Dubai Travel Guide for First Time Travelers

Dubai is a destination like no other in the world, with a cornucopia of the globally renowned iconic spots, high-end accommodation choices, various dining venues and heaps of leisure and recreational choices. So heading to Dubai for first ever time? We’ve put together here a resourceful Dubai travel guide which lets you get the best out of your debut trip. Now even if you’re a lifelong Dubai patron, you’ll find the tips and suggestions included in this post useful. A Dubai Travel guide for the first timers.

Before You Travel:

1: Know when to visit Dubai:

This step is crucial. One of the iconic times to trip Dubai is in winter season, mainly during Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Dubai Shopping Festival. But these are also the times when the city gets exceedingly busy and packed. So don’t expect to pack your bag last moment and head off here during these months. Instead, take enough time for planning and book your accommodation, transfers, and sightseeing tours in advance; this guarantees you hassle-free travel with maximum savings.

Want to see Dubai when it’s almost empty or least crowded? Travel here in the summer months of July and August, but dare a visit in this period only if you can forego its outdoors where the desert heat is at its searing peak. That said, it comes with several bonuses with exceptional low-cost accommodations, discount shopping, exciting events, and oodles of coolest of its kind indoor attractions such as Ski Dubai (inside Mall of the Emirates), Dubai Ice Rink, Chill Out Lounge etc. And of course, how could we miss out Snow Cinema – the region’s first theater in the snow.

2: Get all visa procedures right:

Once you decide when to visit Dubai, the foremost of inevitable things is to apply for the right Dubai visa. But you don’t have to stress over it if you’re allowed for visa-on-arrival or visa-free travel which however is reserved for certain nationalities from American, European and Far-East countries only. For all other nationalities, prior application of Dubai or UAE visa is a strict mandate. So if you’re not permissible for any sort of visa exemption, make application for the approval of your Dubai visa much before your travel date. Subject to the intend and extent of Dubai visit, select from short term, long term or multiple-entry visa.

3: Take care of OTB too:

This is a pre-flight requirement for those flying to Dubai from some South Asian destinations. Don’t take this procedure as menial; your airline service provider has the complete right to stop you from boarding the flight in the absence of OTB or Ok to Board.

4: Know Dubai’s local rules and regulations:

Yes, it’s important have a basic know-how about significant Dubai customs, so that you could avoid some embarrassing hiccups.

  • Dubai’s culture and traditions are all embedded in strong Islamic beliefs; so don’t attempt to exhibit any kind of PDAs here.
  • Wear relaxed modest clothing; it’s especially a must when you’re in public places like malls, beaches etc, and while visiting religious or cultural places of interest.
  • With ample photo ops available all over the city, make sure that you take prior permission to click pictures of certain Dubai landmarks in the form of government structures. The same is also applicable when you capture images of local Emiratis including women.
  • Don’t eat or drink in public during the holy month of Ramadan.
  • Be careful as fine is imposed for drunk driving, smoking in public etc.

  • Accommodation

    From the most high-end, extravagant and premium to mid-range, low-key and super affordable ones, there is surely no scarce of hotels anywhere in Dubai. After all, the city hosts the world’s only seven-star hotel, Burj Al Arab, the imperial style Atlantis, The Palm, and the one-of-its-kind desert retreat in the form of Bab Al Shams. So the catch is to determine your priorities before you zero in on an accommodation in the city, such as how luxurious it should be, where it should be located, and what comforts or facilities it offers.

    Getting Around In Dubai

    RTA or Road and Transport Authority is Dubai’s main transport agency. It operates diverse modes of transport across road, rail and water. They are well integrated, immaculately kept, and come with an extensive route covering almost all parts of Dubai, starting from your first port of entry at Dubai International Airport. Purchase a smart NOL card to make payment for all these transport options.

    Dubai Taxi is the most flexible (though a bit expensive) for those who want to avoid waiting time, while Dubai Metro is the fastest, swiftest, cheapest and obviously, the most convenient of all; it’s driverless and entirely automated, making it an a absolute must-experience at least once in your lifetime. Apart from above, there are also reliable private vehicles which you can hire with or without vehicle. But for those who wish to be in the driver’s seat should essentially carry an international driving license.


    Diversity is what make Dubai’s dining scene distinctly special, with nationalities of over 200 countries harmoniously living here. In fact, it’s not just the authentic local specialties but the signature dishes of different parts of the world that await you here. That apart, gourmands get to enjoy dining venues that appease every whim and budget. So no matter you wish to browse across the region’s street foods or want to step your foot into a Michelin-starred or the dreamiest ever spot facing sea or the iconic landmarks such as Burj Khalifa, Dubai Fountain, Burj Al Arab etc, Dubai boasts of everything to satiate the foodie in you.


    Dubai has one of the world’s best shopping scenes, courtesy to its more than 70 stylish shopping malls, several authentic Arabian souks, and myriad of bargain flea markets. So it’s not a wonder why people descend here in droves just to hit its major shopping destinations. Serious shoppers can even go on an exclusive tour that takes them through a customized shopping trail covering all their beloved picks.

