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Dubai, United Arab Emirates


View from Burj Khalifa

Introduction

Dubai is a modern metropolis rising out of the desert and the Persian Gulf. It is a sprawling and rapidly developing city so sometimes it is difficult to have up to date information since things are always changing. Note that Friday and Saturday is the weekend with shops and services closed or operating with reduced hours on Fridays.

Visas

Citizens of most nationalities do not require a visa to visit Dubai. As of June 1 2013, Canadians no longer need visas that were previously required due to a diplomatic dispute.

Where You're Docked

Cruise ships dock at Port Rashid Pier with three cruise terminals. Terminal 1 is older and not frequently used. Terminal 2 has a small cafe, free internet computers, currency exchange, ATM, tourist info, post office (letters and postcards only) and some small shops. There is a small convenience store outside of the terminal. The newest and largest, Terminal 3, opened in Dec 2014 with the same amenities of Terminal 2 with the addition of a VIP business center and facilities for turnaround. Though the port looks quite close to the city on a map, the gate for the port is located over 2km away on Jumeirah Rd and Sheikh Rashid Rd on the southwestern side of the port. Less popular malls may offer free shuttles and have desks set up inside the terminal with their schedules posted. Shuttles typically run from 9:30am (malls open at 10am) until 5 to 7pm. Malls running shuttles (Apr 2012) are Mercato, Wafi (Egyptian themed with indoor modern souk and free nightly light show), Dubai Outlet and Burjuman (most convenient with a main metro stop beside it). Paid shuttle buses may be available to the airport and Dubai Mall. Otherwise, the only way to leave the port is by taxi (see transport section below). Since there is a surcharge for taking a taxi from the port, it will be cheaper to take a shuttle first to the mall closest to your destination. Cruise terminal website with schedule here http://www.visitdubai.com/en/travel-planning/cruise-dubai

Terminal 2

View Larger Map

Money and Tipping

The currency of the UAE is the Dirham (AED) but US dollars are widely accepted. The currency exchange counter in the cruise terminal offers excellent rates both for buying and selling and no commission. Exchange places can also be found in the various malls and the Gold Souk. When dining in restaurants, tip 10-15% if service charge is not included. For taxi drivers, a small tip is usually given by rounding up to the nearest note (5 AED).

Local Transportation

Dubai's modern metro system added a second green line in Sept 2011. If you take the shuttle to Burjuman Center, you will be next to Khalid Bin Walid station which is a transfer point for the green and red lines. Fares start at 2 AED and depend on zones traveled. A day pass is available for 14 AED (Jan 2014). The metro uses a contactless card but visitors can buy a Red ticket (additional 2 AED) which can be recharged up to 10 times. Metro to bus transfers are not allowed with this ticket. Since Dubai is so sprawling, the metro stops don't seem close to some sights so you may need to walk or take a taxi to complete your trip. The metro doesn't open until noon on Fridays but may start earlier for certain events in town. You can take the abra (water bus) to cross Dubai Creek for 1 AED. The bus network has enclosed, air conditioned bus shelters but taking public buses may be confusing for vistors.

Taxis are metered and reasonably priced but can get expensive since Dubai is so sprawling. The starting fare is 3dh with a 10dh minimum charge. A slightly higher evening rate applies after 10pm. An expensive 20dh surcharge is applied to fares leaving the airport or cruise terminal. The surcharge also applies to trips that cross into Sharjah. Most taxis will take credit cards and US dollars and should be tipped by rounding your fare to the nearest 5 AED.

The Big Bus Company runs hop-on, hop-off (HOHO) routes with evening service and a stop outside the terminal. They have an information desk inside.

Hotels

Search hotels in Dubai here

Sights

  • Burj Al Arab Hotel - This sail shaped hotel is an iconic image of Dubai. There is heavy security at the gate so the hotel can be best admired from Jumeira Beach nearby. Take a taxi from Mall of Emirates metro.
  • Burj Khalifa - Recently taking the crown of tallest building in the world, there is an observation deck midway up with an outdoor platform. Enter from Dubai Mall. Tickets are much cheaper if you reserve but you can do it for the same day if it isn't busy. 100 AED for timed entry. http://www.burjkhalifa.ae Update Oct 2014 - A new observation deck has opened higher up on the 148th floor, 24 floors higher up than the current observation deck.
  • Dubai Mall - The largest mall in the world with an indoor theme park, multistory aquarium and skating rink. Catch the fountain show outside every half hour from 6pm to 11pm. Metro Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall. Metro Link, an air conditioned, moving walkway opened Dec 2012 easing the connection from the mall to the metro station.
  • Ski Dubai - The largest indoor ski slope inside the busy Mall of Emirates. Entry includes rental of winter clothing and ski equipment but you but need to purchase gloves and a hat. Bring your own to save some money if you plan to visit. Metro Mall of Emirates. http://www.skidxb.com/
  • Palm Island - This manmade island features an Atlantis resort at the very top with a water park and aquarium. A monorail runs along the center of the island.
  • Dubai Museum - This museum showcases Dubai's history. From the museum, head over to the Grand Mosque next door and take an abra across Dubai Creek to visit the Deira district with the Gold and Spice Souks.

Shopping & Restaurants

Dubai has many modern air conditioned malls with the most popular ones being Dubai Mall and Mall of Emirates. Popular NYC burger and shake restaurant Shake Shack can be found in multiple locations including the two malls just mentioned. Malls typically open daily from 10am to 10pm or midnight.

  • Gold Souk - an outdoor historic market in the old city center, Deira district. Official hours 7am-noon & 5pm-7pm Sa-Th, 5pm-7pm Fr, closed Sun but most shops remain open in the afternoon. There are also modern gold souks in Dubai Mall and Wafi Mall.
  • Spice Souk - south of the Gold Souk and specializing in spices, Deira district
  • Souk Al Bahar - a modern souk located beside the Dubai Mall across the walkway over the fountain
  • Dubai Marina - Skyscrapers surround this modern marina with plenty of restaurants and shops and a beach. The Jumeriah Beach Residence (JBR) Walk is in the area. Located by the base of the Palm. Metro Dubai Marina.

For supermarkets, look for the large French chain Carrefour in the malls (Mall of Emirates and Wafi). Dubai Mall has a Waitrose supermarket. Carrefour opened in 2014 inside Burjuman Mall and there is also a Spinneys about 2 blocks to the south.

For Canadians wanting a taste of home, you will find Tim Horton's here with a location at Dubai Mall.

Internet

Free wifi is available at Starbucks and other cafes, inside Dubai Mall, and in the cruise terminals (difficult to connect when busy). There are also free internet computers in the terminal.

Maps (right-click to save)

Bur Dubai and Deira

Jumeirah Beach

Metro

Weather

Dubai Weather Forecast

Find more about Weather in Dubai, ER
Click for weather forecast

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