DUBAI COMPLETE TRAVEL GUIDE
by Mac Candee
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Posted: Monday, September 27, 2021

Dubai feels like a city from the future that’s living in the present. Home to 3.3 million people, 85% of them are expats or immigrants. You can find everything here - from the highest form of luxury, to pieces of almost every culture around the world, as well as the tallest building in the world. If you’re thinking about visiting this metropolis, this blog post is exactly what you need. I’ve gone through everything you need to know to navigate this fascinating place from start to finish. If you go through the whole post, you’ll be feeling like Dubai’s your second home.

1. Transportation to/from the airport

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Of course, as with every journey, the first challenge is figuring out how you’re going to get from the airport to your accommodation. The three most common ways to do that are:

● Taking the metro

This is the most inexpensive option, and the metro system in Dubai is fairly easy to navigate. There is a stop connected to the airport, so you just have to figure out where to get off, and you’re all set.

● Take a taxi/Careem

Careem is the local version of Uber, which is also a good way to get around. It is a bit more pricey than the metro, but it offers other conveniences that might be worth it for you.

● Get a rental car

This is the third option, that might make the most sense for you. Just keep in mind that there are many speed traps around the city, so you don’t want to exceed the speed limit at any time. I know a few people that have gotten tickets in the mail, and it’s not a pleasant experience. The plus side is that fuel is affordable in this part of the world, so if you decide to go with this option, you won’t spend too much money.

In general, getting around Dubai is pretty easy and cheap, because of the low fuel prices, as well as the many public transportation options.

2. Where to stay in Dubai

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I know that this is a hard choice to make when you see just how many options there are in the city. I’m going to give you my recommendations for areas where to stay, but feel free to do your own research and choose what fits you best. These are ordered by my personal preference, but I’ll be telling you about the pros and cons of each one, so you can decide for yourself.

● Dubai Marina

This is one of the central regions of the city, with so much to do and see all around. If you stay here, you’ll have the whole town at your fingertips. You can search Airbnb for accommodation, or look up the hotels in the area. In both cases, you’ll enjoy beautiful views, tasty restaurants and places to walk around.

● Jumeirah beach

This place is close by to the Dubai Marina. It has lots of perks, like the beach being very close by, many things to do, restaurants and more. The whole area has a nice atmosphere, so you’re bound to enjoy staying there.

● Business bay

This is where you will find the Dubai Mall, as well as the Burj Khalifa. It’s a tourism hotspot, with lots of great places to walk around and things to do. If you’re only staying for a short amount of time, this location is ideal for seeing the most famous attractions quickly and easily.

● Palm Island

This famous man-made $12B island is filled with hotels, retreats and things to do. It’s a must-visit, but you have to decide for yourself if you want to stay there, since it can get a bit pricey. This is one of the most iconic places you can stay at, but be prepared to pay more for the higher degree of luxury. It’s last on the list because it’s much less budget friendly, but it might be worth it for you if you prefer a more high-end vacation.

3. Types of accommodation

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Like most cities, Dubai has the full palette of accommodation options. You’ll find everything from exclusive, luxury hotels to more budget-friendly hostels and Airbnb.

I tend to go with the latter, staying in an Airbnb for my whole month there. It’s my personal choice, because I’m a fan of the apartment style living, and it suits me best. As with everything, there are options on the website that are more modestly priced, as well as high-end ones. It all depends on where you look.

The most affordable option is hostels. Even if you’re surprised to find them in this fancy metropolis, there are many, and you can get a bed for as cheap as $20 per night.

Like most cities, Dubai has the full palette of accommodation options. You’ll find everything from exclusive, luxury hotels to more budget-friendly hostels and Airbnb.

I tend to go with the latter, staying in an Airbnb for my whole month there. It’s my personal choice, because I’m a fan of the apartment style living, and it suits me best. As with everything, there are options on the website that are more modestly priced, as well as high-end ones. It all depends on where you look.

The most affordable option is hostels. Even if you’re surprised to find them in this fancy metropolis, there are many, and you can get a bed for as cheap as $20 per night.

4. Apps to get before coming to Dubai

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These are some of the apps I used all the time while there, and they will be very useful to you as well.

● Careem App

This is the Dubai alternative to Uber, but for a more affordable price. You can also find the latter in the city, but they’re usually driving fancier cars, and it costs a bit more.

● Careem Bike App

All around the city, you can find bikes for rent that you can just pick up. This app handles the whole process for the payment, so that if you decide to use this mode of transportation, things are as simple as possible for you.

● Dubai Mall App

While it might sound like a strange thing to have, once you’re in the venue you’ll quickly discover why you need this app. The Dubai Mall is the largest in the world, which makes it more tricky to navigate. You can easily get lost, but with the app, it’s much easier to find what you’re looking for. You can type the name of the store you’re looking for, and it will find it on the map for you. I personally used it every time I went there, and it was extremely helpful.

● RTA Dubai

This app gives you all the transit information you need right at your fingertips, whether you’re taking the metro or the bus. You can see the schedule, and all other relevant information directly.

5. Getting around the city

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I spoke about this briefly in the first section, but now I want to go in a bit more detail, so that you know just what to expect once you’re there.

● The metro

This is a great way to get around. It actually runs the whole length of the city, so you can get anywhere you need to be relatively fast and easy. I used it all the time, because it’s cheap and convenient. If you want to travel in style, there is a Gold Class metro option, which is less crowded, and you have a higher chance of finding a seat. If you’re traveling for a longer duration, it might make sense to invest in your comfort. In the main area, there are usually many people traveling at all time, so it’s a bit more hectic. Also, make sure you enter the center cars in the metro if you’re a man, since there is a specific separation for women and children. If you’re stepping over it, you can actually get fined.

