Traveling to Dubai for the first time and not sure where to start? Or maybe just want to learn a few more tips before traveling to Dubai? Dubai has quickly became one of our favorite cities with the seemingly endless attractions, marvelous skyscrapers, great restaurants, and abundant shopping. It is one of the greatest cities of our time. Each year, millions of tourists from all over the world head to Dubai, especially during the Dubai Shopping Festival, to enjoy this glamorous city. The hustle and bustle of the city is contagious, but there are a few things to know before travelling to Dubai for the first time. Dubai is a really, really manners-oriented area. The city is clean, efficient and safe city because of its laws, enforced strictly for people to follow.
Dubai’s calling…or the whole UAE is! So what else do you need to know before you travel there? Well… a lot! So read the following travel tips to make sure you have the best trip!
1. Visit between November to April
Owing to the intense heat during its summer months, the best time to visit Dubai is in winter, between November to April, with moderate temperatures and clear blue skies. The summer months of May to October are best avoided, as temperatures soar upto 40 degrees Celsius, with high humidity and low winds, making the outdoors very uncomfortable in the region. During the winters i.e. peak seasons, the city boasts of plenty of activities and events to keep you entertained. You can enjoy waterskiing and scuba diving, go on excursions, desert safari’s, camping, beach trips or perhaps a round of golf on one of the many golf courses, which isn’t recommended in summers. In addition to the pleasant weather during these months, the renonwed Dubai Shopping Festival also takes place between January to March, for a period of about 4 weeks, and is a bustling time in the city.
2. Entry Requirements for Dubai (UAE)
Indian passport holders require a visa to enter United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Dubai visa enables the visa holder to travel to the whole of UAE i.e. Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain. There are several types of Dubai visas that are available and choosing the visa type depends upon your travel purpose and duration of trip. The different visa types are 96 hours transit visa, 14-day visa, 30-day visa and 90 day-visa. Dubai visa is an electronic visa (e-Visa), the process of which is completely online. There won’t be any stamps or stickers attached to your passport.
Our Tip – The visa process takes 3 to 4 working days and longer during peak season, so travelers are recommended to apply at least ten (10) days prior to their intended date of travel to Dubai.
3. Book your Dubai Flights well in advance
The best time to book your Dubai flight is typically five to six months in advance. Mostly airlines usually release tickets 10 months in advance. So, once you have decided where to go, you can start looking for cheap airfares and continue to check at least once per week. The number of visitors travelling to Dubai has been steadily increasing each year and consequently the airline industry has been experiencing steady growth in keeping with the increased demand. Unless you manage to score a cheap last-minute airfare, you’ll often pay through the nose for a last-minute flight.
Our Tip – The ideal time to book a flight ticket according to a study is on average 7 weeks in advance for domestic flights and 11 to 12 weeks for international flights. Try to be flexible with your dates as one has the maximum chances of finding the lowest air tickets if the travel dates are flexible. Also avoid choosing weekends or holiday time to travel as weekends and holidays are the times when a maximum number of people travel, and it is also the time when the ticket prices are at the highest.
4. Reserve your accommodations in advance too
Along with plane tickets, accommodation is the biggest chunk of any trip. The time you book your accommodation can greatly impact how much you pay. Also, due to Dubai being a popular travel destination, booking last minute may result in unavailability of the preferred hotel. For the best deals on accommodation and availability, always book your hotels in advance. Hotels often have non-refundable early-booking deals, which can save a lot of money. In fact, new research from TripAdvisor reveals that booking hotels at the right time can save travelers as much as 35 per cent. And the right time can be up to nine months in advance.
Our Tip – Book in advance and take full advantage of early booking offers.
5. Travelling during Ramadan
Ramadan is a month of prayer and fasting for the Muslim community. During this time tourists must abstain from eating, drinking, smoking or anything that is deemed to be excessive in nature. i.e. From sunrise to sunset, everyone (including non-muslims) is to follow the rules of fasting. No food or drink is to be consumed in public and smoking is prohibited during this time. This can also include playing loud music in public places and dance performances. Tourists should also dress appropriately during the Holy Month of Ramadan. Men and women should display a certain amount of modesty. Be extra careful with the way in which you dress. Ensure that knees and shoulders are covered, be aware of necklines and wear loose fitting clothing during the month.
6. Tipping in UAE
Tipping in Dubai and the UAE is customary, and not compulsory. Sure, tipping is common here, but it is never expected the way it is in other countries. But if you wish to tip, the general rule of thumb to follow is 10 per cent of the final bill, or 15 per cent if you thought the service was exceptional.
What service deserves a tip?
- Restaurant staff – Service charges are usually included in the bill, but it’s still common to tip. Service industry salaries aren’t particularly high, so tipping 10-15% is very much welcome.
