Are you looking to visit the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and not sure how to get a Visa? Please read my earlier post on “Applying for UAE Visa?” explaining the detailed Visa process.
Once you have received your visa, and you’re in the UAE, here are a few things that are going to save you time as well as cut off huge expenditures.
When to Travel to the UAE
Dubai is one of the well-known cities and an emirate in the UAE. Unlike other emirates, Dubai is well developed with modern architecture, shopping malls, and lively nightlife a person would crave for. As UAE is in the middle-east, the weather is not your best mate to travel on all months. Therefore, choosing an appropriate time to travel makes your holiday enjoyable and memorable.
Winter is one of the best times to travel to Dubai. It is said that winter approaches between October to April. Some say, between November to March. We were in Dubai during the 3rd and 4th week of November and the winter is not much but bearable.
If you’re looking for a way cheaper to travel, April is your best bet. For beach lovers, October, March, or April where the weather is hot but in a pleasant way. And avoid traveling during August as it is said to be the hottest month of all.
Accommodation in Dubai
Everything in Dubai is unbelievably expensive. During winter (between November to March), prices are unbelievably rising each day. We stayed in a hotel that cost us USD $50 approx per night while my friend stayed in the same hotel for USD $25 approx. per night. So you could imagine how the price hikes during winter.
If you are to choose accommodation, I suggest you pick a place that is near to a bus station or more preferably a metro train station. Trust me, you do not want to go around the TAXI route. They are filthy and expensive. Our expenses for transportation were comparatively cheaper as we used Taxi only thrice during our stay (10 days).
To explore the best bits of Dubai, I would suggest staying in Downtown Dubai or Deira & Al Rigga area. Deira has so many things to explore and is nearby. In fact, the DXB International airport is approx. 3KMs away.
Transportation in Dubai
Dubai has a variety of transportation options. Starting from the expensive TAXIs to the lowest Water bus (also called Abra/Ferry) to take you across this beautiful city. While most of these transportation options are public and are governed by the government authorities, Private taxi options are available in Dubai too. As for Public transportation such as Metro, Trams, Water Bus… etc. Dubai’s transportation authority (also known as RTA) has done a splendid job expanding its service all the way from Airport terminals to the recent Expo 2020. If you haven’t visited Expo2020 already, be sure to check our post on “8 best Expo Pavilions o visit” In fact, the only Metro I experienced was with various travel classes. Nevertheless, It is completely up to you to decide which options to take part in.
Since Transportation is a huge subject, we will be sharing it as a separate topic.
On-the-go Connectivity in Dubai
Dubai literally has three telecom providers while only two are dominating the market. That’s Etisalat, Du and recently launched Virgin Mobile. Dubai is the only city where public internet is accessible for free over WiFi and advertises the highest WiFi across the globe. Every Metro station or a mall you visit will be equipped with WiFi which is provided by Du (if I recall this right).
However, when you are off the proximity of these places, you basically have no connectivity. Therefore, it is important to choose a mobile network that would get you connected to the network on the go. While Etisalat is recommended by many travelers, I chose Du network for the equal number of reviews conducted and it didn’t disappoint me at all.
You can refer to Etisalat, Du, or Virgin Mobile sites for their tourist plans respectively to make a decision. My selection for Du was due to the fact I could make calls using BOTIM with a plan of 99 AED. This plan also gave me 30 local/international minutes with 6GB which I felt sufficient for my stay.
Money Exchange in Dubai
There are plenty of money exchangers in Dubai but we found Al Ansari exchange to be better in terms of the rates. We found them throughout our mall visit at Dubai Mall, Deira City Center & Mall of the Emirates… etc. Their selling rate was about AED 3.65 for each USD + AED 3 as a service charge.
Additional Tip: Useful Apps to use in Dubai
Here are a few apps that will help you save time getting lost when roaming across the city. We will provide a summary of each of the application’s usage.
- Malls Apps – The Dubai Mall, Deira City Center & Mall of The Emirates
- Travel & Route Apps – S’hail, RTA Dubai App, Dubai Metro & Rome2Rio
- Taxi Booking Apps – Careem & Uber
- Food Apps – Noon & Talabat
Dubai’s most favorite phrases are “world’s largest, world’s biggest, world’s longest”. Trust me, they are precisely the words we will be witnessing when we step into these malls. And Dubai is not the best city that has improved navigation compared to Singapore. We were visiting these malls in Dubai on a daily basis but we kept getting lost every single time. However, the Mall apps really helped us navigate between places when we needed to.
Travel & Route Apps provide indicative distance, rates, best routes & possible transportation options to navigate within the city of Dubai. S’hail is the official app of RTA which can provide possible transportation options and the charges that may incur for Metro, Bus as well as Taxis. However, my personal favorite was the “Dubai Metro” app. It displays the complete map of Dubai Metro, Tram, and the Monorail (Monorail is only operated with the palms) routes and is very convenient to identify. Besides, it works offline when there’s no internet.
Taxi Booking Apps are comparatively less for such a big city/country. However, Careem & Uber amongst the rest is the dominating Taxi booking apps. In fact, these apps provide a wide variety of other activities such as shopping, food… etc. Other apps of RTA basically integrate and connect with both Uber & Careem.
Food Apps are not something we tried throughout but these apps provide a variety of food options starting from street food all the way to classy restaurants.
We will catch you back with another post on how the transportation system works and what type of options to choose. Chao!