You're booking you flights from somewhere to somewhere with a change in Dubai, the flight company gives you the option of spending a few hours in the city to explore. What should you do?
For us it turned out that 8 hours wasn't very long in Dubai, especially after we'd figured out passport control and getting out of the airport, but it was long enough for us to see all we wanted. So here are our tips:
- Convert your currency to Dirhams before you fly. We got ours while we were waiting for boarding time in the previous airport. How much you'll need obviously depends on what you've got planned, but food seemed reasonably priced and transport (especially by taxi) was cheap.
-Know your visa situation. It seems most countries don't need to get one in advance, but UK citizens don't need one at all. If you do need one you can cue at the airport: there are separate cues for men and women (when we were there the woman's cue was much faster and it took about 30 mins). If you have British passport go straight to passport control.
-Speaking of passport control and going straight to it, we found the airport really confusing. Plan to get off the plane and ask someone for directions to passport control straight away. Then follow their first direction and ask another person once you've done that, thereby doing the journey one step at a time. There are loads of staff in blue t-shirts who seem to be hanging around for this purpose but no signposts.
-Once you're cleared to leave head for the metro, which stops right outside the exits. We just asked the guy in the ticket booth what we needed to get us where we wanted to go, sorted. There are women only carriages, but women can stick with their men in the other carriages if they wish (be warned there are few women in these other carriages).
-The metro had awesome views of the city so its a good way to get around. An there are two announcements of each stop (only slightly repetitive!) so no need to worry about forgetting to get off at your stop. It stops at many of the major malls and attractions, and if its not close enough the taxis are easy and cheap.
As for what to see...
theres the world's tallest building
the palms or the world (man made "islands" shaped as their names suggest)
shopping malls (and a festival of shopping)
And if you decide not to get the extra hours in between flights you might like to know that Dubai Airport is reportedly the world's best duty free.