Dubai has quickly become a traveler’s paradise for many reasons. With a dynamic infrastructure, its growing commercial hub, and the stark contrast between the serene desert and rising skyscrapers, Dubai is a destination not to be missed! Over the past two decades, Dubai has transformed its landscape from vast desert land to a vibrant metropolis. The diverse district of Jumeirah, the hip and trendy lifestyle along the Dubai Marina to the architectural design of downtown, Dubai is one of very few cities to offer such an impressive transformation. Amid the plethora of activities to choose from, amazing late night fun, great shopping, and an unmatched hospitality sector, Dubai succeeds as the “spot” for both holiday and leisure travel!
This guide will be updated on a continuous basis as I now live here!
Weather: Dubai experiences two seasons, winter and summer. During the winter season (peak), October through April, you can expect blue skies and cooler weather. The winter season attracts a large tourist crowd due to desirable beach conditions. During the summer months, May through September, the humidity increases and temperatures in the triple digits are quite the norm. Many outdoor activities, particularly the beach, can become unbearable for some.
Currency: Dirham (Dh or AED).
Visa: Visa requirements for entry into Dubai varies greatly depending on your nationality. For more information on visa requirements, please click here.
Time Zone: Gulf Standard Time (GST)
Language: English & Arabic
Transportation: The Dubai Metro operates from 5:30am to Midnight, Saturday to Wednesday, 5:30am to 1am on Thursdays and from 10am to 1am on Fridays. During Ramadan, train times will vary.
Getting from DXB airport to certain areas within the city by metro is very straightforward as the metro connects to both terminals 1 & 3. DXB to Burj Khalifa/Business Bay (Downtown) – approx 30 mins; to Mall of the Emirates approx. 40 mins; to JLT/Dubai Marina/JBR (JBR requires 1-2 additional stops on the tram) approx. 60 mins.
Dubai taxis are relatively cheap. Taxis are meter-operated, with a minimum fare of 12 AED. During the day, meters start at 5 AED. After 10PM, 5.50 AED. From Dubai International airport, meters start at 25 AED.
Uber and Careem (local version of Uber) are both available and slightly higher than Dubai taxis.
Religion: Official religion is Islam. However, Dubai is known for its tolerance for all religion.
Key Events: Camel Racing (Oct – Apr), Islamic New Year (Oct/Nov), Dubai International Film Festival (Dec), Dubai Shopping Festival (Jan – Feb), Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship (Feb – Mar), Dubai World Cup (Mar), Dubai Summer Surprises (Jun – Aug), Ramadan (Jun-Jul).
Dubai offers a range of hotel/self-catered accommodations to fit all budget levels. Here are a few of my fave, that I’ve actually had the pleasure of staying at and highly recommend:
Burj Al Arab
Madinat Jumeriah Hotels: Al Qasr, Mina A Salam, & Dar Al Masyaf
JW Marriott Marquis
Le Royal Meridien
Areas to consider when looking for accommodation includes: Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR), Business Bay/Dubai Canal, Downtown/Burj Khalifa, Al Barsha, Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT), Jumeira and Bur Dubai (more budget friendly)
Desert Safari: The Desert Safari is typically the highlight for most during their visit to Dubai. This fun-filled adventure includes: Desert Dune Bashing, Adventure Dune Driving, Sunset Photography, Photographs wearing UAE’s National Clothing, Camel Riding, Drawing Henna Designs, Outdoor Shisha Bar, Sandboarding, Arabic Coffee and Dates for light refreshments at Tea, The Tanoura Dance, A Barbeque Dinner with Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian Dish and Belly Dancing. For more information and bookings, contact Dubai Private Tours.
Dubai Mall: The Dubai Mall is one of the world’s largest shopping centers. It’s not just a mall, but a destination – everyone must visit! From top brands from around the world and amazing restaurants to a host of world class attractions including an ice skating rink, aquarium, and an underwater zoo, there is something for everyone!
Be sure to stick around for the Dancing Water Fountain, beginning at 6PM everyday!
Burj Khalifa: The world’s tallest building – enough said. The views are incredible! Be sure to book your ticket well in advance!
