Welcome to the ultimate Dubai travelling guide for 2020 and more! In this blog post I will cover Dubai and things that you should know or prepare prior to making a decision to visit this beautiful city. I think the UAE has done some great improvements to this city and I am thoroughly impressed by how safe and easy it is to travel around.
Best Time to Travel to Dubai
The best time to go to Dubai is right around late November to January. The weather is anywhere from 15 degrees to 32 degree Celsius. December and January have much cooler temperature at an average of 25 degrees, so it is perfect to go if you like mild heat.
May to September are no go zones unless you want to be roasted in the heat at 50 degree Celsius. Also, during this time, a lot of places are closed due to the heat.
The ticket prices are usually also the cheapest around December. This will vary depending on the airline you choose to take. I was able to get a round trip ticket around 500 USD from Poland.
USA citizens that are visiting Dubai does not need a visa for tourist travels for 30 days or less. For more information, please check the official UAE site here.
Where to Stay
Palm Jumeirah (staying there is a bit pricey)
This will depend on what you want to do. Ideally, you want to stay near the coast since most of the tourist attractions are around Palm Jumeirah. There are tonnes of stuff to see and do in that area. The giant Dubai Mall is quite close to Dubai World Central airport.
There are two airports in Dubai. One is Al Maktoum (DWX) and Dubai World Central (DWC). DWC is the older international airport while AL Maktoum is the newer one.
I happened to choose an Airbnb place close to Al Maktoum Airport.
Culture and Etiquette
In UAE, Islamic laws are in place. Public displays of affection is a no-no (kissing, petting etc.). Respect the culture and its laws. Also, if you are not married with your boy/girlfriend, you cannot stay in the same room. It is common sense. If no one is doing these type of stuff in the public, just don’t do it.
However, in Dubai, there are some areas where expats live and there are clubs and bars that cater to them. There you can go to the clubs/bars and flirt if that is what you are looking for. You can hold hands, kiss in the clubs, that is not a problem. I can’t vouch for anywhere outside club areas though.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Dubai is relatively high. Cooking at home will always be cheaper, but since we are talking about vacation, then most of the time you will be eating outside.
Rent Prices 2020 (USD)
Average Item Prices 2020 in Dubai
So the living expenses are about the same compared to the big cities in the US. Rent isn’t cheap either, especially in the center.
Tips for First Time Visitors
Always bring US Dollars to exchange to Dirhams (AED). The exchange rates never change and stays the same at 1 USD to 3.67 AED.
Uber is the most convenient app to get to places you want to go.
If you are into food, this is the place to try all kinds of Arabic food (Saudi, Yemeni, Iraninan etc.). There are also food from other continents, but I recommend Middle Eastern food!
The police is very reliable in this country and hence make the country very safe. There is low crime rate here as well. “Dubai has world’s fastest police car — and it can go 253 mph. Nowhere else in the world can you hail a police car and snap a selfie with the driver.” -CNN
You spend according to your own budget. You can go get food from $7 USD or all the way to $500 in a classy place like Nobu.
Things to Do and Places to Visit
The city has built a brand for having iconic buildings, themed shopping malls and fancy police cars.
The tallest building in the world at 829.8 meters. I just took a picture from close range, but I didn’t enter the building itself. They do offer a tour for visitors and it is well worth it if you are into looking at a beautiful city from the high ground.
If you want to go to the top, it will cost more than 350 AED. It is worth the experience of glancing the entire city from the tallest building if you are very much into beautiful scenery.
Burj Al Arab Jumeirah
The Burj is famous for its striking sail-shape design, and the lavish suite, which is one of the most expensive hotel rooms in the world and it has an average price tag of $24,000 a night. This is literally for extremely wealth folks and I am no where near that. 😀
However, you should still snap a picture of it as it is a very beautiful hotel.
This is one of the biggest malls I have seen. It is basically a standard shopping mall that is 4-5 times the size of a football stadium. They are inter connected to each other and you will find a lot of things such as food, banks and clothes. If you love shopping, this is the place to be.