- Taxi drivers: Transport in Dubai are plentiful and low-priced. Tipping a few AED is more common with this service.
- Bellhops and valets: A service charge isn’t included. Tipping AED 5 to 10 or more is advised, especially if the staff did more than the norm (i.e. carried heavy bags).
- Delivery drivers: At the very least, don’t ask for change if it’s minimal. Tip more if you feel the service is worth it.
- Tour guides: It’s not necessary but certainly appreciated, especially if the tour was good and the guide was helpful.
- Spa/beauty specialists: Feel free to leave 10 to 15 AED if the service is good or if it took a long time (like a massage).
Our Tip – If you feel the service deserves it—the extra money will certainly be appreciated.
7. No PDA or Public Display of Affection
Public decency and morality laws throughout the UAE are very strict, in comparison to western and European nations. Any public display of affection or immodesty is not tolerated in the UAE, and may be subjected to severe fine or imprisonment or deportation. Holding hands in public, kissing, hugging and in short, anything that implies a report-worthy behaviour with the opposite sex in public is a big NO. Sometimes, even staring at women can make you culprit! So, keep yourself away from any kind of PDA.
Our Tip – Technically, any physical contact between two unrelated bodies of opposite sexes is forbidden, and you should be safe.
8. Dress Code in Dubai
The dress code in UAE basically reflect the Islamic traditions of the country, and are more conservative than those of Western nations. Dressing inappropriately is a mistake you should avoid at all costs in Dubai. It doesn’t matter how hot the temperature is at the time of your visit. It’s better to be conservative when it’s time to choose your outfits. Some types of clothing can’t be worn in this country under any circumstances. Nothing too tight, transparent or revealing which applies to the men too. Tiny shorts, mini-skirts, tube tops, crop tops, and see-through dresses are a big NO. It’s not really acceptable to have too much cleavage on display. You can be asked to leave a mall or public attraction if your attire is considered to be inappropriate or offensive. While visiting mosques or places of religious sentiments, you can’t show your shoulders and women are required to cover their heads for respect.
Our Tip – Carry a scarf/shrug/jacket at all times during your trip.
9. Take the metro when traveling around Dubai
The public transport system in Dubai is quite easily accessible for getting around Dubai and consists of buses, water buses, monorail, trams, taxis and the Dubai Metro. However, nothing beats the Dubai Metro service, as it’s the most easy, cheap and convenient way to travel around Dubai. With over 45 stops the Metro serves the most popular tourist areas within Dubai. It has two lines, a red and a green line. The red line has a total length of 52 kilometers and services 29 stations. The red line has some of the busiest stations in Dubai including the stations at the Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall, the Mall of the Emirates and the Dubai Marina station from where you can quickly walk to the Jumeirah Beach Walk. Trains operate within 10-minute intervals during off-peak times and even faster during rush hours. Metro fare will depend on the zone you’re traveling in and distance traveled.
Our Tip – Either you can buy a onetime public transport ticket in Dubai to travel in Metro or you can buy a NOL Card that will cost you only AED 25 having usable credit of AED 19. Minimum fare is AED 3 and maximum Fare is AED 7.5. The metro has separate cabins especially for woman and children, men are not allowed in these cabins.
10. Do not click photographs without permission
No matter how much of a photographer you are within, it is offensive to photograph locals without asking them first – this particularly applies to taking photos of local women. You just cannot randomly go around the city clicking everything that comes your way. Photography is only allowed in tourist zones where you can click as many pictures as you want; but avoid clicking government buildings, military installations, airports, docks and places of similar nature. Clicking pictures of someone else in public without specific consent can put you in immediate police custody, as it’s considered as an act of invading other person’s privacy.
11. Swearing in public
According to local laws, one of the easiest ways to get arrested in Dubai is to swear or cuss in public. Cussing and using foul language are considered an offence and a number of travelers have got themselves in trouble by passing inappropriate comments. Freedom of speech really isn’t wholly accepted here, at least when it comes to swear words and raising the middle finger to people. Consequences of swearing: Jail time, large fines or deportation.
Our Tip – Keep your language clean and respect the locals, especially woman. Besides, whether it’s Dubai or anywhere else in the world – ranting, shouting and arguing is not appreciated and is considered offensive.
So, these are some of the most important practical tips you should know to help make your trip to Dubai easier & better! You know whats even better? You can book a Dubai tour package through us from Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and other cities of India, and get ready to have an incredible experience. You will no more need to worry about coordinating flight bookings, hotel reservations, visa stamps or tours as we will take care of all your needs under one roof.
Do you have any questions or maybe want to share your experience when visiting Dubai? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!