If you ever find yourself on a Dubai layover for 4 to 12 hours there are plenty of things to do in Dubai during your stopover.
While Dubai is best known for its shopping and its nightlife, there are many outdoor activities which can be enjoyed in the evening or night, as Dubai is the city that never sleeps.
However, during the summer months that is May to August, it can be extremely hot as the weather is concerned. Which means it is not as busy and you may find outdoor activities in Dubai to be a little unbearable during this time period.
The Emirate of Dubai is the second largest of the seven United Arab Emirates but has the biggest population at over 2.1 million inhabitants. Size has been synonymous with Dubai as it continues to build the first, largest and the biggest constructions in the world. Dubai's dynamics are always transient and ever-changing with its constant urge to construct something better and bigger than the previous. If there was a Palm Island, Nakheel thought of the World Island. Burj Al Arab seemed too timid when Burj Khalifa cropped up, distancing itself to being a loner in the crowd. Dubai constantly dwells in a suppressive competition with itself trying to magnetize tourists to a dreamy world of attractions and unheard of luxuries. The emirate's scoring points lie in its entrepreneurial abilities to create the inconceivable found in its tourist attractions, landmarks, shopping centres, nightlife and hotels. Although it strictly safeguards its traditional practices, it allows space for other religions to breathe, a rare quality amongst the conservative Arab world. Thankfully, it has been successful in shielding itself from extremism, much-needed for it to survive. Today, Dubai has emerged as a cosmopolitan metropolis that has grown steadily to become a global city and a business and cultural hub of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf region.
A newbie tourist to Dubai can get confused as it offers an exciting abundance of attractions, activities, shopping and nightlife. Here's a top list of things to do when holidaying in Dubai.
Downtown Dubai ( Visit Site )
Downtown Dubai used to be called Downtown Burj Dubai and is home to several of the city's key landmark sites., including Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall and Dubai Fountain (see below). Downtown Dubai has a population of about 100,000 and covers an area of 2 square kilometres. On completion, it is estimated to cost in the region of US$20 billion.
The Dubai Mall ( Visit Site )
Dubai Mall is the world's largest shopping centre and is part of the new Downtown Dubai mega-complex. It opened at the end of 2008 with 635 retailers. In 2012, it attracted 65 million visitors - more visitors than New York City attracted over the same period.
The Dubai Fountain
The Dubai Fountain is a record breaking, musical fountain show located on the man-made Burj Khalifa Lake. Water is shot up in the air to an altitude of over 500ft and accompanied by classical & contemporary music from around the world. The fountain opened in 2009 but in 2010 the fountain's length was increased to 275m.
Burj Khalifa [ view gallery ]
When it comes to Dubai constructions, the sky is the limit in the literal sense of the word. Presently, Burj Khalifa tops the list for the tallest skyscraper in the world at a height of 2,717 ft. Part of the new development called Downtown Dubai; the tower is the address to the most elite hotels, shopping centres, residences and offices in the world.
Burj Al Arab [ view gallery ]
Everyone dreams of staying at the Burj Al-Arab, the most extravagant hotel in the world. However, world's first seven star hotel developed by Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts chooses its customers and not vice versa. Burj Al Arab's billowing sail enjoys being a focus of public attention with its glittery gold interiors, ultra-spacious suites and the heightened level of luxury offered.
Palm Islands [ view gallery ]
When innovation meets hard work, the results are astounding as seen at the Palm Islands in Dubai, an ambitious project visualized by Nakheel Properties; these man-made islands were constructed to accommodate the ever-growing tourist influx in Dubai. Shaped to resemble a palm tree, the Palm Trilogy defines everyday luxury living.
Al Bastakiya [ view gallery ]
Today Dubai is all about modern, hi-rise constructions, but a part of it remains umbilically connected to the narrow lanes and wind-towers of the historic Al Bastakiya district. The oldest residential district in Dubai dating to 1890, the area is significant for its old-time architecture and the unaffiliation for the busy lives of Bur Dubai.
Ski Dubai [ view gallery ]
The words winter and desert are diametrically opposite yet Dubai manages it by constructing a Ski resort inside the Mall of Emirates, the largest mall in the world. Featuring 22,500-square metres of ski area covered in snow all year round, the indoor ski resort features various ski jump slopes and play areas to entertain children and adults alike.
