A guide to Dubai with practical information and tips – how to dress in Dubai, what’s forbidden, when to visit Dubai, what to eat in Dubai, safety and other tricks. The guide also includes a map of Dubai, which makes it easy to plan your holiday.
- Dubai: tips and practical information
- What is the weather like in Dubai?
- When to visit Dubai?
- What to eat in Dubai?
- Is Dubai safe?
- Where to go shopping in Dubai?
- Is alcohol prohibited in Dubai?
- How to dress in Dubai?
- What is forbidden in Dubai?
- How to save in Dubai?
- Map of Dubai
- More information about Dubai
Dubai: tips and practical information
- Currency Dirham = AED (sometimes also Phs, Dh)
- In Dubai, you can conveniently pay with your credit card. Visa and Mastercard are commonly accepted.
- The shops are usually open from 10:00-22:00. Restaurants close later.
- You do not have to tip, but if you were satisfied with the service, a tip is appreciated. Restaurants give 10-15% of the bill. Taxis are rounded up to the nearest 5 or 10 (depending on the amount). For a bellboy or maid for the night, the tip is AED 5-10.
- Type G sockets are used in the UAE (as in the UK) so you will need a reducer. Adapters are quite expensive locally, so be sure to bring them with you.
- Wifi is available for free in many places such as metro stations, restaurants, hotels, attractions, some beaches and shopping malls.
- Tap water is drinkable in Dubai, but can be lukewarm due to the high heat.
- If the taxi driver asks you if you want to pay in dirhams or dollars when you get in, get out. In official taxis, payment is always in dirhams only.
What is the weather like in Dubai?
The weather in Dubai is subtropical with bright blue skies and a warm desert climate. Summers in Dubai from May to October are hot, windy and humid. Average daily temperatures are around 40 °C. You won’t get too cold at night either – temperatures only drop to 30°C.
The hottest month is August. Temperatures in excess of 30 °C hit the thermometer from April onwards and in autumn until October. In winter, from December to March, temperatures are in the comfortable range of 24-26 °C and 16-16 °C at night.
Dubai is sunny almost all year round. It rains only 25 days a year, especially in the peak season in winter. Still, you won’t miss your holiday. The rain usually lasts an hour or two and the sun comes out again.
When to visit Dubai?
From May to October, Dubai experiences extreme heat of around 40°C during the day and 30°C at night. Plus, it’s extremely humid, so it feels like you’re in a sweat lodge and it’s stuffy.
Summer is the time when locals travel away or are mostly indoors. Expatriates are leaving to see their families. On the other hand, tours, flights and accommodation are at their cheapest during this period.
The high season in Dubai runs from November to March, when it’s warm for swimming and you’re not bound by the uncomfortable heat as you walk around the city.
If you want to enjoy Dubai to the fullest, avoid Ramadan. It falls at a different time each year (in 2022 it was in April).
Many restaurants are closed, the rules are generally stricter and even tourists are forbidden to drink and eat in public. Attractions may have modified opening hours. This does not apply to nightlife, which is unchanged.
If you don’t mind the stricter conditions, hotels often run special packages and events during Ramadan to attract tourists.
What to eat in Dubai?
Dubai’s cuisine is cosmopolitan and consists of a mix of Arabic and Indian food with a modern twist. Popular dishes include pink Biryani with saffron, Shawarma made from lamb or chicken (a kind of döner kebab) or Machboos (a rice dish with meat or fish).
Arabic coffee is available on every corner. It is usually served sweetened and spiced with cardamom.
In Dubai you can eat expensive but also very cheap in authentic cafes. A popular option is Dubai Brunch, where you pay in advance for a package of unlimited drinks and food for about 3-4 hours. You can choose between packages with alcoholic drinks, soft drinks or food.
Is Dubai safe?
Dubai is one of the safest cities in the world. You don’t have to worry about being robbed. I would be more cautious in the Deira area at night, but it’s still generally a very safe, clean and friendly city.
Where to go shopping in Dubai?
Dubai is a renowned shopping area. It has the highest spending in the world and is considered the shopping capital of the world. The average daily spend in Dubai is over $500.
There are more than 70 shopping malls here, with The Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates among the largest shopping malls in the world. There are also 2 festivals every year:
- Dubai Shopping Festival, during which the entire emirate of Dubai becomes one big shopping mall. Purchases worth CZK 2 billion will be made here. USD. The festival is complemented by music shows and art exhibitions. The Dubai Shopping Festival takes place during January. The Dubai Shopping Festival is also associated with the creation of new records – for example, the largest shopping basket, the largest pillow fight or the largest wallet.
