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Traveling to Dubai for the First Time (2024): 19 Tips & Tricks

Traveling to Dubai for the First Time (2024): 19 Tips & Tricks

Traveling to Dubai (United Arab Emirates) for the first time and not sure where to start? Indeed, planning a trip to Dubai might be overwhelming, even more so if this is your first time in this rapidly growing and continuously changing city!

When is the best time to visit? How much time do you need in Dubai? What are the best areas to stay in and how to travel around? Do you need to pre-book tickets or can you just go with the flow? How to save time and money and still see the best that Dubai has to offer?

Dubai is a city of contrasts, a place where modern extravagance and traditional values go hand in hand. From its towering skyscrapers to its pristine beaches and bustling souks, visiting Dubai is like stepping into a different world…

To help you plan your first trip to this dynamic and unique city, in this guide we share some of our top travel tips for visiting Dubai.

We have visited Dubai several times and all the information and tips in this article are based on our personal experience. Some of these tricks we only learned after several trips…

This practical guide includes all the info I wish we had known before planning a trip to Dubai. These tips will not only help you plan your trip, but will also show you how to make the best of your visit, time, and budget. Find out!

Top 5 Experiences in Dubai:

What to know when traveling to Dubai - practical information and helpful travel tips for visiting Dubai UAE

Here are our top travel tips for visiting Dubai:

1. Avoid Traveling in Summer

Dubai is known for its scorching temperatures, especially during the summer months. To give you an idea, average daytime temperatures during June, July, and August are well over 40°C (104°F). Even in April or November, Dubai temperatures usually still exceed 30°C (86°F).

The best time to visit Dubai is during the winter months – between December and February. The daytime temperatures at this time of the year are usually around 25°C (77°F). So it’s still warm enough to enjoy beaches, pools, and waterparks, but the temperatures are also pleasant for sightseeing and outdoor activities.

Good to know: Winter is also the peak tourist season in Dubai. So expect accommodation prices to be higher and more crowds at the main attractions. However, with some advance planning and preparation, you can still have a very enjoyable visit, more than in the summer.

The shoulder season – the months of March-April or October-November – can be a good time to visit Dubai as well. If you don’t mind temperatures of around 30-35°C (86-95°F), you can take advantage of somewhat lower prices and fewer crowds than in the winter.

In addition, you may want to check when Ramadan is. During this month, most Muslims do not eat from sunrise to sunset, so many restaurants will be closed during the day. This may might impact your experience, depending on the places you visit.

TIP: No matter when you visit Dubai, be prepared for the heat by wearing lightweight, breathable clothing, using sun protection, and staying hydrated. Plan outdoor activities for the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the peak heat.

READ ALSO: What It’s Like to Visit Dubai in February

Camels in Dubai desert
Dubai desert can be very enjoyable in the winter months. Not so much when it’s 50°C outside…

2. Book Attraction Tickets in Advance

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when planning a trip to Dubai is not to plan/book attraction tickets in advance.

Booking in advance means more time slots to choose from, better prices, and less time wasted queuing. After all, you want to make the most of your trip to Dubai and not spend all your precious time standing in lines.

Good to know: Tickets to many popular attractions in Dubai are often sold out at least a few days in advance. Furthermore, many tickets are cheaper if booked online. In addition, some attraction tickets, e.g. Atlantis Aquaventure, cost less if you book at least a week before your visit.

For some places, not reserving in advance means that you won’t be able to visit at all. For example, the Museum of the Future is so popular that all tickets are usually sold out at least 2-3 weeks upfront. If you want to be able to choose the time slot that fits you best, you need to book at least a month in advance.

If you want to visit observation decks at Burj Khalifa or Dubai Frame, you also need to book ahead. In most cases, a few days in advance is sufficient, but it really depends on the period when you travel and how flexible you are. Also, consider visiting these attractions early in the morning or late in the evening for smaller crowds and better photo opportunities.

PRO TIP: For Burj Khalifa, we recommend getting a ticket that includes Level 148. Not only you get to visit another level which is not included with standard tickets, but you also get skip-the-line access through the security check and at the elevators, and it includes some snacks and drinks. It’s well worth it.


