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First Time to Dubai - Package or not?

First Time to Dubai - Package or not?

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Old May 19, 19, 7:54 pm
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First Time to Dubai - Package or not?

Hello All,

My wife and I would like to make our first trip to the Middle East later this year by visiting Dubai (from SFO). This seems like such a new and exciting part of the world to explore.

For first timers, would you suggest we take a package tour that includes Air, Hotel,etc. or is it just as easy to book these separately? Would we be able to get around
on our own once there to see the local sites without a group?

Is late December (Xmas-New Years) a good time to visit this area? Are there times of the year to avoid due to local holidays or due to weather?

Any tips are greatly appreciated.. Thanks!
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Old May 20, 19, 6:03 pm
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Originally Posted by ds408 View Post
Hello All,

My wife and I would like to make our first trip to the Middle East later this year by visiting Dubai (from SFO). This seems like such a new and exciting part of the world to explore.

For first timers, would you suggest we take a package tour that includes Air, Hotel,etc. or is it just as easy to book these separately? Would we be able to get around
on our own once there to see the local sites without a group?

Is late December (Xmas-New Years) a good time to visit this area? Are there times of the year to avoid due to local holidays or due to weather?

Any tips are greatly appreciated.. Thanks!
I'm sure someone with more experience than myself might chime in later. But, for now I'll give you my opinion I've been to Dubai 4 times and have plans to visit again this coming Christmas and New year.

Firstly, you don't need to book tours as a group in Dubai, and frankly I steer clear of group tours. Now, if you want a specialized tour one on one that's another thing. But, for the most part, just pick and choose what you want to do and set aside the time to do it on your own.

There are taxis everywhere, and now you can use the Careem taxi app with the RTA government taxis. There's a metro and bus system also for getting around, which is easy to navigate on the RTA app or just by using Google maps.

From about November to March the weather is good, however with each passing month thereafter, it gets hotter. I'm used to the extreme heat in Southwest USA so it really doesn't bother me. But, for most people it could be a problem.

Ramadan is in effect right now through about the 4th of June. There are a few other government holidays that ban the sale/serving of alcohol for instance. Regardless, tourists can't buy alcohol only in the airport duty free when staying in a hotel that has a liquor license. Or at a bar.

Spring and summer months are a lot less expensive to visit Dubai. Winter months, especially around new year's is double and triple the price and rooms must be booked for at least 2 or 3 days. Especially anywhere near the main attractions downtown.

As far as booking flights and hotels, many times it's cheaper to book together depending on which airline and hotel class you're looking for. For instance, if you're looking at flying Emirates then sometimes it's beneficial to use "Emirates Vacations" website, which is not the same as the emirates holidays website. The prices on Emirates Vacation site is very good. Just clear your cookies after each use as the prices start to increase.

Regardless, if you use a package deal or not, do your own research and foremost, figure out what type of accommodation your family would like.

​​​Above all enjoy your trip!

On edit: Starting on December 26 is the annual Shopping Festival,h which lasts several weeks. Another reason I'm visiting this time during the holidays.

Last edited by Global Adventurer; May 20, 19 at 6:32 pm Reason: additional information
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Old May 21, 19, 7:16 am
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Originally Posted by ds408 View Post
Hello All,

My wife and I would like to make our first trip to the Middle East later this year by visiting Dubai (from SFO). This seems like such a new and exciting part of the world to explore.

For first timers, would you suggest ...
At the risk of suggesting something that would either upset your plans or be ignored from the get-go, if you want to see the Middle East, I would not start with Dubai. Have you considered Jordan, which will provide a far more authentic Middle Eastern experience while also being safe and easily accessible to English speakers? Starting with Dubai is, to my way of thinking, almost like visiting the U.S. for the first time and going only to Disney World and Las Vegas.
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Old May 21, 19, 8:53 am
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Xmas and NYE, hotel prices seem to quadruple in Dubai.
It may be the only time of the year that it make sense to do a package that includes hotel.

Getting around is not an issue, there are plenty of taxis, etc, use the above mentioned RTA app. Of course a rental car is best, and allows for maximum flexibility.
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Old May 21, 19, 11:29 am
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Originally Posted by Efrem View Post
At the risk of suggesting something that would either upset your plans or be ignored from the get-go, if you want to see the Middle East, I would not start with Dubai. Have you considered Jordan, which will provide a far more authentic Middle Eastern experience while also being safe and easily accessible to English speakers? Starting with Dubai is, to my way of thinking, almost like visiting the U.S. for the first time and going only to Disney World and Las Vegas.
I agree 100% with your assessment.
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Old May 21, 19, 12:24 pm
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Originally Posted by Efrem View Post
At the risk of suggesting something that would either upset your plans or be ignored from the get-go, if you want to see the Middle East, I would not start with Dubai. Have you considered Jordan, which will provide a far more authentic Middle Eastern experience while also being safe and easily accessible to English speakers? Starting with Dubai is, to my way of thinking, almost like visiting the U.S. for the first time and going only to Disney World and Las Vegas.

