The Ultimate Dubai Travel Guide

The Ultimate Dubai Travel Guide

Dubai, one of the cities we always wanted to visit We were very surprised by how big everything is, we felt small when walking around. Biggest, highest, fastest, most luxurious! Dubai is just very, very crazy! 

There is a lot to do in Dubai but not so much to discover. To be completely honest; Dubai is not our thing. But we still think that you should see it at least once in your life. We had a lot of fun but for us, it felt like everything revolves around materialism. 

In this post, you will find our favorite things to do and plenty of tips for your trip to Dubai. We stayed for 6 days in Dubai but you can easily do all the things mentioned in this post in 4 or 5 days.

When to visit Dubai

The best time to visit Dubai is from November to March; The weather is pleasant and suited for all kinds of outdoor activities. The winter is also the time that you can enjoy some of Dubai’s events like the Dubai Shopping Festival. Since this is the peak season, prices will be high. Make sure to book everything in advance to get the best rates possible. 

Avoid summer! In July and August, temperatures average 45°C and it is extremely humid. In September, temperatures drop slightly but it’s still humid.  

How to get around

Metro; There are 2 metro lines that take you to the most touristic sites. The metro has plenty of airconditioning and is modern. Buy a NOL smart card that you can use to make payments for all of Dubai’s public transport. (Metro, buses, trams, and ferries).

Taxi; You can easily get around by taxi but some distances are long so it can be costly.

Important things to know 

Islam is an important aspect of UAE daily life. 

  • Dress modestly: Women should wear skirts to the knees or longer, tops with sleeves, and nothing too tight or revealing. Men should wear trousers and T-shirts. 
  • You can only wear swimwear at the beach or hotel swimming pool. Otherwise, you risk being fined or jailed.
  • Don’t display affection with the opposite sex in public. Holding hands, kissing, or getting cozy with your other half can lead to arrest and imprisonment. 
  •  Homosexual acts are illegal.
  • Don’t use rude gestures in public, these can get you in serious trouble.
  • It is against the law to drink in public or to be intoxicated in public. Alcohol is available in hotels. Restaurants and bars outside hotels are not allowed to serve alcoholic beverages. 
  • Never shake hands with an Emirati woman unless she offers her hand first, and don’t photograph women without permission.
  • The weekend in Dubai/UAE is Friday and Saturday. Most people have Friday (prayer day) off. 
  • Don’t photograph Sheikhs’ palaces, police stations, military buildings, ports, or airports.
  • If you go clubbing, don’t wear sneakers and shorts. Otherwise, you’re not allowed to enter any club. Dubai also has some laws when it comes to nightclubs. They all must close at 3.00 am, 21 is the official minimum age allowed to purchase alcohol though some clubs can also refuse entry to anyone under 25.
  • At some of the most prestigious clubs in the city, doormen tend to be a little strict, but as long as you have at least one girl in your party, you should be fine.
  • Drugs: The UAE laws on drugs are extremely strict and include the death penalty or life in jail, don´t be stupid! 

Sheikh Zayed

You will hear and see this name a lot. He was the ruler of Abu Dhabi for nearly 30 years and was the founding father for the formation of the UAE

Where to stay

Dubai is a huge city with huge distances, composed of many neighborhoods.

Choosing the area you want to stay in will depend on what you want to visit in Dubai, as well as on your budget, as prices vary enormously by area.

We highly recommend you do some proper research before choosing which area to stay at. For example, if you decide to stay in the Old City because you are on a budget, you should know that the beach of the Marina is more than 30km away.

How to get to Abu Dhabi

By bys; There’s a bus every twenty minutes from 6 am to 11 pm, from the Al Ghubaiba Bus Station in Dubai that takes you to Abu Dhabi. The cost from Dubai to Abu Dhabi is 25AED. 

Taxi;  A trip from Dubai to Abu Dhabi will cost you around 300AED, one-way.

Etihad Coach Service; There’s also the free Etihad coach service from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, for those who travel with Etihad in Economy. 

Dubai Miracle Garden

If you thought that Wonderland was just a fairytale, it’s because you haven’t heard of the Dubai Miracle Garden! 

The Dubai Miracle Garden is a flower garden that occupies more than 72 000 square meters. It’s the world’s largest flower garden with more than 120 flower varieties like sunflowers, petunias, geraniums, and marigolds.

The garden is divided into sections such as Disney Avenue, and The Lake. 

Dubai Miracle Garden is only open from November to May; Sunday – Thursday from 9 am – 9 pm and Friday – Saturday from 9 am – 11 pm. The entrance fee is 45AED for adults. 

 

Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa 

The Dubai Mall is one of the biggest malls in the world with over 1200 stores and tons of leisure attractions. Every January and February is the Dubai Shopping Festival which hosts live music and activities.

Inside The Dubai Mall, you will also find The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, with 140 different species of sea life. 

The Dubai Aquarium is open from 10 am – 10 pm from Sunday to Wednesday and from 10 am-midnight Thursday – Saturday. The entrance fee for the aquarium is 175AED.

KidZania, Dubai Ice Rink, and VR Park are some of the other activities you can do inside The Dubai Mall. You can also see the Dubai Dino, a 155 million year old fossil.

Another must-visit is the Burj Khalifa. Which is the world’s highest building (828 meters). It’s tree times as tall as the Eiffel Tower and twice as tall as the Empire State Building. Excavation began in January 2004 and opened in January 2010. It took more than 110 000 tons of concrete, 55 000 tons of steel rebar, and 22 million man-hours to complete the Burj Khalifa.

The Burj Khalifa offers two sorts of visitor experiences. “At the Top” includes a trip to the 124th and 125th floor where you can admire the view on all sides of the building.  The cost for these tickets is 149AED during non-prime hours from 9 am-3.30 pm and from 6.30 – closing. During prime hours from 4 pm-6 pm, you will pay 224AED.

