The city of Dubai has risen from the desert sands, a futuristic metropolis that is fast becoming one the world's top destinations. Dubai is a place where everything is possible and can boast some of the world's most recognizable and exciting attractions. With a range of tours to choose from you can be assured of an incredible stay. Head up high to view the world from the top of the Burj Khalifa, or take to the desert sands with on a safari. Indulge in some theme park thrills at Ferrari-World or step back into Dubai's rich past at the gold or spice souks. A trip on a Dhow cruise or 60-minute Yellow boat ride or choose from various exclusive hop-on-hop-off tours to enjoy the stunning beaches completes your magical time here. Dubai is a city where indulgence and relaxation are essential requirements, add in some tours, and you have the perfect mix
The currency of Dubai is the Dirham. The value of one Dirham is 19.2 Indian Rupee.
Cost and Money
The rich country Dubai, has something for all the budget holders. They have hotels that offer a night stay for as low as INR 2000-2500 to super luxurious hotels that offer a night stay for more than INR 15000-20000. The food here is also quite affordable; it will cost you INR 300-1500 per meal, depending on your choice of luxury. ATMs are available in every nook and corner of the city, and if you can't find them; you can swipe your credit cards.
How to Travel to Dubai
We took Emirates airlines directly from NYC to Dubai. They had a 2 for 1 deal airfare which was great! Emirates airlines has deals often and they fly from several cities across America so I do suggest signing up on their website. They also offer free layovers in Dubai. We met several people who were taking advantage of traveling to other countries on Emirates but stopped in Dubai on the way
The Best Places to Stay
There is no shortage of hotels in Dubai, especially luxury hotels. You can also check rental sites such as Airbnb. In terms of the best location, you should first think of Dubai as a long strip. I compare it to Las Vegas or Cancun if you have been to either. We kept driving back and forth, up and down the same main road.
The most central location, and hence the most crowded, is around the Dubai mall which is where Burj Khalifa is located. At the other end is the Dubai Marina with Palm Jumeirah and Burj Al Arab close by. On the complete opposite end of this “strip” is the Dubai airport and Old Dubai with the souks. Along most of this strip is Jumeirah Beach filled with beach resorts, shops and restaurants. Based on your interests, you may prefer to stay closer to one of these landmarks.
How Much is a Trip to Dubai?
Money, Money, Money! Although I am sure there is a budget friendly way to do Dubai, I found it to be costly or at least comparable to the US. Their currency is called “dirham” or AED for Arab Emirate Dirham. You may see it abbreviated ads Dhs or DH. The dollar bill denominations conveniently have Arabic on one side and English on the other side. There are coins as well.
The current conversion is 1 Dirham equals 0.27 USD. But again, once I did the conversions for taxis, food, tours and our hotel, it was equivalent or more to what I would pay in the US. Keep in mind I am a luxury blogger so my activities included high tea at Burj Al Arab, a stay at a luxury hotel on the Dubai Marina and I did some private tours.
You can exchange money on arrival at the airport but we noticed a slightly better exchange rate at the malls. And there are plenty of malls. In terms of American credit cards, most places only take Mastercard or Visa. Our hotel and the Nike store in the Dubai Mall accepted American Express but that was it-based on our experience.
Things NOT to do in Dubai
For more about the “can’t miss” things to do and see in Dubai, check out my post on how I spent my five days there. But sometimes it’s just as important to get travel tips on “CAN miss” tourist activities. Based on my experience, these are the attractions in Dubai that you don’t really need to stress about fitting into your trip.
The Top of Burj Khalifa
Although crowded, it was well run operation. However, I was not impressed with the views from the top. Granted, it was a bit hazy that day but most of what we saw were the skyscrapers close by and the desert. If you have been to top of other buildings such as the Empire State Building or the John Hancock Building, I think you will be disappointed.
Friday Buffet Brunch at Saffron in the Atlantis Resort
Brunch in Dubai is held on Fridays. I chose Saffron since it was described as a fun day party. It was really brunch on steroids. There was a DJ and more food and alcohol than you can consume in 3 or 4 hours. If you are going with a group, I think this will be fun. If you are looking for a more intimate or fine dining brunch experience, this is not it.
Atlantis, The Palm
Speaking of Atlantis, if you have seen pictures of Palm Jumeirah you have noticed the Atlantis resort sitting at the end. Although I have visited Atlantis in the Bahamas, after gazing at this man-made island for years I knew I had to visit the island and the resort. We took the monorail to Atlantis in order to see the individual islands that make up the Palm. That part was pretty cool. However, Atlantis was an enormous hotel/resort with people everywhere. There were security guards making sure tourists did not enter areas for the guests and it took forever to find Saffron.
The Dubai Fountains
The Dubai Fountains are located at the Dubai Mall. They were designed by the same architects of the fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. We waited 30 minutes in a hot crowd to watch 3 minutes of the fountain show. It was quick and not as elaborate as I had imagined. I was disappointed. I have been told it depends on the length and type of the song. There are restaurants with outdoor patios located around the fountains so if you have time sit and watch more than one performance.
A Day Trip to Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi is located approximately 1 to 1 ½ hours driving distance from Dubai depending on the traffic, so it makes a good option if you’re looking for places to go from Dubai. There are many popular attractions in Abu Dhabi including the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Yas Island and Emirates Palace. If you choose to do a day trip to Abu Dhabi from Dubai you can take a daily public shuttle bus, hire a taxi, rent a car, or do a private tour. Since we wanted to see a lot in a short time, we decided on a private tour. Emirates Adventures picked us up from our hotel for a full day tour of Abu Dhabi. Again, depending on your budget, there are many options available.
Whew, you made it to the end! I know this is a lot of information to take in but I hope this Dubai Travel Guide has been helpful, especially for first time visitors. Be sure to read “How I spent 5 Days in Dubai & Abu Dhabi” for more information. Overall I enjoyed our trip to Dubai. It was modern, clean, easy to get around, the history is interesting, the food was delicious, the Arabian sea was warm, and there were lots of activities to choose from. I wish we had more time in Old Dubai and I definitely enjoyed our afternoon and evening in Burj Al Arab, our day trip to Abu Dhabi and the desert safari.