Visiting Dubai – get the basics right

I get to call this incredible city home, and every day I’m blown away by the amazing views and the extravagance of everything around me. If Dubai hasn’t been on your list of places to visit, it should be! There are so many things to do, and you can choose whatever suits your budget. While I’ll be sure to document as much as possible across various budgets, let me just start with the basics you need to be aware of on arriving in Dubai.

Have the right documents

It goes without saying, you need to ensure you have the correct visa for your trip. You need to print this out and present it at customs on arrival. Check what documents are needed for your passport. I have found applying for the UAE visa to be a very swift process, so you won’t wait for loo long to get it.

Get a sim-card at the airport

Yes, you can get a free tourist sim-card on arrival at the airport. When you go to collect your luggage, you will see a kiosk offering you a tourist sim card. Be sure to get one so you stay connected whilst in Dubai. You just need to present your passport and visa and they will give you the sim card. This is the first country I’ve been to that issues free tourist sim cards on arrival. It is valid for a month, so if you are relocating to Dubai, then remember you’re going to get a resident’s sim card after a month. And no, you cannot a tourist sim card into a residence’s sim card. Remember, you can only get these sim cards at the airport. If you forget, and you leave the airport, tough luck!

Get some cash

It’s certainly easier to make your payments by card. However, besides the bank charges you incur, there are still places that do not offer card facilities. So I would recommend you get cash at the airport.

Use the metro and the tram

If you’re keen to save some cash, be sure to use the metro and the tram. You will need to purchase a Nol card or tickets. These can be purchased at a self-service machine at any metro or tram stop. If you’ve got your tourist sim card, just google where the nearest one is for you.

Use local taxis instead of ride-hailing apps

Unlike other major cities, the local taxis are much cheaper than ride-hailing apps. They accept both cash and card payment. You can usually wave one down on the road side. Otherwise, you can download an app called Careem. You can book local taxis through this app. Depending on where you are going, it might be easier to take a taxi than to use the metro or a tram.

I hope you find these tips useful! If you’ve been to Dubai before, what other tips do you think new visitors should know?