Dubai Travel Tips: 3 Things We Wish We Knew

By Dyonna Bass

OMG this is my first blog post as a married woman….yes, I am pressed 😂

Now, there are two types of travelers. Those who can sit on the beach all day with a book and daiquiri in hand and be perfectly content until it’s time to board their return flight home. Then there are those who wanna go explore, the person that loves adventure and is willing to wake up at 4:30 AM to have time to get to the perfect location to watch the sunrise. Lawrence and I are the latter! This is exactly the reason we chose to celebrate our new venture in matrimony, with our first trip as husband and wife in Dubai. 

Dubai, one of the 7 Emirates of The United Arab Emirates, is home to the world’s only 7 star hotel (The Burj al Arab) and also home to the world’s tallest building (Burj Khalifa). This futuristic location is perfect for the traveller who loves adventure, but also has its sweet spots that allow you to relax and enjoy the sunshine. As the great philosopher Hannah Montana once said, “You get the best of both worlds!”

But enough of the small talk...let’s get into the 3 things Lawrence and I wish we knew before heading to this awesome location.

1. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION:  THE LOCATION OF YOUR HOTEL IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT FOR THE BUDGET

There are four  major neighborhoods that most tourists stay in when visiting Dubai. These neighborhoods include... 

A. Dubai Marina & Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR)
  • Easily accessible to public transportation

  • There are a-lot of options for dining and bars

  • Perfect for families 

  • Beautiful beach

  • Every accommodation from hostels to top luxury

  • Far from downtown Dubai and Dubai Mall 

B. Downtown Dubai
  • Close proximity to a lot of well known sites like Dubai Mall and The Burj Khalifa 

  • Amazing luxury options 

  • Accessible to public transport 

  • However, not necessarily “budget friendly”

C. Palm Jumeirah (aka The Palm)
  • LUXURY, LUXURY, LUXURY

  • Great place for travelers who do not care about budget

  • Home to the only 7 star hotel in the world

  • Great for travelers who really enjoy the beach life 

D. Jumeirah Village Circle (JVC)
  • Budget friendly options

  • Short Uber/Taxi ride to Butterfly/Flower Garden and the Dubai Frame

  • There is no easy access to public transport

  • Not close to many of the main sights and attractions

  • No beach

Reading this list of pros and cons, I’m sure you’d never guess which neighborhood Lawrence and I chose. While we really loved our hotel (the staff, service, food selections, and room amenities were all excellent) we ultimately chose Jumeirah Village Circle for the great price of The FIVE hotel. If we had done a little more research (and math) we would have realized that if we would’ve spent a few more dollars on accommodation in another neighborhood like JBR for instance we actually would’ve saved more money on Uber/Taxi rides, which kicked our budgets butts!

Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way saying not to stay in JVC. I just want to be sure that as you plan your trip to Dubai, you weigh all of your options and figure out what is best for you!

2. IN MOST INSTANCES: TAXI”S ARE CHEAPER THAN UBERS

To put it simply, Uber takes into account the distance of the location you would like to travel to, how much traffic there is, and how long it could take you to get there. While taxis only charge for distance. So do yourself a favor and call a taxi, as it will most likely be the same distance for a better price.

TIP: I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but always make sure of the payment type that each taxi takes if you only have cash or only have a card. We got so used to taxis accepting credit cards, that we didn’t even think twice before getting into one with no cash on us. Of course, once we got to the location I had to remain hostage in the taxi while Lawrence ran to a nearby ATM. Don’t be like us!

3. OLD DUBAI CAN SAVE YOU MONEY

One thing we both noticed during our day in what is considered Old Dubai, was that we spent an extremely less significant amount of money than we did in days exploring New Dubai. This is for a few reasons:

  • The food was a lot cheaper (and more authentic). I can only assume this is because there are less tourists in this area, and more permanent residents. 

  • You can negotiate when shopping in the Souks, as opposed to paying fixed prices when shopping at the infamous Dubai Mall or Mall of Emirates. 

  • The transport needed to take you from one side of the creek to the other, called an Abra, was only 1  Dirham (this equals $0.25 USD)

Lawrence and I didn’t explore Old Dubai until one of the final days of our trip. Had we done more research or even gone earlier, I can guarantee that we would have taken more time to explore this area. Not only because it was cheap, but also because there are historical sites like Dubai Museum and Al Fahidi Fort that we did not get a chance to explore.

The wrap up:

All in all Lawrence and I LOVED Dubai. When the opportunity presents itself, we will definitely be going again. We explored and experienced so many things in Dubai that has given us a lifetime of amazing memories. As you are taking your first trip to Dubai, keep these 3 things in mind so that you can maximize your time and wallet.


If  you’ve made it this far, thanks for taking the time to read the article!

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