Dubai – A quick guide to planning your next trip here

21 Apr

Dubai. This is a name that immediately conjures a city in your mind which is full of Glitz, Glamor, Excess and Extravagance. A city which is traditional yet extremely accommodating of the modern. A city constantly under construction with more new and ground breaking ideas; be it The Palm or the World Islands. A city which has defied its geographic limitations (being a desert) and proved that it can have everything (including ice skating and skiing). A city that has something for everyone and will make you feel at home, no matter who you are.

We had a chance to explore Dubai (quite by chance) last November. We had actually been planning to visit numerous other places, but for one reason or the other everything kept getting cancelled. In the end, we gave all of it up and booked a ticket to the cheapest place available then, which was Dubai. A trip to this place made us realize that contrary to a lot of prior notions, there is a lot more to Dubai than shopping. And don’t get me wrong, we did shop a lot but we also saw numerous other beautiful sights and Β experienced a different character of this city.


Dubai Skyline

Now as a tourist, Dubai has a lot to offer but it’s also spread in various directions. It does have a fabulous public transportation system with taxis, buses and a metro but because of its size and weather, you need to use a public taxis quite a bit. Hence for a budget traveler (with no private vehicle), I am listing all the groupings of the tourist and some non touristy destinations that you can explore together, and save on the transportation costs of traveling to the same areas again and again.

Bur Dubai - a dhow at the abra station

Bur Dubai – a dhow at the abra station

  • Bur Dubai – This is the Old part of Dubai and has the following sights –
    • Bastakiya Quarter
    • The Dubai Museum
    • Meena Bazaar
    • The Souks
    • A Hindi Lane
    • A walk along the promenade for some old houses, heritage villages and small museums.
    • A dhow ride to Diera from an abra station
Diera - Gold Souk

Diera – Gold Souk

  • Deira – This is just after crossing the Dubai creek (about 5 minutes ride) using a dhow (boat) and can be done on the same day as Bur Dubai. The things to see here are –
    • The Spice Souk
    • Heritage House
    • Al-Ahmadiya School
    • The Gold Souk
  • Karama – A short bus / taxi ride from Bur Dubai, and you reach the Asian part of Dubai. A must visit for experiencing the local character of this place.
Festival City Mall

Festival City Mall

  • Other Malls close by i.e. a short drive away from this area are –
    • Wafi Mall
    • Diera City Centre
    • Burjuman Mall
    • Festival City Mall
Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa

  • Downtown Dubai – This is the new commercial district of Dubai, with quite a few hotels, offices and the famous Burj Khalifa. The sights to see here are –
    • Burj Khalifa
    • Dubai Mall – Shopping, Aquarium and the Ice rink
    • Dubai Fountains
Jumeirah Mosque

Jumeirah Mosque

  • Jumeirah – This is the coastal part of the city and the things to see here are –
    • The Jumeirah mosque
    • Jumeirah Beach and the cafes around
    • Burj Al-Arab – the only 7 star hotel in the world
    • Kite Beach
    • La Mer (visit this in the night for the beautiful lighting)
    • Madinat Jumeirah
    • Majlis Ghorfat Um-Al-Sheef
    • Wild Wadi Waterpark
Murals at the Atlantis

Murals at the Atlantis

  • Dubai Marina – This is the clearly the New Dubai where a lot of construction is underway and quite a few new sights to see.
    • Mall of Emirates and the Ski Dubai
    • Take the monorail and visit the Palm Jumeirah
    • The Atlantis and the Lost Chamber Aquarium
    • Festival City Mall
    • Ibn Batuta Mall

To plan my own trip, I had used the following resources –

  1. Ishita’s Post – Things to do in Dubai. A must read for all who are planning a trip to this city
  2. Lonely Planet Dubai

Tips for the Trip –

  1. The weather in Dubai can be at extremes, hence be sure about the weather before planning a trip here.
  2. Dubai is not a very walkable city, hence budget extra for the transportation.
  3. Dubai is quite liberal in terms of dressing and you can dress as you like.
  4. Taxis in Dubai do not like to take short distance fare, hence if any of the taxi drivers misbehave with you, you can complain. These complaints are taken very seriously.
  5. Unlike a lot of other international cities, Dubai does not have the pedestrian crossing signals. Hence always cross roads near the traffic signal, when it is red.

I shall write detailed posts on each of these areas i.e. on how to reach them using public transport, all things to see and our own experiences here. πŸ™‚ And though we spent 9 days here, we couldn’t see everything.

Since I have just visited this place once I may have missed out a few things. So please feel free to drop in a comment or tweet at traveler_budget.

30 Responses to “Dubai – A quick guide to planning your next trip here”

  1. Fae's Twist & Tango April 21, 2013 at 04:04 #

    – Thank you for this post, Snigdha. We are going to Dubai in April 2014. I had my husband who is in charge of planing for the excursions to read it too.
    – Does one get better deals on gold there? πŸ˜€


    • Juliana Lightle April 21, 2013 at 06:48 #

      Are you going to Dubai?? Are you there?? If so, let me know how and where and I will get you in touch with my friend who is living there with her husband and son for two years. I have thought about going to visit them, but it is very expensive there apparently. Maybe I would like going back to India better. Hmmm.


