At present, Dubai is the third most visited place in the world. According to the latest reports, this city receives around 15.3 million visitors annually. With its numerous famous tourist spots which include the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Mall, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Creek, Arabian Desert, the Hatta Mountains, and more, it certainly is hard to ignore the call of this bustling travel destination.
If it’s your first time to visit Dubai and you want to experience the perfect vacation, here are some important travel planning tips you need to remember:
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1. Consider Dubai’s climate when planning your holiday
- 1 1. Consider Dubai’s climate when planning your holiday
- 2 2. Set your budget for your trip
- 3 3. Check your documentation
- 4 4. Get travel insurance
- 5 5. Be smart when booking your flight
- 6 6. Choose your accommodation wisely as well
- 7 7. Create an itinerary
- 8 8. Know the basic dos and don’ts
- 9 9. Pack lightly
- 10 10. Manage your pocket money well
Dubai’s peak season starts during mid-October and ends sometime in April – the months when the city enjoys moderate temperatures. If you want to spend a lot of time on the beach and outdoors, plan your trip to Dubai during these months.
However, if you decide to travel during Dubai’s peak season, be prepared to shell out some extra money. Flights and accommodation will be more expensive during this period.
If you want to spend more time indoors at the city’s world-famous malls, museums, and other covered (and air-conditioned) areas, consider planning your trip during summer.
Since the weather can be extremely hot during summer, the city receives fewer visitors and it is considered Dubai’s off-season. Airfares and accommodations are more affordable at this time. Most shops will put their items on sale as well so you can expect to enjoy great discounts.
2. Set your budget for your trip
Although it can be tempting to overindulge in food, shopping, and other activities in Dubai, you can put a stop to this even before your flight by setting a budget for your holiday.
Make sure your budget will cover your airfare, accommodation, transportation, food and other necessities, entertainment, and emergency situations. It should also include all expenses regarding passport renewal and visa application, if necessary.
3. Check your documentation
Before booking your flight, make sure your passport is valid for at least six months during your trip. If not, make the necessary arrangements to renew it as soon as possible.
Depending on your citizenship, you may need a visa prior to entering Dubai. Check with your local embassy or go online to check if you require one. If you do, find out how to go about the whole visit visa application process.
If you do not need to apply for a visa in your home country, you will be given one once you arrive in Dubai. This visa can either be one that is valid for 30 days and is renewable, or one with a 90-day validity and multiple entry privileges.
4. Get travel insurance
Travel insurance is a requirement you have to submit if you are applying for a visit visa to Dubai. But even if this is not a requirement, you will avoid a lot of headaches and have a more enjoyable vacation when you know that you have sufficient coverage while you are overseas.
5. Be smart when booking your flight
If you’re traveling during peak season, your airfare will eat a huge chunk of your budget. As such, be as diligent as you can be about finding the most affordable flights. Aside from going online, get in touch with local flight agencies to find out if they currently offer discounted tour or airfare packages.
Don’t be afraid to ask for any freebies as well. If you can’t get any discount, ask the travel agent if you can get free travel insurance or additional luggage allowance.
6. Choose your accommodation wisely as well
With the variety of accommodation options in Dubai, you won’t have a hard time finding one that suits your budget, needs, and preferences.
Your choices include resorts, holiday or serviced apartments, and Dubai beachfront hotels like JA Resorts & Hotels (for faster access to the city’s amazing beaches).
Make sure you book your room well in advance of your flight so that you’ll have higher chances of getting some discounts. Consider your interests and the places you want to visit in Dubai when making your reservation so that you can choose one that is close to these areas, and save on transportation.
7. Create an itinerary
Make the most of your holiday in Dubai and ensure you don’t miss out on any tourist attractions here by creating an itinerary for your trip. You can find out which places are in close proximity to each other by using the internet.
For instance, if you’re in Downtown Dubai, stop by:
- The Burj Khalifa
- Dubai Mall
- Dubai Fountains
If you’re in Jumeirah, make sure you visit:
- The Jumeirah Beach
- The Jumeirah mosque
- Burj Al-Arab (the world’s only seven-star hotel)
- Madinat Jumeirah
- Majlis Ghorfat Um-Al-Sheef
- Wild Wadi Waterpark
8. Know the basic dos and don’ts
Dubai lies in a Muslim country and as such, you need to be respectful of the Islamic religion at all times. Other habits that may cause you to be penalized during your stay here include:
- Making rude remarks
- Unmarried couples showing public displays of affection
- Skimpy outfits (save the summer and swimwear for the beach and the pool)
The typical shopping hours are from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. However, many shops and supermarkets stay open all day. On Fridays, all shops close for prayers between 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Drinking is prohibited in public areas. However, you can do so in licensed hotels, restaurants, and bars that serve alcoholic beverages.
Lastly, never take pictures of locals without their permission. You are also not allowed to take pictures of government buildings, military installations, airports, docks and other locations of a similar nature.
9. Pack lightly
This means bringing light, comfy clothes since it can be hot in Dubai. However, as already mentioned, refrain from bringing skimpy pieces of clothing that you intend to wear in public areas.
Bring sunscreen and other toiletries but don’t stuff your luggage with these items; you can buy them from local shops instead. Pack your sunglasses and some hats as well.
In case you’re on some medication, go online to check if you will be permitted to bring them. It is best to get a medical note from your doctor as proof that the medicine was prescribed to you.
10. Manage your pocket money well
Lastly, make sure you have some Dirhams in your pocket or wallet before your flight or make plans to exchange foreign currencies at the airport because you never know when you might need some cash.
To avoid overspending during your vacation, the most economical option would be to bring a debit or travel card preloaded with Dirhams. You can use this card to withdraw cash via an ATM. A foreign money or debit card is convenient, secure, and replaceable.
If you want to bring your credit card, call your bank or provider weeks before your flight and inform them about your travel plans. Your account could be locked if you use your card in another country without any prior notification.
Planning your first Dubai getaway will require a great deal of effort on your part. But all your hard work will be worth it since you’ll have a worry-free, enjoyable, and memorable holiday in this city.
Thomas Grundner is the Group Director of Sales and Marketing for JA Resorts & Hotels. He has more than 20 years of expertise in the hospitality and leisure industry – across international markets including Germany, Egypt and Spain. Grundner oversees all sales, marketing and revenue efforts as the company continues to build on its key growth and development strategies and further cultivates its unique blend of “Heartfelt Hospitality” and “Casual Luxury”.