A guest post by Neha Singh of Dubai Wikia
Neha is a postgraduate in Mass Communications and a keen writer. She is passionate about traveling to new places, reading fiction, learning new things and loves being a nature trekker.
Dubai is the destination to go for awesome sights, inspiring culture, jaw-dropping entertainment, and endless shopping and dining options. And if you find it all overwhelming, go ahead and check out this Dubai travel guide (with COVID-19 guidelines) to make your much-look-forward to holiday as stress-free and exciting as possible.
Where is Dubai Located?
Dubai’s pivotal location amid Far East and Europe is one of the major reasons that contribute to its immense popularity. To be precise, it’s the second largest but the most famed city in the UAE(United Arab Emirates), and lies along the Arabian Gulf’s southwestern region. In fact, most people believe that it’s the country’s capital city, although it’s Abu Dhabi (which is just two hours’ away approximately).
Best Time to Travel to Dubai
People visit here year-round. So when to visit Dubai is largely based on what you expect out of your Dubai holidays.
- For cool weathers, clear skies and perfect outdoors, visit November to March which is also the high season.
- For amazing festivities and events such as DSF, New Year’s Eve etc: visit December to February
- For pleasant yet affordable travel: April to June
- For super saver budget travel: July to September (when the temperature reaches up to 50 degree Celsius but the city’s many indoor attractions guarantee you an unforgettable holiday).
Dubai Tourist Attractions & Best Things to Do
See the whole of Dubai from Burj Khalifa
This is especially a must-do for first-timers in Dubai. This not only lets you witness the world’s tallest building in close quarters, but also gives you the chance to take in the entire Dubai and beyond from one of its observation decks on 124th or 148th level.
Discover Dubai Mall
Even if not for shopping, the Dubai Mall is a must-see! Apart from over a thousand shops, it leaves you in awe with its many astonishing sights and segments including Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, Dubai Ice Rink, and VR Park. Bring your little ones also along where its attractions like KidZania would engage them as you shop, dine and do everything with absolute peace of mind.
Watch the Dubai Fountain Show
The Dubai Fountain show is so exquisite that you should see it to believe it for yourself. Choreographed as per Arabic or other classic music, this water and light extravaganza is the highest of its kind with water going up to 500 feet during the performance.
When everything around becomes too dazzling, take a refreshing escape to the desert settings that lie beyond the city limits. A guided desert safari comes with all transfers and further reveals you a side of Dubai that is pristine, primeval and perfect. So come prepared to make the most of your time in desert with many adventurous experiences, cultural activities, dining options, and traditional shows. 4X4 dune bash, camel ride, Shisha smoking, henna tattooing, BBQ dining (available only for evening / overnight safaris), Tanura, and belly dance are some of them.
Visit Al Bastakiya Quarter
This is Dubai’s remarkably age-old quarter where you can get a slice of Dubai’s ancient and traditional lifestyle. Also known as Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, its tapered alleys and unpretentious structures (traditional style wind towers) from past introduces you a part of Old Dubai which is a far cry from its modern part. Stroll through its lanes lost in time and stop at its many museums (such as the Dubai Museum), galleries and art cafes to experience the region’s charming culture and rich Emirati heritage.
Most people tend to write this experience off as touristy or over-hyped. However, a dhow cruise is an experience that takes you back to the region’s historic roots (due to its inevitable role in enhancing the region’s economy during pre-oil era). This two-hour cruise is further made memorable with best dining choices (served buffet style), live entertainment, and of course, the most stunning views over Dubai’s night skyline. As for dhow cruise location, you can choose from Dubai Creek, Dubai Marina or Dubai Canal.
Check out Burj Al Arab & Palm Jumeirah
Again, these both are unmissable during your debut Dubai trip. The iconic sail-like Burj Al Arab is the only seven-star hotel in the world, while the man-made Palm Jumeirah is legendary for its sheer size, grandeur and design that resemble a huge palm tree adorned by a crescent on its top.
Get high at Dubai Parks and Resorts
Dubai’s theme parks are a one-stop destination for all ages plus all levels of adventurists and fun seekers. And when you visit Dubai Parks and Resorts, you’ll get the best of all theme park amusement, entertainment and thrill under one roof. After all, it has altogether four parks (Motiongate Dubai, Bollywood Parks Dubai, LEGOLAND Dubai and LEGOLAND Water Park), along with two accommodations and a dedicated retail and dining area. Looking for more ideas? Head to the snow-themed Ski Dubai or tour the world’s biggest indoor theme park at IMG Worlds of Adventure.
Hang out at Bluewaters Island
Majority of above mentioned activities or attractions are Dubai’s all-time favorite or timeless experiences. But, Bluewaters Island is one of the city’s newest neighborhoods where its waterfront settings and many one-of-its kind sights such as Ain Dubai, Rotunda Dubai, and Madame Tussauds Museum will blow you away.
It’s unimaginable to finish a Dubai holiday without a dose of retail therapy. You don’t have to travel any far for this as you’ll come across at least one or two massive malls in its every quarter. There are Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates, Ibn Battuta Mall, Burjuman Centre, and Festival City Mall. But, nothing can beat the city’s traditional bazaars (including Gold Souk, Spice Souk and Perfume Souk) for its energetic ambience, unbelievable bargains and unique souvenirs.
