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Dubai Travel Guide (VISA, Stay, Things to do & More)

Dubai is an Emirate of the UAE and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. Ideally located in the center of the world, Dubai attracted over 12 million visitors in 2018 alone. The city’s economy from tourism is booming and their spirit for building the best infrastructure in the world is indomitable.

Dubai is one of the ideal destinations for a nice vacation with family, friends, or solo travel. There are a countless number of travel agencies offering several package tours to Dubai (and Abu Dhabi). This post is specifically beneficial for those folks who plan to chalk out their own itinerary and do all the bookings right from the VISA to stay to everything else, on their own.

Dubai Creek View
Dubai Creek View

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Dubai is between November to March, during the winter months. The weather is pleasant and suited for all kinds of outdoor activities. The Dubai Shopping Festival occurs in the months of January and February.

VISA

The two most common ways of getting a Dubai VISA are either through a booking agent or through the Airline that you’re flying with. I recommend either of these methods than applying on your own; the reason being, Dubai needs proof of a sponsoring party that can attest your visit and when you’re traveling as a tourist, it’s quite difficult to fill out that information.

Note: In case you’re booking through an Airline, you need to make sure that both your to and fro air tickets are from the same Airline.

A Mosque in Dubai
A Mosque in Dubai

Currency

The currency of the UAE is the Dirham (AED). As of Jan 5th, 2019, 1 Dirham (AED) = 18.93 INR. Cards are usually accepted in malls and other large stores but cash is king at restaurants and when taking taxi rides. I would recommend you to carry sufficient cash preferably in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50 and a few 100s.

SIM Card

Etisalat and Du are the widely used mobile networks in Dubai. I would totally recommend you to buy a local SIM Card or have International Roaming enabled. All VOIP calls in the UAE are banned (meaning WhatsApp and Skype calls don’t work!). If you’re booking individual tours within Dubai, you will most likely need to contact the drivers on their local numbers to find out their whereabouts. I didn’t buy a SIM card because I thought I can rely on the city’s WiFi services to make VOIP calls and I suffered a huge deal! Thus, I insist very hard for you to either buy a local SIM card or have IR enabled when you visit Dubai.

Inside the Largest Mall in the World - Dubai Mall
Inside the Largest Mall in the World – Dubai Mall

Getting Around

Dubai has an extensive Metro connectivity throughout the city which is extremely beneficial for travelers. Another way to get around is through local cabs or use taxi services like Uber and Careem, which are available in abundance.

Where to Stay

Hotels in Bur Dubai and Deira are relatively cheaper than those in the Jumeirah Beach region and Dubai Marina.

My Hotel Room, Hyatt Place Dubai Al Rigga
My Hotel Room at Hyatt Place Dubai Al Rigga

Low-Budget Hotels (2,500 – 4,000 INR):
1. Gateway Hotel
2. Flora Grand Hotel
3. Al Khoory Executive Hotel, Al Wasl
4. Admiral Plaza Hotel

Medium-Budget Hotels (4,000 – 6,000 INR):
1. Four Points by Sheraton Downtown Dubai
2. FORM Hotel Dubai, a member of Design Hotels™
3. Rose Rayhaan by Rotana – Dubai
4. Aloft City Centre Deira, Dubai 
5. Hyatt Place Dubai Al Rigga

Luxury Hotels (10,000+ INR):
1. Atlantis The Palm
2. Vida Downtown
3. Manzil Downtown
4. Four Points by Sheraton Sheikh Zayed Road 

Things to do

View from the Dhow Cruise, Dubai
View from the Dhow Cruise, Dubai

Dhow Cruise Dinner: A Dhow is a traditional wooden vessel that has been refurbished into a floating restaurant. Cruise down the Dubai creek as you witness Dubai’s magnificent skyscrapers and enjoy dinner to an entertaining Tanura Dance Show.

The Dubai Museum, Dubai
The Dubai Museum, Dubai
But First, Let me Take a Selfie! - Jumeirah Beach
But First, Let me Take a Selfie! – Jumeirah Beach, Dubai

Dubai Half-Day City Tour: Take one of the city tours in Dubai where you get to explore most of the city’s tourist spots for half a day. This tour includes a visit to the Dubai Museum, Jumeirah Beach, Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Palm Islands, Atlantis The Palm, Dubai Mall, and Burj Khalifa.

Hey Burj! - Burj Khalifa, Dubai
Hey Burj! – Burj Khalifa, Dubai

Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa (At the Top): When you take the half-day city tour, you can request to get down at the Dubai Mall and visit the Burj Khalifa which is located inside the mall. The Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building and truly a magnificent one! You can buy tickets for the observation deck on the 124th floor. Also, don’t forget to take a glimpse of the Dubai Aquarium located on the Ground Floor of the mall.

The Best Part About Dubai is its Desert!
The Best Part About Dubai is its Desert!

Desert Safari: Experience dune bashing and belly-dancing on a Desert Safari in Dubai. The desert is the only natural thing about Dubai so don’t miss this especially if you’re stifled by all the man-made structures!

The Boat that was Used for Pearl Diving and Fishing in Dubai, Dubai Museum
The Boat that was Used for Pearl Diving and Fishing in Dubai, Dubai Museum

Spice Souk and Gold Souk: A souk is an Arabic traditional market that sells a variety of items. Shop for Middle-Eastern spices at the Spice Souk or purchase high-quality, pure Gold at the Gold Souk.

Global Village: Experience multiculturism at the world’s leading festival park. You can taste food from different countries of the world, enjoy thrilling rides, and shop for all your favorite products.

True Love - Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi
True Love – Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi Full-Day City Tour: Take the full-day city tour to Abu Dhabi which covers a visit to the Ferrari World, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the Emirates Palace Hotel, and the famous towers where few scenes from the movie Fast and Furious 7 were shot.

Inside the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi
Inside the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Disclosure:
This post contains affiliate links to the Booking.com website, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you book the hotel through my website. This will help me travel and keep my blog running at no extra cost to you. I will always be grateful for your support, thank you!

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