Dubai Fort is situated at the south of Dubai Creek, at the Al Souk Al Kabir area which teems with vigorous trade and is close to the Ruler’s Court (the monarch’s divan). It was built back in 1787, about 200 years ago, as the premises of the monarch and a fort of defence, since it sat on the border of the urban Dubai at the time.
Later on, this fort turned into an arsenal for artillery and weapons. It was also used as a prison for the outlaws. This fort was renovated during the reign of the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum. It was opened in 1971 (the year the federation was formed), to be an official museum that displays the history of Dubai and its original heritage. In 1995, another underground museum was established and added to the old fort.
This is a very interesting place to visit if you are into historic buildings.
Palm Jumeirah Beach
This is a man made beach that resembles the shape of a palm tree. The place is very beautiful and the weather is perfect during December as it feels like spring weather. For any surfer or beach lover, you are going to enjoy this place.
Dubai has a lot of water parks (makes sense because of the heat) and also theme parks. They are all located near the coast, so lodging close to the coast will be more expensive than inland.
Below is a list of places you definitely want to at least visit one when you are there:
- Wild Wadi Waterpark – The Wild Wadi Water Park is an outdoor water park in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Situated in the area of Jumeirah, next to the Burj Al Arab and the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, the water park is operated by Jumeirah International, a Dubai-based hotelier.
- Adventure Waterpark – Vast water park with zip lines, slides through shark-filled lagoons & a splash area for kids. Located at north side of Palm Jumeirah.
- Laguna Waterpark by Meraas – A perfect day spent combining friends, family, slides and the sea is what Laguna Waterpark is all about. Whether you’re looking for a laid back afternoon, a blast of excitement, or are keen to shred some waves, Laguna Waterpark offers something for the thrill-seekers and the chill-seekers alike.
- Aquafun Waterpark – Welcome to AquaFun inflatable Water Park, a unique inflatable water park based in Jumeriah Beach Residence (JBR), Dubai.
- Legoland Waterpark – Splash your way through a full day of LEGO® themed fun with 20 water slides and attractions designed for families with kids aged 2-12.
- Bollywood Parks Dubai – A celebration of Mumbai’s legendary film industry in 5 zones inspired by Bollywood blockbusters, enjoy live entertainment, stage performances and flamboyant cinematic rides in an experience unlike any other.
- IMG Worlds of Adventure – IMG Worlds of Adventure is an indoor amusement park in the United Arab Emirates in Dubai. It is Dubai’s first mega themed entertainment destination. The park is divided into five “epic zones”.
- Pearls Kingdom – A great water park for kids, much like Legoland.
Food to Try
There is a variety of food to try, but I went for middle eastern food since I know they will taste the best in the native lands compared to what I can have in the USA.
Camel Meat Sample
Camel meat was probably one of the interesting meat I tried aside from lamb. It has a rough texture and is quite similar to beef. It tastes like a mix of beef and lamb. It is quite hard as well. It goes well with rice and lime.
Strawberry Camel Milk
Camel milk had quite an interesting taste. If I had to describe it, it would be 2% milk that has a more powdery taste. I had strawberry to go with it. Apparently this is quite common here in Dubai!
Yemen Style Food
This is one of the best Arabic dishes I have tried. This is a staple dish in the Arabian Peninsula and the spices in the rice alongside the tender and delicious mutton was so good. This was roughly $9 USD and well worth every penny. They serve it with vegetables and tomato chutney sauce. For those that love Mexican pico de gallo salsa, the tomato chutney has a similar taste to it.
Iranian Chelow Kebab Plate
This beef and lamb kebab plate was quite good, considering it was from the Dubai Mall. The basmati rice topped with saffron rice is really tasty. The beef is tender and well done. Nothing but praise about the food quality here.
If Arabic food is not your type of food, then there are also other selections from western nations. European, Asian, Latin American and fast food are all present in Dubai. Do not worry about not being able to find food you like.
Hopefully this guide will give you a rough idea on how to plan your trip and what to look for!