Deira Clocktower [ view gallery ]
A major landmark in Dubai, Deira Clocktower has been a silent witness to the city's changing faces when it was built in 1963 to mark the country's first oil exports. Also referred to as Dubai Clocktower, it stands at the gateway of Maktoum Bridge, one of the significant constructions in Dubai Creek linking Bur Dubai and Deira.
Dubai Marina [ view gallery ]
Located in what is known as 'new Dubai', Dubai Marina is a man-made canal city built to encourage luxurious lifestyles through exclusive waterfront constructions along the Persian Gulf shoreline. These include swanky hotels, aristocratic residential palaces and extravagant shopping and entertainment centres.
The Buddha Bar ( Visit Site )
Best Nightlife Hotspot
* Global band from Paris does very well...
Location: Grosvenor House Dubai Al Sufouh Road - Dubai
Tel: +971 4 399 8888
Barrels Pub ( Visit Site )
Best for Watching Football
* Plenty of screens, even some private TV's mounted at the tables.
Location: Majestic Hotel Tower, Bur Dubai
Tel: +971 4 501 2666
The Music Room ( Visit Site )
Best for Live Music
* Part rock gig, part jazz club, great atmosphere
Location: Ground Floor - Majestic Hotel - Dubai
Tel: +971 4 501 2666
The Irish Village ( Visit Site )
* Live music & a great friendly crowd
Location: Al Garhoud – next to Dubai Tennis Stadium
Tel: +971 4 282 4750
The Underground Pub
Best Sports Bar
* Lively, London Underground themed pub, Live sport and pool tables
Location: Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai Marina
Tel: +971 4 399 5000
Best for Ladies Night
* Amazing views of The Dubai Fountains and ladies drink for free on Fridays…what's not to like?
Location: Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai
Tel: +971 4 399 5000
People by Crystal
Best for Clubbing
* Big beats, bigger views, glamour and extravagance on top of Raffles
Location: Raffles Dubai, Sheikh Rashid Road, Wafi, Dubai
Tel: +971 50 297 2097
Siddharta Lounge ( Visit Site )
Best New Bar
* Brought to you by Buddha Bar. Smart & slick poolside bar
Location: Grosvenor House Dubai Al Sufouh Rd. - Dubai
Tel: +971 4 399 8888
Movida ( Visit Site )
Best New Club
* Direct from London's Soho, 'Dubai's most exclusive club'
Location: Radisson Royal, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai
Tel: +971 55 174 4449
Al Sarab Rooftop Lounge ( Visit Site )
Best for Desert Views
* Arabic inspired, cosy lounges and cushions
Location: Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa, 37 km past Arabian Ranches, towards Endurance Village, Dubai
Tel: +971 4 381 3231
Beaches are a prominent part of Dubai's identity as most star hotels are located on the Jumeirah stretch, many having their own private beach access. The major two, Palm Beach and Jumeirah Beach offer a wide range of recreational activities for holidaymakers such as water sports, swimming and beach bumming.
Dubai is a shopaholic's paradise as it showcases the best brands around the world in its humongous malls. The icing on the cake is the never-experienced before entertainment facilities like the indoor ski resort, 22-screen cineplex, single volume largest aquarium and a stretch of glittering gold and aromatic spice shops.
Visit the Burj Khalifa
A visit to the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, is a must do for every tourist who wants to experience the amazing panoramic view of the Dubai city skyline from the 124th floor 'Observation Deck'. The marvellous journey will take you through the vision and construction of Burj Khalifa and also let you shop 'At The Top', to take home a souvenir.
Wild Wadi Waterpark
Dubai's own water park, Wild Wadi is a part of Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts where kids and parents can spend their entire fun-filling days splashing on the rides and enjoying some tasty tit-bits at the food corners. While staying at any Jumeirah Resort, guests enjoy an unlimited access to the water park.
Hot Air Balloon Rides ( Book Now )
Witness a completely different image of Dubai from a bird's eye with a Hot Air Balloon Ride soaring in the sky. As you fly high in the sky, behold the Arabian Desert's amazing sand dunes, mesmerizing oasis and camels wandering in the unknown horizon.
Dune Bashing (Desert Safari) ( Book Now )
Don't miss out on a chance to go on a Dune Bashing experience in Dubai. It's the ultimate adrenalin rush adventure as you challenge the sand dunes in an SUV wheeler. This thrilling ride is most of the times accompanied with Quad biking, sand skiing, camel ride, etc.
