Solo Travel in Dubai
Types of Girl about the Globe – Adventure GatG, Shopping GatG, Beach GatG
Travelling solo in Dubai is relatively easy but this glitzy city is more suited for a holiday than as part of a travelling route. That's why we've given it 3 out of 5 stars. 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.
Below is our guide to how to travel solo in Dubai as well as lots of practical information such as where to stay, which tour company to use and how to get around. Find out how to get from the airport and what to do in Dubai. All companies included have been recommended by solo female travellers and come with our Solo Female Friendly endorsement. Just choose the relevant section or read the full article.
- About Dubai
- Where To Stay in Dubai
- Dubai Tours
- Getting Around Dubai
- Itinerary for Dubai
- Best Time To Go To Dubai
- Travel Insurance For Dubai
- Airports in Dubai
- Travelling Onwards
- Questions about Dubai
- Map of Dubai
- Plan a Trip to Dubai
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 see on any round the world tickets. This Emirate is unique and brimming with first-class hotels but there is accommodation to be found for those on a more modest budget.
This Emirate state oozes opulence 9even 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 enjoy a cocktail, 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 museum is a refreshing escape from the modern skyscrapers and teaches you about the first Persian settlers and Dubai's pearl diving history. 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.
Where To Stay in Dubai
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. You can save $20 off your first stay with this Airbnb link.
Homestay is an alternative to Airbnb. They connect you to hosts in over 160 countries and give a real homestay experience instead of just handing over keys. You can even video call your host family before you go to find the perfect host. Check homestays and prices here
All of the accommodation below have been recommended by solo female travellers from our Girls about the Globe community and come with a Solo Female Friendly endorsement.
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 £52 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 £111 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 £120 p/n. Find Out More
Dubai isn't a destination for overland adventure tour groups such as G Adventures or Intrepid but there are plenty of tours here. Here are 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.
Getting 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 city and is a good way of getting your bearings.
Some hotels offer free shuttles to the shopping district but there is also an extensive bus network. To see some of the tourist sights, Line 8 is a good route to take, or you can take the Dubai Tram that runs to Jumeirah Beach. The other bus lines may not be as frequent.
Dubai also has a metro which is easy to use. Most stations are above ground so it’s also a good way of seeing the city. Journeys cost from AED3 and tickets must be the Nol card which are also used on the tram and bus.
Most people take taxis here. You can hail a metered cab anywhere and the taxi app Uber is also available here. If you visit the Palm, take the Palm monorail.
Plan for your journey around Dubai using the Wojhati travel planner app.
To hire a car we recommend pre-booking car hire with Avis so you can collect your car when you arrive at the airport.
Itinerary For Dubai
Dubai can be visited on a long weekend city break but as the flying time is 6 hours from the UK, it’s definitely worth staying at least four to five days.
Day One – Start the morning shopping in one of Dubai’s giant malls. Explore the aquarium or even go skiing inside one! Then head to the Burj Khalifa when you are all shopped out. The Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building and one of Dubai’s most iconic sights. Needless to say that you can get an amazing view of the city from the observation deck which stands at 555 metres. Stroll around the grounds of the Burj Park then watch the Dubai Fountain which puts on a show in the evening.
Day Two – Take a hop on hop us bus city tour and see the city to get your bearings then climb aboard a dhow for a river cruise along the creek, stopping at the old souks and pearl museum. Then relax in the afternoon on the beach. If your accommodation doesn’t have a beach, relax at Jumeriah Beach (the public beach).
Day Three – Discover Dubai’s Little Venice. Take a boat ride then spend some time at the Arabian Market before taking a buggy to the Burj Al Arab for a drink and some dates (of the cuisine kind) at the Sky Bar.
Day Four – Venture to Dubai’s man-made palm island. You can easily spend a day here at the Atlantis Palm, a gorgeous 5 star hotel with shops and first-class restaurants. Explore the Aquaventure Waterpark and take the ‘Leap of Faith,’ a 9-story tall mega-slide on a Mayan Temple. If you prefer to stay dry, wander around the Lost Chambers Aquarium (where you can also snorkel inside) and the Atlantis Room displaying artefacts from the fantasy world of Atlantis before having a drink at Nasimi Beach.
Day Five – Explore the desert landscape and take a 4WD desert safari through the sand dunes. Visit a Bedouin village to see their traditional nomadic life. In the afternoon visit the Sheik Sied Palace and Jumeriah Mosque.
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.
Best Time To Go To Dubai
Dubai can get extremely hot but thankfully most places are air-conditioned. In August temperatures can rise to 40 degrees Celsius making it too hot to sightsee. Avoid 12pm until 3pm when the days are at their hottest and choose to browse souks and shopping malls instead. Spending the days inside and the evenings outside is the best way to survive the hot months. Then hop back on the beach or pool in the late afternoon. The heat can cause a fog over the city too.
The best time to go to Dubai is between November to March. This chart shows the average maximum day temperatures for Dubai (from January to December).
Travel Insurance For Dubai
Dubai is a safe country to explore but travel insurance is always recommended especially if you are planning on adventure tours to the desert.
I recommend True Traveller for UK and European residents, and World Nomads for U.S. and worldwide citizens. Both companies allow you to buy insurance when you are already on the road, and offer different plans depending on your needs including additional baggage cover.
Airports in Dubai
The Dubai International Airport is one of the world’s busiest international airports. A taxi is the quickest way from the airport into the city and costs approximately £20 for the 30 minute journey. Taxis are available 24 hours from the terminal.
The metro is the cheapest way and costs £2. From Terminal 3 it departs every 10 minutes and takes 42 minutes.Find schedules here.
Line 10 Skybus costs £3 and takes nearly 1.5 hours. Bus stations are opposite both terminals and leave every 10 minutes between 6am and 10pm.
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
Questions About Dubai
- 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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Map of Dubai
Plan a Trip to Dubai
If you are ready to plan a trip to Dubai here are some useful links to help you plan your trip including airlines which fly there, vaccinations and currency.
Budget Rating – £80+ a day
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.