Disclaimer : This is an old post from my travel experience in 2016, one of my first trips since I started blogging. In hindsight, I realise I missed out on some truly beautiful places and for more info on Dubai, you can check out travelwidnik.com for some great insights and photos.
Coming directly to Dubai after a weeks travel in Frankfurt, Germany (Part 1 and Part 2); I was already so excited about this extended trip, until I got to see the view from the flight; it was truly breathtaking and unlike anything I’d seen before.
Those skyscrapers and towers, and standing amongst them, in its ultimate supremacy, The Burj Khalifa, the building I was in awe of, just as much as some of the mountains in the Himalayas or beaches in Asia.
One of those very rare man-made creations that I actually left me speechless!
The fact that we circled around for atleast 30 minutes did not tend to bother me for a change and all I wanted was for that to continue. I did not want to give up that aerial view just yet. I was trying to soak in as much as I could, and my helpless efforts at trying to capture that beauty. I don’t think any camera I’ve ever owned could do justice to that view!
To start with, Dubai has the widest accommodation options ranging from $60 a night and upwards, sky is the limit! The cheaper accomodation is usually around the Bur Dubai area. Following that, it gets expensive as we move towards downtown and The Jumeirah. There’s also the Armani hotel, adjoining The Burj Khalifa, that is supposed to be really great.
Dubai has so much to offer to its tourists. Be it in terms of shopping, sightseeing, activities, adventure sports or just to chill around and relax.
Barasti Beach Cafe
This is one of the coolest places to hang out in Dubai, and a personal favorite. The ambiance is super and there’s always a live performer or a DJ. The place is always full and with a mixed crowd, people who are Semi-formally dressed and the others who show up in shorts too. Decently expensive alcohol and availability of Sheeshas makes it a crowd favourite. Open till 2am, this is must go to place especially over the weekend (Thursday-Friday night).
Atlantis, The Palm
Atlantis is mainly divided into two for tourists :
1. Aquaventure – A water theme park
2. The Lost Venture Aquarium : A huge indoor aquarium
I’d personally heard a lot about the theme park and expected it to be the watery-version of a something close to a 6-Flags Amusement Park, although not as grand, it was pretty cool nonetheless. There are about 8-10 slides in all and a lazy river. One of the slides in the start, The Poseidon and the group tube slides are really the best! What I would personally suggest is get over with the rides in 4 hours between 10 and 1pm and get ready and head to the aquarium by 2. It is a different, rare experience that one should do.
The Atlantis also has the dolphin bay, where one can play with the dolphins, and the dive into the aquarium to see the sea life at hand. There are various such highlights, but they need to be planned and booked in advance. Slots usually fill up as long as a couple of weeks beforehand. The Theme Park and Aquarium can be completed by 4pm which gives you ample time during the evening for shopping or some other kind of entertainment.
The monorail is the easiest way to get to The Atlantis, which currently stops at only two stations, The atlantis being the second one. Two other stations are currently under construction. The monorail gives a close view of The Jumeirah and the sea and is worth going on, simply for sightseeing
The Emirates Mall
One of the best attractions of The Emirates Mall is Ski Dubai,an indoor ski resort, a real snow wonderland. Put on your snow boots and experience Twin Track Bobsled runs, a Snow Cavern filled with interactive experiences, and Tobogganing hills. Head one down to the upgrade station for an exhilarating ride on the Giant Ball or jump on the chairlift for a one of a kind bird’s eye view of the entire park.Don’t miss out on the resident royalty with the March of the Penguins occurring several times a day and is free for all Snow Park guests. The Emirates Mall also has a really big arcade, fit for all age groups.
The mall is really huge and shopping can be confusing and exhaustive at the same time. Maily cause one can find all of their favorite stores here, and many brands have more than one store. The main structure of the mall is also weird. There are 4 levels on one side of the mall, and just 2 on another side, and mayve 3 on another side. So it is highly recommended that one study the mall map properly before heading to their favortite stores.
Meena Bazaar is one of the biggest areas for shopping in Bur Dubai, for anyone who is looking for cheap shopping. Electronics, First copy of the most expensive watches, perfumes, etc. can all be found in this area. Most people running stores here are of Indian Origin. There are a lot of Indian Vegetarian restaurants here and quite reasonable as far as pricing and quality is concerned.
This is an amazing experience, truly meant for the adventure junkie or anyone who’s bored. They pick you in a Land Cruiser, and drive you to the desert.
At the start of the desert, you’ll be asked to put your seat belts on and then you’re in for a rough ride of drifting and jumping in a car over the sand dunes. Some drivers ask for 100 extra dirhams and in exchange, would end up toplling the car upside down. Then you slowly, calmly get out and push the car back on its wheels.
At the location, there’s option to rent quad bikes and that is quite fun. They have a good seating area, with okayish or cold food. Some belly dancing and local dance sequences, fire play, etc. It would be useful to carry a jacket, cause the desert can get windy and cold. A ride back, a few hours after sundown and you’re back on your way. No more adventurous cars in the dark.
