Dubai

The colossal size of the airport terminals means that it can take forever to get from the plane through immigration to the taxi stand. If you want to make a cultural overture, greet immigration staff in Arabic with As’salam Alaykum ("Peace be upon you"), to which they’ll respond with Wa’alaykum salaam ("Peace right back to you"). For a hassle-free arrival, ensure that your passport is valid for six months and shows no evidence of travel to Israel. (If it does, you run the risk of being sent back on the next plane.) Avoid carrying codeine (you can buy many medications over the counter in Dubai) and banned materials such as R- and X-rated DVDs or magazines. When you leave the country, it is worth arriving at the airport well in advance of your departure so that you can enjoy the excellent airport shopping.

The winter months, with their slightly cooler temperatures, are a wonderful time to stroll the backstreets and wander the parks of Dubai. The rest of the year—and to traverse longer distances—the Metro can transport you between malls and along Sheikh Zayed Road. An air-conditioned public bus service travels along Jumeirah Beach Road. Check Dubai Government’s Road and Transport Authority for timetables and fares. The abras (open-sided wooden boats) that continually crisscross Dubai Creek are fun for moving between the older neighborhoods of Deira and Bur Dubai, especially if you’re exploring the souqs and the historic waterfront. Taxis are reasonably priced and useful when traveling from the airport to your hotel or when heading out to dinner. Rental cars are also affordable—and UAE roads are excellent—but are only necessary if you’re day-tripping or driving around the country. An international driver's license is required.