Advance Planning

Three months before Check visa regulations, especially if combining a visit with Oman. Book tickets and hotels (Yas Island) for the Grand Prix. Check expected temperature for challenging heat.

One month before Reserve for top restaurants.

One week before Book various activities and 4WD car hire.

48 hours before Book 2WD car hire (high season).

Resources

Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/united-arab-emirates/abu-dhabi) Destination information, hotel bookings, traveller forum and more.

Visit Abu Dhabi (www.visitabudhabi.ae) Excellent official visitor website for travel planning. You can also download its Visit Abu Dhabi app.

Abu Dhabi Culture (www.abudhabiculture.ae) Information on Abu Dhabi's historic sights, Emirati traditions and cultural festivals with a handy Abu Dhabi Culture app you can download.

Time Out Abu Dhabi (www.timeoutabudhabi.com) Events, information on sights and activities, plus restaurant and bar reviews.

Top Tips

  • Hotel prices jump around like a yo-yo depending on how many rooms are free. There are bargains to be had, particularly from May to September.
  • That said, if you want to savour the best of Abu Dhabi's nightlife and cafe scene, don't come between mid-May and mid-September, as many venues close their outdoor terraces for the summer.
  • Dining out can quickly empty your wallet in Abu Dhabi. Many restaurants, even some of the fine-dining venues, offer good-value business lunch set menus for half the price a meal would cost you à la carte.
  • The same goes for nightlife. Check out the two-for-one cocktail deals, happy hours and regular promotions that even the swankiest bars hold to bring your nightlife spend down.

What to Take

  • Three-prong (UK-style) electrical adapter.
  • A shirt or shawl, to counter the deep-freeze of the air-conditioning.
  • Prescriptions for any medication you are travelling with – as long as they are on the UAE's authorised medication list.

What to Wear

Away from the beaches, where swimsuits and bikinis are acceptable, clothing should err on the conservative side. A good rule of thumb for both men and women is to cover shoulders and knees at all times. Short-sleeved shirts and knee-length trousers or skirts are fine. Strappy tops and micro-shorts worn anywhere except on the beach are likely to cause offence.

When visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, both men and women must wear tops with full sleeves down to the wrists and ankle-length bottoms. Women must also cover their hair with a scarf.

Even in the fiercest heat of summer, bring a light jacket, cardigan or scarf to throw over your shoulders for the refrigerator-chill of the air-conditioning in malls, hotels and restaurants.

Pre-Departure Checklist

  • Make sure your passport is valid for six months after your arrival date.
  • Check the latest UAE visa regulations.
  • Arrange appropriate travel insurance.
  • Notify your credit-/debit-card company that you are travelling overseas.
  • Make sure you're aware of the UAE's strict policy on bringing medical drugs into the country.