Handy Dubai Travel Guide for First-time Goers!

dubai travel guide

Dubai is one of the world’s most-visited cities and the crown jewel of the UAE (United Arab Emirates). It houses the world’s tallest building, the largest mall, the biggest indoor ski and the list goes on. A plethora of tourist landmarks is present in Dubai along with restaurant brands from across the world, gorgeous beaches, shimmering deserts and fascinating history and culture. All these attract hordes of travelers every day. That’s why a handy guide on how to rove around the city will be helpful. On this note, if you are visiting for the first time, here is your Dubai travel blueprint that will aid you plan your trip better. 

Dubai Travel Guide- Best Time to Visit

A good travel guide Dubai is incomplete without a mention of the best time to visit. No doubt on that! You should consider the period between November and April when temperatures in Dubai are usually between 16-33°C. January and February represent the peak season owing to the globally renowned Dubai Shopping Festival. Airfare and hotel charges tend to be higher at this time. Temperatures start going up by April-May in Dubai, leading to lesser crowds and cheaper fares overall.

Visa & Currency- Vital Aspects

Dubai travel guidelines include getting the right visa before your trip. The UAE Embassy does not offer visas for any ordinary passports. Tourist visas for foreign nationals with ordinary passports will have to be arranged by either of these avenues- 

  • A hotel in UAE. 
  • A UAE sponsor. 
  • Via the airline if you have a round trip ticket on Fly Dubai, Emirates, Jet Airways or Air Arabia Etihad. 
  • A travel agent who arranges it. 

Approved applicants should get a printout of the UAE visa and safely carry it throughout the trip. They should complete the United Arab Emirates tourist form the process is  completely free of charge. You can download them from the official website or get them at authorized visa agencies. Applying for the visa necessitates, the following documents are required:

  • Completed and signed form
  • Confirmed airline ticket booking
  • Passport with a validity of minimum of 6 months from departure date
  • Clear passport photographs based upon specifications

Visa Charges:

Based on the visa duration being applied for, the UAE visa charges usually start from INR 5,975 and are totally non-refundable. Payments may be done online via Visa/Master debit or credit cards. Authorized agents will charge added fees for each visa application. Some airlines may also need Ok to Board PNR status if they are not arranging for your visa. 

A good Dubai travel guide always suggests you to be acquainted with the currency you are going to use there. The foreign currency is exchanged at almost all banks in the Emirate. Yet, the time required may vary from one financial institution to another. You will find numerous exchange malls within malls along with currency exchange facilities. Do your homework in advance to avoid last-minute rush, particularly at the Dubai Airport. Make sure that your debit/credit card is chip-enabled. 

How to Reach Dubai?

A handy travel guide to Dubai will also add information on the ways of travelling to Dubai. The city can be connected via air or road. Via air, you can fly to Dubai from almost any part of the world. The city is a popular global stopover between numerous destinations from east to west. The Dubai International Airport caters to thousands of flights each day with numerous options and the best infrastructure. Terminal 1 is for international flights (excepting Quantas and Emirates) while Terminal 2 is for low-cost airlines like regional carriers and Flydubai Indigo. Terminal 3 is for Quantas and Emirates flights. 

If you’re travelling via road, let us tell you the RTA (Road and Transport Authority) has excellent inter-city links. The NOL ticket will function throughout all RTA transportation. You can purchase this at any metro/bus station and even when you have boarded your bus. The bus frequency is just 3-5 minutes with buses available every 30-60 minutes for inter-city travel. The NOL smart card helps you pay for using the Dubai Metro, water buses, buses, Dubai Tram and RTA paid parking. There is no train service yet in Dubai although the project has already received the green light.

Biggest Dubai Attractions for Visitors

As any Dubai travel guide will tell you, these are some of the biggest landmarks/attractions in the Emirate: 

