The Ultimate Dubai Packing List: Essentials for Your Trip


2min read

Published 19 April 2024

Flight Centre Author

Guest Blogger


Dubai is a popular destination for South African tourists, and it’s not hard to see why. Only an eight-hour flight away is this desert metropolis, known for luxurious shopping malls, a glittering skyline, and plenty of incredible food and culture on offer to boot. you're planning to go exploring in the desert, shop till you drop, or simply soak up the local culture, packing right is crucial. Luckily, we have the ultimate Dubai packing list to ensure you're perfectly prepared for your trip, no matter what activities you have planned.

In this blog


Understanding Dubai's Dress Code

It’s important to keep in mind that Dubai is a Muslim country, which usually means you should stick to fairly conservative dress in public spaces. Although it’s a modern and fairly liberal country in many ways, knowing and respecting typical dressing norms not only shows respect for the local culture but also gives you the best shot at a hassle-free visit, especially in places of worship or traditional neighbourhoods.

  • General Guidelines: Opt for clothes that cover shoulders and knees. Women should carry a scarf for visiting mosques, where a head covering might be required.
  • At the Beach or Hotel Pool: Wearing your regular swimwear is fine, but it's recommended to cover up when not in the water. Private beaches may have more relaxed rules. Usually, upscale hotels who welcome lots of tourists won’t bat an eyelid at you wearing your bikini.
  • In Malls and Restaurants: Dress modestly. Avoid too much skin exposure. Linen trousers, maxi dresses, and shirts are good choices to beat the heat – but they’ll also be blasting the aircon!
  • During Desert Safaris: Wear comfortable, breathable clothes. A light jacket can be handy for cool evenings.

Understanding these packing guidelines for Dubai will help you pack effectively and enjoy your trip without worrying about accidentally offending someone or making a dress code faux pas. For more tips on getting the best out of your trip, check out our Dubai Travel Guide and ideas on What to Do in Dubai.

What to Wear in Dubai: Considering the Climate

Dubai's climate is characterised by two main seasons: the hot and…well…the even hotter. With temperatures soaring above 40°C in summer, you’ll want to pack carefully. The good news is that most of us South Africans are used to this kind of climate, so you should have most of what you need in your closet already!

  • For the Summer Months (April to September): Light and breathable fabrics are your best friends. Think linen trousers, loose cotton t-shirts, and airy maxi dresses that allow you to move freely while protecting you from the sun. Don't forget a wide-brimmed sun hat and high SPF suncream. You’ll want all the protection you can get against that scorching midsummer sun!
  • For the Cooler Months (October to March): While the days remain warm, evenings can get surprisingly cool, especially if you're venturing into the desert. A light jacket or a shawl will keep you comfortable during those cool evenings. Layering is key, so you can adjust easily to the changing temperatures.+

So, what’s a more specific list of things to pack for your Dubai trip? Here’s how to make sure you’re ready for every occasion.


A Detailed Packing List for Dubai

  • Tops: 5-7 lightweight and breathable tops in neutral colours like white, beige, or pastels. These can be easily mixed and matched with different bottoms.
  • Bottoms: 3-4 pairs of bottoms, including linen trousers, airy wide-leg pants, and 1-2 pairs of modest shorts or capris. Choose versatile colours like navy, black, or khaki.
  • Dresses and Skirts: 3-5 pieces including maxi dresses and long skirts. Opt for solid colours or minimal patterns so you can easily mix and match accessories, shoes, and tops.
  • Evening Wear: 2-3 dressier outfits for fancy dinners or nightlife. Think along the lines of a little black dress or a chic jumpsuit for the ladies and a button up shirt and chinos for the men.
  • Beachwear: 2 swimsuits and 1-2 cover-ups. Bright colours or tropical patterns can add fun to your beach days.
  • Outerwear: Bring along a light jacket or sweater for cooler evenings, especially in the desert or air-conditioned places. A neutral colour is always best for this!
  • Sleepwear: whatever you wear at home!
  • Comfortable Walking Shoes: One pair in a neutral colour for daily exploration. Think black running shoes or white sneakers.
  • One pair of sandals or flip flops
  • One pair of dressy sandals or evening shoes

Accessories to Wear in Dubai

They say that accessories can make or break an outfit. Packing some jewellery and small accessories can give you loads of options for day and night without having to change up your clothes too much. After all, you need to leave space in that suitcase for all the shopping finds!

  • Sun Hat and Sunglasses: Essential for protection against the sun.
  • Scarves/Shawls: 2 lightweight scarves or shawls. One neutral and one statement scarf. You can use these in mosques, but also as a cover up for chillier evenings or to add interest and texture to an otherwise neutral outfit.
  • Jewellery: Bring a small selection of versatile pieces to dress up any outfit. Think a couple of statement necklaces, two pairs of earrings, and maybe a bangle or ring.
  • Bags: 1 crossbody bag for day trips and 1 clutch or small purse for evening outings.

United Arab Emirates

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Expert tip

Set aside some time to spend at your hotel - most of them are destinations in their own right and have lots of amenities that you can use. Plus Dubai is HOT - if your hotel has a pool, you'll want to spend some time in it!


Tech and Travel Essentials to Pack

No packing list is complete without those extra bits and bobs you need, but which we all too often forget about until we’ve landed. Here are some essentials for your Dubai trip:

  • Smartphone and Powerbank: Your phone is your navigator, translator, and camera. Don't forget the charger and consider a powerbank for those days where you’ll be out and about for hours at a time.
  • Reusable Water Bottle: Stay hydrated in the heat, and help save the planet at the same time.
  • Universal Travel Adapter: One of the most important things on any packing list is the right adaptor for all your gear! Dubai uses the British three-pin electrical outlets, so a universal adapter is essential for charging your devices. Order one online or pick one up at the airport.
  • E-Sim or Local SIM Card: What would a Dubai trip be without posting it on Instagram? Nowadays, it’s easy to pick up local sims – and just as easy to get an e-sim before you leave. That way you can avoid high roaming charges but stay connected as you travel.
  • Laundry Bags: Bring a few laundry bags (or even large Ziploc bags) to keep your dirty clothes separate. This will make packing for your return trip easier and keep your clean clothes fresh.

Staying Organized and Additional Tips

A well-organized trip can make your experience in Dubai even more enjoyable. Here are some final tips to consider:

  • Travel Insurance: Always a good idea, travel insurance can cover unexpected events from flight cancellations to medical emergencies.
  • Cultural Respect: Dubai is a Muslim country with conservative dress codes, especially at religious sites and older parts of the city. Always carry a scarf or shawl to cover your shoulders and respect the local customs.
  • Exploring the City: Dubai is known for its luxury shopping, futuristic architecture, and vibrant nightlife. But don't miss the chance to explore Old Dubai too, where you can get a taste of the culture and history of the city.

Packing for Dubai might seem daunting at first, with the unique trifecta of hot weather, super-modern amenities, and traditional cultural rules to respect. However, with this ultimate packing list and guide, you're now well-equipped to navigate what to bring for a comfortable, respectful, and enjoyable visit.

Explore our exclusive Dubai holiday deals today! Whether you're looking for the thrill of a desert safari or the relaxation of luxury beach resorts, we have something for everyone. Start planning your dream Dubai holiday now (you know you want to check out those flight deals) and get ready for your next vacay

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