Ever since its transformation from a laid-back fishing village to a vibrant cosmopolitan city in the late 20th century, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates has magnificently buckled up for foreign tourists. Today, it is a playground destination for holiday makers looking for a variety of action-packed activities to keep their adrenaline in check throughout the visit.
While modern skyscrapers and high-end shopping malls sprawl the city, there’s also a dose of culture and history that Dubai has to offer you. If you are hoping to pay a visit to Dubai, read our blogs to find out essential tips, including top things to do not only in Dubai, but all around the world.
But, here’s the thing. If you are looking for a secluded getaway for a time-out, Dubai may not be the destination for you. It’s very social and bustles with activity day and night – although some pockets of the city remain quieter.
Can you travel to Dubai at present?
As with most of the destinations around the world, Dubai remained closed to visitors due to COVID-19. But, in July 2020, when the situation was subdued to some extent, UAE opened up its borders to invite travelers. Although there are some restrictions in place and visitors are advised to adhere to health and safety regulations outlined by the government, you can travel to Dubai and enjoy its glamour!
What to wear when in Dubai
Dubai is one of the least conservative cities in the Middle-east – more like a wayward child by strict Arab standards. The dress code is very much relaxed, so there are no strict restrictions as to what to wear for foreign travelers. But, when you are touring around, especially in parts of Old Dubai where residents are very conservative, and there are many mosques around, it’s advised to wear modestly.
For women, knee-length or long dresses that aren’t sleeveless or see-through is recommended. You can also wear t-shirts, jeans, and pants. Ideally, it’s better to refrain from wearing anything too short or revealing.
For men, anything from shorts to pants is considered acceptable as long as you don’t go wandering without a t-shirt no matter how warm it is.
Where to Stay in Dubai
Dubai is a very large city, so it’s hard to define one area as the best place to stay because its attractions are scattered all over. So, when you select your accommodation area, it’s better to pick one based on your priority.
The city offers a wide range of accommodation choices from hotels, apartments, boutiques, to inns. If you travel during the off-season or when there’s a low influx of tourists like now, you will be able to enjoy them at lower prices.
For travelers who prefer close access to some of the best beaches in the city, the Jumeirah area is ideal.
If you want to stay close to Dubai’s main attractions like Burj Khalifa, Downtown is the area. But, accommodation doesn’t come cheap here, although there are a few affordable choices.
Bur Dubai is the ultimate budget-friendly resident area located in Old Dubai. It has a very traditional and rustic appeal. But, it’s quite far from all the extravaganza of the modern city.
Al-Barsha is great if you want to stay close to the city’s major sites without spending a big chunk of your budget on accommodation. It gives you easy access to public transportation so you can easily travel around.
Top things to do in Dubai
Dubai is not short of attractions and can easily keep you entertained for days. But, below, we have outlined some top attractions and experiences you shouldn’t miss!
1. Burj Khalifa
This iconic landmark, famed as the tallest building in the world is hard to miss when you are touring in Dubai. Burj Khalifa is 828-meters high with 160 floors, and the bird’s-eye view you get from the top floor is indescribably beautiful. The scenery is particularly interesting at night when the city is illuminated with colorful lights!
2. The Dubai Mall
If you are looking for the best shopping experience in Dubai, this is it. The mall has dedicated areas for different kinds of shopping experiences, such as Fashion Avenue for signature brands from around the world, The Souk for traditional Arabic fashion and accessories, and Level Shoes for an unmatched range of footwear.
But, the largest mall in Dubai isn’t only about shopping. It’s also a utopia of entertainment with an ice-skating rink, game zone, and cinema. The world-famous Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo here gifts you a close-up encounter with rare marine life.
3. Old Dubai
While modern elements have overtaken most parts of the city, Old Dubai remains a faithful remnant for its ancestors. If you love history or curious to learn about the traditional Arab lifestyle, visit the Dubai Museum in Al Fahidi Fort. Another place of interest is Dubai Heritage Village featuring traditional houses of the elitist transformed into mini museums. There is also a spice souk, textile souk, gold souk, coffee museum, and Tea House in Old Dubai.
4. Go Skydiving
If you love to push limits with extreme adventures, the Sky Diving experience will surely quench your thirst. It’s not much really – only that you have to jump off a plane 13,000 feet high, free-falling at 120 miles per hour for a minute until the parachute opens up, easing your worries. Jokes aside, it’s perfectly safe, and you will be diving along with a professional instructor. You will never ever forget this phenomenal experience, so do try if you can!
5. The Dubai Water Fountain
Since Dubai seems to love everything on a grand scale, it also houses the world’s tallest water fountain within the Burj Lake. It’s closer to Dubai Mall and is particularly interesting at night when the fountain is lit with colorful lights. Watch a variety of beautifully choreographed fountain shows shooting water up to 500 feet. If you prefer a closer look, take a traditional boat ride in the lake to enjoy the sight of water patterns on-air along with the music.
6. Visit a Beach
It’s hard to resist going to the beach for a dip or swim because of the warm weather, which is why it’s one of the popular things to do in Dubai. The white sandy shore and turquoise-hued waters make Dubai’s beaches picture-perfect. While they look tempting enough to spend your entire day, it’s recommended to go during morning or evening hours. You can swim, surf, and even dive on some of the beaches here. Some of our favorite beaches in Dubai are JBR, Marina, Al Mamzar, and Jebel Ali.
7. Jumeirah Mosque
As the only mosque that’s open to non-Muslim visitors, Jumeirah Masjid presents travelers with a unique opportunity to learn about the Islamic way of life. There are guides within the mosque who will explain how prayers are conducted while giving a brief explanation about the Arab culture. The architecture of the mosque is also interesting to observe, with high rising minarets dominating the exterior.
8. Atlantis Aquaventure Water Park
Unarguably the best water park in Dubai, Aquaventure boasts of having some of the longest slides in the world. So, a stomach-churning and thrilling water ride in one of them is a must when you are in Dubai – if you love adventures, of course. In addition to over 20 slides, the park also features many other arenas to have fun including the opportunity to enjoy some chummy time with dolphins and sealions.
The list of things to do in Dubai doesn’t end here as there’s an assortment of other choices, in case you are hoping to spend a whole week or two. Don’t forget to try authentic Middle Eastern dishes while you are in the city and grab some local artisan products to take home as souvenirs. Overall, Dubai is a great place to go with friends, family, or even alone!
How to plan a trip to Dubai
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