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Dubai | The Ultimate Travel Guide

When to go, where to stay and what to do in this Middle Eastern oasis.

Updated

Camels in the desert near Dubai, UAE

A city of glitz, glamour and gold, Dubai reads like a futuristic world. Magnificent architectural feats rise from the desert city while luxurious man-made islands swim in its waters.Resort accommodation and mega malls overrun the city, blending seamlessly with tradition elements including the Jumeirah Mosque and Gold Souk in a visual spectacular.

With more than a handful of record-breaking accolades to its name, including the world's first 7-star hotel, the world's tallest building and the world's largest indoor gold souk, Dubai is a destination that is continuously evolving and never ceases to amaze.

Start your journey here.

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Ends

Getting around in Dubai

Dubai is not a particularly pedestrian-friendly place, but it is still possible to navigate the city with relative ease.

Taxis are the most used form of transport and are very budget-friendly.

Public transport is air-conditioned and the hop-on hop-off bus is perfect for getting to all of the tourist destinations. Renting a car is also an easy way to get around town.

Dubai public transport

  • Types of transport: The Road and Transport Authority (RTA) runs the metro, buses, trams and water buses.
  • Paying for transport: A Nol card must be purchased before using public transport. Red tickets are great for tourists because they can be loaded with 10 trips or 5 daily passes. Red tickets cost AED2.00 and can be purchased at ticket offices and ticket vending machines at all metro and some bus stations. They can be used for any form of public transport and fares depend on the distance travelled.
  • Getting to and from the airport: Trains run every 10 minutes from terminals 1 and 3 into the city centre where they connect with more trains and buses. There are multiple bus routes that run from every terminal of Dubai International Airport into the city.
  • Best apps for getting around: The Wojhati Journey Planner app has walking directions to and from bus stops and stations, shares delay information, tracks your journey in real time and shows the next departures from stops around you.

Dubai metro map

Taxis and rideshare

Taxis: Taxi ranks can be found throughout the city at major shopping malls, the airport and outside of metro stations. Taxis can be pre-booked by calling the taxi company in advance.

Rideshare: Uber is available in Dubai and costs AED95.00-154.00 from Dubai International Airport to the city centre.

Airport transfers in Dubai

Get yourself from the airport to your accommodation with a simple and comfortable airport transfer.

Car hire in Dubai

Car rentals in Dubai are becoming increasingly popular. Hertz, Europcar, Sixt, Fast Rent a Car, Diamondlease, Payless and Dollar all have cars for hire at the Dubai International Airport. Use Drive Now to compare prices and find the best deal.

Frequently asked questions about Dubai

Is Dubai expensive compared to Australia?

Dubai is as expensive as you wish to be extravagant. You can choose to dine in a 5-star restaurant every night or you can opt to eat more efficiently. Prices range from a massive $800 to an average $20 for a meal.

Taxis and the metro are relatively cheap transport options for getting around the city.

Is Dubai tax free?

Dubai itself is not entirely tax free, but it's as close to tax free as you can get. The government does not impose a federal income tax, even though legally it could do so. This is because in the Arab world, it is considered haram or forbidden to take unearned income, which is how taxes are treated.

It is necessary to pay import duties, and a small percentage of income goes to social security.

Do I need a visa for Dubai?

Aussies do not have to make advance visa arrangements to visit Dubai.

Simply disembark from your flight at Dubai International Airport and proceed to Immigration, where your passport will be stamped with a 30-day visit visa, free of charge.

What is Dubai's currency?

The name of the currency throughout the United Arab Emirates is the dirham. The AED or Arab Emirate Dirham is also commonly abbreviated to Dhs or DH. There are 100 fils in a dirham.

The conversion rate is (roughly and subject to change): 1 AUD = 2.87 AED

Are US dollars accepted in Dubai?

Yes, you can actually use US dollars in most places. However, it is probably just as easy to exchange your Australian dollars for United Arab Emirates dirham.

Learn more about the local Arab Emirate Dirham and spending money in Dubai.

What is Dubai famous for?

Dubai's many attractions include the Dubai Mall, the world's largest shopping mall, and the Burj Khalifa, the tallest man-made structure in the world.

It's also home to the world's only 7-star hotel, Burj Al Arab. The city is famous for luxury and decadence, for beaches and water parks, and for being tax-free.

What's the best water park in Dubai?

Aquaventure Waterpark is home to record-breaking rides and slides, and offers the opportunity to get up close and personal with sharks and rays. Or, you can just kick back and relax on the 700 metres of pristine private beach. To save on entry fees, book online in advance.

Does Dubai have casinos?

No. Gambling is illegal in Dubai.

Does Dubai have beaches?

Dubai has many beaches but many are owned by local hotels. Some of the best public beaches to add to your itinerary are:

  • Jumeirah Beach Residence. A popular tourist spot with a quirky vibe, and a large number of restaurants sporting stunning sea views.
  • Burj Beach. Playing football is a popular pastime on this stretch of beach, and there are some other sports facilities available, including volleyball nets.
  • Kite Beach. Named after its kite-surfing congregation, this is a great place to watch the fun, or even have a go yourself.

Can you drink alcohol in Dubai?

Yes. But, there are very strict licensing laws that prohibit alcohol consumption in public streets. The licensing laws require that venues serving alcohol must be attached to hotels and private clubs.

If you're planning a boozy vacation, do your homework. Hotels that have been awarded an alcohol licence tend to be 4 and 5-star venues.

Is Dubai safe?

Although crime rates are relatively low in Dubai, there are a number of issues that you need to be aware of.

Due to extreme temperatures, we advise against holidaying in Dubai during the summer months of May to October. The mercury can reach over 40°C during this period.

If you do decide to travel at this time of year, make sure you take the right clothes. Wear lightweight cotton clothing, and cover your head at all times to protect yourself from the sun.

Dubai is full of tourists, and there are a number of people who try to take advantage of this fact. In shopping malls, for instance, you might be asked to answer some questions in order to win a prize. This scam ultimately leads to trying to sell you a travel package.

The city has one of the highest rates of deaths per vehicle in the world, more than half being pedestrians, so it's important to take care of your safety when you're out on the streets. Dubai's roads do have pedestrian crossings, but don't expect drivers to stop. Adhere to the many traffic signal junctions where there are pedestrian lights signalling when it is safe to cross, and always keep your eyes on the traffic.

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