Dubai is one of the seven emirates (states) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the Middle East. The city of Dubai is located in the Arabian/Persian Gulf coast of the country. UAE is bounded by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the south and west, and by the country of Oman in the south-east.
Although the city of Dubai is in a Muslim country, it is considered to be an open city where pork and pork products, and alcoholic beverages can be accessed by tourists and non-Muslim residents alike. Unlike in the neighbouring country of Saudi Arabia, women can roam around in public without the need to wear the traditional abaya, and can swim in the numerous public beaches wearing any swimming attire. However it is worth noting that the Sharia Law is also implemented in this city, thereby all are expected to dress and behave modestly. Things may be changing during this modern times but it won’t hurt to be respectful of the country’s culture and heritage.
Dubai is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Often times advertised as a luxury destination but may still be affordable with the right planning. Below is a short travel guide that might be useful for your future visit.
Note: All information posted hereafter is based on personal experience prior to COVID-19 restrictions. Reader discretion is advised.
Dubai Tourist Electronic Visa
Applying for an electronic tourist visa to Dubai is easy, specially for GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) residents and citizens. The 14 days single-entry tourist visa is valid across all UAE Emirates including the capital in Abu Dhabi.
As expatriate workers in one of the GCC countries, obtaining an e-visa is simpler. We just went to an accredited Travel Agency, submitted the required documents and paid a processing fee amounting to 120 USD. We received a soft copy of our visa through our e-mail address from the agency after 3 working days.
- A clear copy of your valid passport with at least 6 months remaining validity from the date of entry.
- A clear front facing recent photograph.
- Certificate of Employment stating your monthly salary and job title.
Note: You can also process your tourist visa through the numerous online visa processing sites available. A fellow GCC resident/worker, recently processed hers by simply submitting a copy of her valid passport online. A recent internet search also shows the need for a travel insurance to enter the country.
How to travel around Dubai?
Leisure travel in Dubai isn’t really cheap, but with enough planning it is still doable. Public transportation is easy to access and is quite efficient. The Dubai Metro is extensive and cheap. For only 2 AED (0.54 USD) you can purchase a basic (red) NOL rechargeable ticket which you can use repeatedly for both the Metro and public bus system. Basic fare costs 4 AED (1.09 USD) for a single zone trip; 6 AED (1.63 USD) for 2 zones, and 8.5 AED (2.31 USD) for more than 2 zones. Catching a taxi or an UBER ride is also easy to do. Walking for long distances in the country is really not advisable specially during summer months where the weather can be unforgiving. So it is best to properly plan your route beforehand.
Where to stay in Dubai?
Your accommodation choice must be well aligned to the places you wish to visit to save time and money for transportation. It is best to choose one near the Metro for easier access. During our visit we stayed at the Hyatt Place Dubai, Wassl District. It is a 4 star hotel, check-in time at 2:00 pm while check-out time is at 12 noon. You can book your room at their official website.
- VALUE FOR MONEY: 9/10, room and bathroom size as well as the free breakfast buffet was adequate for the price.
- LOCATION: 9/10, was within 10 minutes walk to the Union Metro Station and Salah Al Din Metro Station, and within 5 minutes walk to the nearby Al Ghurair Centre Mall.
- CLEANLINESS: 10/10, sheets and bath supplies were replenished daily.
- WIFI: 10/10, internet connection was fast and reliable.
Top things to see and do in Dubai, UAE
Below is a short list of some of the practical things you can see and do in the city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Go on a thrilling sightseeing tour of the beautiful coastline of Dubai onboard a speed boat.
Sail into the sunset onboard a speed boat tour. If you have a bigger travel budget you can even opt for a private yacht ride. During our visit, we went with Xclusive tour for a 1.5 hours sightseeing tour onboard a speed boat. The tour starts at the Dubai Marina just outside the Dubai Marina Mall. The typical route covers the Ain Wheel (world’s tallest observation wheel at 250 meters); Atlantis, The Palm; and the Burj Al Arab.
Open daily, timings vary. A basic ticket costs 160 AED (43.56 USD) for a 90 minute ride. You can locate the ticketing booth by PIER 7 at the Dubai Marina Mall. The nearest metro station is the Dubai Marina Mall Metro Station. For more information you can visit their official website.
Dine at the Flying Cup.
If you’re up for a unique dining experience in Dubai then you can go for this ride located at The Beach, JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residence).The Flying Cup amusement ride lasts for approximately 20 minutes. It is a slow and essentially safe ride, good for the entire family. The thrilling part is that you will be suspended at a height of 40 meters equivalent to a 12-story building with a grand view of the Dubai shoreline. Up top you can enjoy select snacks or even your dinner, all of which you can purchase beside their ticket booth.
Open daily from 3:00-10:00 pm, basic ticket costs 60 AED (16.33 USD) for adults and 45 AED (12.25 USD) for children. For more information you can visit their official website.
Hit one of the public beaches.
Spend an afternoon at one of the many public beaches of Dubai. We recommend the JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residence) Public Beach. It is a perfect place to relax where everything you would possibly need is within easy access. There are lots of different dining options, a movie theater, and a few retail outlets one may visit after soaking the sun at the beach.
It is a public beach so you can definitely bring your own gear and have a blast under the sun. Women can go for a dip in literally any swim wear they feel comfortable in. Although one must take note that since it is a public beach, it can be crowded at times specially during holidays.
