Dubai, the big city in the desert where everything needs to be the best and the biggest. The most expensive hotels on earth, skiing halls in the desert and unfamiliar luxuries. Travelers to Asia often have a layover in Dubai. I had a 10-hour layover which seemed to be a good opportunity to explore around. How do you have a good and cheap layover in Dubai? And where should you go?

Dubai has the biggest airport on earth. I landed on terminal 2. As an EU, UK and USA citizen, you can get a free stamp on arrival. You don’t need to prepare anything in advance for your Visa. At the airport, you can use the ATM’s at the airport or change your money at one of the money exchanges. The Emirates’ currency is called: Diram.

Use public transport during your layover in Dubai

First of all, Dubai is expensive and not a backpackers city. Luckily, there are some tricks to have the layover in Dubai cheap and still comfortable.

  • Tip 1: Don’t take a Taxi. At the airport, you can buy a day card for public transport for 5 dollars. Ask one of the information points at the airport for more information where to get one. You can use the day card for bus and metro. It is not possible to buy a single ticket! And be aware that there are separate compartments for men and women.
  • Tip 2: Use Google Maps. It is easy to use Google Maps to plan your route to touristic attractions. There is WIFI in Dubai almost everywhere! Just keep in mind that the traffic is busy in Dubai and that the bus can arrive later than planned.

Where should you go? 

Public Transport Layover in Dubai

Dubai’s Shopping Mall

After I had found out how to travel with the public transport, I went to my first destination: the Dubai Mall. Dubai Mall is the biggest shopping mall on earth. And as well, one of the weirdest shopping malls I have ever been. It is gigantic, a place where you can wander around for ages. There is a big aquarium, a shop with fish inside the window, a big waterfall and ice skating rink while it was 20 degrees outside. For lunch or dinner, go to the eating corner of the mall where you can find McDonald’s, Subway, and other famous food chains. And be careful that you don’t fall asleep (like I did) in one of the very comfortable chairs 😊

What I noticed right away is that there are a lot of foreigners live and work in Dubai. Especially Asians from, presumably, India or Philippines. The native inhabitants, the Arabs, are easy to recognize by the long white dresses and red-white-colored scarfs on their head. And the women with long black dresses with an elegant headscarf or burqa.

Biggest Shopping mall Layover in Dubai Biggest Shopping mall Layover in Dubai Biggest Shopping mall Layover in Dubai Biggest Shopping mall Layover in Dubai

Highest Tower of the World: Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa Layover in DubaiSecondly, I went to the biggest tower in the world: Burj Khalifa of 829 meters high. The Burj Khalifa is next to the shopping mall where you also can buy your ticket. Unfortunately for me, the tickets were sold out for the day. You can buy your tickets in advance here but it it is expensive: $34,-.  But, I must say, that the building was already impressive from the outside. From Burj Khalifa, you can walk along the waterside, cross the bridge to admire the luxury palace hotel.

I didn’t have much time in Dubai. I would like to go again when I am more rested and have more time. It is hard to come to a conclusion of Dubai, but I found it a strange city. It is a wealthy and big city which has expanded a lot over the last years. Still, I saw construction sight everywhere. Furthermore, I didn’t saw any character in Dubai. Like someone had too many Lego bricks and wanted to build the biggest city on earth. On the other hand, was Dubai an interesting experience and gave me another inside of the Middle East. After 10 hours, I had to take my plane to Bangkok.

Palace hotel in Dubai Layover in Dubai


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