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Dubai Layover

Jan 01, 2015 | Comments 10

Stuck on a Dubai layover in the United Arab Emirates? Dubai is the fastest-growing transit hub in the world, and has one of the nicest airports. The Dubai International Airport is located roughly 3 miles outside Dubai, which makes the city a very accessible destination for those stuck on long layovers. If you’re trying to determine whether you can leave the airport during your Dubai layover, click here for useful tips.

Dubai Layover things to doThe Dubai airport is lined with palm trees and offers upscale shopping and restaurants. The Dubai International Airport also has many services including a Women’s Lounge & Children’s Play Area located between gates 12 and 14, internet kiosks near Gate 9 and Gate 23, a medical center on the ground level of the Concourse, post office near Gate 18 (open 24 hours), four prayer rooms in Arrivals and the main Concourse, and banking and currency exchange located near Gates 8, 18 and 22.

There are also many lounges to keep you occupied during your Dubai layover. There’s an International First Class Lounge between Gates 114 and 112, a Business Class Lounge beside Gate 108, and lounges for the following airlines: Air France, Gulf Air, Emirates, British Airways, KLM and Star Alliance between Gates 21 and 26. In addition there are two Quiet Lounges in the Sheikh Rashid Terminal near Gates 9 and 23 free of charge.

For the tired traveler, inside the hotel is the five-star, Dubai International Airport Hotel. You can pay by the hour (starting at $40) or the entire night (from $200) and offers a health club, business center, 24 hour laundry and room service. For additional Dubai hotels of varying price points, click here and for hotels specifically near the airport, click here.

If you’re planning on seeing some sights during your Dubai layover, keep in mind that Dubai has some strict laws. The slightest amount of any illegal substance can land you in jail for many years, even life. In addition, don’t walk in front of somebody when they are praying, don’t drink alcohol in the street or in any public place (alcohol is only allowed in hotels or private clubs), avoid passionate displays of affection in public, and women should not dress suggestively to avoid any hassle.

Immigration can be long, as well as taxi lines. Give yourself plenty of time for delays. Depending on what city you’re coming from, you may also need to get a visa, and pay permissions to enter the country. (You can check out Visa Requirements in the widget on the right hand column of this page.)

There are a number of transportation options if you plan to leave the airport and travel into Dubai. There are official taxi ranks at each terminal, with taxis available 24/7. There’s an AED20 taxi charge from the airport, and a ride to the more distant areas of the city, such as Dubai Marina, would be around AED100.  Trains run every 10 minutes from Terminals 1 and 3, starting at 5:50am and stopping at midnight (with no service Friday mornings). In addition, buses leave from stations opposite Terminal 1, 2 and 3. For routes and times visit the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). You can also book a private transfer.

Layover Guide’s Suggestions Of Things To Do On A Dubai Layover:

Dubai Tours

There are an endless amount of activities and tours available in Dubai. You can book anything from hot air balloon rides and helicopter tours, to camel safaris and shopping excursions. To find and book Dubai tours, click here!

Big Bus Tours

Tickets for Big Bus Tours are valid for 24 hours and you can hop on and off whenever you’d like. One ticket covers both routes, which includes the Red Route (Dubai Creek, Al Fahidi Fort & Dubai Museum, the Souks (bazaars) and a few shopping malls) and The Blue Route (5-star hotels & the fanciest shopping malls.) Both tours offer live commentary or a choice of eight digitally recorded languages.

Old Souqs

Although many people head straight to the modern mall, check out the Old Souqs along the creek in the older part of town that is what made Dubai the trading capital it is. On the Deira side of the Creek, don’t miss the Gold Souq which has over 300 outlets including all the gold jewelry you can imagine seeing as well as drain covers with diamonds on them. Also on this side is the Spice Souq which has spices from all over the Middle East. On the other side, check out the Bur Dubai Souq with textile and souvenir shops.

