There is always a certain level of anxiety that occurs when travelling to a foreign country that you have never been to before.
I remember my very first trip to India, I worried and stressed and it was all for nothing. I went through the exact same process when preparing for this trip to Dubai and it was the same outcome – follow the rules, respect the culture and you will have the experience of a lifetime.
Here are my Dubai Travel Tips:
1. Safety – If you follow the World news, sadly it looks very much like a replay of a Homeland episode each day. But leave those concerns at home because Dubai is as safe as they come as long you’re not planning to import 5kgs of cocaine. It has been reported that there are over 100,000 CTV cameras in the city so every time you enter a lift, doorway, building or hotel – look up and smile!
Xavier from 1001 Events reassured us that we could walk through the laneways of Old Dubai at 2am with our Chanel bags, gold and diamonds without a worry in the world.
Now where is that Chanel bag of mine?
2. English – Dubai is a city built on business and tourism and everyone you need to speak to has impeccable English. I was a little tired one evening and a blurted out a question to the concierge, the poor man obviously didn’t understand a word I was saying but in English he said, ‘I don’t understand Madam, which language do you speak? I can converse in 14 languages’.
3. Clothing – This was the cause of most of my pre-trip planning stress – what do you wear in Dubai? I had heard reports about not showing skin above the knee, no shoulders and absolutely no collar bones are to be seen. Gah! There goes my entire Darwin wardrobe.
Xavier informed us that there are no rules in Dubai. Yes, you are expected to respect the culture and customs but technically you can wear whatever you like. And I did see a few young girls sporting the shortest shorts and tiniest mini skirts at The Dubai Mall, but no-one said a word.
Tip: Bring some travel-friendly footwear because I guarantee you will want to hit the ground running and spend every waking hour you can explore this amazing city. Some of the walkways are quite fancy and paved with beautiful cobblestones which can make wearing anything more than a wedged shoe a bit tricky.
I was gifted some shoes which I wore by day and some heels at night, but most nights I got away with wearing my Mox shoes.
4. Alcohol – You can order alcohol at any bar, hotel or restaurant. You can bring duty-free alcohol into the country with you – 4 litres per person as long as you’re non-muslim.
No, you can’t walk along the street guzzling a long neck like you can in Bali but it is most definitely not a dry State.
5. Experiences – From my previous posts you can see there is so much more to do in Dubai than just shop and lie on the beach. The sky is the limit when it comes to what you want to see and experience in Dubai. Go dune bashing in the desert, ride a camel, swim with dolphins, take a lift up the tallest building in the world, ride in a hot air balloon or slide down the world’s largest water slide!
Can you see where I am going here? In Dubai, everything is BIGGER than BIG.
6. Money – No money, no honey! Not to worry, because there are ATMs everywhere which you can use to withdraw money, there are eftpos facilities in every store and also certified currency exchange services at places like The Dubai Mall.
7. Water – I was so excited when I discovered you can drink the tap water. It is desalinated and completely safe to drink. Save the planet, be green and drink the water and don’t buy a ton of plastic water bottles whilst you’re there.
8. Medications – There is a strict list of about 200 regulated medications for Dubai. If you are planning to bring any of these into the country, go see your doctor and get an authorised signed letter and keep your medications in their original packaging. I had to do this as I was bringing some codeine along just in case my back pain flared up again.
I had everything ready in my carry on luggage ready to show and explain at customs, but we breezed through the airport in less than 10 minutes. No-one asked or said a thing.
9. Visa – Australians receive an automatic 30-Day visa on arrival, there are no cards or paperwork to fill out, it’s fantastic!
10. Photography –You cannot take photographs of official government buildings and it is frowned upon to take photographs of strangers particularly women and children without their consent. Use your common sense.
Don’t sweat the small stuff like I did. Dubai is safe, clean and will welcome you with open arms.