easiest way to go around Dubai. The Government Dubai Taxi Corporation manages a taxi service. There are also Careem (Hala Taxi) and Uber Taxi. Generally, a taxi in Dubai is not very expensive, and the price depends on the day, location, and how they are booked. For example, a short ride (3-5 km) costs about 4-5 EUR, and a ride of 20 km will cost you approximately 13 EUR.

So, you can hail a taxi on the street, book a taxi via apps, or find it often in the front of the hotels.

By the way, if a woman travels solo, it is possible to take a Pink taxi, driven by female drivers. These taxis have a pink roof. They are dedicated only to ladies and children, and they are used by all nationalities.

You can pay for a taxi with cash, credit cards, NOL cards or smartphones using Apple Pay or Samsung Pay.

Taxis Soak Madinat Jumeirah Dubai

Taxis in front of the Soak Madinat Jumeirah

 

Water public transportaion

There are a few ways of water transportation in Dubai.

The first one is the abra, the traditional wooden boat. For example, from Deira Old Souk to Al Fahidi neighbourhood, a ride lasts 2-3 minutes and costs only 2 AED (0.5 EUR).

Abra Boat Deira Dubai

Abra boat, Deira

 

Or you can enjoy a 30-minute ride around Burj Lake and watch the fantastic Dubai Fountaine dance. Also, there is a modern and motorised abra for approximately 20 persons used for the cruises.

Abra Boat in Dubai Marina

Abra Boat in Dubai Marina

 

For the tourists, a catamaran or private yacht tour could be interesting around Dubai Marina, harbour, JBR… Then, there are water buses, water taxis, and the Dubai ferry. Check out routes and prices here.

By the way, there are many private companies which provide various boat tours around Dubai.

Shared Catamaran Tour in Dubai Marina

Shared catamaran tour in Dubai Marina

 

Dubai travel tips: what you must NOT do!!!

Some rules have to be respected, both by residents and tourists.

  • For couples, married or not: holding hands is tolerated, but kissing or petting in public is not allowed.
    By the way, for residents, relationships outside marriage are illegal
    and same-sex marriage either.
  • Consuming drugs and drunk driving are extremely prohibited, and you can be severely punished.
  • Alcohol is served only in bars and restaurants with permission, in public it is not allowed. Only tourists and non-Muslim residents over 21 can drink alcohol.
  • Taking photos of government buildings, military sights and airports is illegal. For professional shooting, you need to have permission. Also, photographed car accidents is not allowed.
  • It is prohibited to take photos of people or share and post photos without their permission. You have to respect people’s privacy, it is crucial in the UAE.
  • You can use a drone only if you are a resident and have permission.
  • Don’t make rude hand gestures, or speak insulting words.
  • Don’t criticise Islam, Dubai, UAE, its rulers, or government in public or online.
  • Respect Ramadan month, and all changes and restrictions regarding food, drink, fasting, and opening hours for restaurants, shops and tourist attractions.

 

Dress code: what to wear in Dubai

Even though Dubai is a modern city and the most liberal of all the Emirates, you have to respect some rules according to your clothes. Tourists do not have to wear Arab traditional clothes. But you should be dressed modestly. It is common for both women and men.

Generally, it would be best if you covered the shoulders and knees. Usually, it is tolerated for tourists to wear shorts, mini dresses and sleeveless clothing in tourist areas and during a desert safari. But such clothes are not accepted in religious or government buildings, restaurants, and monuments.
The swimwear and bikinis are fine for the beach, but not in public and shopping malls. Topless is strictly prohibited, as well.

Recommendation: pack light, cotton and linen clothes. Bring a hat or cap, sunglasses and sun protection, no matter in which month you visit UAE. Also, having a scarf with you is always good because all indoor places are air-conditioned. For nightclubs and fine dining restaurants, wear casual or elegant clothes, depending on the place.

 

Dubai travel tips: Food, what to eat

There are plenty of various restaurants with local and international cuisine in Dubai. And new restaurants are constantly opening, from the fast food to the luxury and unique Michelin-star restaurants.

