Dubai Travel Guide: 20 things every tourist should know before visiting Dubai

Dubai Travel Guide: 20 things every tourist should know before visiting Dubai

Dubai is one of the world's most popular tourist destinations. Known for its extravagant shopping, luxurious hotels, prevalent nightlife, magnificent architecture, and breath-taking views. Besides having everything bigger and better, Dubai is also known for its cultural and culinary diversity, it also has a rich heritage and culture of its own. Today, Dubai has become a household name and is the first option for every holiday trip ever. Travelling to a new city is exciting but it’s also important to research and learn a few things about it before your visit.

Here is a Dubai Tourist Guide you can see to keep yourself informed before visiting:

1. Dress Moderately Since Dubai is part of a Muslim country, it is best to dress moderately in public areas. While you won’t get arrested for your clothes, it’s important to show respects to the local culture and habits. You must follow the dress code while visiting Mosques by covering the shoulders, head, and legs. However, when you’re in tourist hotspots, hotels, and bars you can wear whatever you want. At beaches and resorts you can wear swimwear and shorts if you don’t wear it outside a beach.

2.Drugs are illegal Dubai has a zero-tolerance policy for drug abuse and so Drugs are strictly prohibited into the city. If you are taking any medicines with you unless they’re necessary, better to avoid or carry your prescriptions with you. Poppy seeds are also illegal in UAE as it is a source of opium so be careful if you are carrying anything that contains poppy seeds in it. The penalties for trading, trafficking, smuggling, possessing drugs and presence of drugs in the blood stream even in residual amounts are severe.

3. You must explore the vast culinary options Dubai has a vast range of culinary options. You’ll find all kinds of cuisines from Indian to Korean and various unique dining experiences like dining in the sky! While there are numerous restaurants with delicious food, nothing beats trying some local cuisine and tasting the street food. Don't forget to try the authentic Arabic Shawarma, which is made with thinly sliced chicken, lamb, or beef and is wrapped in a soft flatbread filled with vegetables, onions, and a delicious spicy cream sauce.

Read more about 10 Arabic Street Foods you must try in Dubai

4.  Make note of all the items that are banned in UAE While the most common things like sharps tools, hammers, nails, or flammable items are not allowed on any airport go without saying, UAE also has a list of items you can’t bring into the country. Items like Paan, e-hookahs and cigarettes, goods from boycotted countries, laser pens, forged and duplicate currency and items that contradict Islamic faith and teachings these include sculptures, paintings, pornographic materials, photos, publications, or any battery-operated self-pleasure devices.

5. Public Transport is way cheaper and convenient than taxis While Dubai’s taxis are conveniently available too, you can’t be spending that much money on taxis when you could be using it to explore the city more. Using the public transport like metro and bus is quite convenient, and you’ll also end up saving a lot when you get a nol card for yourself which makes travelling in any public transport so much easier.  Most of Dubai’s essential landmarks have a metro station near by which makes travelling to any part of the city easy to access. The best thing about the metro is that you can skip the traffic on the road, and it has many busses and taxis on the stations that connect you each nook and corner of the city. Make sure you know everything about Dubai’s public transport – here’s a guide by us to help you find your way through the public transport easily.

6. Bargaining is a must have skill When you’re out shopping in any of Dubai’s traditional souks or local shops it is important to bargain with the shopkeeper as they’ll quote a very high price at first but once your bargain you can get a very good deal. Bargaining is a must have skill in any country but as tourist in Dubai it is important to practice here especially when you shop from traditional souks like textile souk and gold souk. If you are shopping in malls or popular shops, you’ll know that it is quite expensive to shop even the smallest of items here unless there are any special sales going on.

Also Read - A Guide to the Best Dubai Souks and Markets

7.  You will not find any casinos here Gambling is prohibited in Islam, and thus all forms of gambling is strictly prohibited in UAE. Why is why Dubai doesn’t have any casinos in the city. While you might find illegal casinos, but it is not recommended as it is very risky and unsafe. Online gambling while difficult to police is still illegal.  Dubai being part of a Muslim country doesn’t take part or encourage in anything that is against the Islamic culture and laws.