- Dubai Summer Surprises is the summer equivalent of the Dubai Shopping Festival and runs from June to August. It aims to promote Dubai for family holidays.
Shopping mall or shopping opportunities can be found at all major attractions in the city. Below are our tips in Dubai:
- Dubai Mall at Burj Khalifa
- Mall of the Emirates with Ski Dubai
- Mercato Shopping Mall in Jumeirah
- Nakheel Mall on Palm Jumeirah
- Dubai Marina Mall in Dubai Marina
- City Walk in Downtown Dubai
- City Centre Deira near the airport
- Ibn Battuta Mall off the main Sheikh Zayed Road
Is alcohol prohibited in Dubai?
The alcohol ban applies to everyone under 21. Alcohol is not available in supermarkets or shops (only beer without alcohol). Drinking in public and drunkenness are prohibited. However, you can drink alcohol in restaurants, hotels or bars. Just count on the fact that alcohol is much more expensive in Dubai than in Europe.
How to dress in Dubai?
When it comes to dressing up, Dubai is more benevolent than other emirates in the UAE. Many Dubai women are not veiled, as is the case in Saudi Arabia, for example.
Even so, clothing should not be revealing and show a lot of skin. It is more about respect for the country, its traditions and customs. Culturally, you are expected to dress from shoulder to knee on the street.
In some places they may be stricter and won’t let you in with more revealing clothing. Women can bring a light sweater or scarf and leggings. Firstly, most public places in Dubai are air-conditioned and a light extra layer is handy and secondly, leggings under dresses are perfectly adequate to meet the requirement of covered legs.
Swimwear belongs only on the beach or in the water park (string bikinis are prohibited on some public beaches). Topless sunbathing and thongs are completely forbidden. In the night bars, clothes are not an issue and you can wear a short dress or shorts.
Mosques are another chapter, where you have to cover your legs and hands and women have to wear a scarf over their hair. Take your shoes off before entering.
What is forbidden in Dubai?
A few tips have already been mentioned above. What else is forbidden in Dubai?
In Dubai, you should not show more affection in public. Especially if you’re not a married couple. You won’t get a ticket, but the cops can give you a warning.
The ban also applies to flower picking, where the fines are already quite hefty. Electronic cigarettes are banned in Dubai and will be confiscated at the airport.
How to save in Dubai?
Dubai cherishes the label of a luxury and shopping destination. If you want to enjoy it to the full, a holiday here can get quite expensive. Here are a few tips to help you save money, not just on admission:
- Tickets are significantly cheaper for many places in Dubai if you buy them online. They can usually be cancelled up to 24 hours in advance for free. Just show your ticket on your mobile phone on the spot. Plus, you’ll also save time in queues.
- Tickets for the Burj Khalifa observation deck are AED 73 more expensive at sunset between 16:00-18:00. Visit the Burj Khalifa before or in the evening, when the city lights up beautifully.
- With a combined ticket to Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall Aquarium, you’ll save nearly AED 50.
- You can also experience spectacular views from the Sky Views with a glass sky walkway at 219.5 metres and the ticket is half the price of the Burj Khalifa. Or you can buy discounted tickets for both places.
- Get a Dubai Pass or Dubai Explorer Pass, which gives you access to more than 45 attractions in the city for one price. More in a separate article.
- Paying in a traditional abra boat is a great and inexpensive experience that will only cost you about 1 dirham.
- Dubai’s public beaches are clean with perfectly white sand and crystal clear water. In addition, beaches like Kite and JBR provide a variety of services that make you hardly even remember you’re not on a private beach.
Map of Dubai
HOW TO USE THIS MAP: Above you will find a detailed map of Dubai. Click at the top left of the map to see separate layers with highlighted locations. You can hide and show the different layers or click on the icons on the map to see the names of the places I mention in the Dubai guide. If you want to save the map, star it. For a larger version, click on the icon in the upper right corner.
More information about Dubai
DUBAI: Get inspired by the 40 best things to do in Dubai (including information on entrance fees, opening times and a map).
We have created a separate guide for visiting Burj Khalifa (entrance fees, opening hours, how to get there, attractions)
DUBAI GUIDE: In the next article we share some interesting facts about Dubai.
HOW TO SAVE IN DUBAI: The Dubai Pass is one of the ways to save money on sights and attractions in Dubai.