Especially after the launch of the metro, Dubai's public transport system is probably the best in the Middle East, but it's still a very car-oriented city and most visitors end up taking taxis quite often. The Wojhati (http://wojhati.rta.ae/) journey planner can suggest the best way to travel.
A day pass valid for unlimited rides on the metro and buses costs Dh14, while the Nol Silver stored-value card costs Dh20 including Dh14 worth of balance and gives a 10% discount on both metro and bus fares. Both are available at metro stations and major bus stations. The Silver card is useful for public transport users who stay in Dubai for more than a day.
|Red ticket||Dh 2||Rechargeable ticket; suitable for tourists, it lasts for 90 days however should only be used in one type of transport, can be used for 10 journeys.|
|Silver card||Dh 20 Dh 14 value||Rechargeable ticket, valid for 5 years. Recommended if staying for more than a day.|
|Gold card||Dh 20 Dh 14 value||Rechargeable ticket, can be used in Gold Class.|
|Blue card||Dh 70||Personalized card, with online services like transaction history and online recharge.|
Taxis ply the streets of Dubai and are relatively easy to spot. The easiest place to find them is at the taxi queue at one of the malls or outside a hotel. Waving down a taxi on the road is possible, but can be difficult during rush hours. At peak times 7-9AM & 4-7PM workdays, and Friday evenings demand far exceeds supply, and not only are taxis hard to find, but those who deign to pick you up may demand crazy off-meter fares or refuse short rides in congested areas entirely. The standard of driving in Dubai ranges from poor to wild - taxis are some of the worst on the roads. Taxi drivers are pretty good at knowing where the main shopping malls and hotels are, however less well known places will mean the driver calling his brother-in-law to get directions, whilst he drives around in circles on your time - hence it is a good idea to have a rough idea of where you are heading or what a nearby landmark is.
Taxis are metered at 1.60 dhs/km, so no haggling is necessary. The rates of all taxi companies — Dubai Transport, National, Cars, Metro, and Arabian — are identical, so just take the first one that comes along. From the airport, there is a standing charge of 20 dhs; all other street pickups attract a standing charge of 3.00 dhs during the day, 3.50 at night 10 PM-6AM, but a minimum fare of 10 dhs applies, and there is a surcharge of 20 dhs for going to Sharjah. Taxis are exempt from the Salik road toll charges. Beware of unmarked hotel taxis and limousines though: while some of these are metered, they are not tied to the official rates, and can be much more expensive. (http://dtc.dubai.ae/en.po...) One way to spot whether a taxi is official or not is to look for a meter: no meter, don't get in.
If you can't find one otherwise, you can attempt to call a taxi at 04-2080808, there's a surcharge of 3 dhs to book. The booking system was notorious for its unreliability but with a significantly increased taxi fleet, many taxis now deliberately wait in unofficial holding areas waiting for bookings. As a result, on a good day it can be possible to book a taxi and have it arrive within less than five minutes. If you absolutely have to get somewhere at a certain time say, the airport or a meeting, it's still best to book a hotel taxi in advance, and get their estimate of how bad the traffic will be.
Women should travel in the back of the taxi as some drivers see it as a sexual invitation if you get in the front.
There are a countless number of Rent-A-Cars that will provide a mode of transportation for very cheap rates and very little paperwork. An International Driving Permit is not necessarily required, but hire companies may not rent a car without one.
Some agencies will hire out cars complete with drivers. Visitors taking advantage of this option will need to make certain that their driver knows his way around as many do not.
When driving on the main roads, such as Sheikh Zayed road, the junction numbers are not in logical order. Junction 13 is just after Junction 18 and are rarely as shown on the maps. Road names can also be very confusing with slight differences in spelling due to different transliterations from Arabic being very important. The construction work that is taking place throughout and around Dubai can make finding your destination a challenge. Temporary road layouts change with alarming regularity and temporary signs can be misleading or non existent. As GPS maps are not up to date and usually not anyway available to rent with hire cars, you will be very well off with a printed map you can get an excellent one in Virgin stores, for example. There is a Virgin Megastore on the top floor of City Center.
Driving during morning and afternoon peak hours is not recommended, as traffic slows to a standstill and even a simple trip across a bridge can take up to 45 minutes. There is also a scarcity of parking spaces in many parts of the city.
With such a mixture of nationalities residing in the city, driving styles are mixed to say the least. Both dangerous and experienced driving will be witnessed or experienced frequently, and bear in mind that Dubai has one of the highest per capita road death rates in the world. There is zero tolerance for alcohol and driving with stiff penalties meted out including jail and deportation.
