Solo Travel in Dubai
Travelling solo in Dubai is relatively easy but this glitzy city is more suited for a holiday than as part of a travelling route. Although Dubai is a cosmopolitan country with many nationalities, you should respect the Islamic culture and cover up when you’re not on the beach.
The laws here are very strict and public displays of affection are banned in public but generally anything goes within the hotels where you can drink alcohol and party until dawn. In the city itself it’s a different story as women only account for a quarter of the population so acting like a lady in public is essential.
Travel to Dubai and you'll discover gorgeous beaches, futuristic skyscrapers and year round sunshine. Since the discovery of oil here in the 1960’s, Dubai has barely stopped building. Anything the rest of the world can do, Dubai tries to do it better; from the world’s tallest building to man-made islands shaped like the world, this millionaires playground has everything and is scattered with pyramids, giant aquariums, a palm island, and the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East (found in the Mall of Emirates).
A ticket to this destination does not come without a hefty price tag. Dubai is not a usual destination that you’ll find on any round the world tickets, it’s unique and is brimming with first-class hotels but there is accommodation to be found for those on a more modest budget.
This Emirate state oozes opulence and even the airport has sparkling diamond columns. One of the top things to do in Dubai is shop. The shopping is amazing and you could spend a week just browsing the high street and designer stores. Many malls offer free shuttles to the larger hotels, or you can use the hop on hop off bus but you have to book a day ticket first. Dubai is mainly known for its gold, and gold souks can be found in the malls or the Deira district.
No trip here is complete without a dip in the warm waters of the sea. Most hotels have their own section of private beach which you can pay to enter. Laze at the public beach of Jumeriah where you can watch the locals in their white robes playing volleyball.
If you’re looking for a classy venue to entertain, you can’t get better than the Sky Bar at the world’s most famous 7 star hotel – the Burj Al Arab. Designed as a sail, this unique hotel has a stunning lobby full of reds, golds and royal blues that will make you feel like a princess. Cocktails are expensive and there is a minimum spend but it is definitely worth the visit (and you get free dates thrown in!) Because of its exclusivity we recommend taking company with you.
Just along from the Burj is the Souk Madinat Jumeriah: Dubai’s own little Venice, where you can take a boat ride through the narrow waterways to the Arabian Market. A unique way to get here from the hotel is via beach buggy cruising along the sandy beach. This area has great restaurants and bars and is vibrant at night.
If all the modernity gets too much, then take a trip back in time with a visit to the old part of the city.The city is safe for women traveling solo but there isn't much history here except the pearl diving and the first persian settlers but it is a refreshing escape from the modern skyscrapers. Browse the spice market for nose-tingling sensations then take a cruise on a traditional Dhow along Dubai Creek for a contrast of new and old.
The Emiratis love their camel racing and the Nad Al Sheba Camel Track can be found just outside the city but as betting is forbidden, it’s all about the taking part. If you want to try it for yourself, you can have your own ride on these galloping animals at the local camel farm.
When you want to escape the city, the desert is only a stone’s throw away. Here you can take an exhilarating 4WD drive desert safari, racing up and down the sandy dunes or visit a Bedouin village for a glimpse of traditional nomadic life.
Other places to see in Dubai are: Dubai Zoo, the oldest zoo in the Arabian peninsula (skip the zoological gardens if you’re short on time), Wild Wadi Water Park, the impressive Jumeriah Mosque and Sheik Sied Palace.
With plans in the pipeline for a Universal style theme park and the world’s biggest shopping mall, who knows what they’re going to do next!
Visit Dubai during October to April for camel racing.
Although the sea looks calm, be careful of the strong currents.
How long do I need?
Dubai can be visited on a long weekend city break but as the flying time is 6 hours from the UK, we recommend staying at least a week. The Emirate is perfect for a stopover on a multi-centre trip to Thailand, Malaysia or Bali and can also be twinned with the Maldives or Seychelles.
Known for its luxurious hotels such as the Burj Al Arab – classed as a 6 star hotel in Dubai, you may think that accommodation here will cost a small fortune but you can find reasonable accommodation if you are on a budget. There are hostels within the city and although they may not be close to the beach, they are easy access to some of the city’s sightseeing.