● Rental cars

You can find both luxury cars like Lamborghini, as well as more affordable brands. Just know that if you choose to get a higher end car, you should be prepared to spend a pretty penny. Be prepared to see many exotic cars on the street, so you’ll be near luxury anywhere you go.

If you decide to go with a more affordable car option, you can expect reasonable prices with cheap gas. It bears repeating, however, that you should be really careful with speeding, because otherwise you could be forced to pay a hefty fine.

● Uber/Careem

This is the most convenient way to get around if you’re going out for drinks or a night on the town. If you’re used to the US prices, the fares are reasonable - very similar to those you can expect to pay domestically. The Careem bike option is also always available.

● Walking around

This is my preferred way of getting around near my accommodation, since it’s not only fun, but also a great way to get to know the city. Dubai is a very walkable city within the district you’re in. If you want to get to the Burj Khalifa to the Dubai Mall, you’re going to have to take some form of transportation, because otherwise it would take you about 5 hours to walk there. The city is stretched out along the coastline, which makes it a bit more difficult if you’re counting on getting everywhere by foot.

6. Cash or Credit/ Debit cards

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As you can imagine, in such a futuristic city, pretty much every single business accepts credit cards. That’s very convenient, because you don’t have to carry cash around all the time, and you can still get your reward points. The only place you’re going to have to bring cash with you, is when you’re going to Old Dubai. I needed it for some small-value items at the shops, as well as the 1-Durham boat you can catch near there. Other than that, I never needed to have cash on me for the entire month I spent there. I would recommend having some cash on you for tips, and small value purchases, but you don’t need a large amount of it. Just make sure that your credit card doesn’t have foreign transaction fees, because these can add up quickly and negate any reward points you might have gathered.

7.Dining out

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There are a myriad of restaurants in the city, you might get overwhelmed with just how much you have to choose from. Anywhere you go in the city, you have many options, so you’ll never go hungry.

My personal favorite places to dine were in the Dubai Marina, just because you can find exactly what you’re looking for and have an amazing experience.

The Dubai Mall also has great restaurants with tasty dishes. Just keep in mind that you can’t buy any alcohol in the restaurants there, because it’s against the regulations.

The third option is the Jumeirah area. There are many dining venues right around the coast, and they have a lovely atmosphere, as well as tasty food.

If you want to cook at home, there are grocery stores everywhere. They are always well stocked, and you can get everything you need there. It’s an easy way to keep to your budget, so just keep that in mind if you don’t like the idea of eating out for every meal.

8. Things to do in Dubai

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I’ve created two separate blog post on this topic, which you can find here and. If you’re interested in seeing the full list of over 30 things to do in this amazing city, make sure you check it out. I stayed there for over a month, so I got to experience many things, and I’m certain the blog posts will give you more than enough ideas on how to spend your time there.

Other than that, there is something in Dubai for everyone. Whether you’re a fan of the luxury life, an adrenaline junkie or just like hanging out by the beach, there is something you’ll enjoy doing while there. You can take the longest urban zip line in the world, take a helicopter tour around the city, or even skydive above the famous palm island. If you’re more of a beach day person, you’re also going to have the time of your life, because there are waterfronts everywhere, and it’s always warm. You can also do many day trips in the area, like visiting Abu Dhabi, which is only a few hours away.

9. Haircuts in Dubai

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If you’re staying for a longer time like I was, you’ll probably need to get your hair cut at some point. Just keep in mind that you can expect to pay anywhere from $25-$30 in a good salon, but you can find hairdressers all around the city. I found the place I went to just by walking past it, but you can also use Google Maps.

10. Gym Options

If you’re a gym lover, you’re in luck, since there are options for you all around the city. If you’re staying at a hotel or a sky rise, they might already have the gym included in their fee. Other than that, you can easily find huge gyms with pretty much any machinery you can think of.

11. Co-Working spaces

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If you’re staying in Dubai for a longer time, you’ll probably need somewhere to work from. Luckily, there are many options all around the city, where you can sit down and get your job done. I’m going to tell you about two which are more of an internet café type venue, and an additional one, which is strictly coworking, without a café aspect to it.

Techarc

This is a free coworking space that opens up every day at 9AM. It’s in the Al Quoz district, so you have to check if it’s near you. It’s a very comfortable, spacey venue, where you can easily set your laptop up and get a full day’s work done. They offer food and beverages, so you don’t have to worry about going hungry. You can find places with more privacy, if that’s what you need, but overall it has an open office feel with a great view.

Kulture House

This coworking space is located in the Jumeirah One district. It integrates many cultures around the world to create a unique environment. You’ll fall in love with how well everything is decorated and set up. It’s a great place to get work done, enjoy their lovely coffee and their all day breakfast. I loved every minute there, and I’m sure you will too!

Re:Urban Studio

The last place on this list can be found in the Design District. It’s a nice, trendy coworking space, with lots of spaces to get things done. Whether you need a group space for collaboration, a private office - you can find it all there. Including some delicious coffee!

Closing Thoughts

I hope this travel guide helps you have the time of your life in lovely Dubai. It’s a place where many cultures meet, and you should definitely make the most of your time there. With these tips, I hope you feel better prepared to take on any challenges, and enjoy every minute spent in this metropolis.





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