Overall, we always recommend booking tickets and tours at least a month before your trip. But keep in mind that for many popular destinations worldwide booking a month or even two upfront is not sufficient anymore.

Tickets don’t get cheaper and there’s less availability the longer you wait. Plus, if you use GetYourGuide for all attraction tickets and tours like we do, you can take advantage of their very flexible cancelation policy.

Good to know: Booking tickets/tours via websites like GetYourGuide, Viator, or Tiqets also saves you money on exchange rates. The exchange rate they use is the official rate and transactions are in your currency. Whereas if you pay on the spot, it will usually cost you quite a lot more (not only because many tickets are more expensive at the counter, but also because of credit card fees, exchange rate deviations, etc.).

Plus, booking and paying ahead makes it easier to budget for your vacation and keep your credit card’s spending limit available for other expenses during your trip.

READ ALSO: Top Places to See & Things to Do in Dubai

Burj Khalifa Dubai
Burj Khalifa – the most popular tourist attraction in Dubai.

3. Foresee Enough Time & Plan Wisely

There is one thing that you may not realize as a first-time visitor to Dubai and that’s how huge the city is. It’s not a place that you can compare to cities like Rome or London, or even New York City where you can still walk between many attractions and see a lot in a short time…

Dubai is totally different! It’s big, not really walkable (except in some areas), and the attractions are spread out all over the enormous and ever-growing city.

Plus, road works and traffic jams turn every ride into an expedition. The same trip that takes 20 minutes at night or early in the morning can take you an hour or even longer during the day. And yes, public transport can be a good option, but it also has its limitations – more about it further below.

Good to know: When planning your sightseeing itinerary, you will see that most Dubai attractions work with timed entry slots. Be sure to foresee plenty of extra time everywhere though! Even with timed entry tickets, you will often be standing in line for an hour or even longer, not to mention the time that it takes to actually visit the place or get from one attraction to the other.

TIP: So while planning what to see and do, foresee enough extra time between the sights and don’t try to do too much in a single day. Also, group the attractions based on their location, and go for a mix of top attractions with some lesser-known ones. That way, you don’t have to rush from one queue to another and your trip will be much more relaxed.

This brings us to the next tip – see below.

AYA Universe - Dubai travel tips
AYA Universe – one of our favorite lesser-known spots in Dubai.

4. Don’t Try to See Everything

There is so much to see and do in Dubai that you could easily stay here for a few months and still not experience everything the area has to offer. So resist FOMO and the urge of having to see ‘everything’. It’s simply impossible, especially if you are only traveling to Dubai for just a few days or a week.

TIP: Choose a few places, attractions, and experiences that interest you the most and focus on those rather than ticking off boxes just because some guidebook told you that one or the other place is ‘a must’.

If you absolutely want to go to the top of Burj Khalifa, well – just do it and tick it off your bucket list. After all, how often will you get a chance to visit the world’s tallest building… In that case, book tickets in advance and be prepared to queue, or save time and avoid the crowds with priority access.

On the other hand, maybe you are perfectly content just seeing the building from the outside and rather spend your time visiting other viewing platforms like Sky Views, the View at The Palm, or Dubai Frame

Or maybe you don’t care about any of these at all and much rather spend a day at a water park, exploring the old town souks (markets), or enjoying the views from a luxury yacht

Dubai has so much to offer to all types of travelers. So personalize your itinerary based on what you really want to do, taking into account the time that you have, your interests, and your budget. If you are visiting Dubai with the family, try to incorporate some fun activities for the kids in your itinerary as well, even if it means that you’ll have less time for sightseeing.

READ ALSO: Dubai Itinerary (detailed guide for a week in Dubai)

Dubai tips - lazy river at Aquaventure water park
Enjoying a lazy river at Atlantis Aquaventure water park.

5. Consider Tours & Private Drivers

If you want to see a lot of Dubai in a short time or you don’t know where to even start deciding where to go, consider booking tours or private guides/drivers.

Sometimes, a private driver can also be cheaper than taking a taxi between all those places, and often, you can also find cars that can take up to 6 passengers (vs 4 in most taxis).

Just to be clear, I am talking about quickly seeing multiple places all over the city in a single day. If you want to spend more time exploring the sites, you better go on your own.

