United Arab Emirates: Dubai & Abu Dhabi

9 days
As the wealthiest country in the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates is often associated with glamour and opulence, and the centers of Dubai and Abu Dhabi live up to the reputation. Be dazzled by these cosmopolitan cities, both meccas of culture, finance and innovation. Then, set off into the desert to discover how civilizations lived for centuries, long before skyscrapers rose to reach the clouds.

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

      Local       cuisine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Tour group size: 18 - 35 travelers

Tour pace: You will walk for about 2 hours daily across moderately uneven terrain, including unpaved roads and desert paths, with some hills and stairs.

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

      Local       cuisine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Your tour includes

  • 7 nights in handpicked hotels

  • Breakfast daily, 1 lunch, 3 three-course dinners with beer or wine

  • Multilingual Tour Director

  • Private deluxe motor coach

  • Guided sightseeing and select entrance fees

Dubai 5 nights Hotel info

Day 1: Travel day

Board your overnight flight to Dubai today.

Day 2: Arrival in Dubai

Welcome to the United Arab Emirates! Take tonight to get settled in to your hotel.

Day 3: Sightseeing tour of Dubai

  Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Discover both Dubai’s traditional and ultramodern sides on today’s guided sightseeing tour. 

• Drive down Sheikh Zayed Road to New Dubai and admire the Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world 

• Travel along the coastline, stopping to snap photos at Burj Al Arab, the iconic sail-shaped hotel, and the man-made island of Palm Jumeirah

• Hop aboard an abra, a traditional water taxi, for a cruise along Dubai Creek 

• Enter Al Fahidi Fort, the oldest building in the city, and peer into the past at the Dubai Museum inside the fort 

• Get a taste of Emirati cuisine during lunch at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding

Tonight, gather with your Tour Director and fellow travelers at a welcome dinner.

Day 4: Sightseeing tour of Sharjah

  Included meals: Breakfast

Travel to the neighboring Emirate of Sharjah, the UNESCO-named “cultural capital of the Arab world.”

• Pass Sharjah University City, the region’s education district that is home to eight different college campuses 

• Visit the Sharjah Heritage Museum in the neighborhood of Old Sharjah 

• View the Faisal Mosque, the largest of 600 mosques in the emirate 

• Enjoy free time to explore the stalls of the Souk al Markazi, called the “Blue Souk”

Later, enjoy a free evening in Dubai or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Burj Khalifa Observation Deck & Dinner $145pp* Details

Burj Khalifa

Get an unparalleled look at the city of Dubai from the top of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world. Soak in the view from observation decks on the 125th and 148th stories, and learn about the engineering and architectural prowess it took to build the Burj Khalifa. Then, head back to ground level to enjoy a walk along the waterfront, followed by dinner in the Dubai Festival City. Please note: In accordance with local laws, alcoholic beverages cannot be served at your meal.

Must be booked 20 days before departure

Day 5: Free day in Dubai

  Included meals: Breakfast

Spend a full free day getting to know Dubai on your own or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Desert Safari & Bedouin Camp Dinner $69pp* Details

Deserts around Dubai

Explore the deserts around Dubai, spotting exotic wildlife as you travel over the dunes in a Land Rover 4x4. Then, learn about traditional desert transportation on a camel trek. You’ll end your day with group of modern Bedouins. Taste Arabic coffee and dates, then relax and enjoy activities such as henna painting or hookah, a multi-stemmed tobacco pipe. Sit down to a barbecue dinner with the group at a desert retreat and take in a belly dancing performance after your meal.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $79)

Abu Dhabi 2 nights Hotel info

Day 6: Abu Dhabi via Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital

  Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

On your way to Abu Dhabi, stop at the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital to learn about rehabilitation efforts and enjoy a demonstration of the ancient hunting technique of falconry.

Day 7: Sightseeing tour of Abu Dhabi

  Included meals: Breakfast

Set out to explore Abu Dhabi with a local leading the way. 

• Travel to Saadiyat Island for a photo stop

• Pass the Emirates Palace and the Corniche, a 5-mile waterfront walkway with incredible views of the Persian Gulf 

• Enter the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the largest in the world, and marvel at its detailed marble work and magnificent interiors

Then, spend a free afternoon in Abu Dhabi or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Abu Dhabi Pearl Journey $155pp* Details

Abu Dhabi

Cruise on a traditional Emirati boat, called a jalboot, to discover the incredible wildlife around Abu Dhabi’s Mangrove National Park. On board, you’ll enjoy traditional snacks and sip Arabic coffee, which is often infused with cardamom. Keep your eyes peeled for herons, egrets and flamingos as you sail along the Eastern Mangrove. Then, watch divers fish for oysters and collect pearls during a demonstration.

Must be booked 20 days before departure

Al Ain 1 night Hotel info

Day 8: Transfer to Al Ain

  Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Travel through the desert to serene Al Ain. When you arrive, get to know the “Garden City” on a guided sightseeing tour. 