You can choose between dishes of Middle Eastern, Indian, Lebanese, Iranian, Syrian, Chinese, Japanese, Moroccan, Italian, and other cuisines. Also, you can find McDonald’s, KFC, and Pizza Hut, as well as Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants.

Emirati Breakfast Tray Arabic Tea House Restaurant

Emirati Breakfast Tray, Arabic Tea House Restaurant

 

The prices in restaurants depend on what and where you eat.
For example, in Deira, the old part of Dubai, you can find many local restaurants with cheap dishes (Middle Eastern, Indian, Pakistani, Asian, and Lebanese). The price range is from approximately AED 20-40 (6-10 EUR) and more for a single person, as well as in fast-food restaurants and food courts in shopping malls.

In various and mid-price restaurants, prices are from AW 50-200 (12 to 50 EUR).

Dubai Arabian Tea House Restaurant

Dubai travel tips: visit Arabian Tea House Restaurant

 

Lunch or dinner in fine and luxury restaurants costs approximately 120 EUR and up, depending on the dishes.

Dubai Inside of the Ce La Vi Restaurant

Inside of the Ce La Vi Restaurant

 

One of the most popular events is The Food Festival in Dubai. This year it will held from April 19 to May 12. Well, it is a paradise for food lovers, to explore and enjoy amazing gastronomic flavours.

TIP: Don’t forget to drink a lot of water, juice or other fluids because of the heat and humidity.

 

Accommodation 

There are many various accommodation facilities in Dubai. Depending on your budget, you can choose between hostels, Airbnb apartments, budget-friendly hotels, and 5* luxury hotels and resorts.

Dubai Burj Al Arab a View from Souk Madinat Jumeirah

Burj Al Arab, a view from Souk Madinat Jumeirah

 

According to visitors’ experiences, and the prices as well, the best 5* hotels in Dubai are:
Burj al Arab, the most luxurious hotel in the world. Because of its position, architecture and service, non-officially is known as the world’s only 7-star Hotel.
Armani Hotel in Burj al Khalifa
♦ Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Jumeira Beach
◊ Atlantis The Palm Dubai, the first hotel on Palm Island
♦ Atlantis The Royal, Palm Island
◊ Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach
♦ One&Only The Palm, Palm Island
◊The Ritz-Carlton Dubai International Financial Centre, Downtown Dubai
♦ ME Dubai by Melia, Burj Khalifa District
Park Hyatt Dubai, Dubai Creek.

Actually, there are over 700 hotels in Dubai.  So take your time and find out what accommodation will be best for you, and from where you can easily get around the city.

 

Dubai Travel Tips: tourist attractions and excursions

The famous tourist attractions 

Dubai has so many various tourist sights to offer its visitors and residents. Let’s mention some of them which are must-see places in Dubai.

Downtown: Burj al Khalifa, Dubai Mall, Soak al Bahar and Dubai Fountain.
👉 Read more: Burj al Khalifa, a majestic marvel of Dubai
◊ Best observatory decks: the Dubai Frame, the View of the Palm, and the Sky View Observatory.
👉 Read more:   The best views of fascinating Dubai
Best places for a walk: Marina Dubai, City Walk, Deira, Dubai Creek.
Museum of the Future, Aya Universe.
♦ Best sky infinity pool: AURA pool.
◊ Markets: Gold Souk, Spice Souk, Textile Souk, Perfume Souk, Al Seef, Souk Madinat Jumeirah.

Interesting Design Inside of the Souk Madinat Jumeirah

Interesting design inside of the Souk Madinat Jumeirah

 


Outdoor activities & excursions 

♦ Dubai Desert Safari, one of the most popular and unforgettable excursions, you can read more here 👇:

Ride Across Dunes Dubai Desert Safari

Ride across dunes


◊ Miracle Garden
and Global Village
Aquaventure Waterpark and beaches: Jumeirah, Kite, Palm West, etc.
◊ Adrenalin activities: hot balloon, skydiving, XLine Dubai Marina zip line, helicopter tour, hydro water activities, Dinner in the sky.