8. Respect the Muslim culture during Ramadan If you are visiting Dubai during the holy month of Ramadan where all Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, it is important to show respect to culture. Eating, drinking, and smoking in public is forbidden during daylight hours hence you’ll find that restaurant in Dubai won’t serve you in the restaurant during the day. Though, you can order your food for delivery through the restaurant itself or through delivery apps like Zomato, Talabat or Deliveroo.

9. Book your tickets and hotel in advance Since Dubai is a very popular tourist destination and gets very crowded during the peak travelling seasons which means you’ll find an influx in Airline ticket and Hotel booking prices. Which is why it is best to book your tickets nearly six months in advance as international airlines usually offer their lowest prices at that time. You should also book your hotel in advance as arriving during the prime hours you might find it difficult to find a room at any of the popular hotels. It is advisable to book your hotel reservation at least two to three months in advance.

10. Tipping is customary here Tipping is mandatory in Dubai, but it has become a common practice and almost a custom here. Most restaurants will add a tip to your bill, it isn’t expected in Dubai, but it has become a common practice now. When you’re out in a restaurant don’t forget to give at least 10 percent tip to the waiter or waitress. Taxi drivers do not expect a tip, but suitcase carriers and supermarket baggers are usually given a small tip. Even though it isn’t mandatory it is nice to give a little something back and you’ll end up earning a smile too which is always great.

11. Make note of everything that can get you in trouble Since UAE is a Muslim country, the legal system is based on Sharia Law as per Islamic principles. Those living in UAE might be aware of the restrictions, penalties, and fines there are and avoid doing anything that might get them in trouble but as tourist you might not know what you can and can’t do and what things will get you in trouble. You can look up the most well-known laws of UAE online but there are some lesser-known restrictions in Dubai that are often get overlooked and might get you in trouble if you don’t know about it. It is always best to research online all about the city before you visit.

12.Being drunk in public is not allowed Even though alcohol is legal in Dubai and many restaurants, bars and pubs serve alcohol, you can’t be seen drunk in public. As, it is illegal to drink in public or be tipsy so if you’ve had a boozy night while dancing and enjoying in the clubs and bars of Dubai it is best to take a taxi and immediately leave for your hotel.

13. Don’t miss out on exploring Dubai’s history, culture, and heritage Dubai has a rich cultural diversity, but it also has a unique culture and heritage of its own, one you can’t miss to experience. To learn about the history and culture of Dubai and UAE, visit heritage sites and historical museums that tell you the story of what Dubai looked like all those years ago and introduces you to it’s rich culture and heritage. Heritage sites like Shindagah museum, Dubai Museum, Fahidi District and Etihad Museum is where you'll see exhibits of what life was like in Dubai many years ago and you’ll also find many rooms that showcase archaeological findings. Food lovers should also take a food tour of just trying of local Emirati food to get a cultural experience like no other

14. It is very easy to buy Gold in Dubai Dubai is known as the ‘City of Gold’ and has a wide variety of gold shops and markets. It’s traditional Gold Souk in Deira is a very popular tourist attraction as it has numerous gold shops that sells various designs from around the world. It is important to check the gold price online and bargain with the shopkeepers as they’ll give you a very high price at first. Tourists can also claim refund on VAT paid on purchases of gold and other items made in Dubai from the airport while their departure from the country. This makes its quite cheaper to buy gold and other price jewelry form Dubai than compared to their home country.

15. Dubai is a very safe city Dubai is a very safe city compared to other larger cities around the world. Especially for women, Dubai is among the safest city for women as they can freely walk on the roads alone at night without any fear. The city is also safe in terms of pickpocketing and street crimes like mugging. Thanks to it’s strict laws, UAE makes sure that no crimes or injustices are tolerated.

