This is a very simple post for those of you that are travelling to Dubai and never been to that side of the world, like me, at that time! My intention is to make you aware of somethings that I wished someone had told me!

Dress code

Dubai is a Muslim country and everyone talks about having to cover the shoulders and legs and that the women have to use a scarf on the head, but it is not quite like that. When visiting a religious place, yes, you have to be covered from shoulders to feet and the women need to use the scarf covering the hair as well. In public places is not that strict, I saw people in short shorts and sleeveless tops. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying to dress like this because I believe that you would get some intimidating looks but there is already an acceptance of other cultures. Bring comfortable clothes that would help you with the heat, but not too revealing.

How to get around

Walking when visiting a city is normally the first natural choice, visiting a specific place and then walk to the next one because they are very close on the map. There are two things to take into account when you decide to do this in Dubai, one is the Heat, a lot of it, and it doesn’t help when it comes to walking, the second one is that Dubai was not built for walking and some roads don’t have sidewalks so it can be a bit dangerous!

The underground has its advantages and disadvantages. It’s the cheapest way of transport in the city but at the same time does not stop by the city attractions so if you choose this way of transport there will be some walk involved. If you decide to do it, have in mind that the underground has some carriages designated for women only and men cannot travel in those, if by mistake you get into one, you might get fined.

If your visit to Dubai is a short stop like ours and you have a lot planed, the best way of transport is taxi. As I mentioned there is choice for every taste and taxis are not an exception. The cheapest ones use meter and are beige with “Dubai taxi” written on the back.  To get one of these taxis there are allocated places to do it, and you can find signage for it, however they are not always easy to find. BE CAREFUL with some people that might approach you for taxi, they are private taxis and very expensive.

Where to stay

There are places that stay in your memory, especially if they are so detailed as Dubai is! When you are choosing where to stay in Dubai as a tourist and want to do some site seeing, there is not a hotel that is near every place you want to visit because everything is spread out through the city. Nevertheless, there is a central area, near Burj Kalifa, where even though there is some traveling involved, you are not so distant from everything. We stayed at The Grand Hyatt Dubai, which is not the most central hotel but totally worth the extra travelling time!

10 minutes away from Burj Kalifa and right by the Creek, this is a 5-star hotel that you will want to stay in Dubai. With an enormous entrance, where there are always some dates and Arabic coffee available to welcome the guests back. The common areas are just out of this world, the interior is almost like an oasis with its own waterfall and pond with fish! There are 13 restaurants and bars (including the “Sushi” restaurant which I mentioned in my Dubai’s top 15), 4 swimming pools, gym, spa, a running track, there is nothing that you will miss from this hotel.

There are 674 rooms and 186 apartments with views to Dubai’s skyline or the old Dubai. The rooms have a classic decoration, are spacious and have a super comfortable bed with pillows to choose from.

The view from the room.
The view from the room.

We stayed on the 11th floor witch belongs to an executive area (an upgrade because it was our honeymoon). This floor and other 3 have access to a private lounge with a reception, some sofas and snacks available until late! For us it was very convenient as our flight was at 2:30 am and we were allowed to wait in the lounge which is a lot more private after checking out around 12!

What makes a hotel is the staff, and in here, was outstanding. Every time we would pass on the corridor there was always a member of staff asking if everything was ok with our room and if we required anything. These small details make a hotel very special and makes the whole visit memorable.

Interesting facts

Camel racing

In Dubai, camel racing is very traditional and in the old times the Joker were children because they are lighter and would allow the camel to run faster. There has been a history of miscreation and sale of kids for this purpose, apart from the fact that this races are quite dangerous and sometimes deadly by the way the camel swings, side to side (camels run using both right legs and then left legs), different from the horses that swing back to front (they run using both front legs and then back legs). In the last few years, this has been changing, using children for the races is now illegal and they use robots to tap on the camel’s back. When the race starts there is a road on the side of the race track, where the owners transported by car, control the robots.

Motorways

When the motorways were built in Dubai there was an issue with the sand invading the road. The solution was to plant some bushes (probably not the best word, sorry) on the side of the road to stop the sand. The question is how do you keep them alive in the desert? So, apart from planting the bushes they had to create an irrigation system! So if you ever travel in the motorway going to a desert place see if you can notice it! Miles and miles of it!

Have you been to Dubai? Do you feel like I need to add something to the list? Please let me know on the coments below.

Thank you for reading! Safe travels everyone!

Ana Castro

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