10 Best Tips for Visiting Dubai

If you are planning a trip to Dubai soon, don't miss these practical tips to make the most of the experience!

Isabel Catalán

Isabel Catalán

8 min read

10 Best Tips for Visiting Dubai

Visiting the Dunes in Dubai | © Pavel Kalenik

If this is your first time visiting the Middle East and you have already thought about what to see and do in Dubai, you may have some questions about your trip.

To make it easier for you to get to know the city, in this post you will find 10 practical tips for traveling to Dubai with which you can organize the perfect getaway. Let's get started!

1. Travel in autumn and spring rather than summer

Enjoying the Dubai Dunes by Buggy| ©Richard Zhou
Enjoying the Dubai Dunes by Buggy| ©Richard Zhou

The summer in Dubai is very hot and the thermometers can easily reach 50ºC. Temperatures are so high that doing many of the outdoor activities you've probably thought about (such as a trip to the Dubai desert) can be difficult.

Unless you are used to high temperatures and don't mind extreme heat, this is not a highly recommended time to visit Dubai. Not even if it is low season and hotel and flight prices are considerably cheaper.

If you are planning to visit Dubai and want to enjoy the sun, sea and swimming pools, two good times to travel are spring and autumn (mid-season). Both are also two warm seasons but not as hot as summer, so you will be able to do outdoor activities without so much stress.

Winter is another good time to travel to Dubai if budget is not a problem for you, as it is high season. Temperatures are mild (usually do not exceed 30 ºC) but prices soar between December and March.

Do not miss the post the best time to travel to Dubai, where you can find more extensive and detailed information.

Book a guided tour of Dubai

2. When you arrive in Dubai, take a transfer to your hotel

Plane arriving in Dubai| ©Aero Icarus
Plane arriving in Dubai| ©Aero Icarus

When you land in Dubai after a long flight, you will probably feel tired and want to get to your hotel as soon as possible to rest. Dubai International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world and the last thing you want to do after flying for hours is to have to walk around the airport terminal carrying your luggage to find a free cab to take you to your hotel.

My advice is to book a Dubai airport transfer that picks you up at the airport and takes you directly to your hotel without waiting. You will travel aboard modern vehicles equipped with comfortable seats, with professional drivers who know Dubai perfectly well and knowing in advance what it will cost you. There will be no surprises with the meters!

And when taking a cab in Dubai you should keep in mind that not all cab drivers are locals, so it is likely that some do not know the city well. In addition to giving them the address of your destination, remember to bring a map or give them a reference to a nearby tourist attraction in the vicinity.

Book your airport transfer

3. Take out medical insurance for travel to Dubai

Stethoscope| ©Karolina Grabowska
Stethoscope| ©Karolina Grabowska

Dubai is a quiet and safe destination with a modern and advanced healthcare system. However, health care can become very expensive if unfortunately there is an incident and you do not have medical coverage during the trip.

To avoid scares that spoil such a special trip, it is best to purchase health insurance to the United Arab Emirates. But before you go ahead and purchase travel medical insurance, I advise you to check the clauses of your bank card contract to see if they include any insurance when you pay for your trip with them.

4. Use public transport to move around Dubai

Dubai Bus| ©Andrew Mansfield
Dubai Bus| ©Andrew Mansfield

Although Dubai continues to be a city dependent on private transport, the transport network has been greatly modernized in recent times and is a very interesting option to move from one place to another during your stay.

  • Metro: It has 2 lines (red and green). Although its coverage is limited, it is a fast transport, with a high frequency and with stops close to the main hotels.

  • Bus: The network has more than 100 lines of which one is at night and you also have the option of taking the Dubai tourist bus with free stops at different tourist spots in the city.

  • Cab: Taxis are quite cheap and you are likely to use them on several occasions. Carry cash in AED (dirham) currency as many do not have a dataphone to pay by card.

How to buy a ticket?

In case you prefer to opt for public transport, you will need to buy an NOL card to travel by metro or bus as you cannot pay in cash.

Do not miss the post How to get around Dubai to know in detail all the options available to you to move around the city.

Book your seat on the tourist bus in Dubai

5. Be careful where you drink alcohol in Dubai

Person Drinking Alcohol| ©cottonbro
Person Drinking Alcohol| ©cottonbro

The minimum age for drinking alcohol is 21 but some bars may not serve alcoholic beverages to anyone under 25 years of age.

Although tourists may drink alcohol in authorized venues such as hotels, restaurants and nightclubs, drinking or being drunk in public is not permitted.

Under UAE law it is a punishable offense, so if you decide to have a drink just make sure the alcohol doesn't go to your head to avoid getting into trouble.