Open daily from 7:00 AM to 11:00 pm, free access.
Spend an afternoon at Riverland Dubai.
You can easily spend a day or an afternoon at this massive themed tourist destination. So if you’re visiting you better prepare for lots of walking. Here you can find 4 different amusement parks: the Motiongate Park (Hollywood themed park), LEGOLAND Dubai, LEGOLAND Water Park, and the Bollywood Park. Park ticket costs vary but as of writing is at 195 AED (53.09 USD).
If you’re not up to go on rides, you can also just loiter around the property free of charge. There are four different zones: The French Village (medieval french village), India Gate (1930s India), The Peninsula (19th century England), and the Boardwalk (1950s America). The property also offers various retail and dining options.
To reach Riverland Dubai using the public transportation is relatively easy. You can take the Dubai Metro on the Red Line towards Jebel Ali, and get off at Ibn Battuta Metro Station 4. From there, exit the station and head to the RTA Ibn Battuta Bus Station and take the Bus (DPR 1) for 20 minutes to Dubai Parks and Resorts.
Open daily from 11:00 am to 7:30 and 8:30 pm every Fridays and Saturdays. For more information you can visit their official website.
Shop ’til you drop at the Dubai Mall.
The Dubai Mall is dubbed as the largest shopping mall in the world by total land area (according to Wikipedia), adjacent to the Burj Kalifa. It houses various shopping outlets, including famous luxury brands, as well as a wide range of dining options. You can also visit the famous Dubai Aquarium inside the mall, which showcases more than 300 species of marine animals.
Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo (Located at the 2nd floor of Dubail Mall. Open daily from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm Sundays through Wednesdays, and from 10:00 am to 11:00 pm Thursdays through Saturdays. A basic entry ticket is usually at 199 AED (54.18 USD). You can also book tickets online though their official website.)
Open daily from 10:00 am to 12:00 am Sundays through Wednesdays, and from 10:00 am to 1:00 am from Thursdays through Saturdays.
Spend a cultural afternoon at the Dubai Museum.
The Dubai Museum and Al Fahidi Fort is located at Al Fahidi St, Bur Dubai – Opposite the Grand Mosque. It is a historical fort converted into a museum. It was built in 1787, and was opened to be an official museum in 1971.
The exhibitions was limited during our visit in 2019 but was enough for an interesting glimpse of Dubai’s culture and heritage specially with the minimal cost it took to visit.
Open daily from 8:30 am to 8:30 pm Saturdays through Thursdays, and from 2:30 pm to 8:30 pm every Fridays. Ticket costs 3 AED (0.82 USD) for adults, and 1 AED (0.27 USD) for children. Nearest Metro station is the Ghubaiba or Fahidi Metro Stations.
Note: The museum is unfortunately, currently closed due to undergoing renovations. For more information you can visit this website.
Go for some authentic Arabian Cuisine at the Arabian Tea House Restaurant and Cafe.
The Arabian Tea House Restaurant and Cafe is strategically situated at the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood (Al Bastakiya). The restaurant has been serving traditional Emirati food to its guests since it first opened back in 1997.
We loved the food and the ambiance of the establishment. It is a great place to take a shade from the Middle Eastern sun after roaming the surrounding historic district by the Dubai Creek, which dates back to the 1980s.
Open daily from 7:30 am until 11:00 pm. For reservations you can visit their official website.
Marvel at the Burj Khalifa.
The Burj Khalifa, is one of Dubai’s famous tourist attraction. Rising to a height of 828 meters, it is dubbed as the world’s tallest building. You can enjoy its splendor from the ground just like us, or make your way to the top for a fee.
As per our research you can enjoy a stunning 360 degree view of the metropolis at Burj Khalifa’s Level 125, which is at 456 meters above sea level. Basic entry ticket costs 149 AED (40.57 USD) for non-prime hours (between 10:00 am– 3:30 pm, 7:00 pm to 12 midnight, Sundays through Thursdays; and between 08:00 am – 3:30 pm, 7:00 pm to 12 midnight, every Fridays and Saturdays).
Open daily from 8:00 am with last entry at 11:00 pm. For more information you can visit their official website.
Drop by La Mer, Dubai.
Just like The Walk at the JBR Beach, La Mer is an all-in-one beach front property you can visit. There are different shopping, dining and entertainment facilities that the entire family can enjoy. There is also a public beach (La Mer Beach) that visitors can visit for free.
You can also visit the onsite Laguna Waterpark for 195 AED (53.09 USD). For more information you can visit this website.
Open daily from 10:00 am to 12 midnight, retail shops closes at 11:00 pm; located at Jumeirah 1. For more information you can visit their official website.
Have your fill of…
Have your fill of all pork and pork related products and as much alcohol you can drink (take note that being drunk in public may land you some jail time) in Dubai. Expatriate workers from nearby Middle Eastern countries spend their vacation in Dubai for this incentive. We recommend The Irish Village at the Riverland Dubai, and Jack’s Bar and Grill at the Dubai International Airport- Terminal 3 for a last sip before departure.
Thank you for reading all the way through. We hope this helps you plan for your future visit. For a visual guide you can visit our official youtube account. For more practical travel tips and guides continue to visit our other blogs. Once again, thank you and safe travels!