24 Hours in Dubai... Need an easy plan!
April 8, 2013 4:55 AM   Subscribe

Please help two Americans work out the details of a 1 day layover in Dubai, with a 2 am arrival.

We are Americans currently in Kathmandu and have a 23 hour layover in Dubai on the way home. Can you, wonderful and knowledgeable Mefites, help us with an easy plan? The webs report we can get a visa on arrival (at 1:30 AM) but (1) where is an easy and central enough place to stay that doesn't break the bank and maybe has some cool factor one way or the other? (2) is taking a taxi at 2am no problem and will that break the bank (we'll probably have Nepal-related sticker shock (3) will we need to exchange money or withdraw and can we (4) and what should we do (after getting a little rest in)?

We like adventure stuff, culture stuff, food stuff, athletic stuff, hippie stuff. Hostels ok, if the time of arrival is ok. Experiences with these Dubai extended layovers welcome.

Thanks mucho!!
posted by letahl to Travel & Transportation around Dubai, UAE (5 answers total)
Are you flying Emirates? I am guessing you are (lucky you!). For layovers like this they may be able to help you out. They have this unadvertised service for travelers that I heard about from a friend, you just go to the customer service desk when you arrive, tell them the situation and they will set you up with a hotel and meal tickets. I believe the place I stayed was called the Millennium Hotel and it was quite nice. There was a free shuttle. I got meal tickets for the hotel restaurant that was open all night.

This was in 2009, not sure if things have changed. From what I heard you should be able to make a reservation for yourself ahead of time by calling Emirates, but that some employees did not know about this? Anyway it seems worth looking into for a free room and food.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:38 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I did an 18 hour layover a couple of years ago.

The Burj Khalifa area is interesting if you want to see the modern excesses. A huge mall with typical craziness, like an full size indoor hockey rink and an aquarium and some really neat large-scale decorative art. Tallest building in the world of course. Neat fountains like Bellagio but bigger.

For more traditional Dubai, I liked the area around the gold souk. You can take a little ferry skiff across the river for a fare that's about a quarter dollar and just wander around. And the riverfront is like a trip back in time with longshoremen loading small boats with sacks of grain and other supplies.
posted by smackfu at 10:46 AM on April 8, 2013

The best things we did in Dubai were the Aquaventure Waterpark and the Aquarium at the Atlantis. Heaps of great waterslides, including one where the tube takes you through a fish tank. The aquarium was the most spectacular I've seen. The Atlantis is about a 25min taxi from the centre of town.

If you want to go to the top of the Burj Khalifa definitely pre-book, it's literally a quarter of the price you pay if you just show up. The fountain show at the base was cool.

Taxis were cheap (at least compared to Australia) because the petrol price is so low, and there are a lot of foreign workers looking for jobs.
posted by trialex at 2:44 PM on April 8, 2013

Response by poster: Flying Fly Dubai, not Emirates, unfortunately.
posted by letahl at 9:56 PM on April 8, 2013

Response by poster: For future Mefites, we were able to essentially show our US passports and walk into the country. I have no idea whether they issued a visa or not. There was no entrance or exit fee, it was no problem and a breeze. We just got a random 5 star hotel on Priceline for fun. Taxis around town are cheap, a little pricier from airport but still not like the States. I'd advocate leaving the airport for any layover of greater than 8 hours. Have a plan, unless you like malls. That tall tower requires a 24 hour advance reservation to get the normal rate.
posted by letahl at 10:40 AM on April 14, 2013

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