Dubai is one of the most sought-after destinations for tourists around the world. From luxurious resorts, countless restaurants, a breathtaking skyline, sunny beaches, and gilded shopping malls, this city is an oasis for those who are seeking adventure and relaxation.
Moreover, the city has a rich cultural heritage attached to its history as an essential trading port in the Middle East. To help you plan your visit to the emirate of Dubai, here are some travel tips for a rejuvenating holiday
1. Right Timing
In Dubai, there are only the winter and summer seasons. First, think about what you want to do in Dubai. October to March are the winter months, but even they can be unpredictable. The best time for you to visit is from around October to April when the weather is not too extreme.
If you want to swim and sunbathe, know that the temperatures can go as high as 30⁰C. There are also days when the temperature at daytime doesn’t get over 24⁰C. In January, for instance, it can be cloudy, cold and foggy. It could also rain.
Rain in this city is like rain everywhere. The only difference is that it makes desert dwellers happy. In fact, many immediately take their 4x4s and head out to the desert. But if you want to experience the sunny skies in this city, such downpours can ruin your plans.
If you choose to visit Dubai in the months of June, July, August and September, be aware that the temperature can reach as high as 42⁰C but with humidity as well. Once the sun sets, the humidity rises even more, so expect to spend most of your time in air-conditioned environs for comfort.
2. Do Some Research
Before heading for Dubai, be informed of what’s going on. Do your own research, ask your connections who live and work in the area, or better yet, get recommendations from your chosen hotel.
Dubai offers a lot (like a whole lot!) of shopping options. From low-end to high-end shops, you can find them all in this city. If you want to buy clothes made to measure, there are expert tailors and fabric shops you can visit.
Furthermore, this city offers a wide array of great places to eat and cuisines to sample. Many chefs have established various outlets here, including signature Michelin-starred restaurants. Generally, the food here is delicious and the seafood is fresh. So whether you prefer simple yet tasty fare in casual surroundings, or wish to go for a fine dining experience in Dubai’s deluxe restaurants — there’s definitely no dearth in your number of choices.
You can also engage in various sports activities in Dubai. These include jet skiing, sailing, scuba diving, swimming, tennis, paddle-boarding, skydiving, ice skating and ballooning. In fact, some of the major tournaments in the world are often held here.
For water lovers, the city also features fantastic water parks and stunning sandy beaches easily accessible through hotels and beach parks.
3. Be Aware of Dubai Laws
Dubai operates under a conservative set of laws that you should also be aware of before your visit, and make sure to observe them during your trip.
If you have medications you regularly take, check if you can bring them with you into the city. Medicines with opiate and codeine ingredients are banned from entering the emirate. Consult with your physician if it is legal to bring some medicines with you, or if they can prescribe something that is not banned in Dubai.
By law, alcohol is not served freely in the emirate – it is only available at licensed places like bars and hotel restaurants. Know that it is illegal for you to be drunk or to drink in public outside of these venues. Moreover, electronic cigars are illegal, and this can even be confiscated upon your arrival at the Dubai airport.
4. Be Culturally Aware
Avoid obscene language and rude gestures because they are extremely frowned upon. When dealing with government officials and law enforcement, pay special attention to not cause any offense.
Before offering a handshake to anyone, think twice. You may just be trying to be polite, but this can cause offense and embarrassment. Traditionally, women prefer not to shake hands with men. A simple nod or smile will suffice. Despite this, you may see Arab men shaking hands, holding hands or kissing each other on the cheeks as a form of greeting, but this is the norm among acquaintances, family and close friends.
Though Dubai is a liberal country, there are still limits. It won’t matter if you are a visitor because ignorance of the law is not an acceptable defense.
5. Know About Ramadan
During the Ramadan months, most Muslims spend time with their family, give to charity, and fast to commemorate their faith. Muslims don’t eat from sunrise to sunset, and tourists are encouraged to respect this and not be seen eating and drinking during the fasting hours.