There are tons of different ‘city highlights’ tours that bring you to many of the main landmarks of Dubai in (half) a day. Keep in mind that in most cases, your ‘visit’ will be just a quick photo stop, so it’s not comparable to actually visiting the sights. But it’s a good way to get an introduction to Dubai and catch a glimpse of the top spots.

PRO TIP: If you do a city highlights tour, do it at the beginning of your trip! That way, you can later come back to some of the places that you like the most. An ideal way to explore Dubai is to take an introductory city tour first as you arrive and then thoroughly visiting some of the main landmarks and attractions on your own later.

Abu Dhabi day trip tip: One of the best guided tours we recently did in Dubai was this highly-rated tour. If you want to see the top sights of Abu Dhabi in a day, this tour has by far the best itinerary (I compared many tours before we chose this one and it didn’t disappoint).

READ ALSO: Best Abu Dhabi Tours from Dubai (+Review of the Tour We Chose)

Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed Mosque - day trip from Dubai
Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi – well worth a day trip from Dubai!

6. Save Time & Money with Combination Tickets

Dubai is expensive, there is no arguing about it. But with some smart planning, you can save some money on some of the main attractions.

One of the best ways to do this is by opting for combination tickets and/or city cards that include several popular places.

Here are some of the most popular deals:

Good to know: Some tickets cost more during the most popular times. For example, Burj Khalifa around sunset. So if you want to save money, be sure to check prices for different time slots/days when making reservations.

Lost Chambers Aquarium in Dubai
Lost Chambers Aquarium in Dubai.

7. Stay Longer

You might be wondering how much time you need to see the best of Dubai. Well, there is really no straightforward answer to this and so much depends on your interests.

That being said, I recommend planning at least a week for a first visit to Dubai. But if you have time and your budget allows it, stay longer. You won’t get bored!

With a week in Dubai, you will be able to visit most of the top landmarks, explore several different parts of the city, and also find some time to relax and unwind. If you want to spend more time at the beach or by the pool, visit a water park or a theme park with your kids, or make a day trip to Abu Dhabi, ideally, you plan at least 10-12 days for Dubai.

But don’t worry if your trip is shorter and you can’t extend it. You can have a perfectly enjoyable visit and see a lot even if you only have a day or two in Dubai. Via the link below, you can find plenty of ideas for planning a shorter visit.

LEARN MORE: Dubai Stopover: How to See The Best of Dubai in 1-2 Days

Kids flying at iFlyDubai
Our kids loved skydiving at iFly Dubai! As far as they are concerned, this is something that should be in any Dubai itinerary :).

8. Choose the Location of Your Hotel Wisely

Deciding where to stay in Dubai might not be as straightforward as you may think, especially if the main purpose of your visit is to explore the city.

There is not one perfect place to stay in Dubai – it’s simply much too big and too spread out for that.

However, some areas are better than others and some are really a disaster for commute. If you pick the wrong location, you might be stuck in traffic for hours every time you want to go anywhere and do some sightseeing. On the other hand, that same spot might be perfect for those who are mainly interested in swimming and dining, and are just looking for a relaxing vacation with maybe one or two excursions that include a pick-up and drop-off at the hotel…

TIP: I strongly recommend that you look at the map and the location of the places that you want to visit before deciding where to stay in Dubai. Also, consider how you will travel around.

For example, staying within walking distance of a metro station might save you a lot of time and money on commuting if you plan to do lots of sightseeing. Whereas staying in a nice walkable area with lots of shops and restaurants will be ideal if you like to go out at night.

Here are two of the very best areas to stay in Dubai:

  • Dubai Downtown (the area around Dubai Mall – Burj Khalifa) is very central and is perfect for those who want to do a lot of sightseeing, but also for shopping and dining. Sofitel Dubai Downtown is a great choice in this area, close to Dubai Mall and just near a metro station. Remember, however, that this is the heart of the city, so very busy and far from the sea.
  • Dubai Marina in the south of the city is another popular area to stay in Dubai. It’s a great choice for those who are looking for a more relaxing vacation, boat trips, water parks, dining, shopping, etc. The beach is not too far from here, however, it will take at least 45-60 minutes to reach the city center. Millennium Place is a very popular hotel not too far from the main Marina area and close to the metro. On a somewhat higher budget, JW Marriott Hotel Marina is a wonderful choice if you want to be in the heart of the Marina.