• Stop at the Al Ain Oasis to enjoy the lush greenery of the surrounding date palm plantations and farms 

• Get a glimpse of how locals lived and worked for centuries at a camel market

• See the Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum and enter Al Jahili Fort, which was built to protect the city in 1891 

Tonight, celebrate your trip with your fellow travelers at a farewell dinner.

Day 9: Departure

  Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Transfer to the Dubai International Airport for your flight home or continue on to explore Oman.

Add Oman Starting from $699 pp

Filled with rich history and stunning landscapes, Oman stands out among its often-flashier neighbors for its authenticity. Travel to the ancient capital, explore once-great desert forts and set out over the sand dunes to see a new side of the Arabian Peninsula.

Muscat 3 nights Hotel info

Day 9: Transfer to Muscat

  Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Travel through the desert to Muscat, the capital of Oman. When you arrive, enjoy a late-afternoon guided sightseeing tour. 

• Take a panoramic drive through the city, stopping at Fort Al Jalali, Fort Al Mirani and the Al Alam Palace, the ceremonial palace of the Sultan of Oman 

• Stop at the Muttrah Souk and spend free time exploring the traditional market’s varied stalls

Day 10: Nizwa & Desert Forts

  Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch

This morning, pay a visit to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat. Then, set out into the desert for a full-day excursion. 

• Explore the souks in the center of Nizwa, the oldest city in Oman

• Enjoy a lunch of local specialties 

• Admire the UNESCO-recognized Bahla Fort and visit Jabrin Castle, once an important academic center for students of astronomy, medicine and Islamic law

Day 11: Free day in Oman

  Included meals: Breakfast

Spend a full free day in Oman or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Wahiba Sands $125pp* Details

Western Hajar Mountains

Discover the incredible landscapes and ancient cultures of Oman. Set out over the Western Hajar Mountains in a Jeep 4x4, admiring rock formations that are colored green and red by iron ore. Stop in the town of Al Mudhaireb to see the ruins of ancient watchtowers and villages, then visit Wadi Bani Khalid to enjoy a picnic lunch in the oasis-like valley. Continue on to a dune drive in the stark and stunning Wahiba Sands, where you’ll meet a group of Bedouins living as their ancestors have for centuries.

Must be booked 20 days before departure

Day 12: Departure

  Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Transfer to the Muscat airport for your flight home.

How's the weather?

  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  • Al Ain, United Arab Emirates
Temperature Precipitation
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Passport & visa requirements

  • This tour visits the United Arab Emirates (plus Oman on the tour extension). In order to enter these countries, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date extending at least six months beyond the date of reentry. 
  • We recommend having at least two blank passport pages for entry stamps.
  • There is no visa required for U.S. or Canadian citizens to enter the United Arab Emirates. 
  • U.S. or Canadian citizens will need a visa to enter Oman on the tour extension. You may choose to obtain your individual visa by applying directly to the Omani consulate or by using a visa provider, such as our partner company, VisaCentral. 
  • If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.    

Tour pace

  • You will walk for about 2 hours daily across moderately uneven terrain, including unpaved roads and desert paths, with some hills and stairs. 
  • Travelers should be healthy enough to participate in all included walks without assistance. Adding optional excursions may increase the total amount of walking on your tour.
  • You should feel comfortable managing your own luggage at times, as well as getting in and out of boats and small vehicles.
  • If you have any mobility concerns or physical restrictions, please contact our Customer Experience Team.

Transportation & arrival information

  • Round-trip flights booked through Go Ahead arrive in Dubai and depart from Dubai (or Muscat, Oman for the tour extension). A Go Ahead representative will meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel. Please remain in the arrival lounge, as the representative might be escorting one of your fellow travelers to the bus at the time of your arrival. 
  • Transfers to and from the airport at your destination are included for travelers who have purchased their flights through Go Ahead. Travelers who purchase their own flights may request airport transfers with Go Ahead for an additional cost.
  • All other included transportation on this tour is by private motor coach. 

Baggage allowance

  • Airlines have varying weight restrictions on baggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage; be advised that you are responsible for any such costs. 
  • Contact your airline for detailed information regarding baggage size and weight restrictions for your flight, but please note that Go Ahead travelers are restricted to one checked bag per person due to storage limitations on motor coaches and other transfers. 
  • One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 total inches (length + width + height).
  • Make sure you label your baggage and keep valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on bag. 

Clothing & packing tips

  • While Dubai and Abu Dhabi are considered to be more liberal than some neighboring cities, local customs concerning dress are strict and should be respected. Bare shoulders and knees are considered inappropriate in public places, though swimwear at beaches and pools is acceptable. 
  • Loose-fitting, breathable clothing can help keep you cooler in desert heat. Cotton, linen or a quick-dry material is best for hot days outside, though a light scarf or extra layer may be needed for chillier evenings and early mornings.
  • You may want supportive walking sandals to keep cool on city sightseeing. Comfortable closed-toes shoes, such as sneakers or lightweight hiking boots, are best for activities in the desert. 
  • Sun protection is very important. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat to protect your face and the back of your neck from the sun. 
  • You may want to pack dressier attire if you plan to visit a high-end restaurant or attend a special performance.
  • It is preferable not to visit mosques or other religious sites with bare legs and shoulders (and entrance may be denied on this basis). 