Dubai has so many hotels to choose from. Most of the accommodation here are hotels, from 1 to 3 star ratings in the Deira district, or the luxurious 5 star hotels in Dubai along Jumeriah beach including the Raffles Dubai in Wafi Mall. You’ll also find apartments within the city. Airbnb connects you to locals in Dubai which can be cheaper than staying in hotels and gives you the opportunity to meet locals too. Save $20 off your first stay.
GatG Favourite – Savoy Central Hotel Apartments
Situated in Dubai’s downtown these apartments are great value and come complete with a kitchen, health centre and a gym. Plus there’s room service too. Prices from just £57 p/n. Find Out More
GatG Favourite – Shangri-La Hotel
Gorgeous and chic with friendly staff, you can never go wrong with a Shangri-La Hotel. Prices from £101 p/n. Find Out More
GatG Favourite – Amwaj Rotana, Jumeirah Beach
If it’s beach, shopping and cuisine that you’re looking for Anwaj Rotana fits the bill. With 6 restaurants onsite and near the beach, it's perfect. Prices from £111 p/n. Find Out More
Dubai isn't a destination for adventure tour groups but you can do tours in the country. Here's our recommended tour companies for solo females:
- Big Bus Tours – This hop-on, hop-off bus is an easy way to get around Dubai. It includes a free cruise on a dhow, and free entry into the Atlantis Aquarium (which is amazing!) They also offer a night tour which is perfect for those wanting to explore the city safely at night.
- Dubai Private Tour – This company has 16 years experience and can arrange a city tour, desert safari or even a dinner cruise for your stay.
- Urban Adventures – Adventures with a local. Experience shopping in the souks, a Ramadan feast or the nightlife of Dubai.
- Charterclick.com – Yacht cruises. An opportunity to see all Dubai from the sea. An online booking service for all yachts in Dubai.
Travelling Around Dubai
Travelling in Dubai is easy with good transport links. Buses run frequently from the airport to Deira bus station. The hop on hop off bus takes you to the old town and back to the new or take a metered taxi for convenience. Palm Jumeriah does have a monorail but it is not fully operational and only currently stops at two stations.
Uber – When getting around the cities you may feel more comfortable with Uber instead of taking a taxi. Uber is a driver app where each driver is vetted beforehand, and you can see the driver’s picture and registration number before they arrive. Save up to $20 off your first ride with Uber using promo code RIDINGUBER20.
To hire a car we recommend pre-booking car hire with Avis so you can collect your car when you arrive at the airport.
From the Airport
Bus stations are opposite both terminals and leave every 10 minutes between 6am and 10pm. Taxis are available 24 hours for the 10 minute journey into the city.
Feel more confident with someone waiting for you at the airport when you pre-book a transfer with Hoppa, a reliable and safe service for solo females.
Travelling onwards (check visas before you travel)
Because of the short distances it’s easy to combine other Emirate states in your trip plus you only need one visa for the whole of the UAE.
To Oman: Al Darah border is two hours from Dubai (make sure you get an entry and exit stamp and have Omani currency). If you choose to drive the Musandam Peninsula is a dramatic drive.
To Saudi: Currently women are not allowed to drive in Saudi so you can’t take a hire car here. Visas need to be applied for before you travel.
Where can I go from here?
Oman 1 hour
Iran 1.5 hrs
Yemen 2.5 hours (not advised as of August 2017).
- Can I drink the water? Possibly although it’s safer to drink bottled water.
- Is tipping expected? Yes.
- Any ATM’s? Yes.
- Fixed price or barter? Fixed price in the malls, bartering in the souks.
- Which side of the road do they drive? Right.
- Good for vegetarians? Yes.
- Any seven wonders of the world? No but there definitely should be.
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Capital of the UAE – Abu Dhabi
Population – 2.1 million
Language spoken – Arabic, English
Avoid Ramadan where you are not permitted to eat or drink after dawn. This usually takes place in June/July but check dates before you travel.
Did you know? Less than 20% of Dubai’s population are actually locals.