TIP: On our most recent visit to Dubai, we stayed at Rove La Mer Beach Hotel. It’s close to the downtown area, so quite convenient for sightseeing, but also with direct access to a private beach – the best of both worlds. We loved this hip modern hotel, also because it’s much smaller and more intimate – a kind of place where you don’t have to worry about losing your kids at breakfast. It also offers great price/quality for Dubai. The only downside is that the area around the hotel is still developing with lots of construction going on, but it will only get more attractive in the future.


9. Beware of Tourism Taxes

Hotel stays (including hotel apartments, guesthouses, holiday homes, etc.) in the United Arab Emirates are taxed with various fees, surcharges, and taxes. These amounts might vary depending on the hotel, but it’s not abnormal that these taxes add over 20-25% to your room rate.

For example, our recent hotel invoice in Dubai showed a 10% service charge, 7% municipality fees, 5 % VAT, and an additional 10 AED (+-$3) Tourism Dirham Fee per night.

Altogether, we paid about 24,4% on top of the official room rate. The good thing is that we knew in advance how much we had to pay. Otherwise, this could be a very unpleasant surprise…

So when looking for accommodation in Dubai and comparing prices, make sure that you are actually comparing the same thing!

Many hotel websites show prices without (some/any) taxes, so you may think that booking directly with them is cheaper. Often, it’s not the case at all!

TIP: We always use for our accommodation bookings, also in Dubai. With them, you see the total price, including all fees and taxes, so you know exactly how much you will spend. (Depending on booking conditions, you may have to prepay for the stay in advance whereas the taxes are charged separately when you arrive at the hotel, but the total amount you see when making a reservation is correct).

Burj Al Arab luxury hotel in Dubai UAE
Burj Al Arab – one of the most expensive hotels in Dubai. If you don’t stay here and want to visit, you can book a guided tour of the hotel that also includes their world-famous gold cappuccino.

10. Use Public Transport & Local Taxis

Dubai’s public transport system is efficient and inexpensive. Depending on where you are staying and traveling to, it might be very convenient to use the Dubai Metro, Tram, Monorail, or even local buses.

However, this depends on the exact trip you are planning to make and also on the size of your group. Sometimes, public transport is the best way to get around the city quickly and affordably. But there are also many situations when it’s a real hassle and doesn’t make your trip faster or much cheaper.

In those cases, you will be glad to know that taxis are rather affordable in Dubai. The most expensive taxi ride we recently took in Dubai was 25 kilometers, it took over 50 minutes, and it cost us 76 AED (+-$21).

However, be careful that you only use official taxis! Because e.g. Uber is often quite a lot more expensive. Not even to mention that they sometimes charge twice the price during peak times of increased demand. We learned this the hard way, after taking a few overpriced Uber rides…

Also, unlike in many other countries where we use Uber all the time, in Dubai, you never really know how much you will pay until the end of the ride. The price you see in the beginning is usually just an approximate indication.

TIP: Install Careem app on your smartphone and use it to request ‘Hala Taxi’. That’s the best way to get an official taxi in Dubai. If you request ‘Rides’, it works similar as Uber and is more expensive. We learned this from a local taxi driver after a few very unpleasant experiences with Uber and private drivers randomly offering their services at the main tourist spots, and it saved us a fortune.

To give you an idea, we were quoted 120 AED ($33) by Uber and 150 AED ($40) by random ‘kind strangers’ for a ride that in the end cost us 22 AED ($6) by official taxi. When it comes to busy times and popular tourist hotspots, getting a taxi ride in Dubai can feel like navigating the Wild West…

LEARN MORE: Tourist Guide to Dubai Public Transport

Dubai travel tips - metro
Dubai Metro is one of the fastest and cheapest ways to get around. However, if you want to use it a lot, be sure to look for a hotel close to a metro station.

11. Start Your Days Early

One of the best ways to make the most out of your trip to Dubai is to start your days early.