See Salik.ae (http://www.salik.ae) for information about toll to pay on certain routes in Dubai. If you rent a car, usually a Salik tag will be provided by the car hire company and you will be charged separately when returning the car.
Dubai's 52-km long Red Line, opened in September 2009, is the second metro in the Arab world after Cairo. As of May 15, 2010, 21 stations are open and the rest are scheduled to open by the end of the year. While the line does not serve the old city center, it's handy for zipping along Dubai's long coastline and includes stops at the airport, Burj Khalifa and the Mall of the Emirates. The Green Line, which burrows through the city core, has been open as of September 9, 2011. A further two stops, Al Jadaf and Creek, are complete but will open at a later date pending development. Transfers are possible at Union Square and Khalid Bin Al Waleed. There are also Blue and Purple lines under construction with opening dates in the next few years.
Single tickets range from Dh2-8.50, or double that for use of the "Gold" first class carriage. Train run every 3-5 minutes from 5:50 AM to Midnight every day except Thursday and Friday, when services are extended to 5:50 AM to 1 AM and limited to 1 PM to Midnight, respectively. All stations are air-conditioned and there's a large network of feeder buses.
In addition, a 5 km monorail system shuttles passengers across the Palm Jumeirah to the Atlantis hotel, but it's not connected to the metro network and is thus of very limited utility.
An easier way of crossing the Dubai Creek is by abra, essentially a small ferry. Abra stations are located along the Creek on both the Bur Dubai and Deira sides, and the system of filling the boats is remarkably efficient. The cross-river trip costs 1 Dirham AED 1 per passenger, payable to the driver after the boat has left the station, and affords a very picturesque view of the city not to be missed. Abras set off very regularly, and the service is available round-the-clock.
Abras can also be hired for a private tour for a price negotiable with the driver but usually very cheap. This is quite a popular activity at sunset on a clear day, particularly if the driver is able to enliven the tour with stories about the structures on either side of the Creek. Just make sure that the purpose of one's abra hire is made clear at the outset--otherwise you will be in for a very expensive cross-river trip or a crowded private tour.
The Waterbus is another option for tousists who want to go by boat but avoid the abra crowd or the heat. It is a part of Dubai's public transport system, so again a Red ticket, or any Nol card is required for the journey. Can be purchased at the waterbus station.The waterbus also features a 'tourist route' round trip - while it is convenient, it can get quite expensive Dh50 for an adult, Dh25 for a child
The Creek is also the home of many boats offering more comfortable and correspondingly more expensive tours, often in boats designed to resemble dhows. Prices tend to be higher, particularly for dinner cruises with on-board entertainment.
Dubai Public transport (http://vgn.dm.gov.ae/DMEG...) is a cheaper means of traveling within the several districts in Dubai. A map of the bus system can be found online (http://www.rta.ae/wpsv5/l...), as well as detailed route maps and timetables (http://www.rta.ae/wpsv5/l...). Public buses are clean and cheap, but unfortunately not very comprehensive and on some routes quite infrequent. The bus system is most useful for getting between different areas of central Dubai, or between the various suburbs, rather than general transport. Taxis or a fair amount of walking will also be required if you wish to visit Dubai without a car of your own.
You will require a Nol card or ticket for fare payment. Cards could be purchased from most bus stations, metro stations, and sometimes from the bus driver.
The main bus stations are Gold Souq Market in Deira and Al Ghubaiba bus station in Bur Dubai. The flat fare is 2 AED, but might be higher for hour-long rides to distant suburbs. Clear route maps and time-tables are placed inside a few bus stands. Ramadan timings differ. The front seats are reserved for women.
Probably the single most useful service for the casual tourist is Line 8, which starts at the Gold Souq, takes the tunnel under the Creek to Heritage Village, and then sets off down Jumeirah Rd just behind the beach and all its hotels and malls, up to Burj al-Arab and Wild Wadi. Line 8 terminates near the Internet City, while its 8A variant goes down a little further and also serves the Mall of the Emirates.
For a good, hop on - hop off, type tour try the Big Bus Company (http://www.bigbustours.co...). It runs two routes; the blue route through Jumeirah and the recently constructed areas, and the red route centering on the older parts of Dubai. The hub for both routes is Wafi City mall, and an 175 AED ticket covers 24 hours of riding.