Dubai is one of the rare places which has a real understanding of what makes for a good game of golf. Its spectacular golf courses are where some of the world's top-notch tournaments like Dubai Desert Classic are played. For additional fun, one could try a hand at sand golf.
Live Music Events ( Visit Dubai Calendar )
Nightlife in Dubai is a classic experience where artists and groups from the international scene, perform live. There's always an influx of world-renowned bands playing all year round, but the local music scene is as wonderful and entertaining.
Agreed Dubai is more about sun, sand and the beach, but the snow also makes its presence felt at Ski Dubai, the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East. Skiing, Snowboarding, Snow Park, arrangements for birthday parties and marriages; every action and event is possible at the Ski Dubai. Moreover, Sand Skiing on the sand dunes at Hatta takes on a whole new meaning in Dubai.
Cruise the Dubai Creek
Cruise down the Dubai Creek in a traditionally decorated dhow as you enjoy a sumptuous BBQ dinner gazing at the stars and reflections of the city in the soft waves. The experience is built up through entertainment provided by music and belly dancing.
Q.1) What is the capital city of United Arab Emirates?
Ans: Abu Dhabi is the capital and second largest city in the United Arab Emirates, after Dubai. It is roughly 90-minutes drive from Dubai.
Q.2) What is the official language spoken in Dubai?
Ans: The official language of Dubai is Arabic. However, English is widely spoken and understood.
Q.3) Which are the neighbouring cities and countries of Dubai?
Ans: Dubai is surrounded by Saudi Arabia on its southern and western borders while northern and eastern borders are shared with the Sultanate of Oman. The neighbouring cities of Dubai are Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Sharjah and Umma al-Quwain.
Q.4) What is the population of Dubai?
Ans: The population of Dubai as per 2008 census is 2,262,000.
Q.5) What is the weather in Dubai like?
Ans: Dubai lies within the Arabian Desert and therefore is influenced by a hot and humid climate with long hours of sunlight. Summers are very hot and dry as temperatures reach an average of 40 °C. The best time to visit Dubai is during winter months between December and March when its cooler with an average of 23 °C.
Q.6) How safe is Dubai for tourists?
Ans: Dubai is a very safe city to visit as the laws provide stringent punishments.
Q.7) What is the currency of Dubai and where could I exchange foreign currency?
Ans: The local currency of Dubai is Arab Emirates Dirhams or Dhs. Tourists in Dubai can exchange their local currency or travellers cheques for Dirhams at any moneychangers or banks. Those who prefer hard cash, the best option is carrying US dollars, British pounds or Euro. Credit cards are widely accepted at ATM’s and banks.
Q.8) What is the dress code in Dubai like?
Ans: Dubai respects western style of clothing, but does not tolerate disgraceful attire. It is advisable to cover knees and shoulders. Spaghetti straps, low cut tops may be viewed as offensive. Bikinis are fine on beaches and swimming pools.
Q.9) What is the culture of Dubai?
Ans: Dubai follows Islamic traditions and practices but is tolerant of other religions as well. The people of Dubai will appreciate if you try to learn more about their customs and practices.
Q.10) Should I obtain a health insurance before traveling to Dubai?
Ans: It is advisable to review your health insurance policies before traveling to Dubai as hospital treatment though top-notch, can be expensive.
Q.11) Which vaccinations are advised before arriving to Dubai?
Ans: Hepatitis A /Tuberculosis /Tetanus /Polio vaccinations are recommended before arriving in Dubai/United Arab Emirates.
Q.12) What is the electric current voltage in Dubai?
Ans: The electric current is 220 Volts and three pin plugs are used similar to the ones used the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Q.13) What type of clothing should I carry when traveling to Dubai?
Ans: Summer clothing is advisable all year round with some winter apparel advised in the colder months.
Q.14) Is alcohol consumption permitted in Dubai?
Ans: Dubai allows alcohol consumption in hotels, private parties, bar, clubs and restaurants. However, it is illegal to consume alcohol in a public space or drive when drunk.
Q.15) What are the tipping practices followed in Dubai?
Ans: Tipping is not widely accepted practice in Dubai. However, it is appreciated. Sometimes, a service charge is added to your bill which is then pooled among waiters. If no service charge is applied, tip by cash so that it goes to the person who actually served you. Tip around 5 Dhs to bell boys and around 20-30 Dhs to cleaners which you can leave in your room when checking out.
Q.16) How is Dubai different for tourists during the month of Ramadan?