The other experience is “At the Top SKY”, This includes a trip to the 148th floor and includes Arabic coffee, refreshments, and an assortment of Arabic sweets. For these tickets you will pay 378AED during non-prime hours from 7 pm- closing and 533AED during prime hours from 9.30 am – 6 pm.

We did the “At the Top” experience and the views were amazing. We highly recommend you book tickets online since there can be a long waiting line.

Walking outside you’ll see the fantastic fountains that flank the Burj Khalifa. This is the world’s tallest performing fountain, and it’s modeled after the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas. It’s amazing to see the water jet into the sky. 

Performances are held daily and last up to 5 minutes. The evening shows begin at 6 pm and are every half hour until 11 pm. There are also 2 performances in the day at 1 pm and 1.30 pm. 

We recommend you to see one during the day and one in the evening.  

Dubai Marina and JBR

Dubai Marina is one of the best places to get a view of the shining skyscrapers, grab a bite to eat, relax at the beach, and do some shopping.

This is the area where people hang out, from tourists to ex-pats, locals, and people who spend the day driving through this area to show off their fancy cars. 

We stayed in this area during our trip to Dubai and absolutely loved it. 

Old Dubai

Dubai is a city steeped in heritage and history, and as well as the skyscrapers, five-star hotels, and beach resorts, the emirate is home to a rich culture dating back hundreds of years. Old Dubai was our favorite place in Dubai.

In Old Dubai, you will find tightly packed streets filled with shops. The most famous ones are the Gold and Spice Souk. 

Dubai is separated into two parts by Dubai Creek: Bur Dubai in the south and Deira in the North.  Here you will find abras (boats) to get to the other side. It’s only 1AED to take the boat. 

Bastiqaya is the place to get lost among its narrow alleys while savoring some real authentic cuisine in the many restaurants where, according to Indians, they serve the best Indian food in the world, because it tastes like back home but it is much more hygienic.

Visit the Dubai Museum if you want to understand how modern Dubai came to life. It’s located inside Al-Fahidi Fort, which was built in 1787 to defend Dubai Creek. 

We loved wandering in the Al Seef area. This area is packed with restaurants and bars. 

Dubai Frame

The Dubai Frame is located in Zabeel Park and modeled like a massive picture-frame. From the top, you will be able to see old and new Dubai.

The Dubai frame is daily open from 9 am-9 pm. The entrance fee is 50AED. 

Palm Jumeirah

Palm Jumeirah is a man-made island shaped like a palm tree. Palm Jumeirah, is full of hotels, restaurants, and homes- all with beachfront views.

On this Island, you can visit The Atlantis Resort. The Atlantis is one of the most famous landmarks in Dubai and a replica of the hotel you find in the Bahamas.  You can visit some parts of this resort for free. 

Cool off in Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark. Atlantis Aquaventure is the largest waterpark in Dubai. It was recognized as “Middle East’s Leading Water Park” in 2016 by World Travel Awards, an international program that rewards worldwide leaders in hospitality, airline, and tourism industries.

The most famous water slide is The Leap of Faith. You take a 27.5-meter plunge and go through a transparent tube that hat sharks around it! 

Atlantis Aquaventure is open daily from 10 am-5.30 pm and the entrance fee is 320AED.

Located at the tip of the island, The Pointe Palm Jumeirah offers gorgeous views of the Arabian Gulf. From here you can also see the full magnificence of Atlantis The Palm Resort. 

Global Village 

Global Village is a theme park focused on countries, cities, and regions around the world. Here you can find all the flavors, traditions, cultures, colors, textures, and customs from all the corners of the world. With more than 23 restaurants, 120 shopping stalls, 30 pavilions with over 70 countries, an amusement park, 7D cinema, and all kinds of shows you can easily spend a full day at Global Village. 

Global village is open from October 30th – April 6th Saturday to Wednesday from 4 pm – 12 am and Thursday-Friday from 4 pm – 1 am. Mondays are family days so the entry is only allowed to women, couples, and families. The entrance fee is 15AED. 

Souq Madinat Jumeirah and Burj Al-Arab

The Souq Madinat Jumeirah is an Arabian bazaar, full of incredible things. From spices, and slippers to locally made jewelry. Here you can wander through the stands and stalls under ornate lanterns and carved wood.

 It’s a pretty place and has some canals with turtle swimming around and since the place is attached to a couple of hotels, there are plenty of high-quality restaurants. 

From here you have amazing views of Burj Al- Arab. The Burj Al-Arab is a luxury hotel that stands on an artificial island nearly 300m from the beach. It is the third tallest hotel in the world and one of the most expensive. You can’t visit the Burj Al-Arab, unless you book a tour in advance, which often involves eating at one of the restaurants.  

Head to the desert

Escape the hustle of the city and find serenity and peace in the desert. There are many options for a desert safari; dune bashing, camel ride, sandboard, Bedouin inspired activities, traditional entertainment, and a classic dinner. 

You can book a desert safari online, at one of the many tourist stands you will see on the streets or at your hotel. 

We did the dune bashing safari with dinner and enjoyed every moment of it. 

Go to Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is only an hour and 30 minutes drive from Dubai which makes it the perfect day trip.  Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque is absolutely breathtaking. Read our blogpost about Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque here.

A stop for coffee at the Emirates Palace is a must! The Emirates Palace is a luxury 5-star hotel. 

Other things to do in Abu Dhabi; Ferrari World, YAS Mall, and the Corniche.

You name it, Dubai has it! Or if it doesn’t have it, it’s building it! 

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1 Comment

  1. Martine
    September 11, 2020 / 6:14 pm

    Gewoon prachtig! 👍

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