Sky Dive Dubai: Visualize free falling for 60 seconds at 130 MPH as your adrenaline increases, your heartbeat races and your only visual is the luxurious man-made island, The Palm Jumeirah. Priceless! Sky Dive Dubai is one of the best ways to experience Dubai.
Ski Dubai:Located inside the Mall of the Emirates, Ski Dubai is Dubai’s one and only indoor ski resort. Enjoy rounds of skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, or simply playing in the snow!
cc: My Holiday Dubai
Burj Al Arab: Known as the world’s only 7-Star hotel and undoubtedly the most luxurious, the Burj Al Arab dominates not only Dubai’s hospitality sector, but also the imaginations of all those who encounter it. There’s a fleet of white Rolls Royce dotted along the hotel’s forecourt, a dancing water fountain in the lobby, and an atrium filled with gold. The only way to enter the Burj Al Arab, without a room reservation, is to dine at one of their lavishing restaurants.
Friday Brunch: No visit to Dubai is complete without indulging at brunch. Dubai is well-known for their extravagant, mouthwatering Friday Champagne Brunch. With many to choose from, my personal favorite is the Al Qsar at Madinat Jumeirah. Incredible!
While you’re at it, be sure to take a stroll through the Madinat Jumeirah!
Other highly recommended brunches are: Brunch en Blanc at Pierchic, Iris at The Oberoi , Bubbalicious at The Westin, Saffron at Atlantis and Sea Fu at the Four Seasons.
Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi is located a little over an hour’s drive from Dubai. Make it a day trip and check out the Grand Mosque, Emirates Palace, and the Saadiyat Beach Club!
Saadiyat Beach CLub
Gold Souk/Bur Dubai: Dubai is known for really inexpensive gold. Test your luck, and your patience, as you haggle for the best prices at the Gold Souk.
Beach Clubs: Aside from Brunch, my next favorite pastime involves spending the day at a Beach Club… and Dubai has many to choose from. The most frequented for me… Nikki Beach! Located on the Pearl Jumeira, Nikki Beach & Resort features innovative architecture laced with an all-white interior and chic ambiance. You won’t be disappointed!
Additional beach clubs to try are The Cove at Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Barasti, Eden Beach Club, and of course, Blue Marlin Ibiza!
Jumeirah Beach Residence “The Walk” (JBR): The Walk is a bustling beachfront promenade boasting beautiful hotels, restaurants, cafes and a variety of shops to satisfy the needs of all. Bring your own chairs and towels if you plan on spending the entire day here.
Kite Beach: Kite beach is one of the most popular beaches in Dubai and a favorite for surfers and water sports junkies.
Dubai Marina: This cosmopolitan, city within a city oasis, is one of the world’s largest waterfront development. Dubai Marina offers chic style accommodations, restaurants, shopping, and my favorite, yachts!
Do yourself a favor, gather some friends, rent a yacht and catch the sunset while sailing around the man-made islands!
Miracle Garden: Get wonderfully lost in Dubai’s one-of-a-kind miracle garden located in Dubailand!
VIP Cinema Experience: Fully adjustable and reclinable deluxe sofas, a service call button, pillows & blankets and gourmet food and beverages will elevate your movie going experience to new heights.
Aquaventure Atlantis: The best water park in Dubai – period!
Emirates Kart Zone: Not typically seen at the top of most Dubai travel itineraries, Emirates Kart Zone offers fast karts with ample track space to challenge your driving skills and friends at incredible speeds. Epic and fun day out – I highly recommend.
Jumeirah Mosque: Positive and insightful experience to increase your knowledge of the Islamic heritage.
Dubai host many world class restaurants with impeccable service! This creates one major problem… overeating! Here are some of my favorites:
Cuisine: International w/Asian Twist | Location: One & Only Royal Mirage
Cuisine: Mediterranean/Seafood | Location: Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah
Cuisine: Thai | Location: Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah
Cuisine: Japanese| Location: Burj Al Arab
Dubai has an extraordinary nightlife scene. Some amazing venues to consider (more on the tame side) are:
Additional nightlife venues includes: White Dubai, People by Crystal, Armani/Prive, 360, XL.
Feel free to share your recommendations. More updates coming soon!