Hi,

To add to Efrem's comments,

I loved Muscat ( Oman) when I was there a few years ago ( 1 hr flight from Abu Dhabi) whixh was a lot less commericalised than Dubai but with still a lot of actvities and excellent hotels as well as Abu Dhabi itself wihxh was interesting also.

Regards
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Old May 21, 19, 7:13 pm
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Thanks much all for the advice and ideas! It looks like I need to look a bit more at the other destinations in that area I might combine with a Dubai trip! Thanks again!
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Old May 21, 19, 8:07 pm
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Originally Posted by ds408 View Post
Thanks much all for the advice and ideas! It looks like I need to look a bit more at the other destinations in that area I might combine with a Dubai trip! Thanks again!
Dubai is very easy to handle. You'll have no problem making your own arrangements.

But do take rhe advice about Dubai being as close to representing the Middle East as Las Vegas is standing in for America. In the Gulf, Abu Dhabi has a bit more charm, more cultural appeal than Dubai but the other emirates have little to offer the tourist except beaches. Forget Kuwait. Doha I rate for its compactness, two fabulous museums and the (slightly Disneyesque) souq.

The star, though, has to be Oman. An absolute joy to visit.
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Old May 21, 19, 9:35 pm
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If I was to fly Dubai, how hard would it be to use that as a base to go to Abu Dhabi or Oman? Is it easy to arrange land or air travel to these locations from Dubai? Thanks!
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Old May 21, 19, 10:27 pm
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Originally Posted by ds408 View Post
If I was to fly Dubai, how hard would it be to use that as a base to go to Abu Dhabi or Oman? Is it easy to arrange land or air travel to these locations from Dubai? Thanks!
If you are travelling with the family a taxi to Abu Dhabi would be the best option. You could use the Uber or Careem or get he hotel to arrange something. The hotel option is going to be the most expensive. The bus is also available every 15 minutes, non-stop, for AED25, around USD7. Last week my Careen driver to the Dubai bus station offered to take me to Abu Dhabi for AED250 - but the regular fares are a bit higher.

For Muscat you'd fly, probably rent a car at the airport. Hotels depend on budget and taste, but you can't go wrong with one of the brand hotels Intercontinental, Hyatt or Crowne Plaza on the beach at Shatti al Qurum on the way into the city proper, from the airport. More fun option would be to pick up a car in Dubai and drive.

Qatar is more problematical. Politics mean you can only travel within the GCC region between Doha and Muscat. OK, and Kuwait, but forget about that

But you can fly directly to Doha from many US cities with Qatar Airways (QR): and if you book your trip US-Doha-Muscat you can break the journey for a few days in Doha at 5-star hotel at extremely good rates with the airline's QR+programme.

+Qatar - Doha Hotel stopovers no longer free

https://www.qatarairways.com/en-be/offers/qatar-stopover.html

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Old May 23, 19, 12:47 pm
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For a first timer to Middle East, Egypt.....
Technically Africa, but culturally middle east , and so many beautiful fascinating wonders!!
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Old May 23, 19, 4:30 pm
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Great info! Thanks very much for all the ideas and tips!
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Old Jun 5, 19, 8:40 am
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Working in the ME for a while I would put these countries in order as worth seeing:
1. Jordan
2. Egypt
3. UAE
4. Bahrain
5. Qatar
6. KSA
7. Oman (they have the nastiest, most unfriendly people on earth)
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Old Jun 5, 19, 9:25 am
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Dubai is awesome, here's a list of attractions:
- World's tallest building
- World's biggest mall
- Park with replica animals with neon lights stuck to them
- A giant structure made to look like a frame
- Open beaches with half of the sandy areas given to shops selling tats
- Mall with indoor ski slopes
- World's largest themed mall
- Dubai Museum
- Dubai creek which again is filled with restaurants and shops telling tats
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Old Jun 5, 19, 2:22 pm
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Originally Posted by bwiadca View Post
Working in the ME for a while I would put these countries in order as worth seeing:
1. Jordan
2. Egypt
3. UAE
4. Bahrain
5. Qatar
6. KSA
7. Oman (they have the nastiest, most unfriendly people on earth)
Dag nabbit, I keep putting off going to Jordan. I guess it's back on my list. Thanks!
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