There’s much less traffic in the morning, so you can get everywhere much quicker. But the main advantage is that there are hardly any other people, even at the most popular attractions. In addition – if you are visiting Dubai in the warmest months – getting up early is the best way to avoid the biggest heat.

Good to know: Be sure to check opening times of the places you want to visit. While some attractions don’t open until noon, many others are open from 9-10 AM. There are also places – like e.g. Burj Khalifa – that you can visit at 7 AM, and on some days even earlier if you like…

For example, we recently went to the Aquaventure Water Park at Atlantis around opening time. There were no lines at the entrance and we could also do many popular slides without any wait. A few hours later, people were queuing for 45-60 minutes at the same rides…

In addition, the taxi ride to get there in the morning took us just 22 minutes. That same ride to get back to our hotel in the evening was over 50 minutes, not counting more than 10 minutes for a taxi to arrive… So yes, it really pays to explore Dubai in the morning!

READ ALSO: Tips & Tricks for Visiting Atlantis Aquaventure

Dubai Creek traditional boat Abra ride
Dubai Creek traditional boat Abra – it was very quiet here in the morning as well.

12. Stay Connected

While pretty much all public places and tourist attractions in Dubai offer free Wi-Fi, we highly recommend getting a local SIM card for your visit to UAE. There are so many situations when it’s just much easier to stay connected. For example, if you need to book a taxi ride, or book some tickets on the go, etc.

Depending on your data plan, roaming can cost a fortune in Dubai. My provider sent me an sms saying that using data in UAE will cost me 15 euros per megabyte (ouch! and no, thank you!). So the first thing I did after landing in Dubai was disconnect roaming.

There are several ways to approach this:

  • Pocket Wi-Fi. One of the easiest ways to stay connected on the go is by renting a pocket WiFi at Dubai airport. This is a very convenient option if you don’t want to change anything on your phone. It’s also convenient if you are traveling with a family/friends since you can connect up to 10 devices to it.
  • Local SIM card. Alternatively, you can opt opt for a physical SIM card, which is also available at the airport. With this option, you will need to place this card into your phone. If you want to keep your ‘own’ phone number working as well, see if your phone has a dual SIM option – then you can use both. Otherwise, you may want to bring an old phone to use with this local card.
  • eSIM. There are many providers available (just search online), but what’s included and the prices vary a lot. Depending on which one you choose and also on your device, this can be a very easy and simple process, but it’s also not very straightforward if you have never done it before. Also, not all phones allow eSIM – so be sure to double-check if your smartphone has this capability.
Dubai Frame with flowers - Dubai tips
Dubai Frame.

13. Respect Local Culture

While Dubai is a very cosmopolitan city, it’s also a place with different cultural norms and traditions. Overall, UAE is very ‘Western’ and Dubai in particular is very laid back and relaxed. With over 200 nationalities living in Dubai, it’s a true melting pot of different cultures. Still, remember that you are a visitor here, and be respectful.

Dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites or public places. Also, avoid public displays of affection, as these can be considered disrespectful.

If you’re visiting during Ramadan, be mindful of local customs and traditions. Keep in mind that many traditional restaurants and cafes will be closed during the day but will come to life after sunset. If you are visiting during Ramadan and are planning sightseeing during the day or a day trip to e.g. Abu Dhabi, it’s advisable to pack your own lunch.

One of the most common questions we get is what to wear when traveling to Dubai. Well, you will see people wearing all kinds of clothing – from burkas that cover the entire body to revealing summer clothes that hardly cover much at all. However, while a lot is tolerated, it’s not always appreciated.

So when in doubt, remember that it’s always safer to cover your knees and shoulders. See-through clothing is also not the best idea, unless on a beach.

TIP: Wear loose light clothes – not as much for religious or cultural reasons, but also because of the heat. Long skirts/dresses or wide summer pants will be much more comfortable than tight clothes.

LEARN MORE: What to Wear in Dubai

Emirati woman baking traditional bread in Dubai
Emirati woman baking traditional bread.

14. Use Credit Cards

The official currency in Dubai is the United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED) and all the prices are displayed in this currency. All regular businesses accept cash and electronic means of payment, such as credit cards or smartphone payments.

