Traveling to Dubai or Beijing? Follow These Do's and Don'ts

Say N-O to PDA

DO NOT: Show your love in public. Public displays of affection - even a kiss on the cheek to your spouse - can get you as much as a year in jail. It's a rule that's not always enforced, but you're way better safe than sorry. Last year a British couple was arrested, caught having sex on the beach. Though their sentence was commuted, they faced prison time and hefty fines. Also watch what you wear – shorts, skirts, and skimpy tops are discouraged. In some parts of the UAE they are illegal. Follow the cues around you and you should be fine – for example, bikinis and more revealing clothes are allowed on the beach. To cover the unlikely event that you do get in trouble it's a good idea to travel with your local consulate number handy. The U.S. Consulate in Dubai can be reached during working hours at +971 (0)4 311-6000. In the case of an after-hours emergency, the number is +971 (0)2 414 2200 for help from the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

DO NOT: Come in summer. With average summer midday temperatures hovering around 103-105ºF and humid, you'll want to avoid Dubai from June to September. Even the waters of the Persian Gulf can be uncomfortably warm. In autumn, winter, and spring the weather is ideal, normally in the 70s and 80s with plenty of sunshine. Also avoid the month of Ramadan if you want to see the place in full swing – restaurants shutter and the city slows down as observant Muslims fast by day. On the other hand, come during Ramadan if you'd like to learn more about Islam's holiest month and enjoy the sumptuous evening buffets known as "Iftar," or breakfast.

DO NOT: Hit hot spots on weekends, if you can avoid it. The Muslim weekend is observed on Friday and Saturday in Dubai. That means that if you're visiting for the Western weekend, Sunday is a great day to beat the lines and enjoy more of Dubai's top attractions. That applies especially to attractions like Ski Dubai and the city's two main water parks, Wild Wadi and Aquaventure.

DO NOT: Spend all your time with expats. It may seem hard to do, given that roughly 80 percent of the population is non-native. But don't let that discourage you. Start with the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, where you can sign up for a Bastakiya walking tour or a cultural breakfast with an Emirati guide.

DO NOT: Take pictures of locals. You may be curious and eager to take snapshots of locals in their national dress – a white robe for men called a dishdasha, and a black covering for women called an abaya. But don't. It's considered rude and bothersome to take pictures of locals without their permission. Photographing women can offend their modesty, and could result in your camera being confiscated.

Beijing, China

DO: Be careful when walking down the street. People like to spit in China (a lot). The Chinese government tried to put a stop to spitting in public before the Olympic games in 2008, but spitting in public is still considered socially acceptable.

DO: Make sure to take full advantage of the cheap Chinese food and cheap massages, but bring some Imodium, just in case. Between spicy dishes and questionable sanitation, even in the best restaurants, food poisoning and indigestion is possible.

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