Ans: Ramadan is the religious and sacred month of fasting and prayer for Muslims. Smoking, eating and drinking in public space is banned between sunrise and sunset. Alcohol is available in 5-star hotels but dancing, loud music is forbidden.
Q.17) Can one carry medication in Dubai?
Ans: If you need to bring any medicine to Dubai, it is better that it be attached to a doctor’s prescription. Drugs and certain substances are banned in Dubai. Please check with the authorities.
Q.18) How much will it cost to visit the Burj Khalifa?
Ans: The ticket to ‘At the Top’ Observation Deck at Burj Khalifa is as follows: Adult (13 years +) General Admission (Dated & Timed) AED 100 Immediate Entry Admission AED 400
Child (4 - 12 ) General Admission (Dated & Timed) AED 75 Immediate Entry Admission AED 400
Infants (0-3) Free
Q.19) What is the Time Zone of Dubai?
Ans: GMT/UTC +4 hours
Q.20) What are the Visa Requirements for Dubai?
Ans: Please visit our Visa Requirements page for more details.
Q.21) Is clicking photographs of public spaces prohibited in Dubai?
Ans: Care should be taken while clicking photographs in public spaces and of people. Take permission while capturing shots of government buildings, malls and people unknown to you, especially women.
Q.22) Which is the oldest building in Dubai?
Ans: Al Fahidi Fort is the oldest building in Dubai and was the tallest for 179 years, before Burj Dubai sprung up.
Q.23) How do I set up my mobile phone connection in Dubai?
Ans: Etisalat & Du are the two mobile service providers in Dubai. You will need a passport copy with a valid visa or residence stamp to get a mobile phone connection. Visit their official sites for more details.
Q.24) Which are the Free Trade Zones and Economic Zones in Dubai?
Ans: Dubai Academic City (DAC), Dubai Airport Free Zone (DAFZ), Dubai Car and Automotive City Free Zone (DUCAMZ), Dubai Gold and Diamond Park, Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC), Dubai Industrial City (DIC), Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), Dubai Knowledge Village (KV or DKV), Dubai Media City (DMC), Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), Dubai Silicon Oasis, Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone (TECOM), Economic Zones World (EZW), Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA or JAFZ)
Q.25) What is the baggage allowance limit while traveling to Dubai?
Ans: Emirates airlines is generous with baggage allowance which is 30 kgs check-in baggage for Economy class travelers, 40-kg for Business class and 50-kg for First class travelers.
Q.26) How does one greet fellow Arabs?
Ans: To welcome a Gulf Arab, a handshake is sufficient. Men greeting women or vice-versa is not recommended. However, if the female offers a handshake it would be appropriate to accept it out of courtesy.
Q.27) Which are the major newspapers published in UAE?
Ans: The following is the complete list of newspapers published in UAE with most available in Dubai: 7Days, AL Alam Newspaper, Al Bayan, Al-Ittiha, Al-Khaleej Newspaper Al Mal, Al-reyadha wa Al-shabab, Al-Shindagah, Akhbar Al Arab, Arabian Business, BushraKhalid, Economic Bulletin, Daily Ash-Sharq, DPM News Agency, Dubai Chronicle, Emarat Alyoum, Emarat Business Review, Emirates Today, Gulf News, Gulf Today, Khaleej Times, The National, Probaser Prohor, Shonglap, Sound of Malaieen, Sport 360. Many of the above even have an online version of their publishing.
Q.28) Which are the TV channels offered in Dubai?
Ans: Cable TV is available in Dubai via E-Vision or directly through satellite from providers like OSN, Star TV and ART. Dubai One, MBC 4, MBC Action, MBC 2 and City 7 TV are the main free to air channels.
Q.29) Which are the Radio channels offered in Dubai?
Ans: Dubai offers a wide variety of radio channels; both AM & FM in languages spoken commonly in the city such as Arabic, English, Hindi, Urdu, Malayalam and Filipino. It serves the main purpose of keeping travelers updated on the current traffic scenario, important during frequent traffic snarls.
Q.30) Who is the Ruler of Dubai and when did he assume monarchy over Dubai?
Ans: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum became the Ruler of Dubai on January 4th, 2006, following the death of his father and then Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum. He also assumes office as the Prime Minister, Vice President and an absolute monarch of Dubai.
