The newly built Metro is clean and well maintained. The trains can be fairly slow, but in rush hour you'll certainly get to where you're going faster than if you took a cab. Its reach is relatively limited, but cheap shuttle buses run between stations and nearby hotspots. Buy a Nol card to use both bus and metro services.
Taxis are cheap and plentiful in Dubai. Most will turn on their meter without prompting, but there are a few rogues in the touristy areas. Otherwise, taking a taxi in Dubai is a comfortable experience. Try to avoid peak hours though as traffic jams can turn a cheap taxi fare into an expensive trip.
There are numerous bus routes across the city, which are advertised on Dubai's RTA (road transport authority) website. Buses are cheap, but tend to be loaded with passengers throughout the day. Women have a slightly better deal, as on both the metro and buses they have the option to sit in a separate compartment from men.
To see Dubai the way you want, and to travel the famous Sheikh Zayed Road on your own, consider hiring a car for your trip. Car rental agencies are dotted throughout the city and offer competitive prices. If you intend on travelling to all corners of Dubai, car rental is a quick and relatively inexpensive way to reach your destinations.
Dubai is fairly tolerant, however it's still part of an Islamic country and it is important to remain respectful of this fact. Dressing appropriately (covering cleavage, upper legs and shoulders) will earn you respect with the locals. It's also a good idea to avoid overly affectionate behaviour and remain sober in public – failing to do so could land you in a spot of bother.
Although Arabic is the official language, you will get by perfectly well speaking English. Almost 90 per cent of the United Arab Emirates population is made up of expats, so English tends to be the favoured language in many restaurants and shops. If you venture outside the city, a few words of Arabic will come in very handy.
Dubai is a very safe city with a low crime rate. However, it's wise to take the usual precautions when you travel. Don't carry large amounts of cash on your person and remain respectful of the culture. The primary health concern in Dubai is the heat, so ensure you stay as hydrated and cool as possible.
Dubai has a desert climate with high humidity. In the summer months (May, June, July), it's not uncommon for Dubai to hit 50 degrees and 80 per cent humidity. Make no mistake, you won't be lazing on the beach or dining al fresco in this weather. The best time to visit is anywhere outside of summer, when the heat returns to moderately warm levels.
Emirates run two flights every day from Sydney to Dubai. The journey is non-stop and takes 14 hours, 30 minutes.
Emirates run a single daily flight to Dubai out of Melbourne. The flight duration is around 14 hours and is a direct route to the UAE.
Perth offers two flights to the United Arab Emirates every day. The non-stop journey takes just under 11 hours to reach Dubai.
If you fly in to Abu Dhabi, it's fairly cheap and hassle free to take a taxi back to Dubai. The journey itself will take around two hours, but you will get a fantastic view of the country and Dubai's intricacies as you travel along the Sheikh Zayed Road. Private transfers can also be arranged in advance.
For private transfers to your hotel, book in advance or when you touch down in Dubai. There are a host of companies that can cater to your needs and many of Dubai's hotels also arrange for airport pickups. Check ahead of time to see if you can be met by a driver outside of your gate.
There is an organised taxi rank at the Dubai Airport. Meters start with a higher rate when they pick you up outside of arrivals, but fares are still relatively cheap in comparison to other cities, and the airport is extremely close to the CBD so you won't have to spend a fortune to reach your hotel.
There are literally dozens of car rental agencies located at Dubai Airport. Competitive prices mean you can book ahead for the best deal, or if you haven't decided on transport options you can hire a car upon arrival. The best part is you can drive to and from the airport at your behest without relying on taxis or private services.
Every Friday, dozens of restaurants in Dubai serve up ‘brunch': typically a fixed-price, four-hour buffet of international food and free-flowing alcohol. Both high-end venues and the more affordable restaurants offer brunch. Just be aware that, depending on what venue you decide to use, they can end up getting a bit wild.
A must-do when visiting the deserts of Dubai, there are several companies that offer safari adventures out to the dunes. Activities are diverse and range from dune-bashing (a 4WD hurtling over the dunes while you're inside) to belly dancing. For those looking to combine Western and Dubai cultures, consider both camel riding and quad biking in a single day.