    Events, Shows And Seasonal Attractions

    Day or night, winter or summer, peak or off-season – Dubai dazzles year-round with its endless amount of live shows, brilliant performances, and cool events that take place all through the year. Surely, the city’s high-spirited entertainment scene bowls over all, right from the smaller kids and families to artists, imaginative, and even hipsters. La Perle by Dragone is a hit among those who adore heart-racing Cirque du Soleil kind of shows, while the endearing Dolphin and Seal is a sure-fire entertainer for all age groups, especially the younger ones. And not forgetting the region’s many seasonal events, activities etc that take Dubai’s dynamic vigor and vibrancy to next level; Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), Global Village, Dubai Glow Garden, and Dubai Miracle Garden are unmissable among them.

    Top Neighborhoods & Best Attractions

    Instead of randomly listing out top attractions and activities, we thought that we would edify you about Dubai’s top neighborhoods and best highlights that each of them holds.

    Downtown Dubai:

    This 500-acre neighborhood in the heart of Dubai is the hub of modernity and sophistication! Some of its top sights are the best not only in Dubai but in the entire world itself. Yes, you can expect to see here the world’s tallest building – Burj Khalifa, the biggest of its kind Dubai Mall, and the exquisite ever Dubai Fountain show, among others.

    Palm Jumeirah:

    This posh district is the perfect embodiment of Dubai’s unequaled ability and extraordinary vision to create wonders out of mere sands. Hailed as the world’s most stunning island, this man-made majesty will blow you away with its intricate design resembling a huge palm tree. It’s a dream spot for anyone craving for an island hideaway accentuated by the most stylish accommodations, elegant dining spots by water, and a heavy repertoire of leisure and recreation attractions. Not of miss here are Atlantis, The Palm Resort, Aquaventure Water Park, the scenic Boardwalk, monorail ride, and of course the lately unveiled Palm Fountain – the world’s largest fountain.


    Not to confuse this district with Palm Jumeirah. The major drawcard is its beachside location rich in stunning architectures and vivacious lifestyle. The top sight is Burj Al Arab, remarkable for its breathtaking sail shape and of course the premium comforts that make it the world’s only seven-star hotel. The spotless Jumeirah Beach, the timeless Jumeirah Mosque, eclectic Wild Wadi Water Park, the mesmeric Madinat Jumeirah, and the vivacious La Mer with Laguna Water Park are all part of this neighborhood.

    Bluewaters Island:

    The up and coming waterfront neighborhood has already grabbed the world’s attention for its many groundbreaking attractions, mainly Ain Dubai – the world’s largest observation wheel, Madame Tussauds Museum – the first of its kind in the Middle East, and obviously Rotunda Dubai and other attractions that encompass the Caesars Palace property.

    Old Dubai:

    Expect to see charming sandstone structures and cool architectures lost in time as you step into this location spread over Bur Dubai, Deira and Dubai Creek areas. A stroll across Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, an abra ride across Dubai Creek, and checking out its traditional souks such as Gold Souk and Spice Souk all give you a feel of being in real old Arabia. And they should be best seen once the sun goes down and when the fusion of lighted of old and new sights creates a spectacle like no other. One of the best ways to admire this is via a dinner dhow cruise at Dubai Creek.

    Dubai’s Desert:

    Just a few minutes’ drive away from mainstream Dubai, its desert landscape appears to be a whole new world with its oceans of golden sands and raw wilderness. Get introduced to this unscathed side of the city on a desert safari Dubai. From 4X4 dune bash, camel ride and sandboarding to henna tattooing, Shisha smoking, Tanura and belly dance show, it promises fun, thrill, culture, traditions and entertainment in right measure. BBQ dining is included in most evening and overnight desert safaris.


    So those were our top recommendations for your first trip to Dubai. And we assume that this guide will help you to design your own Dubai itinerary without any hassle.

    Handy Resources:

    Below are the few resources you should check before making an itinerary.

    Amazon: I am a member of Amazon affiliate programme. Amazon is probably the biggest market place there is. Buy your trip essential from this link

    Agoda: Best place to book hotels of your liking. Agoda provides the best solution & great offer while booking a hotel.

    Skyscanner: Skyscanner compares various sites & sort the flights based on the rates. A great way to check flight cost. Although the only drawback is that rates are flexible. Hence, the cost might change while you are making the payment.

    Jetradar: Jetradar is a comparing site which is just like Skyscanner. But, is much more accurate & much more handy in use.

    Booking: Best place to book hostel rooms. There are plenty of options available & with so many properties booking becomes much easier.

    Couchsurfing: Best place to find free accommodation. It is as easy as filtering people & messaging. If you will get lucky you will find free accommodation in local resident house.

    Travel Insurance: There are numerous options available to get one. So, you can choose anything which suits your requirement. Make sure you read the terms & conditions before buying one.

    A trip is incomplete without the pics.Buy an iphone to click some breath taking pics. Apart from a phone camera, I use GoPro an adventure camera to shoot video & click high definition photos. The product is pretty handy & captures mind blogging videos. GoPro is easy & handy to use, which makes it a must buy. So, these are my trip essentials.