This was my first leisure trip and it was for a total of four days. My observations for this trip were definitely different than the ones for Umrah. My target was to minimize the travelling cost and use the savings to enjoy and have more fun in Dubai, since it is a shopping hub and almost every entertainment is paid entertainment.
Therefore we chose to travel via Air Arabia to Sharjah. We saved at least Rs. 10,000 per ticket. The airline is a very basic one, with an old fashioned in-flight entertainment system, no free food and limited baggage allowance, but for a 2 hour flight and short duration of stay, that was least of our concerns. We took a sandwich from Karachi airport, and for the return flight, we packed cupcakes with us.
Travel light. Have enough clothes to allow for a change, at least one for each day for a 4 – 5 day trip. Carry a formal dress if you have plans to meet family or friends. Any more than that would be excessive baggage. Choose a good pair of shoes as there is a lot of walking involved.
Choosing an early morning flight gives you at least half a day to explore UAE on the day of arrival. Also airports are relatively less busy at that time, thus ensuring less time in lines.
Do a thorough search for places to visit in UAE. In our short time, if we did not have a plan , we would have wasted a lot of time. Dubai Mall needs one whole day to visit, specially if you wish to see the Aquarium too. Similarly IKEA and Global Village also need time. If you wish to visit main attractions of Dubai, you can chose the tour bus too.
I also suggest having a shopping list in mind. This will help you keep track of your expenses. It is very easy to over-shop in those exquisitely beautiful malls. Almost all brands are available, do go through their UAE websites to take a look at what is available and have a rough shopping list ready before you embark on your journey. Even plan the food that you would like to eat on your trip. A short trip should be a very focused trip :). I hear that Deira Spice Souk and Gold Souk are worth a visit. I could not do so.
The best time to visit UAE is January. One, the weather is bearable bordering on good. Two, there are sales almost everywhere, and who doesn’t love a good sale. I happened to get good deals on imitation jewelry at Dubai Mall, and discovered a very good sale going on at Bath and Body Works.
Travelling within Dubai is easy via the extensive Metro Train. You might need to take a taxi or bus to travel between the emirates. You can buy a Nol card which is kind of prepaid card for the Metro trains, and can be topped up at the stations. Or you can get a one time pass from the information counters set up at the train stations. Taxis are easily available, and there also is Careem. Taxi is a better option for shorter distances
You will definitely need a cellphone connection. There are some pretty cool packages for both Etisalat and Du, specially for visitors and tourists. If you feel like you would be regular visitor, opt for the regular packages.
UAE custom regulations are very strict. Therefore, go through them before packing your bags. Do not pack any stuff that could remotely be linked to the banned stuff, as it will cause you to go through unnecessary hassle.