Shopping & Skiing

The Mall of the Emirates is a shoppers’ paradise, and for those who prefer to hit the slopes, the mall features the first indoor ski slope in the Middle East. For $40 per person you can get a lift ticket good for 2 hours, ski rentals, ski pants and jackets and even socks (gloves and hats are not provided). You can ski, snowboard and toboggan here, down the over 1300 foot slope. The mall is open 7 days a week from 10am to 10pm.

Burj Al Arab

The Burj Al Arab looks like a giant sail and claims to be “The Best Hotel in the World” with a rating of 7 stars. It is the world’s tallest dedicated hotel, with all the rooms hosting incredible views. The inside of the hotel has a dancing fountain, two massive fish-tank walls, and a soaring atrium. To visit the Burj Al Arab, you need to be staying there, or have advance reservations to eat at one of the restaurants or to have a drink at one of the bars (tip – the most budget friendly option is to book afternoon tea). Photos are only allowed in the lobby area.

Desert Safari & Camel Racing

If you have a lengthy layover in Dubai, you might want to check out the camel racing and desert safaris offered outside Abu Dhabi city. Camel races are usually held early on Fridays or on national holidays. Safaris are half a day, and offer overnight options to stay in a Bedouin tent. Wadi-Driving explores the wadis or dry beds of streams that flow from the Hajar mountains. Dune driving allows you to try your hand at sand driving, with four-wheel-drive vehicles provided, and an expert guide. Or, try Sand-Skiing down the dunes of the Dubai desert. You can also sign on for a Desert Feasts which follow the safari with evening with an Arab barbecue under the stars.

Have a suggestion for a Dubai Layover? Leave a comment below!

Filed Under: FeaturedhotellayoverLayover GuidesMiddle Eastthings to dovisa


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  1. Mary Liepold says:

    Wondering if anyone has been on the Emirates flight to Johannesburg that has a 20 hours layover. I would like to leave the airport and go golfing between flights. Any golf or other advice?

  2. Ellesar says:

    Those fist 2 comments are obviously from ‘industry’. Nothing in this article makes me want to stop in Dubai at all, so I will have to book flights that make it as short a wait as possible!

  3. JES says:

    I can’t wait to have a long layover in Dubai! To go see the Old Souks and market! I’m intentionally working a 20 hour layover into my plans for Thailand so I can visit this exotic place! And, for the record, I’m not from “industry!”

  4. Angela Lea says:

    I just love the dune bashing in Dubai. Desert Safari always remained favorite. Me and my husband love visiting their. I think its fun for kids also.
    I am just dying for my this trip to Dubai

  5. Moni says:

    Hey, have a 14 hr layover in Abu Dhabi (07.15 – 22.00) as flying with Etihad. Has been suggested that I go across to Dubai on the shuttle that’s provided… Am travelling with my two young teen.girls. Any suggestions on where to stay to just freshen up n then see some of Dubai?

  6. I really enjoyed reading this! I had a similar experience with a 14hr layover which gave me a good chance to see Dubai for the first time! It was better than I expected and I decided to write about it. Here it is:
    http://tripandtravelblog.com/the-lux-of-madinat-jumeirah-in-dubai/ I know it can’t be compared to your level of writing and detail but I tried.
    Greetings from Athens!

  7. Dave says:

    Have a 8 hour lay over in Dubai. Is there enough time to do any sight seeing or resturants to go to. We get in 7:30 pm

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  9. ADA says:

    We have now the best desert safari in Dubai. This is one experience you can not miss when in Dubai. Select the 3 options we offer! Our desert safari dubai drivers are common professional and have a passion for giving you a fascinating ride. So all you need to do is mail us and we will take care of the remainder.

  10. Andrew says:

    Hi guys,I have a 14 hour layover in Dubai. Any suggestions as it’s my first time there and please bear in mind that I must not miss my flight,so I must not wounded off too far from the airport.
    Thanks in advance.

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