Dubai Travel Guide
Dubai is one of the 7 Emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. It is located in the Arabian Desert, on the coast of the Persian Gulf. It is bordered by the emirate of Abu Dhabi, the emirate of Sharjah, the Sultanate of Oman and the emirates of Ajman and Ras al-Khaimah. It was born as a city in 1833, but it prospered and had its urbanistic boom from the 80’s. In this decade was that the airport was expanded to accommodate the airline Emirates, and began to become increasingly popular with hundreds of things to do.
Weather, when to travel to Dubai?
The climate of Dubai is subtropical and arid, and it rains very rarely. The winter is from December to February, the temperatures at this time of year are between 14 and 25°C, and therefore it is a very good time to go. February would be the “rainiest” month, although it actually rains only 4 days on average.
Summer goes from May to October, when the average temperature is 25 to 40°C, reaching maximums of 48… yes, forty-eight degrees! The hottest days are in July and August. At this time the chances of rain are almost nil. In general, they do not recommend going in the hottest months as they say it is really intolerable. In fact this is exactly why even the bus stops have air conditioning!
The best time to go to Dubai is January and February, although November and December are good. You can go to the beach at any time, even in “winter”, when although the water temperature may be a little less hot, it is not cold either.
We traveled to Dubai in late October, and the truth is that although it was quite hot, the weather was very good.
Recommendations to survive the heat of this city.
Water and more water. First and foremost, water to drink… and water to splash around with is also good haha. Take a lot of water, and if you have a pool or have time to go to the beach, we assure you it is worth it.
Watch the sun, it increases the death chill. Hat, solar factor and avoid being outdoors in the middle of the day.
Fresh and comfortable clothing is essential. And watch out for shoes, the heat from the street can be felt!
Sunglasses are highly recommended as well.
Wear a light coat as the difference between day and night can be felt.
Its official language is Arabic, but the reality is that as its population is predominantly made up of foreigners, the vast majority speaks English. Likewise, as a courtesy it is always useful to know how to say some basic words.
Currency and ATM
The currency of Dubai is the Dirham of the United Arab Emirates. Currently, 1 US dollar is equivalent to approximately 3.5 to 3.7 Dirhams. We recommend that you check this in a currency converter such as the one we leave in this link, prior to your trip.
It is full of ATMs everywhere, so you will have no problem with that. Also, most places accept both credit and debit cards.
Business hours are usually from 9 to 13 and 16 to 21, although shopping malls are open all day (10 to 22). Many stores are closed on Fridays, some only half a day.
Getting To Dubai
Dubai is a city with a lot of air frequency, so the options are many and varied. It is really possible to find good prices if we are patient and investigate.
In addition, it is a stopover en route to many destinations, such as the Maldives, Tokyo or Thailand (depending on where you are departing from, obviously). So many people take advantage of this stopover to get to know this city.
There are two airports.
Dubai International Airport, code DXB, is the oldest (built in the 60s) and is almost in the middle of the city, so connecting from here is extremely easy. The most comfortable way is by taxi, which, surprisingly, is not that expensive (this is due to the very low oil costs in this place), especially if you are staying in the Al Barsha or Al Raffa area. If you are going to stay in the Marina area it can be a little more expensive.
The other airport is Al Maktoum International Airport, Code DWC, it is a newer airport located about 35 km south of Dubai. This airport is planned to be the main part of the Dubai World Central, a complex with residential, commercial and logistic parts. This airport is expected to be one of the largest and busiest in the world and is built for the future.
Getting Around in Dubai
First and foremost…no, walking is not an option in Dubai! It must be one of the most uncomfortable ways to move around. The city is not designed for pedestrians, in fact it is very difficult to cross highways and so on to get to a place that we see is right in front of us! Also, while at first one may think it is a smaller city, it is actually about 60 km long, so it is clearly not “walkable”.
On top of that, the heat is usually scorching, literally, so walking on that giant of a pavement in such heat is not feasible or recommended. Obviously there are some areas that are pedestrianized and these are very good, like for example in the Marina area, but we are talking about walking as a means of transportation to get around the city.
Luckily there are several transport options, and all of them are very good.
First, there’s the fabulous subway. And I say fabulous because really, it’s fabulous. It looks like something out of a movie from the future. From the stations, which are mega-stations, to the subway itself, everything is modern, clean and works perfectly. Not that there are many lines, but it’s easy to move around and very comfortable.
The cost of the tickets varies according to the distances and classes… believe it or not, there are VIP cars.
It is an excellent way to move to various places, because in addition to being super comfortable, it is a very interesting walk to do. We recommend you to be in front of it to have incredible views of the skyscrapers and the city, you will love it.
On the other hand, they can also move around in taxis and in fact we ended up using them more than we expected. At peak times, especially in central areas such as the Burj Khalifa area, it may not be the most advisable thing to do because although the highways are huge and super well organized, traffic jams form and you can’t stop anywhere as there are no pedestrian areas everywhere.
But in quieter hours it’s really comfortable to move around in a taxi. They are not exactly cheap but they are not prohibitive either, and taking into account the distances, I don’t know if they really end up being expensive. Besides, they are modern cars (like everything in this city), so it’s a pretty comfortable way to move around.
There are also options of vip taxis with high class cars, in the most touristic places they will offer them to you… so be careful not to fall into an expense that is not what you want!
Normal taxis are white and marked as taxis, they are very easy to recognize. The drivers are very friendly and most of them speak English. They all use the “file” or “taximeter”, which means that no price is fixed in advance but it depends on the meter that tells you how much you have to pay.
Although we didn’t ride the bus if we saw them circulating, the stops are air-conditioned and the buses look very modern.