Health

  • There are no major health risks associated with traveling to any of the countries on this tour. 
  • At least 60 days prior to departure, check with your doctor or healthcare provider for the latest updates and entry requirements, or visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov.
  • If you have medication that you take daily, be sure you have enough for each day of the tour as well as any possible delays encountered.
  • Temperatures in this region often exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius), especially during the summer months. Drinking plenty of water, limiting your alcohol intake and using proper sun protection is extremely important in order to prevent the effects of dehydration and heat stroke. 
  • Be sure to take proper care for sun exposure by regularly applying sunscreen or covering up with long, loose-fitting layers. 
  • If you have dietary restrictions and/or food allergies please notify Go Ahead at least 30 days prior to your departure by logging in to My Account and updating your traveler info. To update this information closer to your departure date, please call our Customer Experience Team.

Local laws

  • The United Arab Emirates (and Oman on the tour extension) is an Islamic country that follows Sharia law. While both Dubai and Abu Dhabi are considered more liberal than some neighboring cities, it’s important to note that very conservative laws governing public behavior are strictly enforced. 
  • Among these laws are prohibitions against public displays of affection. Hand-holding is permissible, but kissing and other affectionate displays are expressly forbidden, even between married couples.
  • Obscenity laws are also upheld throughout the country. Offenses for using foul language and making indecent gestures are punishable by jail time. 

Cuisine

  • At the crossroads of many cultures, the United Arab Emirates reflects its diverse history in its cuisine. Asian, Moroccan and Levantine influences feature heavily, as do spices brought through the country by trade routes. Saffron, cardamom and turmeric flavor many meals. 
  • One-pot dishes like fareeth, a stew made with vegetables and bread, and al harees, a porridge of barley and meat are popular recipes. Seafood is a staple—if you’re feeling adventurous, you might try jisheed, a soup made with shark meat. 
  • In Oman (on the tour extension), you’ll find African and Indian cuisine reflected in many traditional recipes. Coconut, berries and nutmeg are ingredients not often found in Middle Eastern dishes, but which play a big role in Omani kitchens. Don’t miss madrouba, a slow-cooked dish made with rice, chicken and dried Persian limes.
  • At very traditional meals, diners eat with their hands, sometimes using pieces of flatbread to scoop up portions of food. Don’t be afraid to dig in!
  • Consumption of alcohol is strictly regulated throughout the country. Alcoholic beverages may only be served to non-Muslim visitors at certain licensed hotels and restaurants. 

Electricity & air conditioning

  • The United Arab Emirates operates on the European standard 220-240 volts and uses a Type G plug with three pins. 
  • Oman (on the tour extension) operates on the European standard 220-240 volts and uses a Type C or G plug with two or three pins, respectively. 
  • We recommend packing a universal adapter, as well as a voltage converter if you plan on using your own hairdryer or other electrical device without a built-in converter.  
  • Air conditioning in Emirati hotels may be much cooler than what you might be used to in the U.S. or Canada. When air conditioning is available, it is usually regulated seasonally and controlled centrally by the hotel. 
  • Your hotels may provide hairdryers, irons and other small appliances. However, these amenities cannot be guaranteed.

Connectivity

  • Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, though some charges may apply.
  • There is no Wi-Fi on any of the motor coaches 
  • Please contact your mobile service provider for information on roaming charges. 

Time zones

  • The United Arab Emirates is four hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and eight hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST). 
  • When it’s noon in New York City, it’s 8pm on tour. 

Currency

  • You will use the United Arab Emirates dirham in Dubai and Abu Dhabi (plus the Omani rial in Oman on the tour extension). 
  • Better rates of exchange are usually available overseas, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. 
  • We strongly advise that you take debit/bank cards and credit cards, which can be used to withdraw cash at local banks, as needed. 
  • You can use most debit/credit cards at ATMs on the international networks Cirrus and Plus, but make sure to check with your home bank about withdrawal fees. 
  • Inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.
  • International banks and businesses primarily accept debit and credit cards that work with the EMV chip system. If you do not already have at least one debit or credit card with a chip in it, we strongly recommend requesting one from your bank prior to your tour.

Tipping

  • At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity in local currency. Please keep current exchange rates in mind.
  • We recommend tipping the equivalent of $7USD/CAD to $10USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director and the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver.
  • If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD/CAD per local guide. 
  • Tips can only be paid in cash. 

Purchasing excursions on tour

  • Most optional excursions will be available for purchase while you are on tour.
  • Your Tour Director will only accept cash (in USD only), Visa or MasterCard as payment for excursions. 
  • Please be advised that if you pay for an excursion by credit card while on tour, it may take up to three months for your card to be charged. 
  • Some optional excursions may only be purchased in advance. See page four of your tour itinerary for more information.

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