This is why drinks and food are only served during the night, and most, if not all, restaurants are closed during the fasting period. Also, there is little food for sale in malls and some businesses are only open after 6 p.m. onwards. So be sure to check this before making arrangements for a trip. Find out first when Ramadan is taking place before making any arrangements.
6. Dress Properly
Dubai is an Islamic country where local people are encouraged to dress conservatively. Most of the time, the locals wear traditional Emirati clothes. Though you aren’t expected to follow the local traditions, it is appreciated if you show respect by dressing appropriately for every occasion.
For instance, you can wear a bikini on the beach or by the pool, but don’t ever walk through the hotel lobby in it. Put over long flowing beach wear when getting from your room to the beach or pool, and get dressed again before going back to your hotel. Though locals know that visitors have a different tradition in terms of what to wear, it is polite to make an effort to dress properly.
Most malls and hotel lobbies today request tourists to dress appropriately. Some dining establishments don’t admit men in jeans or sandals. Family-oriented malls also post rules of dress, discouraging women from wearing skimpy clothes. So before booking a reservation, you should check about such concerns to ensure a relaxing, hassle-free holiday.
7. Save on Admissions to Top Destinations
There are many top attractions where you can relax, enjoy your meals, and watch your kids play and create fun memories. Make a list of the things you want to do in this city and look for affordable tour packages online. By doing research online, you can take advantage of those sites offering discounted tours to the must-see places in Dubai.
8. Sample Different Cuisines
The local restaurants and food stalls are among the best places to eat in Dubai. Sit out on the street and experience being a local. So give them a try!
If you like meat, there are excellent choices available. If you are a vegetarian, there are also lots of exciting vegetable dishes you can try. Whatever cuisine you want to eat, you can surely find it here. Japanese, French, Thai, German and Italian dishes and other global food choices can easily be found in hotels.
9. Stay in an Arabian-themed Hotel
Consider the time you wish to spend in your hotel. Be sure to stay in a hotel that offers all, if not most, of the things you will need for a pleasant stay. It should also be conveniently close to most of the places you wish to explore.
If you wish to be pampered, stay in a hotel with high-quality spa services. An Arabian-themed hotel can be a dreamy destination within your destination. Cap off your busy itinerary each day with a visit to their wellness spa, beauty salon or recreational facilities. Have a few leisurely laps in their relaxing, rejuvenating swimming pool. Try out their in-house restaurants that showcase international cuisine, mouthwatering food and fabulous entertainment options.
If you book through their official website, you can get up to 25 percent discount on your stay. Ask for their policies on free cancellation, welcome drinks, loyalty rewards and special discounts to make the most of your stay.
10. Know Your Travel Options
Travel smart by knowing how you can get around Dubai. The city is well-connected through the main highway with all the best attractions branching off it.
Taxis in the city are run by the city and metered with payment charged by distance. There are times when drivers will try to negotiate a fixed price above what you normally pay. So if you notice that your driver hasn’t turned on the meter the moment you enter the taxi, ask him to do so. Remember as well that some taxis don’t accept card payments so make sure to have smaller bills of the local currency (dirham) whenever you choose to take a cab.
Another affordable way to get around the city is through the Dubai Metro system. This is an excellent way for you to view the beautiful urban landscape. It is also a fast, efficient and convenient way of accessing the most interesting places in the city. Of course, choosing a hotel that’s near the popular tourist attractions as well as the airport is the most practical option.
Without a doubt, Dubai is a must-visit city for a relaxing holiday. It offers breathtaking views, impressive attractions, thrilling parks, unique shops and a wide range of experiences that inspire you to simply let go of the worries of the day. To ensure you have a truly rejuvenating visit, follow the aforementioned tips.
Habib Khan is a seasoned Hotelier, currently the CEO of Planet Hospitality and General Manager of Arabian Courtyard Hotel and Spa. Khan has more than 30 years of diversified international experience in the hospitality industry. He is an expert in developing, transforming, and managing hotels, with an ability to analyze and solve problems in a challenging work environment.