Top Things to do in Dubai


January 31, 2016

Having stayed in Dubai for 8 years (in the late 1990's) and having travelled to Dubai since then on small getaways and business purposes, here's the low-down:

  • When booking your hotel, try to make sure its near a Metro station (more on this in the next bullet point). Thank us later

  • Get yourself a Noel card for the metro at any of the metro stations - it’s super easy commuting to all the famous places in Dubai on trains and it will save you loads of money and time (driving is tedious due to the traffic jams and if your not used to left hand drives, steer clear). A noel card is basically a top up card that you always keep you with - you top it up with cash and tap it every time you enter and exit a metro station

  • When on the metro, make sure you are in the correct carriage as there are specific carriages for women. If you mistakenly enter these, you can be hit with a hefty penalty
  • Negotiate on taxi fares on arriving Dubai, drivers will literally come up to you at the airport arrivals hall, tell them where you are going and how much they will charge. There's a taxi rank just outside arrivals, go up to any of the drivers and negotiate a price
  • Sim cards can be purchased from the arrivals hall
  • Try to learn basic Arabic so you can communicate with locals. English is widely spoken so there won’t be an issue (the local population is very small and majority of their population are foreigners)
  • Money changers are everywhere so exchanging currency won't be an issue. I'd personally recommend taking a Revolut debit card so you don't get charged exchange fees on using your card - it works flawlessly and pairs up with smartphones very nicely

  • Try the local food, it's actually quite nice. There's plenty of choice from your usual fast food outlets and almost all global food outlets operate and then some

  • WiFi tends to be a hit and miss in malls. Given the amount of people using the network at any given point, this is no surprise

  • It's perfectly safe to leave personal possessions (passport, cash) in your hotel safe

  • Dubai is a safe city so there's nothing to worry about, you could literally be walking at 4am in the morning with ease on the streets

  • When you arrive into Dubai and approach immigration, you will see a lot of unfairness of how queues are processed. They have a 'chilled out' approach and you can see the officials joking around and opening new queues at their discretion. Take it easy and not to react in an angry/offensive manner

 

Don’ts

  • Don’t drink (alcohol) in the streets/public
  • Shake hands with a [local] women as it's not in their custom
  • Take pictures of holy places unless you have permission, always ask - it's the best policy
  • Smoke e-cig, eshisha in hotel rooms as the sensors will pick them up
  • Use go pro or similar video equipment in water parks or general public places


Must visit places:

  • Wild Wadi water park (prefer this to the Atlantis)

  • Dubai Mall - Dubai is all about malls, this is the ultimate mall and if your in town for a day or two, visit this one. Warning: you will get tired and probably struggle to see all of it in the one go. Only if they had Segways to rent on arrival. If traveling to Dubai Mall by Metro - be prepared to walk. Comfortable shows spring into mind
  • Burj Khalifa - this is right outside Dubai Mall and it’s one amazing place to visit. I’d recommend visiting in the evening when it’s dark as they run a light show (free) which is amazing. The shows run every 30 minutes or so and worth watching
  • Dubai Marina - the metro once again goes to this area. It’s a great place to wind down with plenty of restaurants and their very own… mall. There's a bicycle hire scheme as well at the Marina so you can explore the area on 2 wheels for a small fee
  • Desert Safari - book yourself an excursion, theres tons and your hotel will be able to guide you

  • Boat - go to Dubai Creek and hop on the boat and explore by sea

  • And more malls - Ibn Battuta and Deira City Centre are two which you should go and visit if you have time to kill in Dubai



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