Prior to my Dubai trip, I admit I have a lot of misconceptions about this Middle Eastern city. After reading a lot of great things about Dubai, I decided I should give this city a try.
Dubai did not just live up to its reputation. In fact, it exceeded my expectations. It was not like any other city I have visited before. Sure, I have read about the super strict laws, but to be honest, I felt safer here than in some other cities I’ve visited in the past. I’ve visited Dubai as a solo female and during the entire time that I was there, I never felt threatened or unsafe once. The beautiful modern city is very convenient and easy to explore and it seemed like it was designed to make everyone feel safe, whether you’re a local, an ex-pat, or a tourist. If you’re planning to visit Dubai soon, here are some tips to keep in mind especially if you’re going there as a solo female.
Respect the Laws and Customs
Just like with visiting any other countries in the world, travellers are expected to adhere to the laws and rules of the country. Dubai is one of the cities that make up the United Arab Emirates and almost 70% of the entire population of the UAE is ex-pats. Yet, despite the huge expatriate population, it’s still a Muslim country and everyone should respect and follow the country’s laws and customs. Here are some important tips I would like to share when visiting Dubai.
- Dress modestly – you don’t really need to be all covered up in Dubai. I wore a dress, skirt, jeans, and pretty much any clothing I would wear in some other countries while in Dubai. However, I try to dress as modestly as possible, which means that my dresses and skirts are not too short and my clothes are not very revealing. I found Dubai to be very open-minded when it comes to clothing, but as visitors, it’s always important to respect their culture and tradition so as not to offend the locals.
- Know the right places to drink alcohol – alcohol is prohibited in all public places in Dubai, but I found out that some hotels and private clubs are licensed to serve alcohol. Yet, I never dared order one during the entire time I was there because alcohol in Dubai is ridiculously expensive.
- Avoid public displays of affection – if you’re travelling to Dubai with your boyfriend, try to avoid public displays of affection, although I’ve seen so many couples holding hands in public including the locals. They were not apprehended or something, so I think that one is acceptable.
- Taking pictures of locals is prohibited – I tried to take photos of a group of local women who are showcasing their local handicrafts at the Souk Madinat Jumeirah and a local woman approached me to politely inform me that taking photos of locals are actually prohibited. So to avoid doing the same mistake that I did, never take photos of the locals especially without their permission.
Getting Around Dubai As a Solo Female
I used the highly efficient and ultra-modern Dubai metro train when travelling around Dubai and I find it to be very safe, clean, and convenient. What’s more, there’s a carriage that’s dedicated only to women and children. Using the metro is easy and the map has English wordings so it’s pretty straightforward. There are also customer service counters in every station, so if you’re in doubt, you can always ask for help.
Although the Dubai metro covers most of the major places in Dubai, including the famous attractions like the Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa, you may need to use the taxi to get to some other places that are not in the Dubai Metro’s route. Thankfully, Dubai has a “female-only” taxi so if you are not comfortable taking the taxi with a male driver, you can always hail those taxis with a pink-coloured roof.
What To Do In Dubai
I had so much fun during my time in Dubai and here are some of the things that I would recommend for all travellers to do:
Get to the top of Burj Khalifa – you can never leave Dubai without climbing to the top of the world’s tallest building. The entrance is actually at the Dubai Mall, which is also the world’s largest mall and where one of the world’s largest aquariums can be found. Yes, almost everything in Dubai holds a world record and that’s just one of the reasons why you should include this city on your bucket list. (Tip – make sure you catch the world’s largest choreographed fountain show happening every 6 PM at the Dubai Mall)
Explore the Old Deira – if you want to experience authentic Emirati culture, head over to the Old Deira. I love this part of Dubai, especially at the Dubai Creek where I rode the abra (a traditional wooden boat). I took the Dubai metro to get here and I get off at the Al Rigga station. From the station, I waited for a bus that goes to Dubai Creek. After the ride at Dubai Creek, I walk towards the Spice Souk where there’s a long display of spices, and finished off my tour at the Gold Souk, where I wandered around a labyrinth of shops selling a massive variety of gold jewelry. I’ve never seen so much gold and diamonds in my life!
Experience the desert safari – I joined a group of five other tourists for my desert safari tour. We rode a small bus that took us to the desert where an off-road vehicle is waiting. The exhilarating ride took us to a massive tent in the middle of the desert where we witnessed a cultural show while being served with Arabic sweets and tea.
Visit the Souq Madinat Jumeirah – this place is a bit touristy, but I love the tropical vibe in this area, as it is located beside a beach overlooking the Burj Al Arab, a popular luxury hotel in Dubai that’s designed to resemble the sail of a ship. It’s filled with shops, bazaars, and restaurants, although I find the place to be very pricey. Yet, it’s still a great place to explore. To get here, I took a taxi from the metro station of the Mall of Emirates.
Snowboard at Ski Dubai at the Mall of Emirates, there’s an indoor ski resort where you can try some winter sports, including skiing and snowboarding. I never get to experience any of the sports, but I had fun watching the penguins from the viewing deck outside.
Dubai Miracle Garden – I happen to visit Dubai during the winter season where most of the tourist attractions are open, including the Miracle Garden, which is said to be the largest natural flower garden in the world. Indeed, it was truly impressive! Featuring more than 100 million flower species in bright colours, the garden is absolutely breathtaking. I took a taxi to get here coming from the Mall of the Emirates.
If you don’t want to explore on your own, you can choose to book tour packages where you can join a group of tourists in exploring Dubai’s tourist attractions. There’s also a hop-on hop-off bus, which is an easy way to get around the city. Some of the tours include a free cruise at the creek or a free entry at some tourist attractions, so you may want to take advantage of these.
Otherwise, if you want a cheap way to discover the city, you can choose to do it my way, by taking public transportation.
Best Time to Visit Dubai
It’s important that you knew the best time to visit Dubai since it is located in the Northern Desert Belt, where the heat can sometimes become unbearable.
The best time to visit Dubai is during the winter, from November until March.
I went there in December and the weather is pleasant. In fact, it’s a bit cold, although I would prefer it to the extremely hot and humid weather in summer.
The winter season is also where most of the tourists would visit Dubai so you can expect that the accommodation and tours are a bit expensive during this time. However, it’s a perfect time to go sightseeing and to try some outdoor activities. Also, some attractions in Dubai are only open during winter, so you may not be able to see everything when you visit in summer.
Dubai is a truly safe place to visit for all travellers. So if you’re a solo female and you’re having doubts about travelling to Dubai alone, I would like to tell you that there’s really nothing to worry about. Dubai is much more westernized than the other places in the Middle East. For as long as you respect the local customs and the laws, then I can guarantee that you’ll have an amazing trip!