Gold Souk is another market just to the other side of the creek from Meena Bazaar. You have to go to end of Meena Bazaar and get onto the boat. It takes one dirham per person to get to the other side of the creek. Just across the street are all the local spice shops. Walk a little further and you’d come across the Gold Souk.
There are a lot of Jewellery Stores in the area and some really exquisite ones. So gold in dubai costs almost the same price, but their making charges are quite negligible compared to India, and hence makes it a very attractive place to buy jewellery.
Local perfume shops here, have a lot of Irani Perfumes that have a really strong, long lasting fragrance. They’re not for everyone, but the ones who like it don’t really want to move to other perfumes.
And there are many other shops for makeup and other products. Everything here is cheap, and many stores have just copies and not the original product, so its good to ask and be vigilant about it.
Dhow Cruise Marina
There are two different dhow cruises that run in Dubai. One happens in the Marina area, the other in the creek. The cruise in the creek was boring, or so I have heard from others, and it has been more of a unanimous vote. However, the one in The Marina, started just a couple of years back and is something I found really nice.
There was decent vegetarian food, a live dance show on the cruise and good music. One can sit in a closed restaurant like environment on the ground level, or open roof on the first level. As it goes through waters, One can see the whole of Jumeirah Beach Residences(JBR), The Atlantis that is across the sea, and the whole skyline near the marina. The view and all those lights just paint a mesmerizing picture (One my phone camera couldn’t do justice to).
The Dubai Mall
The Dubai Mall has a ton of attractions. The aquarium is huge, will consume about 3-4 hours of your time. The whole day if you decide to take up feeding the fishes and other similar exquisite excursions.
The mall also has a really cool ice skating rink. The restaurants are really good, especially the cafes not near the food court. Paparoti, as recommended by a dear friend, is a fantastic cafe. A personal favorite, has a lot of outlets all across Dubai, and its on my priority list for the next time that I go back to Dubai.
The entrance to The Burj Khalifa is through the mall, and hence one can plan shopping and activities accordingly. The mall is open till midnight, so that leaves a lot of time on your hand.
The Burj Khalifa
This building makes me marvel and think about how far science has come. The lifts go from 1 to 124 floors in exactly 60 seconds. And as brilliant as that is, it is not even equal to what more it has in store for you.
Standing on the 124th floor viewing gallery, it is visible and yet unbelievable to think that building goes up 75 more floors in height, if not in levels. A building that is at sea level, and yet manages to cut through the clouds almost everyday all through its life.
One can take the stairs and go up to 127th floor. I sat there for 4 hours, an hour before sunset. So looking at the bright day, to seeing the sunset and then it getting dark and seeing the whole city light up. It kind of made my day, the perfect end to the perfect trip.
The City and Beaches
The Sheikh Mohammed Palace, one amongst the many palaces of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is not gaurded by any sort of security whatsoever. Even when he’s driving or on the move, he has no kind of bodyguards around him. The only way people know its their king in car is by the number plate. The Sheikh’s number plate reads ‘1’. The only guy in Dubai with it. According to him, his people love him so much, that they cannot think of harming him, and hence no security is necessary. There are a lot of beaches in Dubai. The Jumeirah beach, Nikki Beach, etc. One can find people surfing, paddle boarding, etc. There are also a lot of cool shacks in the area which have some or the other kind of activity going on.
JBR is a really cool place to hangout at. The restaurants and clubs are quite expensive, but its a good place to chill and walk around nonetheless.
360 a nightclub in Dubai, and a host of other nightclubs that are open all night. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a woman on your own, Dubai is the safest place there is.
There are various one day tours available to explore Abu Dhabi. The major places to see are The Sheikh Zayed Mosque and Ferrari World.
The Sheikh Zayed mosque is the biggest mosque there is, in the UAE. It is so big, during Eid, more than 41000 people visit the mosque.The mosque is large enough to accommodate over 40,000 worshipers. The main prayer hall can accommodate over 7,000 worshipers. There are two smaller prayer halls, with a 1,500-capacity each, one of which is the female prayer hall.
More than 3000 workers were employed for the construction of this mosque. Natural materials were chosen for much of its design and construction due to their long-lasting qualities, including marble stone, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals and ceramics. The mosque has the largest knitted carpet in the world, used about 1300 workers and weighs over 35 tons.
There is a library, located in the northeast minaret, serves the community with classic books and publications addressing a range of Islamic subjects: sciences, civilization, calligraphy, the arts, coins and includes some rare publications dating back more than 200 years. The collection comprises material in a broad range of languages, including Arabic, English, French, Italian, Spanish, German and Korean.
It is a very cool indoor theme park. Has about 25 rides, of which 5-6 were under construction. It is also important to read about the park online, many rides need separate tickets aside from the entrance fee, and the top slots are not available unless you’re lucky.