Book your night tour in Dubai

6. Enjoy the best Middle Eastern dishes in Dubai

Typical Arabian Food| ©PHRS
Typical Arabian Food| ©PHRS

What to eat in the city?

In Dubai you can enjoy the best local and international cuisine, and one of the best ways to do this is to book a gastronomic tour of the city. If you are enthusiastic about Middle Eastern food, Lebanese, Syrian and Iranian are very present in its restaurants but you can also taste delicious dishes from Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Indian or Moroccan cuisine, to name a few. There is plenty to choose from!

Where to eat in Dubai?

If you feel like eating in restaurants where the locals do it, I recommend you to go inside the malls or in Deira (the old center of Dubai) where there are traditional restaurants serving quite cheap dishes while if you prefer to try the renowned restaurants, you will find them inside the hotels.

In case you want some inspiration, I recommend you to take a look at the post Where to eat in Dubai where you will find several ideas that will surely please you.

Book your private gastronomic tour

7. Check the public holidays to go to Dubai

Dubai in the Heights| ©Mayred Nyckmey
Dubai in the Heights| ©Mayred Nyckmey

Knowing exactly the holidays in the United Arab Emirates is quite difficult because most of the festivities are determined according to the lunar calendar but on the Internet you can see some approximations to make it easier for you to plan your trip to Dubai.

And if your trip coincides with some popular holidays in the Islamic calendar such as Eid al-Adha or Ramadan you are likely to find the city too quiet and with hardly any movement because Emiratis gather at home to celebrate with their families and loved ones.

Keep this in mind when planning your Dubai vacation and consider taking an excursion from Dubai to the surrounding area; you will find tourists, but the crowds during these times will still be less than at other times of the year.

Book a tour to Sharjah from Dubai

8. Be respectful during Ramadan

Ramadan Celebration Traditions| ©Gabby Canonizado
Ramadan Celebration Traditions| ©Gabby Canonizado

Ramadan is the Arabic name for the ninth and holiest month of the Islamic calendar. At this time of year, Muslims celebrate the time when Allah revealed the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad and families pray and fast from sunrise to sunset.

If your trip to Dubai coincides with Ramadan, this is a good time to immerse yourself in Islamic culture and learn more about its customs. Tourists are welcome to join the community but are not required to abide by the same precepts as Muslims. In fact you can learn more about their culture by hiring a city tour that includes a visit to the Blue Mosque.

Non-Muslim tourists can eat at hotels and shopping malls, where restaurants extend their opening hours during Ramadan to accommodate the schedules of all customers. Of course, during this time Dubai at night will be much quieter, so you can take advantage to hire night tours. However, it is considered a sign of respect and courtesy not to eat or drink in public while fasting during Ramadan.

Book your ancient and modern city tour with visit to the Blue Mosque

9. Dress modestly in public

Traditional Dress in Dubai| ©Michael Coghlan
Traditional Dress in Dubai| ©Michael Coghlan

When packing your luggage, remember that the United Arab Emirates is a conservative country faithful to Muslim customs, so it is important that you wear attire that respects local sensibilities. That is why when visiting public places, it is best to wear sober clothing that covers the shoulders and knees. Although Dubai is the most liberal of all the emirates and bathing suits can be worn on the beach and at the pool,

Because of Dubai's hot climate, I recommend packing light, loose-fitting cotton clothing, as well as a hat and a pair of sunglasses to protect you from the intense sunlight.

For women, it is not mandatory to wear the hijab in Dubai, but it is advisable to bring a light scarf that can be easily stored in your bag in case you need to cover your hair during a visit to a mosque, for example. If you have more questions about this, I recommend you to read the post How to dress in Dubai where you can find more tips on how to dress appropriately in the city during your vacation.

10. Learn a little bit of Arabic to visit Dubai

Arabic| ©Mona Termos
Arabic| ©Mona Termos

The official language of Dubai is Arabic but the most spoken language in the tourist areas is English. With an intermediate level you will be able to communicate without any problems in the different neighborhoods of Dubai. However, it never hurts to learn a few words in the local language to strengthen ties with the locals.

Some useful Arabic expressions for your getaway to Dubai are:

  • Greetings
  • Hello: Marhaban
  • Good morning: Saba'a AlKair
  • Good afternoon: Masa'a AlKair
  • Good evening: Laila Tiaba
  • Goodbye: Ma'a ElSalama
  • Goodbye: Wada'an
  • Useful words
  • Yes: Na'am
  • No: Laa
  • Good: Taib
  • Bad: Saia
  • Please: Min Fadilak
  • Thank you: Shokran