Car Rental vs. Public Transport or Taxi: Which is Better When Visiting Dubai?

When visiting a new place, there are plenty of things you need to plan and prepare for. Aside from booking your flight and accommodation, you also need to think about your transportation, especially for cities that cater to plenty of tourists.

Dubai is one of those places.

Home to the world’s tallest tower, the largest man-made island, and other famous tourist spots, the most populous city in the UAE is definitely a great place to visit. To move around efficiently, you’ll have to pick a mode of transportation that could get you places on time, every time.

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Under this aspect of the trip, visitors have two choices: to travel via public transportation or taxis or to rent a car. This article will show you which one is the better choice and present some tips on how to maximize their use during your trip.

Car Rental vs. Public Transport or Taxi: 4 Factors to Consider

Because of its popularity among tourists and businessmen, Dubai is a busy city. Whether you’re visiting to enjoy the sights and experiences offered or to meet business partners and clients, you’ll need to plan how you’ll be going around the city ahead of time to get the most out of your stay.

When it comes to comparing transportation options, there are several factors you need to look at, such as:

1. Flexibility and freedom

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This is the first thing you should think about when deciding to travel via public transportation and taxis or use car rentals. Out of the two options, car rentals can give you more of both.

For one, you no longer need to adjust to public transportation schedules, which can be unreliable and unpredictable even with advanced planning. Also, distances in Dubai may be too great that you might not get end-to-end transportation without having to bust your budget on taxis. Rental cars can get you where you need to go – as long as you know the way, that is.

Also, having a car to drive on-demand can aid in customizing your trip. This means you can make a detour or stop whenever you want. You just have to speak with your travel companions, if any, when making such changes.

Aside from having the freedom to manage the trip itself, you’ll also have a lot more options when it comes to the type of vehicle you want to ride. Car rental companies have a wide range of vehicles for you to choose from, depending on what you need.

2. Cost efficiency

Another factor you must consider when deciding on your transportation is cost-efficiency. When you only need to go back and forth to a couple of nearby places, public transport may be the best choice. But if you’re planning an all-out vacation to Dubai, think about renting a vehicle instead.

While you can plan ahead to make it on time via public transport, some unexpected circumstances may change your plans and cause you to miss the bus or train. Getting a cab every time this happens can hurt your budget, too.

Traveling in a large group is also more cost efficient with a car rental. More people means more luggage, which ultimately means you’ll have to take a taxi every time your group sets out on an adventure.

3. Access to more places

In this aspect, taxis and car rentals are your only choices. You see, there are places in Dubai where trains and other modes of public transport have no access. If you don’t take the cab or have a car to drive, you’ll end up walking quite a distance under the hot desert sun.

4. Comfort and convenience

When considering comfort and convenience, all you have to think about is the harsh warm weather in the desert city of Dubai. Even without putting much thought into it, you’re better off renting a vehicle that could keep you comfortable throughout your journey.

In doing so, you won’t have to struggle to hail a taxi or wait for a bus to arrive since you can easily book a car rental online. You can also leave whenever and go wherever you want. The best part is, you can choose a bigger vehicle to rent should you need extra room for more people.

3 Things to Know When Renting a Car

Once you’ve made up your mind about renting a car, it’s time for you to learn about what you must do and how you can get the most out of it. Below are three important tips that every car renter in Dubai must remember:

1. Don’t settle for the cheapest

Before signing on the dotted line, you have to make sure that you get the best possible deal first. There are plenty of tools you can use to compare car rental services in Dubai, so make sure that you use them.

Just remember that the cheapest isn’t always the best. Look at what’s included in the package – not just the price – when shopping around. This will help you make an informed choice.

2. Make sure you are licensed to drive

Before you rent a car to drive around Dubai, you have to make sure that you have the license to do so.

Most visitors need to get an International Driving Permit (IDP) to confirm that their driving licenses from their home countries are valid. This permit can be acquired from your home country.

However, there are some countries – particularly the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – that are exempted from the IDP requirement. Among the countries included are Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.

If you’re from one of these countries, you only need your driver’s license from your home country to be able to drive in Dubai without an IDP. This rule also covers passport holders hailing from many first-world countries.

3. Consider where you plan to go, and what you expect to do

When choosing a vehicle to rent, you must also take into account where you intend to go and what you plan to do on your trip to Dubai.

For example, if you’re planning to have a romantic weekend with your significant other, then you should think about renting a luxury vehicle to make it more magical. Renting a car is the fastest, most effective way to get luxury vehicles that you’re only going to use for the occasion.

Alternatively, people who are visiting Dubai in groups should think about van rentals instead. If you have more people in your group, there’s a good chance that you’ll be having a lot of luggage as well. To make sure you can bring everything everyone needs, you should consider renting an aptly sized van.

Final Thoughts

Between driving a rental and riding public transport and taxis, you’ll have a better chance of enjoying your vacation in Dubai when you rent a car. Consider all the factors listed in this article, and don’t forget to keep yourself up-to-date with new road and driving policies in the city.


As Co-founder and Key Account Manager for, Felin is responsible for translating the vision of into an easy-to-use online car rental portal for our customers. She holds a Bachelor in Commerce degree from the Pune University, India (2013) as well as a Masters of Business Administration degree from the Pune University, India (2015).

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