16. You can easily get taxis at any time of the day You can easily find a taxi in Dubai from any nook and corner of the city. Even during the night when it might get difficult to find public transport, you can find a taxi that will take you to your destination in just a few minutes. The best part of UAE is that compared to other countries like India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Taxis here don’t charge extra and go by the meter and they are not allowed to turn you down when they stop for you.

17. Dubai has a wide list of World records to its name An interesting fact about Dubai is that is has a vast and endless list of World Records to its name. There’s nothing Dubai loves more than setting up world records one after the other. From the tallest building, largest dancing fountain, deepest swimming pool to the largest of malls, Dubai has it all. It is a city that loves to come up with new and unique challenges and surpass them beautifully in its own unique style. You might already be aware of a few but there are lesser-known world records in Dubai’s name that can be easily searched online.  It is always good to know more about the city before visiting and interesting facts like these will what make your time in Dubai even more memorable.

18. Dubai has numerous Malls so you can shop till you drop Dubai has a wide variety of malls, you’ll find one in each popular district and area of the city. The most popular mall in Dubai is the Dubai Mall, it is the biggest mall in Dubai which also houses the Dubai Fountain, The Dubai Aquarium, and the gateway to reach to the top of Burj Khalifa. Other popular malls in Dubai include the Mall of the Emirates, Marina Mall, Dubai Hills Mall, Deira city center and Burjuman mall. You’ll find all of the popular brands and products at these malls and even though each mall might be the same some of them even provide different experiences you can miss like Dubai Ice rink, Snow Cinema, Storm coaster and many more.

19. Know which mobile apps are the most useful for you in Dubai Mobile apps continue to make our lives easier. Ordering or availing a service through a few taps on our phones has made us skip the waiting in long lines ultimately getting our work done faster. As a tourist in Dubai, there are some apps that are very useful and are a must-have for your visit to the glamourous city. Apps like Visit Dubai and Dubai Calendar help you to find popular places to visit and popular events that will take place in Dubai. Other apps like RTA app, S’hail, Group On and Zomato are also very useful for you as a tourist in Dubai.

20.Friday is a prayer day in Dubai Friday is the day in Islamic culture that is a considered a very important and auspicious prayer day. Hence, you might find most shops and restaurants to be closed during the prayer hours on Friday. So, keep this in mind while your visit so that you know when and when you won’t be able to visit to a particular shop or outlet. Some companies also work half day on Fridays so make sure you are a ware of the opening hours of all shops, malls, outlets, and restaurants before heading out into the city.

Main Attractions in Dubai You must Visit:

• Burj Khalifa and At the Top Burj Khalifa

• Dubai Mall and Dubai Fountains

• Desert Safari

• Burj Al Arab

• Ain Dubai

• Palm Jumeriah, Atlantis the Palm

• Dubai Aquarium

• Mall of the Emirates

• Dubai Marina

• Dubai Parks & Resorts

• IMG Worlds of Adventure

Things to do in Dubai:

After you’re done exploring all the main attractions of Dubai, you can also do many other things in Dubai that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Dubai has a wide range of Malls, Beaches, Movie Cinemas, Museums, Parks, and thrill-seeking activities. You can enjoy fun water sports at many of Dubai’s beaches or have the time of your life by taking part in a vast list of adventure and thrilling activities. Some of the most famous and must do thrill activities are – X Line, Deep Dive Dubai, Flying Cup, Storm Coaster, and Edge Walk. You can even choose to breathe in picturesque views from all around you by visiting some of Dubai’s beat viewing points. Dubai also has many activities for you that are not that expensive so you can take part in fun and adventure without hurting your pockets.

Best time/Season to visit Dubai:

The best or season to visit Dubai is during November to March as the temperatures cools down and ranges from 30° C to 12° C, and the weather is reasonably comfortable and pleasant. The Dubai Shopping Festival is held during December, which is exquisite, and you get every product from brands across the world.  It is better to avoid travelling to Dubai during the peak summertime from May to September unless you are craving for some much-needed summer shine.

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