Dubai travel tips: five misconceptions busted

Dubai travel tips
Whether you’re planning a stopover in Dubai or mapping out a longer holiday in the UAE, discover insider advice on the hottest topics, such as the weather in Dubai, the Dubai dress code, getting around Dubai, and the cost of living in Dubai, as Sarah Gamboni busts five common misconceptions about this vibrant desert-meets-beach destination.

Now that we’ve made the move to Dubai from Australia, I thought it was time to dust off the old blog and jot down a few thoughts on my new home town. First up, some Dubai travel tips and five misconceptions I had about the place, which have happily been busted.

1. Dubai is hot

Let’s knock this one on the head straight away. Yes, Dubai does get hot. Face-meltingly hot. But it’s not scorching year round… While temperatures hover in the high 40s for much of summer (June–August), in the cooler months you’re looking at clear skies and balmy weather in the mid to late 20s.
Tip: Visit between November and March to make the most of the pristine beaches and outdoor activities. 

Dubai travel tips dress

2. Dubai’s dress code is restrictive

Along with questions about the heat, the other query I fielded most from friends back home is whether I’d have to cover up. In short, no. There’s no need to cover your head, but basic courtesies do apply. When you’re in an area that’s frequented by locals, such as the malls, then it’s suggested you cover your shoulders and knees – you may get asked to do so by a security guard if you’ve worn something too skimpy. Capri pants and tees, kimonos with tank tops and jeans, and maxi dresses with a scarf draped around my shoulders have become my wardrobe staples. Things are more relaxed in touristy restaurants and bars, and on the beach it’s bikinis all the way. Just be sure to throw something on before you leave the sand. Guys, the same rule applies to you in malls, so cover those knees and shoulders please.
Tip: Carry a lightweight scarf or shawl to throw around your shoulders if needed. Handy for those icy air-conditioned malls, too. 

3. Dubai is expensive

I should preface this by saying we’ve landed here from Australia, where the general cost of living is higher than many other international cities. For us, overall Dubai is no more expensive than Melbourne – you pay more for some things here (alcoholic drinks; utilities; coffee) and less for others (taxis; petrol; groceries, which are top-quality, by the way). Everything else, such as dining out, clothing and rent seems on par with Australia. If you’re used to paying $12 for a sandwich back home, then you won’t be too shocked by the pricing here.
Tip: Keep an eye out for Ladies Night specials, when bars offer free drinks and discounts on food to women.

Dubai travel tips walking

4. Dubai can’t be done on foot

My biggest fear in moving here was that I’d have to give up my daily walks with Francesca. Not so. Depending on where you base yourself (and the time of year), Dubai is most definitely walkable. From our home in Jumeirah Beach Residence (aka JBR, above), I can easily stroll to the beach, walk along the Marina Promenade, and wander to nearby malls and supermarkets.
Tip: Book a stay in JBR or the Dubai Marina, which are well connected by walkways and public transport.

5. Dubai is difficult to navigate

As a native left-hand driver, my other fear was handling the roads, which are notoriously hectic here. Well, my solution may sound like a cop-out, but so far I simply haven’t needed to drive. Taxis are cheap, and the public transport system of trams and trains gets me everywhere I need to go. Plus, travelling with Francesca is a breeze, thanks to Careem Family – think of it as Uber with car seats!
Tip: If you’re travelling to Dubai with kids, download the Careem app for stress-free trips around town.


Sarah Gamboni is an Australian food, drinks and travel writer. Sarah writes for leading lifestyle magazines and websites, and produces content for a range of clients spanning tourism bodies, beauty products, food and fashion. She is currently based in Dubai with her husband, Simon, and daughter, Francesca.