  1. Downtown Dubai – Downtown Dubai is home to some of the biggest attractions in the city. These include the Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa, Dubai Fountain and more. On your visit to this spectacular area, check out the Souk-al-Bahar with amazing fountain views and lip-smacking food.
  2. Burj Al Arab – The world’s tallest hotel will leave you spellbound with its engineering and architectural magnificence. The 7-star hotel offers the best amenities while containing one of Dubai’s leading spas, namely the Assawan Spa. Do check out the Al Mahara and Al Muntaha restaurants along with the aptly named Skyview Bar.
  3. Palm Jumeirah – Palm Jumeirah is a man-made and stunning archipelago, being one of Dubai’s biggest attractions. Find everything from luxurious malls and hotels to beach resorts here. This is where you will find fantastic theme parks and Atlantis-The Palm along with charming villages too. Residences of global celebrities like David Beckham, Shah Rukh Khan, and many others can be found here.
  4. Jumeirah Beach – Jumeirah Beach is the bustling heart of Dubai, offering watersports like banana boat rides, kayaking, scuba diving, jet-skiing and snorkeling. You can relax amidst spectacular sea and skyline views while savoring delicious local beverages, ice creams and salads. The Jumeirah Beach Park is also worth a visit.
  5. Sheikh Zayed Road – Sheikh Zayed Road is a part of the E 11 Highway that goes through the country. This is where you will find the Burj Khalifa, Emirates Towers, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Mall, World Trade Center and most of the city’s iconic skyscrapers. A drive is well worth it, taking in all these architectural marvels!
  6. Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo – From glass bottom boat rides to scuba diving and swimming with the sharks, the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo offers thrilling experiences for visitors. Find exciting species here. Right from caiman crocodiles and piranha to otters, Humboldt penguins, lionfish, massive spider and  crabs the list goes on.
  7. Dubai Museum – The Dubai Museum is housed within the gorgeous Al Fahidi Fort. It uses the latest technologies for showcasing the history of Dubai. View other attractions like handcrafted weaponry, ancient tools and a re-made grave from the famous Al-Qusais tombs.
  8. Al Bastakiya – Called the Al Fahidi Historic District of Dubai, this is one of the traditional and oldest residential zones within Bur Dubai. History lovers will love Al Bastakiya that was built in the 1690s, offering right insights into the culture, traditions and heritage of the Emirate. Explore the charming buildings, lanes and wind towers. Savouring authentic Arabic coffee, tea and dates is part of the amazing experience!
  9. Dubai Marina Walk – Picture a 7 kilometre walkway running till the end of the Dubai Marina. Walking here is just as blissful and soothing as it appears! The entire stretch is home to some of the best shopping destinations, cafes and restaurants in the city. Find the fanciest speedboats and yachts parked nearby, making it an Insta-worthy spot! Enjoy periodic treats at outlets like Round Table Pizza, Starbucks, Lighthouse Restaurant and Baskin Robbins along the way! 

Dubai Tourist Guide: Packing Tips!

Dubai remains furiously hot between April and September and you should pack light and comfy clothing. Choose lighter colors as much as possible while wearing non-revealing and sober apparel owing to socio-cultural factors. Well, there is no such restriction on clothes until and unless it is amiable. Have comfortable and open footwear for summers. Most things to see are indoors in this season with complete air conditioning everywhere. A light shrug is all you need in case you feel cold! For the winter months in Dubai, a light jacket/sweater may help in tackling the evening chill and windy nights.

Travel Guide to Dubai: Dos and Don’ts

You can ensure a better Dubai travel experience if you follow certain dos and don’ts. Take a detailed look at them: 

  • Strictly no to public displays of affection in Dubai. 
  • Show respect for the modesty and privacy of Arab women. Also, one can’t ensure liberal interactions. 
  • Drinking and driving can lead to severe punishments like being deportation or imprisonment. 
  • While visiting malls or open areas, avoid consuming alcohol. Only the licensed restaurants/bars/joints can serve alcohol. 
  • One can’t openly eat, smoke or drink in public places at the time of Ramadan. 
  • Avoid going to the Mina Bazaar or Naif Road areas after dark if you are alone. 
  • Watch out for counterfeit goods and accessories sold by several vendors. 
  • Be alert to combat recurring scams like congratulating you on winning lotteries and lucky draws. Beware of falling into these traps. 
  • Avoid jaywalking anywhere in Dubai since you will have to pay a hefty fine. 
  • Many roads have speeding radars, so avoid over-speeding if you are driving your own car. 
  • Avoid openly discussing government affairs and policies. 
  • Bargain well in the Souk zones since you may find the prices costlier in many cases. 
  • Enjoy traditional Arabic delights like dhow cruises or desert safaris, that will give you a unique flavor of the city.

Final Note!

These tips go along with a good Dubai travel guide. With these, you can plan a wonderful Dubai trip  and enjoy the sheer beauty, magnificence and warmth of the Emirate to the fullest!

Rohit Kumar
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