Dubai Destination Guide
A shimmering oasis and gateway to the Middle East and beyond, Dubai is a destination like no other. Amazing feats of human ingenuity rise out of the desert, from the gleaming tip of skyscraper Burj Khalifa, to the meticulously planned Palm Jumeirah in the sea. It’s a wonderland of exquisite hotels, a fantasy world of unsurpassed shopping and spectacular attractions, and serves up a good helping of fabulous restaurants and bars offering a thriving social scene catering to all tastes and budgets.
There’s more to Dubai than the glitz, though. Not so long ago, this Emirate was a sleepy pearling and fishing port. Find thriving fragments of its past, in the souks and along the river. And don’t miss the growing cultural scene in an amazing film festival and an edgy modern art gallery scene.
Surprising, eclectic and often puzzling, Dubai is much more than just a stopover, so take some time to get to know it.
- Country: United Arab Emirates
- Currency: Dirham (AED)
- Offical Language: Arabic, English
- Visas: Australians travelling to the United Arab Emirates as tourists are eligible for a 30-day visitor visa on arrival, this visa may be extended for up to an additional 30 days
- Tipping: Tips of around 10 to 15 per cent are optional for good service
- Electricity: Outlets in the United Arab Emirates run on 220 volts and use type C, D and G plugs
Temperature (max C)
J 23, F 24, M 27, A 30, M 34, J 36, J 38, A 39, S 37, O 33, N 31, D 26
Rainfall (max mm)
J 23, F 23, M 10, A 5, M 0, J 0, J 0, A 0, S 0, O 0, N 10, D 36
You can see the world's tallest building – Burj Khalifa – from anywhere in the city, but the real fun is taking the super-fast lift to the viewing platform on its 124th level. It reveals an unprecedented vista of Dubai and the lift entrance is in Dubai Mall.
The much-photographed landmark Jumeirah Mosque is the only mosque non-Muslims can enter. Of course, skiing is on your mind in the desert, right? Try the five runs at the massive indoor Ski Dubai in Mall of the Emirates.
With all the glistening modernity here, it's easy to forget there's an old town. Explore the Bastakiya district to see distinctive Arabian archways and original homes, and don't forget the Deira Gold Souk!
Just about any cuisine you fancy is on offer in Dubai. As the sun goes down, when the air is cooler and the long work day done – this is a hardworking population – the locals love to relax over a meal. It’s a favourite pastime. Weekend brunch is huge in Dubai, with many international hotels turning on lavish buffets and several-course feasts.
Wonder how the 'other half' live? You could rub shoulders with them by booking a room at the Burj Al Arab hotel. The self-proclaimed 7-star property is the epitome of all-suite luxury.
If your budget is a rung lower, you will be well-housed at chain hotels in Dubai such as the Hyatt, Hilton, InterContinental, Sofitel or Raffles and the list goes on.
Don't despair if your budget is 'budget' – such properties do exist, but note the high season across all accommodation types is September to May so it's worth booking in advance if you anticipate visiting Dubai during these times.
The fact that Dubai is home to the world’s largest mall – and hosts scores of other, smaller but still gargantuan malls, as well as atmospheric souks and even a shopping festival – marks this out as a place that knows its retail.
Dubai like a Local
Weekend brunch in Dubai is almost a sport. The big hotels put on huge, plentiful buffets, which are washed down with litres of champagne. Take your pick of seafood, salads, delectable baked goods and some amazing dessert tables and don’t be in a rush – these are marathon events.
1. Shop at night: If you want to hang out with the locals, head to the mall at night. Recognising that people work during the day and the Emirates’ love of after-hours socialising, the malls are open till 10pm most nights and until midnight on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Remember that hours change during Ramadan and most are closed Friday mornings.
2. Karama Souk: If you’re in the market for shoes, bags, watches, jewellery and souvenirs, venture into the warren of alleyways, tiny family restaurants and small shops at Karama Souk. Be prepared to haggle.
Did you know...? It may be the desert, but you can ski any time of the year in Dubai. Ski Dubai is an indoor ski resort in the Mall of the Emirates, featuring 22,500 square metres of snowfields. Find the world’s first indoor black run as well as gentler beginner slopes. Don’t worry about packing your ski gear – it’s all available for hire, as is expert tuition.