You would have thought travelling to Dubai at this time of the year would be a simple affair. It isn’t. I’ve been to Dubai before. The last time was in 2012. At the time however, I didn’t lift a finger, neither did I ask how things happened (One of the benefits of being married). Now I’m planning another trip, come January 2016, and it’s almost like I’m a complete newbie. I decided to put this blog post together to guide any Nigerian travelling from Nigeria to Dubai (It should also be useful for anyone travelling to Dubai from anywhere). It’s a quick read and I sure hope you find it helpful whether it’s your first time travelling to Dubai or your tenth.
Dubai is one of the 7 emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates and is the most populous. The arabs certainly don’t hold back when it comes to infrastructure and size. If you’re thinking of sunshine throughout the year, beaches, luxurious hotels, malls and shopping, Dubai is certainly the place to be.
The tips on travelling to Dubai have been grouped into the following areas:
Lock down your travel dates as quickly as you can. This is a key aspect of any trip. As with everything else, the earlier your buy your tickets, the more options you will have and the lower the prices you will have to pay. Tickets are usually higher at the peak of the holiday season, e.g. Christmas, so be sure to select a date as early as possible so you can buy tickets at a competitive price.
One website (online travel agent) that certainly helps to compare ticket prices is wakanow.com. While you may eventually decide to buy your tickets directly from the airline or through another travel agent, it certainly helps to compare prices and strike off the ones that seem exorbitant. In my case, I was searching for a combination of affordable and reliable airlines so I shortlisted these 3:
This turned out to be the cheapest of the three that I considered. I would have gone with this option if I could trust myself alone with a cranky 3-year-old after a 14-hour flight. Though the price was fairly attractive, I decided against it because of the duration. If I was travelling alone, I might have considered this.
The itinerary I considered is as follows: Lagos to Addis: 6 hours, 4 minutes; Addis to Dubai: 4 hours
I almost chose Qatar Airways since the flight was going to land at Al Maktoum International Airport which was much closer to the Hotel I chose to stay at (Premier Inn). There was a stop in between at Doha which I wouldn’t have minded (for the adventure) but there wasn’t a lot of difference between the price quoted and what I eventually paid for the Emirates flight so I ended up not opting for this.
The itinerary I considered is as follows: Lagos to Doha: 6hours, 43 minutes; Doha to Al Makhtoum: 1 hour
Emirates offered the most attractive but expensive option. Because I was planning on travelling with a 3-year-old, it seemed to be the most hassle-free since the flight was straight from Lagos to Dubai International Airport. No stops. It was however quite pricey in my opinion. Nevertheless, I settled for this.
Same as tickets, it certainly helps to book on time, well ahead of the busy season. Every hotel I found (which was supposed to be affordable) had increased in price by the time I decided to travel. For this reason, I decided to switch my travel dates from Jan 1 to Jan 10 and what a difference that made - I didn’t have to break the bank afterall!
As soon as I changed dates, more hotels started falling right within my budget.
In coming up with the hotels to consider, I wasn’t after anything fancy. I just needed a nice, clean and comfortable place with the basics…not too bland and certainly not too pricey.
Here is the short list of hotels that fell right into this category:
Premier Inn - Dubai Investment Park - Family Room
I booked 8 nights and enjoyed the flexibility and convenience of paying a slightly higher price in order not to have my card charged if I didn’t show up…The booking was smooth and easy to do. I also thought it was quite a bargain.
I’ll be posting my review of the Premier Inn Hotel as time goes on…:).
Whoever said travelling was easy? There are so many things around logistics to consider, especially if you don’t want to break the bank. There are also a million and one things to sort out if you want to end up having a well-thought out and fun trip.
If you are from some countries as specified here, you certainly don’t need a visa to enter Dubai. Being from Nigeria, I needed one, which automatically meant that I had a problem.
I hadn’t gone through a travel agent or tourism company. These entities are more than willing to help with visa arrangements (For a fee) if you book your flight/hotel/tour packages through them. Because I didn’t do any of this and I also didn’t have a relative in UAE to apply on my behalf, that left me with only one option: The airline.
Emirates airline has a visa processing partnership with VFS that allows passengers booked to travel to Dubai via their airline to process their visas.
This piece would not be complete without mentioning money.
I decided to travel with my First Bank Master card which meant I would be at the mercy of the bank and their charges: ).
Dollar rates at the parallel market are crazy at the moment so I did not consider going with USD at all. I intend to use the POS for transactions, which doesn't attract charges like ATM withdrawals. If I need to withdraw, I would just take a large chunk at once to reduce the number of times I'm charged.
To help you sleep well at night, keep in mind that I USD = 3.67 AED; and 1 AED = NGN53. 4.
Don’t embark on the journey without having a plan for your precious holiday. For my 8-day stay, here are the places/activities I plan to get involved in:
- Burj Al Arab
- Aquaventure Waterpark
- Wild Wadi Waterpark
- Dubai Creek
- Jumeirah Beach and Park
- Dubai Museum
- Burj Khalifa (A trip to the Observation Deck)
- Bastakia (Old Dubai)
- The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding
- Ski Dubai - Mall of the Emirates
- Desert Safari
- Miracle Garden
- Ibn Battuta Mall
Time in Dubai: GMT + 4, this is 3 hours ahead of Nigeria.
The facts related to other entities mentioned in this article are only valid as at the time the article was published and is meant for your information. Visit the websites of these companies for the most up-to-date information.