We haven’t encountered a single place in Dubai that wouldn’t accept a credit card. So if you want to make it easy and simple for yourself, you don’t even need to exchange money and can simply use cards everywhere.

Important! Inform your bank about your visit so that they don’t block your cards for ‘suspicious activity’. And even then… Despite precautions, one of my cards got blocked by a credit card company after a random payment at a restaurant in one of the main malls in Dubai. We had to call the bank to get them to unblock it again and they say that this happens when ‘the systems’ suspect anything suspicious, despite us having notified our bank in advance…

If you want to leave a tip to someone or purchase something small, you may want to have some local currency at hand. In that case, you can get some cash from local ATMs which you will find in malls all over the city. I strongly encourage you to only use ATMs attached to local bank offices as some others might charge additional fees and/or give the worst exchange rates.

PRO TIP: When using ATMs to withdraw money or paying by card, you always get an option between local currency (AED) and your own currency. Always choose local currency (AED) – that way, your bank will do the exchange and you will always get a better rate than the one offered by ATMs or pay terminals.

Good to know: We heard it on quite a few occasions that money is king in Dubai and it doesn’t matter in which currency you want to pay – they will accept it. Indeed, this is the case at the markets (souks) and some smaller private businesses. On a recent trip to Dubai, I could use Euros at the souk. The sellers also told us that they accept credit cards (just make sure to haggle – see below).

Dubai currency - United Arab Emirates Dirham notes and coins
UAE currency – Dirham.

15. Shop Smart

Dubai is a shopper’s paradise, but prices can vary a lot depending on where you shop. The prestigious locations like the Dubai Mall are home to some of the most expensive brands in the world and the prices here are usually very high. You will be able to find much better deals at the Dubai Outlet Mall, for example.

Also, if you go to various local markets (souks), be sure to shop around for better deals. Also, don’t forget to haggle – and not a little! Many sellers take advantage of tourists asking ridiculously high prices. Often, 3-4 times higher than what you should pay, and likely even more… Don’t be shy, offer the price that seems correct to you, and be prepared to walk away.

On a recent trip, I got intrigued by a perfume someone put on me while walking through the Dubai Spice Souk (this is common practice – people will (try to) put all kinds of stuff on you – from scarfs to perfumes etc.). So I asked how much it was. The prices depend on the size and the design of the bottle, they said, and so we settled on a medium-sized simple bottle and they told me it was 280 AED (+- 70 euros).

No way I would pay 70 euros for a tiny bottle of perfume at a market! And so we started the negotiations. In the end, I paid 20 euros in cash which – to me – felt like a correct price. The seller was telling me that this was way too low and he was only willing to do it because it was our last day in Dubai and my kids were cute… 😉

After that, I saw similar perfumes at Dubai Airport souvenir store and indeed, most of them were about 20-25 euros for about the same size I got. So don’t be afraid to negotiate and if you don’t feel comfortable with the price or the quality, simply walk away.

Arabic perfume at Dubai old town souk
Arabic perfume at an old town souk in Dubai.

16. Explore Beyond the Glitz

While Dubai is best known for its skyscrapers and extravagant landmarks, don’t miss out on its cultural gems as well.

One of the best places to catch a glimpse of authentic culture is Old Dubai. Visit the historic Al Fahidi neighborhood, explore the spice and gold souks, and take a traditional abra ride along Dubai Creek. These experiences are also quite touristy, but they are also totally different from the main attractions in Dubai.

TIP: There are many excellent guided tours that visit Old Dubai. They all take you to the same area, do the traditional boat ride on Dubai Creek, and visit the same local markets. Most tours also include local coffee and dades, and some also food tasting. While you can just visit the area on your own, these tours are really affordable and give you a somewhat deeper insight and insider tips.

On our recent visit, we chose this walking/food tour. It started with some traditional food tasting at a local restaurant, followed by a visit to the old town, a boat ride, and ended at the gold and spice souks. A nice way to spend a few hours and get to know a different side of the city.

READ ALSO: Best Tours in Dubai

Dubai spice souk - tips for visiting Dubai
Dubai spice souk.

17. Avoid Weekends

If you think Dubai is busy on a weekday, try to imagine it on a weekend or on public holidays.