      • getsetandgo April 21, 2013 at 13:24 #

        Hi Juliana. I was in Dubai in November last year, but will definitely visit it again and write to you before I do. Also, Dubai can be done on any budget that you want as it has places for all kinds of budgets. But yes, India is definitely cheaper and more recommended πŸ™‚


    • getsetandgo April 21, 2013 at 13:20 #

      Lol. In that case follow this space for more info on things to see and do. Being an Indian, checking and buying gold is in my blood. I found designs to be very good in Dubai but you have to purchase from known shops, else chances of duping are high.


  2. Talking Qalam April 21, 2013 at 07:55 #

    You make it seem likeable, Snig. And sexy pics! You’re becoming a pro! πŸ™‚


    • getsetandgo April 21, 2013 at 13:26 #

      Thanks Archi. Let a certain someone move there and we can then check it out together πŸ™‚


  3. IshitaUnblogged April 21, 2013 at 09:23 #

    Wow! I’m glad that you enjoyed your Dubai trip and made me ‘Dubai proud’ as you’ve covered one of my favourite places – the Bastakiya, the Spice souk region etc… Thanks very much for the pingback. Made me feel a bit snooty when I saw that you had referred to the Lonely Planet and (ahem!) me! Following you on Twitter:)

    A slight curiosity – ‘Dubai does not have the pedestrian crossing signals. Hence always cross roads near the traffic signal, when it is red.’ Why is that? Most places have pedestrian crossings. In fact crossing the road without using the pedestrian crossing is illegal and one can be fined. Which part of Dubai did you encounter this?


    • getsetandgo April 21, 2013 at 13:34 #

      Hi Ishita. Your blog truly helped us plan our trip better and see some of the not so touristy sights too πŸ™‚ In fact for a lot of things i thought your blog was even better than Lonely Planet. So thank you for writing and sharing this post with all future travelers πŸ™‚

      On the pedestrian signals, we were staying in Al Mankhool and walked around a lot in Bur Dubai and Diera. But there were no pedestrian signals and people were crossing from everywhere.


  4. Shrinidhi Hande April 21, 2013 at 14:48 #

    Will be useful. THanks


  5. aquacompass7 April 21, 2013 at 15:56 #

    Thank you for visiting my blog. I haven’t seen you for a long time.


    • getsetandgo April 21, 2013 at 19:30 #

      I know. I have been busy with a few office matters but now I am back πŸ™‚


  6. Jenny Trozell April 21, 2013 at 22:33 #

    This post comes very handy for me since I just booked a trip to go there in November πŸ˜€


    • getsetandgo April 21, 2013 at 23:32 #

      In that case keep watching this space for more helpful posts on Dubai πŸ™‚


  7. chaitanyavs April 22, 2013 at 05:55 #

    Thanks for the useful tips. I lived in Dubai for a few years but when I visited it last year, it had changed so much that I was completely lost! I love walking thru the spice market and the abra ride… something magical about it. I just wanted to add that Dubai taxis charge min of 10 dirhams and also, to not pay for the kaleidoscope at the burj khalifa- the views are exactly the same as thru your camera, its a scam.


    • getsetandgo April 23, 2013 at 15:06 #

      Hey. I think Dubai is one of those cities that are constantly under construction. hence you see a new place everytime πŸ™‚ Thanks for the tips and I shall add these suggestions for my post on Burj Khalifa.


  8. My Say April 22, 2013 at 17:38 #

    nice clicks .. !!


  9. vish4uall April 22, 2013 at 20:52 #

    Nice post….and the best part is it really provides some very useful info…tx for sharing



    • getsetandgo April 23, 2013 at 15:09 #

      Hey, thanks for visiting my blog and the kind words πŸ™‚


  10. Alexandra August 19, 2013 at 15:43 #

    Very useful post for anyone travelling to this wonderful place. I really enjoyed downtown Dubai, Kamara and some of the mosques are absolutely beautiful! Like you mention costs soon do add up so make sure you have plenty of dirhams πŸ™‚


  11. ilulzblogulz November 14, 2013 at 12:34 #

    This is really such an amazing post, I will actually start planning and saving for my trip starting now πŸ˜€


    • getsetandgo November 16, 2013 at 00:25 #

      Lol πŸ™‚ Do let me know if you need any help with it.


  12. Ntombi January 15, 2014 at 17:31 #

    Hi there

    Thank you all for the info shared. I am planning to take my two boys to Dubai in March, and it will be our first time travelling oversee , so ja the planning is little bit challenging for me.


    • getsetandgo January 19, 2014 at 20:07 #

      Hey, I am glad you found the info useful πŸ™‚ Makes all the effort worthwhile πŸ™‚


  13. Traveling to Dubai July 15, 2014 at 12:40 #

    Dubai has put itself well and truly on the global map over the past decade as one of the top places to visit.

    Dubai has become one of the top international holiday destination, a regional shopping magnet, and the Middle East’s most ostentatious, glamorous party capital.

    If you’re planning on traveling to Dubai, you’ll be surprised at the variety of tourist attractions it offers


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