Not many people consider Dubai a winter haven, but there's a perfect place to slip into your winter gear in the middle of the desert. Ski Dubai, a snow dome in the shopping mecca Mall of the Emirates, boasts an insane skiing experience with real snow. Whether for the novelty or just to cool off, skiing in Dubai is sure to leave a lasting impression.
Atlantis' waterpark offers hair-raising rides for youngsters, chilled out options for the parents and a multitude of choices for the kids. Spend the day soaking up the Arabian sun from the comfort of your rubber ring, or try to tackle every ride in Dubai's most popular waterpark. There's no better way to cool down on a scorching day.
Margaux is one of the many restaurants that overlooks the spectacular fountain displays of Burj Khalifa. The head chef was trained under Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse and his pedigree shows. Dishing up fine French and Italian cuisine, the focus is on fabulous food and wine. The restaurant has an 800-bottle wine list and a sommelier that will pair your dishes with a complementary wine.
For a taste of authentic Middle Eastern and a friendly atmosphere, opt for Al Hallab. It offers an extensive menu full of Lebanese mezze dished up for a very reasonable price. This isn't grand dining, but the food is great and the atmosphere is fun. Take our advice and opt for the flatbreads, which are slightly sweetened with a hint of cinnamon – delicious!
Romantic and relaxed, the Beach Bar & Grill is a great spot for a delicious seafood meal with a bit of class. Decked out like a beach hut, it's best to opt for an outside table at sunset (book in advance) so you can enjoy the views and cool sea breeze as you dine.
One of Dubai's best-loved venues for brunch, Spectrum on One serves up high-end international cuisine and champagne for three hours on Fridays. For a fixed price, you can choose one of three brunch options and pile your plate full of sushi, oysters, cheeses and meats. Along with flowing alcohol, this feast is one that can truly cap off your Dubai visit in style.
360° is a little bar you'll find at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. As the name suggests, it offers spectacular 360° views of the sea, including the nearby Burj Al Arab: the sail-shaped hotel. Book in advance for a table and enjoy an evening of chilled music and intriguing cocktails.
Barasti is a large beach bar and club that draws a young, energetic crowd. It's the ideal venue to dress up in heels and dance the night away. Or, if you feel like a more laid-back evening, turn up in your flip flops and chill out on the beach drinking beers.
For spectacular views of the city, Neos is one of the best bars to head to. There are loads of tables, so most guests will get a chance to sip on perfectly-shaken cocktails while gazing out over Dubai's iconic skyline. If you happen to wander inside, you'll be treated to some funky space-age interior design.
Less well known on the tourist trail is QD's. Part of the Park Hyatt complex, it sits on the Dubai Creek, offering spectacular views of the skyline. With a great atmosphere, huge pizzas and tasty shishas served by attentive staff, QD's is the perfect place to while away the hours.
Ease yourself into the Dubai experience with a morning spent on the white sands of Jumeirah beach and a memorable camel ride. Next head over to Burj Al Arab. You'll need a prior booking to get into this ‘seven-star' hotel, so opt for a champagne-fuelled afternoon tea in the Sky Bar. Finish your evening with a stroll along Jumeirah beach, where the local racers like to show off their extravagant wheels. There are numerous bars along the beach front for those who fancy a nightcap.
Get in line early to be one of the first on the observation deck of Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building. The views in the morning when the early smog has burnt away are spectacular. Afterwards, go to Dubai Mall and Souk Al Bahar, at the base of the tower, for a little retail therapy and some world-class cuisine. Stay for the evening and watch the spectacular fountain show – the largest in the world.
Book in advance for a tour of Jumeirah Mosque – it's the only mosque in the city that's open to both non-Muslims and women. Learn more about the religious culture and enjoy the magnificent architecture inside. Continue the cultural theme with a trip to Bur Dubai's souks, where you can shop for textiles, then hop across the river to Deira on an abra (a traditional boat) where gold and spices are sold.
Take a morning taxi to Atlantis, the manmade palm-shaped island. Aquaventure should be on the cards for families and general adventure-seekers, with rides to keep both kids and adults amused. In the evening head out for a Bedouin dining experience. Several companies offer similar tours, which involve henna painting, shisha smoking, camel riding and belly dancing, as well as a customary Middle Eastern meal.
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