Merry Christmas!! Surprised?? Well it was for us when we visited another city, any guesses? Dubai, the city of tall towers and Gold Lovers.
Dubai is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and home to the tallest building (Burj Khalifa) on the earth, with amazing skyscrapers. Dubai has abundant opportunities when it comes to adventure activities like Desert Safaris through golden Arabian Dunes, Skydiving over the beautiful Palm Islands, and visiting the Dubai Marina and underwater aquarium and zoo. It has so much to offer for every kind of traveler, be it on a budget or on the most luxurious side. Though Dubai is not cheap but can be done in budget if you chose to stay in not so luxurious hotels and take public transport. However for us, it was a family affair (a family of 4) so we stayed in a nice decent hotel (Holiday Inn) in Dubai for our whole trip which was for around 5 days. But if you are craving for luxury, you can definitely stay in 'Atlantis: the palm' for a couple of days to witness the lavish lifestyle.
Here are some tips which you can consider while planning your trip:
1) First and foremost, it would be the weather. Dubai is HOT and even much hotter in summer months (may to Sep). So to avoid any sweat, its better to go in winter months which is usually from Nov to Late Feb. However there will be rush as its the peak time and Dubai shopping festival is also round the corner. But nevertheless its the right time to go to Dubai.
2) Visa: I guess now a days visa on arrival facility is there. However if you have a US visa or US citizen, you don't need a visa beforehand, just stamping will be done there.
3) Choice of clothes: I have heard that you need to cover your body in a way that your shoulder and knees are covered. However that's not true, You can wear pretty much anything until its not too skimpy. However you need to wear hijab (cover your head) if you are visiting a mosque.
4) No PDA: Public display of love like kissing can get you arrested. However holding hands and peck on the cheek is fine.
Now , here is the breakdown of the experiences we had for the popular tourist attractions so that you can decide if you want to go for it or not.
Day 1: Marina/Dhow cruise dinner
Day 2: Underwater zoo and aquarium and Burj Khalifa tour
Day 3: City tour
Day 4: Desert Safari and barbecue dinner at camp
Day 5: Miracle Garden and Global Village
Dhow Cruise Dinner:
It was an extraordinary dining experience for me. It was basically a buffet dinner hosted on a boat sailing through the Dubai canal, enjoying views of the incredible array of architecture that defines modern Dubai. You can enjoy the glorious views of lavish architecture of residences, resorts and shopping complexes as you feast in a new setting and gaze the stars.One should not miss this experience, even though the food was just average and cold but the overall experience was amazing. And adding to that, there were some performances like Tanura dance performed by professional artists. After the dinner which lasted for about 2 hours, you can take stroll by Dubai Marina and enjoy the amazing view.
Underwater zoo and Aquarium at Dubai Mall:
Dubai Mall is so vast that it will take a month to visit the whole mall. It has so many entertainment areas with an Underwater zoo and Aquarium. I have already visited the similar kind of the aquariums in Canada and Singapore but this was so amazing as it it the largest suspended aquarium in the world.The crocodiles, sharks, rays and beautiful fishes look amazing from the tunnel. The kids will also enjoy the big screen theater and the glass bottom boat ride.The place is really worth visiting.
Finally, my long awaited dream was gonna be fulfilled today i.e to be at the Top of the world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa. Yayy...happy dance !!
Soaring at a height of over 828 meters, nothing defines Dubai as much as its signature building Burj Khalifa. It hosts over 160 floors with offices, residential units, ultra-luxurious restaurants, and stunning observation decks. It provides the visitor once in a lifetime opportunity to get a bird eye view of the cityscapes from its observation deck. It has two observation levels known as 'At the Top' and 'At the Top SKY' . You have to choose between these 2 options. At the Top, grants you access to the lower observation deck on the 124th and 125th floors, and the premium 'At the Top SKY', will take you to the highest observation deck in the world on the 148th floor.
We went up to the to the 124th and 125th Floor as the tickets were too costly for 'At the Top SKY' deck as per our budget. Once we were at the observation deck we were amazed by the exceptional views of the stunning Dubai skyline. You can also enjoy the dancing fountain show from the top of the Burj Khalifa which happens every 30 mins at the foot of the building and looks amazing from the top as well.
This building is really spectacular, especially when lit at night. In the evenings they have light shows and fountain shows that add a great dimension to this amazing feat of civil engineering! We also witnessed the spectacular illumination and light show presented by Burj Khalifa and followed by equally good fountain show before heading for our dinner.
Upon getting picked up from our hotel we headed towards the Dubai Museum to behold the history of Dubai and some of its best artifacts and later visited some iconic locations around Dubai and experienced the city's history and modern advancements including Sheikh’s Palace.
After that we went to the Burj Al Arab beach which is nearby the famous building Burj Al Arab(7 star hotel). The beach was very clean and lively with clean water and white sand. It was quite hot there so we didn’t spend much time there but whatever time we had we enjoyed a lot and clicked few amazing pictures.
En route, we also saw Atlantis the Palm. You can also take a speedboat tour to sail through the world-famous sights including The Palm Jumeirah and Burj Al Arab.
Being a woman who loves gold and glitter , how can I ignore the biggest Gold Souk market. We visited this market next morning which has so many Gold shops lined up displaying beautiful items from grand necklaces to beautiful rings through the glass windows. You can also walk down a lil to reach spice souk and Meena baazaar market. There are other retailers selling everything from fake branded watches and bags to really good pashmina shawls. You have to bargain pretty much to get a good deal. We did not buy any gold as couldn’t find it much cheaper but was happy doing window shopping :)
Desert Safari and Barbecue Dinner:
It is one of the must do activities when in Dubai. Dune bashing was quite an exciting and thrilling experience .There were few scary moments but all within safe environment during that roller coaster ride. You can try quad/ATV biking and camel riding over sand dunes. It’s one heck of an experience. They also organise a barbecue dinner in the desert camp with some belly dance performances by professionals which can be attended but I found it not up to the mark. The camel ride and the atmosphere was fun but The only thing was that food could have been better and as there is huge crowd there was a shortage of food as well. So in terms of dinner, you can surely avoid this and just enjoy the desert Safari to experience the real Dubai.
It is the biggest flower garden ever built in Dubai. It features more than 50 million flowers crafted into sculptures and designs of some special characters and showcases flower sculptures in pyramid, star, igloo, and heart form. Overall it’s a nice place to check out if you are in a lazy mood and like to chill and relax. Take a few nice pictures and enjoy the scenery.