A mind-boggling gargantuan facility, Dubai International Airport (DXB) is among the world's most busy travel hubs. DXB serves nearly 70 million people each year, and it's growing rapidly. Over 100 airlines fly here, offering direct service to and from over 200 cities around the globe. Terminal 3, which opened in 2008 at a cost of $8 billion, has more floor space than any other building in the world. In the average week, over 5,000 flights depart from Dubai International.
All this flight volume is great news to travelers with tight budgets, since it means the airlines are facing stiff competition for your fare. Price wars are common. As a result, proactive comparison shopping and holding out for last-minute deals can make for major savings. On the other hand, most travelers prefer to book their flights ahead of time to avoid stress.
Among the major European hubs with direct flights to DXB are Zurich, London, Prague, Frankfurt, Brussels, Rome, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Oslo, and Paris. Passengers originating in the United States should have little trouble finding convenient connections through these cities.
In addition, Emirates airline offers regular direct US service to and from New York (JFK), Los Angeles (LAX), Boston Logan (BOS), San Francisco International (SFO), Chicago O'Hare (ORD), Seattle-Tacoma International (SEA), Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW), and Houston George Bush Intercontinental (IAH). United also runs direct flights to Dubai from Washington Dulles (IAD).
Owned by the government of Dubai, Emirates is the only airline to operate out of DXB's Terminal 3, where they'll connect you to destinations farther East, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, and Sydney. Emirates has a solid reputation for providing quality service, and their touchscreen in-flight entertainment system has consistently won awards. Newer aircraft include personal power ports for all economy passengers and the largest video screens with the most channels in the industry.
London's Heathrow is the only airport in the world that has more international passengers per year than Dubai International, and Dubai is on pace to overtake Heathrow in the years ahead. In order to keep up with the demand for passenger flights in and out of DXB, ambitious expansion plans are underway. New terminals and concourses have gone up in recent years, and still more are currently under construction. As each terminal opens, management is known to associate different concourses with different terminals. It's a bit confusing, but it makes sense overall.
Assuming you're carrying a passport issued by the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, or dozens of other countries around Europe and Asia, when you arrive at Dubai International Airport, you'll be eligible to get a free tourist visa. This visa is valid for 30 days, which is plenty for most visitors. If you need to stay in Dubai longer than a month, you can renew it for a second month for 500 AED at the offices of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, located just behind the Jaffilya Police Station in Bur Dubai.
The elevated, fully automated Dubai Metro system's two operational routes, the Green Line and the Red Line, could prove the most affordable and comfortable way to get from the airport into town. The more convenient of the two, the Red Line has stations in both Terminal 1 and 3. It runs from 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM on Saturdays through Thursdays. On Fridays, it runs from 1:00 PM to 12:00 AM.
In operation since late 2009, the Metro system's trains and stations are all fully air-conditioned. Based on sectors of the city, the fare model has the most expensive one-way trip on the entire system running you under 6 AED. It's also impossible to exceed a daily spend of 14 AED, since reaching this threshold entitles passengers to free rides until the system shuts down that night.
Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) operates an extensive bus system, with 1,573 vehicles traversing 92 routes that emanate from various points along the Metro lines. Appropriately known as DubaiBus, the system includes five lines (4, 11, 15, and 33) that stop at Terminals 1 and 3. In addition, two lines (Airport Bus 401 and 402) depart from all three terminals every half-hour, 24 hours a day. These lines will take you to the city center or the Deira district for just 3 AED.
The most popular way to get around Dubai is taxi. The taxi companies here are all either private or managed by the government. Many travelers prefer to go with the Dubai Transport Corporation, as their fleet of cream-colored cars is ubiquitous and easily recognizable. Other well-reputed cab companies include Cititaxi and National Taxi.
For much of the year, Dubai is extremely hot, averaging highs of 104 °F during the summer months. From October to April though, things get far more comfortable, with lows in the low 50s and highs ranging from the 70s to the low 90s. More inviting temperatures generally make for higher demand, and rates at hotels have been known to rise accordingly.
The holy month of Ramadan falls out at different points in the calendar each year, so we recommend doing a bit of research and planning your trip with this timing in mind. During Ramadan, Dubai accommodations are harder to come by. The city becomes remarkably less business-oriented, public eateries and institutions shut down during the day, transportation becomes less predictable, and a Night Market serves food from dusk until dawn.
Known as a hub of trade and commerce, Dubai is one of earth's top retail therapy destinations. The city is home to several gargantuan shopping malls, some of which have set world records for size and sheer volume of stores. Many of Dubai's top tourist recreation attractions – including the air-conditioned slopes of Ski Dubai and the under-water observatory of the Dubai Aquarium – are located inside or adjacent to these facilities.
The Dubai Shopping Festival, which takes place in the late winter and early spring, attracts approximately 3 million international retail pilgrims each year. Although restaurants, entertainment, cigarettes, alcohol, and many tourist services apply taxes in Dubai, most retail is not.
Dubai also attracts visitors for its wonders of contemporary architecture. The world's tallest man-made structure, Burj Khalifa dominates the skyline. This iconic building, inaugurated in January of 2010, is visible throughout the city. For 100 AED per adult and 75 AED per child, you can book a pre-arranged time to check out jaw-dropping views from the 124th floor observation deck. Alternatively, visitors without reservations can shell out 400 AED and head straight for the elevators.
Burj Khalifa is just one component of a wider city center complex called Downtown Dubai, which boasts a footprint nearly a square mile in size. Downtown Dubai is also home to several self-contained commercial and residential clusters, the Dubai Mall's 1200 shops, and the 900-foot-long Dubai Fountain.
Considered by many as another Dubai must, Dubai Fountain springs to life for a music, water, and light show each evening – every half-hour, from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM during the week and 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM Thursdays through Saturdays. The fountain propels some 22,000 gallons of water 500 feet into the air, with 6,600 color-coordinated light fixtures enhancing the effect. The musical accompaniment ranges from the classics of Arabia to the hits of Michael Jackson.
The Gulf of Arabia also attracts people from around the world for its beautiful beaches. Many hotels and blockbuster attractions offer "fun in the sun" options like water sports, water slides, and yacht cruises.
If you're looking to just kick back and soak in the rays, Dubai's got plenty of that too. Several hotels offer easy beach access, many with private beaches of their own. The Dubai Marine Beach Resort and Spa, the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, and the Regent Beach Resort are all known for waterfront lounging.
Even if you're staying somewhere landlocked, you can buy day passes to many of the top private beaches, and Jumeirah Beach Park is also an option where you can't go wrong. Here, you can wander the beautiful lawns and palm groves and set up camp on the sand for just 5 AED. There's a snack bar/kiosk on the premises, and for a reasonable price, the staff will bring you a towel, an umbrella, and a beach chair to use all day long.
© 2017 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.
© 2017 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.