10 things to know before going to Dubai

Before you read this post on Dubai Top 10 Travel Pointers , I’d recommend you to read my previous post on planning for an ideal Dubai vacation : Dubai in 5 Days – A Smart Itinerary 

These points would not be openly disclosed by any travel agent (even the top tier ones) and given my last trip to Dubai had its share of eventfulness, I felt it compelling to list out some key things one should keep in mind

1. Flights   :

There are several direct flights from almost every major city to Dubai almost daily

  • The Indian based airlines include Jet Airways, Spicejet, Indigo , Air India.
  • The International airlines include : Fly Emirates ,  FlyDubai , Air Arabia (Flies to Sharjah), Gulf Air (Flies to Abu Dhabi), Etihad Airways ( Flies to Abu Dhabi )
Source : flydubai.com

Except for Emirates, Etihad and Jet Airways, all the other airlines are budget airlines and hence will charge you separately for check in baggage,food,seat selection and even water !

Though Emirates may be the most ideal choice , sometimes the fare difference can be too high between Emirates and other airlines, so it may not fit in your budget. Hence while factoring in the cost of ticket, do add in the cost of baggage and even food to see the difference in cost. If the difference is less than 1000, its highly recommended to take one of the full service airline like Emirates or Jet Airways.

2. Airports :

Dubai, being one of the largest hubs has three airports ( Terminal 1, Terminal 3 and the budget airport Terminal 2). Emirates, Jet Airways, Spicejet etc fly to Terminal 1 and 3, while FlyDubai goes to Terminal 2. Terminal 2 has limited facilities as compared to 1 & 3. The duty free shopping is also very small when compared to the massive shopping arenas in 1 & 3. Hence you may be missing out on a nice duty free shopping experience

If you are choosing Air Arabia, it’ll go to Sharjah ( which is at a distance of 40Kms ) from Dubai. So while booking , there’s an option that includes an additional transfer to Dubai via bus by Air Arabia itself. This is more convenient than choosing expensive taxis. (If you are choosing a travel agent, they charge an additional fee of 1000Rs / person to arrange pickup and drop from Sharjah to Dubai

Source : wikipedia.org

3. Visas

Dubai provides a 30 day Tourism visa for around 5,500 Rs. , which can be applied directly through the airline itself.  In addition to this some cities may require a “Ok to Board” visa which may cost another 250-500 rs.

Only important condition while applying visa : Both forward and return journeys should be in the same airline. If this is not the case, the airline will refuse to apply for a visa.
You will be forced to approach a major travel agent and may also require sponsorship letters, additional efforts to secure that visa.

4. Currency

It’s always better to convert money into Dirhams from a currency exchange dealer from your origin city. Converting to Forex cards or using credit cards may not be always advisable in places like Dubai and Thailand . This is because smaller markets, restaurants and other street bazaars will not accept credit card nor forex cards . Hence you’ll be left with very less cash in hand.  In addition to this , credit card and debit cards will be levied an additional 5% fee for using cards outside India

5. Choosing a Hotel

If you’re selecting a hotel and not having a clue on which area to select, the most ideal location would be “Bur Dubai” and “Deira”. These two areas have a significant higher Indian population with more veg restaurants and several street shopping markets. You can also avail a 1AED River taxi to cross from Bur Dubai to Deira for some gold shopping (and spices too). Choosing far off places can result in significant expense in terms of metro and taxis.

Dubai Top 10 Travel Pointers Deira Boat Taxi
Dubai Top 10 Travel Pointers Deira Boat Taxi

When you check-in to a hotel, they usually charge you 10 AED per night per room ( for 3-4 star hotels) and 15 AED per night per room for 5 star rooms as a Government Tourism Fee. (This is in addition to the total amount and tax you may have paid to your travel agent or a hotel booking website like Makemytrip, cleartrip etc)

6. Aquaventure & Wild Wadi

Dubai’s two biggest water theme parks are Aquaventure and Wild Wadi. These two place impose very strict dress code guidelines when it come to entering the rides. This  includes only swimsuits for both men and women. Lack of this can result in denial of entry. So the only option is to buy the super expensive swimsuits that’s available inside the theme park (this will be 5-6 times the price of the same dress that you may get elsewhere ). So in case any of the above two waterparks is in your agenda, dont forget to add your swimwear to the luggage

7. Package Tours from Hotel Travel Desk

For most attractions, its better to avail package tour directly from the hotel (instead of a complete travel package from India) and this can work out far far cheaper. In case you are a group of a 4-5 they’ll even arrange a free private group tour (the same would have costed you double if you had asked your travel agent in India).These package tours, irrespective of where you avail,are very strict on their timelines. They dont wait more than 5 mins of the time being mentioned.

 8. Metros & Buses

Dubai has a fantastic transportation system connected by metros, buses, trams, monorails etc. However the only downside is that you need a Metro Card ( that can be bought only inside a metro station or a Main bus terminal). So next time you see a bus on the road and want to get inside ,it’ll not be possible without a previously bought metro card with enough balance

9. Ramadan & Fridays

It’s generally advisable to have a trip that’s between Saturday – Thursday . This is because Friday is a weekly holiday and more than 70% of the establishments will be closed till the first half of the day . You’ll not be able to visit any of them as the city comes to a close till late afternoons. So there goes one important day in your travel itinerary , having to miss out on some good sightseeing

The same applies to the month of Ramadan (usually around June to July ), where people observe a fast. All hotels and establishments will again be shut till evening 6PM when they break the fast. Public eating is also prohibited during these times and hence any travel to Dubai during this period is unadvisable.

In addition to this , Dubai during the off season months of May – Aug can see extreme temperatures (upto a range of 45-48 deg C) which can be extremely tough to even step outside much less roam around. November – March is however the most ideal season you can plan a trip to Dubai

10. Dubai Shopping Festival

The Dubai shopping festival usually is held between Jan-Feb and can be one of the best times you can visit Dubai. All stores will be offering heavy discounts. Purchasing a shopping festival discount card can also prove to be useful to gain additional discounts (especially in high end malls like Dubai Mall, Mall of Emirates, Ibn Batuta Mall etc). On the downside, this season is also the time when you get to see flight fares and hotel fares go through the roof

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