Some of you may or may not know, that I lived in the Middle East for 10 years. My dad had relocated to the city of Muscat, in country called Oman, and the rest of the family i.e. my mother, brother and the two year old me, we followed him just 3 months later on this journey that lasted 10 beautiful years. During that tenure, we never had the chance to visit Dubai, a city that at the time was mainly just desert and was just about a 4 hour drive away or if you prefer flying, then an hour away.
After relocating to New Zealand I first got the chance to go back to Muscat in the year of 2007 and in our very recent trip to India, we had planned a short trip to Muscat and Dubai. However due to time and financial restrictions we cut the trip short and decided to only go to Dubai.
Dubai, in the last decade has developed a lot, truly becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Middle East. For me going to Dubai felt nostalgic. I was so close to a city that I had called home for 10 years, so close yet so far. Any who enough with the dramatics. Dubai is known for making everything larger than life. It has the world’s first and only 7 star hotel, Burj Al Arab and the tallest tower, Burj Khalifa. FYI I’m slightly obsessed with the Burj Khalifa. It is such a majestic and photogenic tower, that I just couldn’t get enough off. Of course, The Palm and the list goes on. There are lots of things to do here. So let’s get on with those. After all this is a travel blog designed to help you with your travels to Dubai.
First stop, Atlantis. Going to Atlantis is a must. Atlantis is a hotel situated at The Palm and it has a few things to do here. First you get on the monorail, from the Gateway station and get off at the Atlantis Aquaventures station. There are no other stops in between so you don’t have to worry about missing your stop or getting lost. This is the best way to go and avoid taking a cab right up to the hotel. The few things you can do here are:
· The Lost Chambers Aquarium (but I wouldn’t really recommend it unless you have kids).
· Aquaventure waterpark, which was closed when we were visiting due to renovations.
· Swimming with the dolphins.
· Sea Lion Point.
We’d only gone to The Lost Chambers Aquarium. In my opinion, this is something that can easily be missed. It costs 100AED per person which is a bit pricy. The concept of this Aquarium, is the glass wall. You can get glimpses of this glass wall whilst walking in Atlantis. However, if you do have kids travelling with you, this would certainly be an enjoyable trip for them. Watch the video below and see how you like it.
As we didn't do any of the other activities at Atlantis, I cannot go into detail about it. There are lots of stores to go shopping at, if that takes your fancy. And of course, an array of cafes, restaurants and dessert selection places. We went to Coldstone Creamery to get an ice cream. Actually speaking, we almost walked past this place, but it was the staff who were enjoying their jobs so much that invited us in to this store and ultimately ended with us getting some ice cream. In short, these guys have mad skills! Don't believe me, just watch the video below!
Next stop, The Dubai Mall. Ladies, this is one big mall and it will definitely take you an entire day to go through all your favourite stores. But shopping is not all that you can do here. The entry to At The Top, Burj Khalifa is also here. This is the tallest tower in the world. For us, going to an iconic tower/skyscraper in a city has become a norm. But it might not be the same for you. I'll try giving you a few pros and cons and let you decide if this is for you. One, this is a very popular attraction and tickets do sell out for each session. Your best bet is to pre-purchase the tickets for your preferred time from the official website. However, these tickets only take you up to the 124th floor. By paying an extra 400AED they take you further up. We didn't choose to do that, as the 124th floor was high enough. The view from above is definitely great, but a lot of what you can see is still desert. But that's it for the Burj Khalifa.
During our trip there were only two spots, where we didn’t really do much. I shall dedicate this paragraph towards that. Firstly, The Mall of the Emirates. This is another huge mall. In this mall, there isn’t any other popular sight seeing attractions apart from an indoor ice skating rink. This mall is also slightly on the higher end. However it’s worth visiting at least once, for a ‘quick’ glance. The second, Madinat Jumeirah. This is an absolutely amazing place to go for dinner at least on one of the days. This place is a Souq and with majority of the restaurants. It is also where the 7 star hotel, Burj Al Arab is. We dined at Anar (link to website), and we had a great view of this hotel.
Another attraction at The Dubai Mall is the water fountain. The evening shows begin at 6.00pm and the water fountain runs in sync with the music, quite similar to the one in Las Vegas. These shows take place every 30 minutes, and it's an absolute treat for your eyes. We watched one show and we were quite amazed by the fountain's performance. The fountain had sass, if there was a show called 'Dubai's got talent', this fountain would single handedly win it! As we are still talking about The Dubai Mall, and shopping, there's also a souk in this vicinity, Souk Al Bahar. When in Dubai visiting a souk is a must, if you're wanting an authentic Middle Eastern shopping experience.
During our trip there were only two spots, where we didn't really do much. I shall dedicate this paragraph towards that. Firstly, The Mall of the Emirates. This is another huge mall. In this mall, there isn't any other popular sightseeing attractions apart from an indoor ice skating rink. This mall is also slightly on the higher end. However, it's worth visiting at least once, for a 'quick' glance. The second, Madinat Jumeirah. This is an absolutely amazing place to go for dinner, at least on one of the days. This place is also a souk and with a lot of restaurants. It is also where the 7-star hotel, Burj Al Arab is. We dined at Anar, and we had a great view of this hotel.
Last but not the least, we cannot go to Dubai and not actually venture into a desert, now can we. The desert safari is a really great activity and fun for all ages. I highly recommend you book this through your hotel, I've explained why in the Travel Tips video at the bottom of the blog. The desert safari inculcates:
- Hotel pick up and drop off;
- Dune bashing;
- Desert photography;
- And more (watch the video below to get an idea)!
The dune bashing activity is thrill seeking but over rated. Maybe, people had just hyped it to such an extension that we were expecting a roller coaster ride in the middle of the desert. It wasn't quite that but it still was fun. There are ample opportunities to do some sunset photography in the middle of the desert. We then proceed to the camp where we we get to watch performances and eat dinner. The performances included a Tanoura dance which was just phenomenal and a belly dance. If you're up for it, I highly recommend this activity.
Well, up until this point, everything pretty much sums up what we got up to in Dubai. However when you're travelling to a city, accommodation plays a pretty vital role too. Our stay at our hotel wasn't the best, and as you may have guessed it, I wouldn't really recommend this hotel either. I go into more detail in the video below, which is a review of the hotel we stayed at.
Hope you've enjoyed reading this blog. I'm always here if you have any queries or questions, but please remember I'm a travel enthusiast not someone working in this industry, so I can only give basic advice, where as if you'd prefer financial advice about group tours and things to do, please get in touch with a local travel agent. Before I bid adieu, I'll leave you with a few travel tips in case you're planning a trip to Dubai.
Until next time,