Cheap flights to Abu Dhabi leave from most mainland capitals, with direct flights available from Melbourne. The cheaper flights from Brisbane and Sydney will involve one stopover, while a Perth departure will mean two stopovers. Be mindful of the fact that local laws may seem harsh by Australian standards, but they do apply to visitors. There is a zero tolerance towards illegal drugs and some prescription and over-the counter drugs available in Australia are illegal in UAE. Australians do not need a visa to enter the United Arab Emirates. You will be granted a visa, which is valid for 30 days, when you arrive. The city is about 45 minutes from the airport by bus. The green and white 901 bus to the city departs from the lower curbside outside Terminals 1 and 3 and outside Terminal 2. They run every 40 minutes, around the clock, and a one-way trip to the city will cost AED 3 (A$0.80). All bus stops are clearly marked by blue and white signs.
Abu Dhabi has a cheap bus network to get you around. The modern air-conditioned buses run 24-hours-a-day and passengers can hop on and off any bus by placing a 1 Dirham ($A0.25) coin in the collection box near the driver. Cheap day passes are available for AED 3 (A$0.80) and travel is free for people aged over 60 and those with disabilities. A free shuttle service operates from 9am to 9pm to Yas Island’s main attractions. Taxis are also reasonably priced in the city.
Abu Dhabi is home to the world’s largest indoor theme park, Ferrari World. The park tells the Ferrari story through 20 exhilarating rides, including the world’s fastest roller coaster, the Formula Rosa, which hits speeds of 240km/h. Note that the park is closed on Mondays. Corniche Road is an 8km stretch of manicured waterfront which hosts a pristine beach that attracts up to 50,000 visitors a month. The beach is split into three sections for families, singles and the general public. A cheap way to tour the Corniche is on bicycle, with four rental stations situated along the boardwalk. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one the world’s largest mosques and can cater for 41,000 worshipers. It features 82 domes, more than 1000 columns and 24 carat gold gilded chandeliers.
Most shops open from 10am to 10pm and while the malls work through, some independent stores have extended lunch breaks, usually from 1-4pm. Hours change during Ramadan, with many shops closing for the afternoon and reopening from 7pm to midnight. The timing of Ramadan changes each year, as it is set by the Islamic lunar calendar. To get a cheap deal don’t forget to ask for the “best price’’. Bargaining is expected in souks and markets, as well as high-end shops. Wood carvings, gold jewellery, perfumes and carpets are the city’s specialties. When looking for bite, Abu Dhabi is famous for five-star dining, but there are many cheap options with food from all over the Middle East - Lebanese fattoush salads, Egyptian falafel, Persian stews, and Omani ‘halwa’ sweets - on the menus. The city has more than 300 restaurants, with many cafes offering cheap meals for less than $20. There is no shortage of nightlife options in Abu Dhabi with hip hop and house music available at the likes of Pearls and Caviars. For straight clubbing head to the Yacht Club, with local music the hero at Etoiles every Wednesday.