Getting Around Dubai
The best way to get around Dubai is by taxi or by metro. Although prices are high across the board in Dubai, a taxi here or there won't break the bank. Plus, they provide the freedom to move at your own pace without the hassle of navigating traffic. Dubai's metro system transports passengers to major areas of interest, including Burj Khalifa and the Dubai International Airport (DXB). The airport is about 10 miles from downtown Dubai. You can also rent a car at the airport, but be forewarned: driving here is not for the faint-hearted.
Taxis are the most cost- and time-efficient means of getting around Dubai. You can easily spot cabs by their tan bodies and red roofs; the pink-topped cabs are designated for female and family passengers only (they are also driven by women). All taxis are metered, with rates starting at 12 dirhams (roughly $3.25) and increasing by about 2.82 dirhams (around $0.75) per mile. Because Dubai addresses do not include building numbers, you'll have to specify your destination based on an intersection or a nearby hotel or landmark. Taxis also service Dubai International Airport for a flat rate of 20 dirhams (roughly $5.50). Uber also operates in Dubai.
The Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) operates more than 100 routes in Dubai. Like the metro, bus fares range depending on which of the seven zones you plan to travel through. You can pay using a Nol Card, which you can purchase at select bus stations, ticket vending machines and RTA service centers throughout the city. Although buses run frequently, you will need to factor traffic delays and frequent stops into your travel time. Bus no. 8 tends to be one of the most useful routes for travelers since it makes stops at some of the tourist hot spots, including the Burj Al Arab and the Dubai Marina.
Dubai's metro consists of two lines: the red line and the green line. Both lines together service nearly 50 stations, including the airport. The routes are divided into zones, and fares vary depending on which zones are traveled through. You can pay for your trip with a Nol Card, which is valid on Dubai's metro, buses and waterbuses. You can purchase a Nol Card in all metro stations. Hours of operation depend on the day and line, but they usually start operating around 5 or 5:30 a.m. and run until midnight or 1 a.m. the following day. However, on Fridays it's important to note that metro trains don't start operating until 10 a.m.
Boats have always played a primary role in Dubai transportation, and today, they are still frequently used by both locals and tourists who need to cross Dubai Creek. For 1 dirham (roughly $0.27) per trip, you can cross the creek via abra, the traditional wooden boat that has graced Dubai's waters for years and years. You'll find abras lining the creek in the downtown area. Just make sure to carry cash, as drivers don't accept cards.
The Roads & Transport Authority also operates a boat service known as the Dubai Waterbus. These are more spacious and high-tech than abras (and provide air conditioning), and they service stations outside of the immediate downtown area. One-way trips cost 2 dirhams (roughly $0.54), and you can pay using your Nol Card.
Dubai's roads are well maintained and clearly labeled; however, it can be difficult to maneuver through all the constant construction and traffic. You should also keep in mind that finding parking can be troublesome too. That being said, a car will come in handy should you want to venture outside of Dubai city. You can rent a car in town or at the Dubai airport. To drive here, you will need to obtain an international driver's license.
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