So if you can adjust your plans, avoid visiting the most popular attractions on weekends (Friday afternoon, Saturday, and Sunday).

If you are in Dubai for more than a few days, this is really not difficult to do. Visit the most popular places such as Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, Global Village, Miracle Garden, or theme parks and water parks on weekdays.

On weekends, you can do more relaxing activities such as a sightseeing a yacht trip, a speedboat tour, spend time at the beach or by the pool, go parasailing or jetskiing, or take a desert tour – see below.

Dubai Mall and Aquarium
Dubai Mall around noon on Monday. A few hours later, it was black with people. I can’t imagine how it is on a weekend…

18. Experience the Desert

No trip to Dubai would be complete without experiencing its desert. Book a desert safari tour for an adrenaline-pumping ride over the dunes, followed by a traditional Bedouin-style dinner under the stars. It’s an unforgettable experience!

There are many desert tour options, but when you look closely, they are very similar in what they offer. Depending on the option you book, you have one main activity – usually, dune bashing in a jeep, quad, or camel ride. Afterward, you spend time in a desert camp where you can partake in all kinds of different experiences.

Some of these experiences include taking pictures with falcons and camels, sandboarding, various shows (traditional dance, belly dance, fire show), henna tattoos, etc. There is always lots of local food and it’s surprisingly good.

Our experience: We have done two desert tours in Dubai (on different trips) and they were both very similar and both excellent. The first time we went on this dune safari tour and on a recent trip, we opted for this highly-rated tour that includes a longer camel ride. In both cases, the second part of the tour was quite similar, the main difference was that the first tour included an exhilarating jeep ride through the dunes, and the second one – a 45-minute camel ride.

The whole family really enjoyed these tours and I couldn’t say which one is better. All I can tell you is that it’s a nice experience that will make your trip to Dubai even more memorable.

Dubai desert safari - tips and tricks for visiting Dubai
Dubai desert safari – by camel or by jeep – is always fun!

19. Don’t Forget Little Important Details

Here are some additional travel tips for Dubai:

  • Bring a reusable water bottle. Dubai is so warm and dry that you will want to carry a bottle of water on you at all times. If you want to minimize plastic waste, you may want to bring your own reusable water bottle. Tap water is, in general, safe to drink. In addition, you will also see free water taps at some public areas, where you can refill your bottles.
  • Pack a travel adapter. UAE uses Type G plugs, same as in the UK. However, we noticed that in most hotels you can also simply use European plugs and sometimes a simple USB cable. Still, we always pack a Type G adapter just to be safe.
  • Bring a power bank to charge your phone on the go. Also, carry extra batteries for your camera.
  • Know that you are not obliged to tip, but it’s also appreciated. Many people tip 10-15% at the restaurants or give a small tip to tour guides. If you like to tip, make sure you have some small bills of local currency.
  • Bring a small crossbody bag for sightseeing. At some landmarks, you will be asked to leave bigger bags/backpacks in a locker. I like Hedgren crossbody bags for travel – they are light, sturdy, and very durable. The one I have is big enough to hold my camera, a power bank, documents, and even two water bottles, and I was never asked to use a locker. But pack the smallest backpack and you’ll often have to leave it behind…
  • Don’t forget sun protection. A sun hat, sunscreen lotion, and sunglasses are a must when visiting Dubai!
Drinking water refill station in Dubai old town
Drinking water refill station in Dubai’s old town.

So, these are some of the most useful travel tips for Dubai that you may want to know when traveling to this fascinating city for the first time. I hope that this helps you make the most of your visit.

Have a great trip!

Before you go, you may want to learn a bit more about Dubai with some surprising and interesting facts that will leave you fascinated and eager to explore more. Check it out: Fun & Interesting Facts About Dubai.

More tips for visiting Dubai:

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Dubai travel tips and information for first time visitors
Tips and tricks to know when traveling to Dubai for first time

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Friday 5th of July 2024

Thank you so much.


Saturday 6th of July 2024

Glad to help, Nahir. Enjoy Dubai!


Friday 23rd of February 2024

Thanks for the article. It is very informative.


Friday 23rd of February 2024

Glad to help. Have a great time in Dubai!

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