I have not been to Dubai (yet), though it is on my list. I worry about the expense of the country, as a budget traveller I worry if the city will accommodate me. In this guest post Neha gives us a budget travel guide for exploring Dubai in 2 days.
So you’re planning to travel solo in Dubai. If you’re new to solo travel, it’s understandable that you’re a little nervous. Don’t be. Travelling solo in Dubai can be so much fun! You don’t have to worry about family and kids, and planning your own activities can be greatly empowering. Dubai is a stunning city; the skyline literally takes your breath away. The city is expensive, so you’ll have to look for cheaper attractions, eats and stays while in Dubai. Here’s your guide to guide to solo travel in Dubai:
When To Visit Dubai
Unless you’re conditioned to survive desert temperatures, we advise you to spend your 2 days in Dubai during winter. Summers in Dubai can see temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius or more. If you visit Dubai during the summer, it’s best to avoid being out between 12pm until 3pm, when the sun is the hottest. But don’t worry – all indoor attractions are fully air-conditioned. You can have a whale of a time in Dubai no matter when you visit.
Surviving In Dubai
- Insurance: Dubai is expensive, and there are no two ways about that. Healthcare is private, and you’ll be paying through your nose even for a minor treatment. So before you visit, take out a comprehensive travel insurance for two days, with complete medical coverage. Talk to representatives from World Nomads or True Traveller, and keep your insurance papers with you.
- Food: Also, be sure to eat at mall food outlets, and the many eateries at Deira. Food trucks and stand-alone eateries offer both variety and value for money. Avoid eating at expensive-looking hotels and cafés, as these can cost a bunch.
- Accommodation: Dubai does have some economical stays. Check out the hostels in Deira and the apartments for rent for short duration at Dubai Marina and Deira. You can also look up couch-surfing and Airbnb options.
What To Do When You’re In Dubai
Before visiting Dubai, you need to understand a few of its laws and regulations. Here they are:
- Public displays of affection in public are not tolerated.
- You cannot drink and drive, even if you’ve consumed just a single glass of wine.
- Women are required to wear modest clothing, even in the posh malls. Very short skirts and halter tops are frowned upon. Bikinis are allowed only on the beach.
- If you carry any prescription drugs, you’ll have to declare them at the airport, and show your doctor’s prescription. Or else the airport authorities can seize your medications, and even fine or imprison you as per Dubai laws.
How to Get Around In Dubai
Unlike European cities, Dubai is not walkable. You will need to get to attractions using the Metro, the bus service, taxi or rental cars. The Metro covers most points, and is fairly economical. Purchase a Nol card at the airport, for two days on the Metro. Use the taxi services to get to the few places not serviced by the Metro. The local bus service is a good way to get around. However, if you want to include several sightseeing activities into your 2 days in Dubai Itinerary, we recommend hiring a taxi for the duration.
How to Enjoy Dubai Attractions
Carry a backpack with you wherever you go, with a few essentials in it. You’ll need a bottle of water, a towel, sunscreen, sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat and anything else you might need. Sling your bag on your back and you’re all set to traipse through Dubai on your own.
Morning: Bus Tour: The hop-on-hop-off bus tour takes you to all the interesting landmarks in Dubai. The tour comes with engaging commentary delivered in multiple languages. The best thing about this tour is that you can hop off at any point, to explore attractions on foot. You can take your time, and catch the next big bus that stops and continue with your tour. The view from the Burj alone is worth your visit visa for Dubai.
Afternoon: Souk Madinat Jumeirah: This is Dubai’s own Venice, a shopping complex where the shops are surrounded by water canals. You can get on a boat, and explore Souq Madinat and its vibrant day and night atmosphere.
Evening: Global Village: If you’re travelling between November to April, then do visit the Global Village. It’s the perfect way to taste multiple cultures, in one place. Explore various national cuisines and get to know their languages, clothing and unique cultures. Do pick up some souvenirs for the people back home. Enjoy various cultural programs and performances by multi-national artists.
Morning: The Burj Khalifa: Book your view from the Burj Khalifa’s 124th floor observatory deck in advance. The view is worth a visit. Use one of the telescopes placed at strategic locations to feast your eyes on your favourite landmarks. Watch the Dubai Fountains dance and leap up to a height of 150 floors, shining with multiple colours. You can enjoy great views of the Burj-Al Arab, Dubai Marina and other landmarks from the top.
Afternoon: Shopping: After enjoying the Burj Khalifa, enjoy shopping at the Dubai Mall – a must do. You’ll be stunned by the incredible design of the lobby with its waterfall and statues of divers suspended in the air. You’ll also see an entire acrylic wall of the Dubai Aquarium in the Dubai Mall’s lobby. Explore the Mall with its 1200 plus retail outlets, its 22-theatre multiplex cinema, the ski rink and VR Park (Virtual Reality Park). You’ll need an entire afternoon to truly enjoy the delights of this incredible shopping destination. Explore the souqs of Bur Dubai and Deira. You can smell the fragrant spices at Bur Dubai’s spice market from afar. At Deira, be sure to explore the textile and carpet markets.
Night: The Dubai Desert: Sign up for an overnight desert safari with a reputable tour operator. You will love to go dune bashing, sand boarding and quad biking in the desert. The overnight desert safari also includes a fabulous Emirati dinner and various cultural entertainments such as belly dancing and Tanura dancing. Lounge back on silk cushions and hand over your hands and feet so that the henna artists can draw tattoos on them using fragrant henna. An overnight desert safari is one of the best experiences to enjoy in Dubai.
Traveling solo can be great fun, especially in a city like Dubai, where boards are in English and people are friendly and warm. Before visiting though, explore all your options and make a clear budget. Stick to this budget when you’re in Dubai, exploring only those attractions that don’t cost the earth. Look up Groupon offers and explore the local newspapers for discounts at restaurants, attractions and activities.