From the world’s most starred hotel and underwater rooms, to hotels located in the Palm Jumeirah such as Atlantis The Palm, or in the Burj Khalifa itself (the world’s tallest building) such as the Armani Hotel, this city offers the greatest eccentricities.
Taking these priceless items out of sight, there are also a lot of cheaper options… and although it’s not a backpacker’s budget, you can find good hotels for much more affordable prices, I even dare to say that you can get cheaper hotels than in several of the big cities in other countries.
If you can afford a taste, the Marina area is a real beauty. The views are beautiful, they are close to a beautiful beach, and the Marina Walk area is ideal to go for a walk in the afternoon or evening, eat something, it is a very good residential area.
There is a bit of everything and it is possible to find hotels at quite accessible prices, note that 50 dollars a night is really a bargain if we think about what city we are in… so we have to look and compare.
You probably thought it was impossible to stay for that price, right? So did we!
Dubai is full of nice places to eat. There are from traditional restaurants that only serve typical dishes from Dubai, to traditional Mediterranean, Thai and other food. It is also easy to find places to eat fast, simple and cheap dishes.
GOOD AND CHEAP DUBAI RESTAURANTS
The ideal area to eat cheaply is Deira. There you will find many traditional cafeterias where you can eat for less than 5 AED (less than 2 Euro).
You can also find good prices and kitchens of various nationalities on Al Diyafah Street that connects Jumeirah Beach with the Dubau World Trade Center (that emblematic building that illustrates the 100 dirham bills). Here are three that you may like.
It’s a highly recommended restaurant located in Jumeirah Gardens whose specialty is Lebanese food. After eating the delicious food served there and being served with great courtesy, you will be surprised to pay only about 45AED (10 euros).
Location: 621, Pearl Street, La Jolla
PAUL BAKERY & RESTAURANT
It’s a chain of bistro-style restaurants with several locations throughout the city. Their specialty is breads and rolls and they are also praised for their superb service. For less than 7 AED (less than 2 Euro) you can eat well and continue your walk around the city.
Location: 4634 Mission Blvd
CREKSIDE RESTAURANT & CAFÉ
It is one of the most recommended restaurants within the economic prices. His specialty is fast food but good quality within which salads and burgers stand out where there are also varieties for vegetarians and vegans. It is located in Al Bastakiya, in the old district of Dubai.
Location: 7007 Friars Rd Ste. 945
THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN DUBAI
The best restaurants to eat in Dubai are located in the hotels and although, surely its cuisine is exquisite, they are usually somewhat expensive. Similarly, in the downtown area there are beautiful and luxurious restaurants but the prices are usually somewhat exorbitant.
MAHARA AND MUNTAHA
The restaurants in these two seven-star hotels are amazing. Not only do they have spectacular views, but the food and service is commendable. They are expensive places (the price per basic menu is around 70 euros) but if you want to eat well, here you have an unforgettable dinner guaranteed. Both are located in the Jumeirah area, about 200 meters away from each other.
Location: Hotel Burj Al Arab
REFLEXES PAR PIERRE GAGNAIRE
This hotel has appeared several times in the list of the 100 best restaurants in the world, and by knowing it you will understand why. It is known for its first-class French cuisine and its relaxed atmosphere and good service. The price per room is around 100 euros and it is located in the area known as InterContinental Residence Suites Dubai, within the Dubai Festival City.
Location: Hotel InterContinental Dubai Festival City
It has a lounge decorated in an exquisite Asian style and its cuisine is really tasty. A luxury place where you will spend good money although compared to others of similar characteristics it doesn’t seem like an excessive price (the minimum is around 50 euros per person); besides, it is a place that won’t disappoint you. It is located on Sufouh Road near the Dubai International Yacht Club.
Location: Grosvenor House Hotel
Final tips and recommendations
It is a country where the predominant religion is the Muslim one, so you have to take it into account. Although it is different from other places, since it is much more cosmopolitan they are very used to the western customs, we must not lose sight of it when we move.
Women can wear the clothes we usually use on hot days, even bikini on the beach, that is, make a normal life in the sense of dressing the way we always do. In fact, many women, to our surprise, dress quite exuberantly or conspicuously, and there seems to be no major problem.
However, take into account the modesty if we visit some place less tourist, religious temple or even in dealing with people. You see many women wearing their black clothes up to their feet that cover most of their bodies and it is called “abaya” (even with a covered face), so you have to try to be respectful of their culture…whether we share it or not…
On the other hand, you will see many men wearing long white clothes, made of wool or cotton, a kind of long tunic called “Kandura”, and the headscarf, the typical image one has of an Arab sheikh!
Be prepared mentally to see the greatest display of luxury and wealth you have ever seen… you see the best cars, yachts, jewelry, shopping, everything.
And yes, also be prepared to see some contrasts… It is a city that has grown that has been built in recent years, and that continues to grow incredibly. All that requires labor… and the “cheap” labor is from other less developed countries, like India or some Southeast Asian countries.
Apart from this, we can say that it is a modern and very tidy city, which, being so recently built, is designed to make everything work well. Highways, bridges, subways, everything is well armed.
With regard to alcoholic beverages, unlike in other Arab countries, the legislation is much more relaxed, although Muslims cannot buy or consume alcohol in most establishments.
Public displays of affection are not well seen (kisses, hugs) and in certain circumstances can be punished.
Drug possession is severely punished, even as we read it can be judged if the drug intake was before entering the country.
During Ramadan it is frowned upon to eat, drink or smoke in public during daylight hours.
In conclusion? It’s worth visiting, like all places. We are of the idea that every place leaves you something and is worth knowing, even to know that you don’t like it!
We hope this guide will help you in your planning! As always, leave us your comments, doubts and experiences below.