What do you do when you have a layover in Dubai, which is sufficiently long (23 hours in my case)? Get a transit visa and go around Dubai. This post will give you itinerary ideas if you decide to spend at-least a day in Dubai.
How do I get a Visa?
I hold an Indian Passport and most Indian passport holders need to get a visa before they visit any country. First, in order to get a transit visa you need to have a flight reservation with either Emirates or Qantas. There are links available within the airline’s website on booking your Dubai transit visa. Make sure you apply for your visa at-least 4 days prior to your arrival in Dubai, else the system would not allow you to apply for a visa. The visa cost is ~73$ for a 96 hour visa. If you need express service, add another 20$ to the cost. I used express service as I applied very late. You will receive your visa via email. You can either have a copy of the visa on your phone or take a printout for immigration at Dubai Airport.
What about my bags?
I had most of my bags checked in, so I had just a backpack. If you do have a carry on bag with you, there are locker facilities available at the Dubai airport and the prices are affordable. Please check the Dubai airport website for more details for locker facilities.
You can use your international visa/master/amex card anywhere in Dubai. Please do have some AED(Dhiram’s) with you. You can exchange currencies at the airport.
Uber and Dubai metro are the most convenient forms of transport. If you are returning to airport in the evening, please refrain from using Uber or Taxi as the traffic gets crazy during the evening. Use the metro red line towards Rashidiya which takes you directly to the airport. Please get a day pass for the metro. It costs 22AED and you can use it as many times as you want in the day. The fines are crazy, please be very careful. Do not forget to swipe in and swipe out before you enter and exit the station.
I chose to stay at the Hilton Garden Inn, Al Mina. This is a fairly new hotel. They have an awesome breakfast in the morning for 60AED. You can eat as much as you want and this should get you through the day.
Places to visit
I am listing the places in the order I visited.
After grabbing a fairly heavy breakfast, I got an Uber to Dubai Mall/Burj Khalifa.
- Make sure you book your tickets online in advance. I visited Burj Khalifa during a very busy time. I was lucky to get a ticket from someone who had an additional ticket for a friend who didn’t show up.
- I got the tickets to level 124. The ticket price is 125AED. You can go further up-to level 148, but the ticket prices for that is 350AED.
- The views are incredible, you get a 360 degree view of the city. It’s the tallest standing structure in the world. The elevators which take you to the level 124 travel at a speed of 10m/s. You can feel your ears pop as the elevators race to the top.
- Use your own phones/cameras’ to get your pictures. There are photographers who click for you. However when you goto the counter you will realize how expensive they are.
- The mall itself is a place to visit. It’s gigantic. You will find almost every possible designer, brand and merchandise in the Dubai Mall.
- In my opinion, buying things in US is cheaper than buying it in Dubai. Shopping in Dubai is overrated in my opinion.
- The setting of this fountain is really pretty. You have Burj Khalifa on one side, Dubai Mall on one side and a lot of other skyscrapers.
- The fountains go off every half hour, starting from 1 P.M. in the afternoon.
After the above three places, I headed to Palm Jumeriah — the artificial archipelago in Dubai. To get here, take the Metro Red line from the Dubai Mall towards UAE Exchange. Then get off at Damac Properties, and then change to the yellow line to get off at Palm Jumeriah station. You have a monorail from this place to Palm Atlantis, the resort and the last stop on Palm Jumeriah. Note that the tickets to the monorail are separate. It costs 25AED for a round trip visit to the Palm Atlantis.
- There is nothing much to see here, except for the picture below. I didn’t visit the resort. There is also a water park here. Super crowded, make sure you have reservations if you are visiting the resort or the water park.
I was tired at the end of this. It’s extremely hot. Make sure you hydrate yourself really well. I headed back to the airport, by taking the Metro Red line from Damac properties towards Rashidiya. The train stops at terminal 3 and terminal 1. If you need to get to terminal 2, get off at either of these terminals and take the airport train.