Public transport in Dubai is the cheapest and the most popular mode of transport, preferred by lower income class travelers. Managed by the Roads & Transport Authority (RTA), it includes public buses, inter-emirate buses, metro rail and taxi services. Bus and Train Ticket fares/passes are available online as well as on boarding. Routes and bus numbers are placed in both Arabic and English. While traveling in Old Dubai, Abras or Dhows are used as transportation to cross the Dubai Creek to the Al Sabkha station. Extremely cheap compared to other transport services, the Abras are revived as a part of a conservation program, running from Creek Park Station to the Public Library Station. Public Transport in Dubai is controlled by the Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) which includes public buses, inter-emirate buses, metro rail and taxi services.
RTA operates an extensive web of public buses in Dubai working on 734 bus schedules on 79 bus routes. The custom built buses travel on planned routes during weekdays except for Fridays and public holidays when passenger demand is at its peak. Public buses are the cheapest way of transport, though not always feasible due to increasing traffic chaos. The government has made available easy e-swipe cards and discounts, but most tourists and locals prefer traveling by car, which is the obvious cause of the traffic congestion.
The most frequently used mode of transport, taxi services, is operated by the Dubai Taxi Corporation, part of the Roads & Transport Authority. Although there are public cab services available, DTC taxis are easily identified by their cream colour. Taxis are easily available and cheap as the fares are metered according to distance traveled. They are characterized by the services they offer that include airport transfers, special taxis for women, families and physically challenged and the regular taxis to hop from one destination to another. Presently the minimum taxi fare in Dubai is 10 AED and is less if they are booked in advance.
RTA operates and maintains an advanced, state-of-the-art Dubai Metro rail system, a much sought after transport option. It is a driverless, fully automated metro system built mainly underground to solve the traffic congestion in the city. Currently, the Red Line is fully operational covering stations from Al Rashidiya to Jebel Ali, traveling along the Sheikh Zayed road where most of the corporate offices and hotels are located. The RTA has introduced separate NOL cards for frequent travelers, first class travelers and tourists to pay for the tickets. These cards can be used for other modes of transport and parking as well.
Tourists in Dubai are partial towards Car rentals as it allows them to travel at their own convenience and privacy. Also, a national or international driving license is enough to hire a car making the procedure quick and easy. Moreover, today many websites provide for online booking of cars to pick up from the airport or alternatively to be delivered at the hotel. It is possible to rent 4x4 SUV to enjoy adventurous Desert Safaris or cars for long distance traveling beyond Dubai into another emirate. Dubai possesses an impressive and well signposted road network which makes getting about quite easy. In fact, traveling in Dubai by car is comparatively a low cost option since the petrol pricing is reasonably cheap in the Middle Eastern countries. It's important to remember, traffic regulations in Dubai are considerably strict. Have a good knowledge of the driving laws and regularly check the speed limit.
Dubai is the hub of tourism in UAE as visitors throng the emirate for tourism and business purposes. A well-maintained network of communication is of primary importance which includes various departments such as phone, internet, newspaper, postal, courier, television and radio. Telecommunication services are top-notch in the emirate with public telephone booths allowing for international calls using phone cards. Moreover, most of the star hotels include IDD in their room facilities. There are two major service providers in Dubai: Etisalat and Du. They provide a complete telecom solution that includes a mobile and/or internet connection, landline connection and Satellite TV connection. Depending on the internet or mobile package availed, visitors have to provide the necessary documents which includes a visa or residence stamp. Other ways of interacting with Dubai is through newspapers (both online and paper versions), TV channels and radio for entertainment and latest news updates. Visit Etisalat and Du websites for more details.
Dubai being the UAE's most popular emirate, attracts thousands of British holiday makers throughout the year. Highly developed luxury resorts and abundant sunshine make Dubai one of the UK's most preferred long haul holiday destinations. Tourists looking for all inclusive Dubai, shopping, Arabic culture and desert safaris flock to Dubai for 7, 14 or 21 day package holidays. With some of the best and biggest buildings and many of the world's firsts, Dubai has marked its place on the world map as an epitome of luxury and massive construction projects. The creek offers gorgeous river cruises with views to some very traditional Islamic building and contrasting modern developments, found only in Dubai. From the UK, holiday makers can book either all inclusive or self catering package holidays with flights everyday from London, Manchester, Birmingham and 27 other UK airports. Located on the Persian Gulf coast, Dubai can be combined with other destinations on the Arabian Sea and Indian ocean to form various twin-centre or multi-centre holidays. For more information and to book holidays to Dubai, please visit our package holiday section or visit ZipHolidays