Travel Dubai like a local!
Before you go on and explore Dubai’s desert safari or the Burj Khalifa, there are a couple things you should take note of. To fully maximize your stay, we’ve asked several locals to share a couple tips and as well as some travel etiquette for people looking to visit to Dubai anytime soon. Read on to find out what they’ve got to say!
1. Look beyond the glitzy skyscrapers and malls
Dubai is way more than just the Burj Khalifa and its mega-malls. The city is actually steeped in history – and it isn’t that hard to explore! Make your way to Old Town Dubai to experience Arabian culture at its finest and the souks at Dubai Creek for bargain shopping. If you’ve got a free day, locals recommend a day trip to Abu Dhabi to see the grand mosques where you can learn more about the country’s Muslim heritage.
2. Food can be cheap
If you were assuming that food in Dubai is expensive, you’re not totally wrong. However, you can score some deliciously cheap meals in the area – you just have to know where to go! Skip the Dubai Mall, JBR, or Downtown and head on over to souks and outdoor markets for the most filling options!
As far as local recommendations go, check out Bur Dubai and Deira or Al Barsha for shawarma, oman rolls, and samosas ranging from $2 to $8 a meal. On Fridays, Alloro, Andalucia Tapas & Grill and Lamesa offer great deals for the traditional brunch as well.
3. Share your food
In Dubai, it’s actually frowned upon to order a whole meal for yourself. It’s more socially accepted to order big portions and share within your group. So unless you’re travelling solo, make sure you order to share! Plus – this method helps you save money, too.
4. Ditch the metro, take a taxi
Although the Metro is definitely cheaper, it is also quite inconvenient. Stations are situated quite a long way from ideal locations, requiring you to talk a long distance to arrive at your desired destination. As Dubai isn’t really considered a walkable city, commuting via taxi is really the best option – and it’s what all locals recommend. With key attractions being quite a long way from each other, taxi prices in the city are considered reasonable. Also – don’t forget to tip your driver as well!
5. Head Downtown or to the Dubai Marina instead of The Palm
Unless you’ll be flying over The Palm via private helicopter, locals would suggest to skip The Palm altogether. Avoid the insane traffic jams in this part of town and check out Dubai Marina or Downtown instead!
6. Happy Hour or nothing at all
Drinking in Dubai is known to be quite a costly activity. But that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the fun! Thanks to the many happy hour deals scattered all around the city, you’ll be able to enjoy a night out without breaking the bank. However, if you aren’t able to catch happy hours, expect to spend about SGD15 to SGD20 for a bottle of beer.
7. Avoid PDA
Not many travellers are aware of this, but there is a strict separation of genders in the country, so even the simplest hug in public can get you into trouble. Even if you’ll be travelling with people of the same gender, try and avoid any PDA while you’re in Dubai to steer clear of any odd looks.
8. Get a copy (or two) of The Entertainer
The moment you land in Dubai, head towards a convenience store or supermarket and pick up a copy of two of The Entertainer magazine. Although the price might be a little steep (SGD 185), it’s filled with a discounts and promos for restaurants and activities that you can use during your entire stay and get your money’s worth!
9. Malls are for entertainment, not shopping
If you’re sticking within a budget, don’t go spending your money at Dubai’s mega-malls. For souvenirs and local goods, the best place to visit would be souks and outdoor markets like the Ripe Market in Zabeel Park! Here you’ll find a wide range of antiques, handmade crafts, food, and so much more.
However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t stop by the famous shopping centers during your stay. Offering more than just retail therapy, the Dubai Mall (one of many shopping malls in the city) provides a great set of entertainment for anyone and everyone with its suspended aquarium, the world’s largest indoor snow park, skating rink and book store!
Although expats have outnumbered the Emiratis in Dubai, it’s important to keep in mind that the city is grounded on Muslim heritage. That said, make sure you pay respect to all cultures and traditions that the locals adhere to. For instance, visitors must be aware of the rules in a mosque (especially if you plan to visit a few during your trip), be gracious to the elderly, and avoid criticizing the Royal Family.
Now that you’ve got all these insider tips for travelling to Dubai, it’s time to book your activities! Whether you plan on having dinner at the desert, or taking on the extreme rides in IMG World of Adventure – Klook’s got you covered with the best prices for your Dubai adventure! So what are you waiting for?