Typical Dubai Travel Costs
The cost to travel to Dubai can be as extravagant or inexpensive as possible.
- Depending on your opt for high-end or budget, accommodation can be as high as AED 1500 to AED 2000 or as low as AED 65 to AED 150 per day. Make your hotel reservation in advance (at least four to five months before) to cut down on your accommodation rates.
- The same applies to dining as well. You can limit your dining expenses to AED 25 to AED 50 per day or up to AED 200 or higher based on the venue or brand you go for.
- As for transport, private transfers set you back quite a lot of amount, somewhere between AED 150 to AED 500 and more per day. But, you really don’t have pay through the nose for getting around in Dubai. From the fastest and longest of its kind Dubai Metro to buses and ferries, you can also use the city’s spotless and well-connected public transport system whose lowest rate is just AED 2.
- Your chosen activities, sightseeing tours, and entry tickets to your favorite Dubai landmarks all add to your Dubai travel costs. But you can incredibly save on this department by booking them in advance, checking for coupon codes, or via making most of limited time festival deals like Eid promotion, DSF offers etc.
Dubai Travel Essentials
- First and foremost, check whether you’ll require a prior UAE visa approval for your Dubai travel as nationalities of certain countries can enter Dubai visa free or sometimes qualified for a visa on arrival. If you’re not entitled for any kind of visa exemptions, apply for one at the right time through an experienced service provider.
- Get your airline tickets booked well in advance as in most cases you’ll have to submit the copies of your roundtrip Dubai airline tickets for the approval of your Dubai visa.
- Advanced hotel reservation is another prerequisite for your Dubai travel.
- Finally, take care of all additional but important travel essentials like OTB or Ok to Board (which is mandatory for those visiting Dubai from some Asian countries.)
Packing List for Dubai
- Comfortable dresses but pack according to Dubai’s weather. However, carry a lightweight jacket or shawl for your trip to Dubai in any season as you can conveniently use it for visiting air-conditioned indoor attractions, mosques etc.
- Due to penetrating sunlight throughout, pack your sunglasses, hats, sunblock cream etc.
- Don’t forget items such as universal adapter, hand sanitizers, medications that you take regularly, and first aid kit.
Where To Stay in Dubai?
Deciding an accommodation in Dubai is never a tough task. From the over-the-top hotels and flashy resorts to budget hotel apartments and off-beat ranges, you’ll be spoilt for choices. To pick the right accommodation, the greatest tip is to choose a location that is in convenient proximity to attractions or activities included in your Dubai itinerary. In other words, go for a hotel / resort that match your priorities in Dubai.
For instance, if it’s a beach centered holiday, you can consider staying somewhere in Dubai Marina, JBR, Bluewaters Island or Palm Jumeirah. If leisure and entertainment attractions rule your Dubai wish list, book a hotel in Downtown Dubai, Al Habtoor City etc. There are some good choices available in Karama, Bur Dubai and Deira regions for both history buffs and budget travelers.
- Luxurious Stays in Dubai: Address Dubai Marina, Raffles Dubai, Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, and Jumeirah Mina A’ Salam
- Desert Sanctuary: Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort and Spa
- Mid-Range Hotels in Dubai: Arabian Courtyard Hotel and Spa, Novotel, Rove Downtown Dubai, and Ibis One Central Hotel
Dubai Rules and Regulations for Tourists
- Dubai is one of the world’s most stylish cities, but that doesn’t stop it from respecting its culture, history, and religion. In fact, be careful when it comes to dressing, alcohol consumption etc.
- Wear modest, non-revealing dress in public places as well as when you visit religious spots.
- Don’t eat or drink in public if your Dubai trip coincides with Ramadan which is considered the holiest of all Islamic months.
- Alcohol intake, drink drive and smoking in public all are a serious offense which leads to penalties and sometimes even imprisonment.
- It’s really not cool to take pictures of important government structures or locals. So get prior permission in this case to avoid any trouble or fine.
- If you plan to drive in Dubai, make sure that you carry your international driving license.
Dubai Travel Advisory in line with Corona Virus Outbreak
As Dubai is open again for international tourists, the following should be adhered to by those traveling to Dubai after July 7, 2020.
- Have COVID-19 DXB App installed on your device and add all required information in it
- Bring travel insurance that offers coverage for COVID-19 expenses
- Fill in the health declaration form to ensure that you’re free of any COVID-19 symptoms and take care of all quarantine and treatment costs in case you’re tested positive for coronavirus.
- Show your PCR result at the airport and this test should be taken within 96 hours of your travel
- If you don’t have one, this test can be conducted once you land at the airport. But, you’ll have to quarantine yourself until the test result comes negative.
- When outside, wear masks (mandatory) and gloves (optional).
- Follow the social distancing norms.
- Don’t sit in front seat when you hire a cab.
With everything to promise you the right indulgence, Dubai should be visited at least once in your lifetime. Yes, whether you’re traveling to Dubai for its glitz, entertainment, shopping or food scene, we’re sure that this exclusive Dubai travel guide has got you covered.
If you are interested to know more about Dubai. You can visit Neha’s website Dubai Wikia for more Dubai articles.
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