Travelling to Dubai is a rich and rewarding experience: A must-see charm and holiday hotspot in the United Arab Emirates.
Here is a comprehensive guide on exactly, what you should pack for Dubai, best places to go, which hotels are the most luxurious, where to exchange your money, travelling around Dubai, and the local etiquette. Dubai really is stunningly weird, yet at the same time, it is absolutely breath-taking. With its humming metropolis close to the sea which creeps into the middle of the desert and the architecture, water sports, pristine beaches and royalty like hotels, it sure does make for a unique holiday experience, and it also makes for a fresh challenge in planning your itinerary and preparing before-hand.
Here is a complete guide to read before you set off on your holiday to Dubai.
Dubai will be an unforgettable holiday
This city of audacious architecture and obsession of fashion, indoor ski park, countless bars, has transformed itself from a desert fort to a destination du-jour, where people flock for luxurious getaways, designer sales, sunshine and family fun. There is something to do or see there, that will please even the fussiest of holiday-goers.
Dubai is steamy and sizzling all year round
You’ll be blessed with sunshine pretty much most of the year so you can choose any month of the calendar! If you’re after moderate weather though, then I recommend that you visit between November and March, when the temperatures are not as high.
For the perfect sun, sea, sand holiday, you can pencil in a holiday for autumn time – perfect timing to top up your tan on the beach during daylight hours and then cool off with a Pina colada in the air conditioned bar before visiting one of the many shopping malls.
If you decide to visit during the Summer holidays, then the temperatures can be as high as 40 degrees Celsius!
Pack appropriately for your trip to Dubai
Whilst Dubai is commonly known as the most easy-going of all seven Emirates, there are still some general and simple rules that you should abide by if you want to dress appropriately and respectfully during your trip.
When visiting shopping malls or certain public buildings, there will be a polite policy sign at the entrances letting you know how to respect their culture. These signs will usually all say the same thing: wear clothing that covers shoulders and knees, no overt displays of affection, and no pets. If you want to cover your shoulders, then it would be a good idea to pack a couple of pashminas to drape around your dresses and tops when you’re off the beach.
Sunscreen is mandatory as the sun is shining on a high point and you’ll want to protect your skin. I recommend taking a sun hat, sunglasses, a couple of bikinis or swimsuits and take some comfortable flip flops or sandals too.
Money matters and safety in Dubai
Dubai is neither cheap nor expensive. You can make your trip as lavish as you want and splurge out on the Michelin star restaurants every night or you can eat very good food from cheaper alternatives. Taxis and metros are very cheap, and you can also get a bargain some hotels in Dubai.
Dubai is also an extremely safe destination to travel to. As a tourist, holiday-goers can interact with the locals freely. Many locals are very well off so there is no worry that you may be pick-pocketed.
It is always advised to change a small amount of money when before your travels. However, with Dubai you will get a much better currency exchange rate if you were to exchange once you got there. There is a currency exchange office next to the Duty Free in Dubai, before baggage claim. This is an ideal place to exchange more of your money as you’ll get a higher dirham rate than anywhere at home.
Getting around once you’re there
Dubai has great transport links, including the Dubai metro, buses, water buses and abras (water taxis). I recommend taking the RTA package called ‘One Day in Dubai which takes travellers on all pf the transport options covering all the main city attractions.
The RTA has local buses on 79 routes which are all clean, comfortable and air conditioned. What more, they are only around Dh2 per ride so they will be a cost-effective way to travel. However, they can sometimes be slow!
Only the very best hotels will do for a holiday to the City of Gold
I’ve rated these hotels in order of what appeals to me:
Burj Al Arab Jumeirah – 7/10
More than 15 years old, this 56-floor, 321 metres-high sail-shaped Burj Al Arab, has been branded as the "best hotel in the world". In addittion, it has recently opened its newest bar lounge, "Gold on 27", to guests.
Al Maha Resort and Spa 8/10
This is a romantic eco-friendly escape from the desert and is the most seductive of its kind. It is best suited to honeymooners or those looking for alone time.
One&Only Royal Mirage 9/10
This one is my favourite! Luxury redefined. This one looks like a lavish Arabian palace. The ideal place to rest your head in a plush bedroom, smoke shisha under the palm trees near the bar and eat Emirati dishes.
Gems you must uncover whilst in Dubai
• You’re travelling to the city of superlative. The tallest building awaits you in the form of Burj Khalifa. Take their fastest lift in the world to the top. It’s not for those who fear heights, but it is absolutely stunning.
• After the mind-blowing panoramic sights, take the abra ride on the Dubai Creek. You can ride on an old roofed boat from Bur Dubai Abra station and cross the creek for one dirham at sunset, whilst listening to the evening calls to prayer singing our beautifully from the mosque minerets.
• They city has some of the most wonderful parks. They are clean, green and inviting. Take your camera with you and some picnic things for a lovely peaceful stop over.
• Visit the Ravi restaurant. The Ravi restaurant is a curry house and often crops up in top ten restaurants in Dubai lists. You’ll find hearty Pakistani cuisine here and very friendly staff.
• Be sure to visit the ski slopes in Dubai. Known as Ski Dubai, the huge slope is located in the Mall of the Emirates at the Marina. You’ll be in for a shock – you’ll be going from 30-40 degrees Celcius to below zero temperatures!
• What more, you’ll have tremendous fun in their markets. Bartering over fabrics, gold and frankincense in the bustling souqs, riding on the back of a camel and passing number shisha cafes on fairly lit decks will be some of your fondest memories.