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Solo travel in Dubai – The expats guide

by Suzanna Scott on 12 October 2015, 11:10AM

In the first installment of our ‘Expats guide to Dubai’ series, blogger Suzanne Scott (@chickenruby) tells us how to experience the city of Dubai like a local, as a solo traveller.


Hit ‘The Beach’

Dubai is one of the safest and friendliest countries I’ve lived in and visited. The choice of accommodation is endless depending on your budget. The most popular tourist beach in Dubai is called The Beach, which can be accessed via a tram from Dubai Marina. Here you can hire cabanas and towels, shop, eat and drink in style.



Remember the dress code

The general rule in Dubai is all about balance. For example, if you're wearing a sleeveless top, you should wear a skirt or trousers that reach below the knee. The dress code in Dubai doesn't require tourists to cover their head or face. But, if you're a woman, I’d recommend carrying a pashmina with you, as you may be asked to cover your shoulders on occasion. They also work as a perfect defence against the sun. Of course, if you visit a mosque, women will need to cover their head, while men will need to wear long trousers and a short-sleeve shirt. Swimwear is perfectly acceptable on the beach and in your hotel pools, but it's best to arrive and leave the area fully dressed. 


Travel safely

On arrival at Dubai International Airport most hotels can be reached by taxi for under 100 AED. If you are standing in a taxi queue at the airport or mall and you are offered a private taxi and a chance to jump the queue be warned, although licensed taxis, Lexus, they are not metered and can charge up to 250 AED for the same journey.

At the train station on arrival at the airport you can purchase a NOL card which allows travel on the train, buses and tram. Check you are in the correct carriage as there are fines for men travelling in the women and children sections. Download the Wojhati app that allows you to plan your journey by public transport and gives directions to the nearest bus, tram or train stop.

SIM cards are easy to obtain in Dubai and are available in the shops at the arrival halls in the airport and larger supermarkets. Make sure that on arrival you obtain a physical stamp in your passport as it makes the process of obtaining a SIM card outside of the airport much easier.



See the sights

A must-visit in Dubai is the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. For sweeping views, go up to the viewing deck on floor 154. There's a considerable difference in price and the time of day that you visit. You’ll need to book in advance, online, as this is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Dubai. Tickets can be collected from The Dubai Mall on the day of your visit.

A desert safari is another must-do. There are numerous companies you can book with directly, who will collect you from your hotel, mid afternoon and drive you into the desert, over the dunes to one of many camps and provide you with entertainment in the form of belly dancers and a camel ride. Prices start from around 150 AED and also include a Henna Tattoo, Soft drinks, tea and coffee and an evening buffet. You’ll be returned to your hotel around 9.30pm. Again this is a popular tourist trip so book in advance. The guides are very informative and will tell you what is included in the cost of the trip. Holding a falcon, quad biking and sand boarding will incur additional charges, so check in advance.



Wining and dining

When it comes to eating out in Dubai, there are endless opportunities from food courts in all the Malls, to licensed bars and restaurants, usually in the hotels. Restaurants and hotels that have a license to sell alcohol tend to be more expensive to eat in, but if wining and dining is your thing, grab a copy of Time Out Dubai for listings of offers and locations of Ladies nights or grab a brunch with a choice of soft or limited house drinks.


Shopping time

Visit Al Ras and the Souks, where you can buy gold, souvenirs, pashminas, spices and endless other items. Soft drinks and water are available to buy from vendors. Be prepared to haggle, just be firm and polite and you can walk away without having to buy anything. Catch an Abra over the creek to Al Ghubaiba for 1 AED to a smaller souk, which is less intimidating and grab a drink over looking the creek from one of a handful of cafes.



Ready to go solo? Plan your holiday to Dubai online, or give our experts a call. 

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