To many travellers, the United Arab Emirates mean just one thing: a stopover. It’s a place to endure rather than to enjoy; somewhere to touch down in, scoot through, and take off from ASAP. Truth is however, those who consider the country little more than a proverbial pit stop are missing out. Beyond Abu Dhabi’s skyline and in between Dubai’s shopping malls, a whole range of real world adventures await. Hop atop a camel for a lope along desert dunes…or charter a chopper. Break bread with Bedouins…or dine with the fishes in a restaurant aquarium. Tour an old spice market…or withdraw gold bars at vending machines. This is ancient Arabia with an open cheque book.

Our United Arab Emirates trips

Tailor-Made trips

Take four or more on an exclusive trip and tailor your itinerary

Travel lightly with Intrepid. We’ve offset the main sources of carbon emissions from this trip on your behalf, including transport, accommodation & waste. Read more

United Arab Emirates travel highlights

United Arab Emirates holiday information

At a glance
Best time to visit UAE
History and government
Top 5 Ways to Delight in the Emirates
Health and Safety
Further reading

United Arab Emirates travel FAQs

Trips on or before 31 December 2022

If your Intrepid trip starts on or before 31 December 2022, you must provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19.

If you are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons, you may apply for an exemption. Exemptions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. To apply, you must provide a medical certificate from a medical professional.

Children under 18 are exempt. Children aged between 5 and 17 years old must provide proof of either vaccination, recovery or a negative COVID-19 test.

Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards

From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).

However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.

Learn more about Intrepid’s COVID-19 policy

Most hotels and restaurants add service charges to their bill. At those that don’t, a tip is always appreciated (particularly by migrant workers).

Internet access – be it at cyber cafes or through Wi-Fi – is readily available throughout the UAE. Websites deemed culturally or religiously offensive are blocked however, as are VoIP telephone systems such as Skype.

Yes. Coverage is excellent throughout the UAE and roaming agreements are in place with most international phone carriers.

Public toilets in places frequented by Westerners are generally of the Western-style, sit-down variety. Beyond the cities, squat-style toilets are more common (although these are gradually making way for the Western type).

Cappuccino – 15.85 AED
Three-course meals for two at a Mid-range restaurant – 150 AED
Imported 0.33 litre bottle of beer from a shop – 25.05 AED

Technically yes, as the tap water is desalinated seawater. People have reported feeling ill from it before however – supposedly because of the hygiene (or lack thereof) of the tank – so filtered water is a safer option.

Yes. All the major cards are widely accepted, though you’ll usually need to pay cash in taxis.

ATMs are easily found in the UAE’s urban areas. Most accept Switch, Maestro, Cirrus, Union Pay, Visa and MasterCard.

Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of your trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance

  • 1 Jan New Year's Day
  • 24 Apr The Prophet's Ascension
  • 25 Jun Eid Al Fitr *
  • 26 Jun Eid Al Fitr *
  • 27 Jun Eid Al Fitr *
  • 31 Aug Arafat (Haj) Day *
  • 1 Sep Eid Al Adha / Feast of Sacrifice *
  • 2 Sep Eid Al Adha / Feast of Sacrifice *
  • 21 Sep Islamic New Year *
  • 30 Nov Martyr's Day
  • 30 Nov The Prophet Muhammad's Birthday *
  • 2 Dec National Day

*Subject to change

Please note these dates are for 2017. For a current list of public holidays in the UAE go to:

Responsible Travel

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Al Fahidi Fort in Dubai

How we're giving back

In United Arab Emirates, we stay in locally run accommodation including guesthouses, smaller-scale hotels and homestays in an effort to support the local economies. We also visit locally-run restaurants and markets where travellers will have opportunities to support local businesses and purchase handicrafts created by local artisans.