Planning a solo trip to Dubai? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- Located on the Persian Gulf and one of the seven emirates that make up the country, Dubai is home to just over 3.49 million people.
- The desert city has been attracting worldwide focus due to its ambitious expansion, which it has achieved through feats of modern architecture seen on its man-made islands, gigantic shopping malls and impressive skyscrapers.
- A global metropolis, Dubai serves as the business, transport and commercial hub of the Middle East.
- Nicknames: City of Gold
- Currency: United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED).
- Spoken languages: Arabic and English.
- Best time to visit: November to March to escape the hot arid temperatures and enjoy the beaches.
- Arriving via airport: Dubai International Airport (DBX) is served by metro and public bus lines that operate on a zone system. Taxis charge AED30-AED40.
WHERE TO STAY
- Best Dubai hostel for solo travelers: Bohemian Backpackers. A bit hard to find, this is a new little gem in the Marina area. Located on the 23rd floor (great views), and right next to a tram spot for easy transportation.
- BurJ Dubai is the historic district located on the western side of Dubai Creek and plays host to a large number of upmarket hotels, restaurants and bar as well as the key attractions
- Deira is the commercial centre of the city, famed for its variety and local flavours.
- NOL is a smart card used to pay for fares by stored value and the only valid ticket across all of Dubai’s transportation, including bus, metro and water taxi services.
- RTA operates the public bus transport system across 79 routes that keep the city well-connected. Fares are calculated based on distance.
- Dubai Metro provides efficient, fast and cheap travel. Tickets start at Dh2.50 for 1-zone while a day pass valid across all zones costs Dh14.
- Taxis are an excellent way to explore the far flung districts of the city. Meter starts at Dh3 and charges Dh1.60 per km plus surcharges. Dh20 is added to rides passing Sharjah and Northern Emirates. Call 04 208 0555 to book.
- Drinking age is 21, and last call is 3 AM.
- Burj Khalifa is the energetic address for Dubai’s premier nightlife as seen at its bars.
- Al Barsha is where the young and fashionable hang out to dance and party the night away.
- Jumeirah stuns with open-air venues, unique nightclubs and sophisticated lounges.
- Warning: Drug use and distribution warrant a serious criminal offence that could lead to a prison sentence if found guilty.
- Great Dubai nightlife spots for visitors: Club BLU Dubai (club), Bla Bla Dubai ($$$ – cocktails), Lock, Stock & Barrel JBR ($$ – International bar), Irish Village ($$ – Irish pub), Fibber Magee’s (casual pub with live music), Chalco’s Cantina (sports bar – American focused).
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding aims to educate visitors on the local culture, its customs and religion by offering mosque tours and heritage walks.
- Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world and the crowning jewel of downtown Dubai surrounded by some of the city’s best hotels, restaurants and entertainment options.
- Burj Al Arab is an icon of modern architecture, the third tallest building in the world designed by Tom Wright that can be admired from anywhere in the city.
- Dubai Fountains were designed by the same creators of the Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas and are choreographed to music for a stunning show set on Burj Khalifa Lake.
- Al-Jumeirah Mosque is Dubai’s most photographed mosque and a sacred symbol of the city.
- Dubai Creek hosts charming markets, motor boat cruising and plenty of viewpoints from which to admire the city skyline.
- Madinat Jumeirah is Dubai’s first modern Arabian marketplace, sprawled along the beach.
- Abra Dock is where visitors can hire a water taxi and witness incomparable views of the city while admiring the bustling activities on shore.
- The city follows the Islamic religion, which should be respected by all visitors in order to avoid trouble. As such, sensible attire should be observed by both men and women (especially when out in public).
- Visitors are required to observe the local customs during the month of Ramadan, which means they should not eat, drink or smoke in public during the daytime.
- Looking for great restaurants to try? Here are some affordable places locals love in Dubai: Pak Liyari ($ – try the Biryani), Al Rabbash ($ – cafe and snacks), Al Damyati Express ($ – Egyptian), Allo Beirut ($$ – Lebanese), Calicut Paragon ($$ – Indian), Belgian Beer Café ($$ – pub food).
- Want to experience fine dining? Check out Zuma ($$$$ – sushi) and COYA Dubai ($$$$ – Peruvian).
- Where to find good cheap eats: Al Dhiyafah Road is unmatched in its super-economic food stalls and cheap restaurants.
- Dangerous areas: crime rates are low across the city and the public is encouraged to follow the strict laws and regulations.
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days