Check out Dubai’s events calendar to be informed about many festivals, conferences, music concerts, sports events, and exhibitions.

Dubai Al Seef

Me in Al Seef, Dubai

 

Dubai travel tips: shopping and souvenirs

Shopping in Dubai 

Well, we can say that Dubai is a shopping paradise with more than 60 shopping malls. The most popular are the Mall of Emirates, Dubai Marina Mall, City Walk, Mercato Mall, Ibn Battuta Mall, Nakheel Mall, the Outlet Village, etc.
But the most famous is Dubai Mall, the biggest shopping mall in the world with a lot of various leisure and entertainment facilities. You can read more about Dubai Mall here.


Souvenirs and gifts from Dubai

There are plenty of various souvenirs, traditional products and handcrafts you can buy in Dubai.

Some of the most popular souvenirs are Arabian dates, Camel milk chocolate, spices, perfumes, gold jewellery, etc.

Dubai Souvenirs Sand Art and Dates

Dubai souvenirs, sand art and dates


Where to buy souvenirs:
The traditional markets in the old part of Dubai:
Deira
Quart is famous for the Gold Souk with many shops selling golden jewellery and gemstones. Beside it, there is a Spice Souk with various spices, a Textile Souk, and a Perfume Souk.

In the Al Fahidi and Al Seef neighbourhoods, there are many little shops with souvenirs, clothes, handicrafts, lamps, etc.

Dubai Al Seef Souvenirs

Various souvenirs in Al Seef

 

Modern souks:
Soak al Bahar
is a part of Dubai Mall,
Souk Madinat Jumeirah
is a part of Madinat Jumeirah resort.

Dubai Shop in Souk Madinat Jumeirah

Dubai travel tips: Shop in Souk Madinat Jumeirah

 

You can read more about interesting Dubai souks and souvenirs here👇:

 

 

 

 

 

Prices – how much Dubai costs you

Generally, Dubai is a very expensive city and you can easily spend more money than you think. So make a plan for what you want to see, visit and taste, depending on your interests and budget, as well.
The daily budget is approximately 100 EUR (AED 400) and more, for food and visiting some tourist sights.

Interestingly, the standard VAT is 5% in the UAE. But all private income in the UAE is 100% tax-free, meaning that the whole salary is only yours 🙂

 

Dubai travel tips: safety and security 

For years, Dubai has been considered one of the safest cities in the world, both for residents and tourists. No matter is day or night, safety is the top priority for the Dubai Police, as well as in the whole UAE.
Laws are very strict for everyone, so you can be calm and enjoy Dubai with your family, partner or friends.

For various criminal acts or things which are not allowed (I have mentioned some of them in this article), you can be punished by fines, prison or deportation, which is a big problem for foreign workers. On the other hand, as in other all countries, there are problems with cyber criminals, money laundering, and sexual exploitation.

 

Important numbers and useful Dubai apps

The Country Dialing Code Prefix for Dubai: +971.
Dubai Police: 999.
Ambulance: 998.
Fire department: 997.
Coastguard: 996.

Take a look and download 10 useful apps for Dubai before your visit.
UAE Pass: selfcare.uaepass.ae
Visit Dubai: Visitdubai.com
Dubai Now: Dubai now app
Event calendar: Dubai calendar
RTA Dubai: rta.ae
Dubai Taxi Corporation: DTC mobile application.
Careem taxi: Careem app
Hala Taxi: halaride.com
Uber: uber.com
Go City Pass:  Go City 

Dubai travel tips for a fantastic vacation

So, these are the most important Dubai travel tips, and I hope that they will be useful to you during your visit.
Relax and enjoy your vacation in Dubai, one of the most fascinating cities in the world.
Dubai Marina

Dubai Marina

 

 

author avatar
Natania
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