In my last blog post about Phuket and the Phi Phi’s I talked about our last vacation to Thailand and the fact that we flew directly to Phuket with Emirates.
Nice bonus is that Emirates flies via Dubai, so why not add an extra short stay in that exciting city? Dubai is a good one for your bucket list and should be visited at least once in your life!
Why a must visit you say? Here’s some reasons and fun facts:
Dubai is well known because of its modern attractions like the world’s tallest building and the world’s only 7 star hotel, but also for ancient attractions, like the traditional souks and Deira area.
>With its many skyscrapers and high rise buildings Dubai is a must visit destination for architecture lovers.
>The Burj Khalifa is iconic for Dubai. The outlook was inspired on the shape of a desert flower and they started building on 21st September 2004 and the tower officially opened in January 2010. The skyscraper was constructed by workers with more than 100 nationalities.
>Dubai is called the “shopping capital of the Middle East’’, it has more than 70 shopping centers, including the world’s largest shopping centre, the Dubai mall.
>Dubai is 1 of the 7 United Arab Emirates and the most populated one. It’s located on the coast of the Persian Gulf, therefor it has plenty of beaches.
>Dubai was voted 1 of the 10 most visited cities in the world. Dubai is expecting more than 15 million tourists by 2015, so visit it while you still can and before it gets too crowded!
As Emirates’ flights are mostly well priced and they fly to many destinations through Dubai, this Arabian Emirate is definitely recommended as an affordable stop over for a few days.
Where to stay in Dubai?:
Unfortunately not all hotels in Dubai are that affordable, that’s why I chose DAMAC hotels for a shorter city stay. They are well priced and have good offers, We stayed here for €95 per night, which was a special offer through booking.com. For a 4 star hotel on this location we found it a very competitive price!
DAMAC has 4 hotels in the Downtown area, but they are planning to build 22 hotels in Dubai the coming years. We stayed in DAMAC Maison Canal Views, only 15 minutes from the airport with nice views from the balcony at the Burj Khalifa, next to the Dubai Mall.
We actually booked a normal room, but the hotel was so nice to check us in early and even upgrade us to a 1 bedroom suite free of charge, very good service and so kind! The one bedroom suites are modern and quite big, 65 sqm – 100 sqm. Of course with airco, WIFI and a separate living- and dining room area with kitchen as well. The hotel has a big rooftop swimmingpool, gym and also offers free hourly transfers to Dubai Mall.
What to do in Dubai:
I think your first stop should definitely be Dubai’s iconic tower: the Burj Khalifa. With it’s 828 meters it is right now the tallest building in the world. There are some apartments and business suites in the building right now, but also the very expensive Armani hotel and the highest restaurant in the world on the 122nd floor. For only €30-€50, depending on the time you visit, you can go to the observation deck at the 124th floor. One of the fastest elevators in the world brings you up there in 12 meters per second, there you will have a 360-degree view of the city for 1 hour.
It is a good idea to buy your ticket online in advance to beat the crowds, and also because the tower only gives access to a limited amount of people per day.
After the world’s highest tower, make sure to wait for world’s biggest fountain show next to it, at the Dubai mall. One of the most spectacular fountain shows in the world and the most expensive one. It begins every night from 6 pm, and starts again to a different music themes every 30 minutes. On a huge lake in front of the fully lit Burj Khalifa, it is a very impressive sight. I did find it a bit crowded and the show quite short, but with all the sights around you can easily wait and see it twice! Some good advice: don’t stand too close to the lake though or you’ll surely get wet:)
And of course the world’s largest shopping mall next to the fountain. The Dubai mall has 1,200 stores divided over different theme area’s and 3 floors. An underwater zoo, one of the most impressive sea aquariums I have ever seen, world’s biggest completely intact dinosaur skeleton, an indoor gold souk, ice rink and theme park. I liked this mall as it was conveniently close to the hotel and I couldn’t get enough of the sea aquarium. Also it has a lot of restaurants outside where you can also have breakfast. The restaurants are affordable and because they are facing the fountain lake and Burj Khalifa they are the perfect view spot to start your day.
As Dubai is mostly famous for its shopping, it has a lot of other shopping malls which you can choose from, the biggest ones next to Dubai mall are the Mall of the Emirates, Ibn Battuta Mall and Mercato Mall.
Dubai is located by the sea, so it also has a lot of beaches and year-round sunshine. You can take a boat to the Palm island and visit the spectacular Atlantis hotel, or just relax on the many beaches around the coast. Some of the best beaches in Dubai are:
Jumeirah Beach Park, Beach Road next to the Burj Al Arab,
Mamzar Beach, Al Hamriya,
Kite Beach, Umm Suqeim,
Jebel Ali Beach, Jebel Ali.
Where to eat in Dubai:
A once in a lifetime experience is to eat in the most expensive hotel in the world: the Burj Al Arab (Tower of the Arabs). One of the first icons of Dubai and the world’s only 7 star luxury hotel. Although a stay here is only possible in one of the very expensive suites, it is possible to visit the hotel in a more affordable way, by booking one of the following eating options:
Lunch at skyview bar for €155 p.p, located on the top floor of Burj Al Arab at 200 m. It has nice views of the Palm Jumeirah and The World islands. Or go for afternoon tea at Sahn Eddar, the restaurant on the first floor of the hotel. With authentic mosaic decor, marble floors and torch lighting. Prices vary from €100-140 p.p., depending on your choice of drinks and arrangement.
If you really want to spoil yourself, it is also possible to have dinner on the 27th floor of the Burj Al Arab at the Al Muntaha restaurant. Enjoy the view over Dubai at sundown, while choosing from the a la carte European menu. It’s the most expensive, but unique experience.
A good website for exploring your options and making reservations in advance is: Jumeirah restaurants
For a higher view over the entire city it is also possible to have dinner in the highest restaurant of the world: At.mosphere on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa at a height of 422 m.
In downtown Dubai around Dubai mall there’s a lot of stylish restaurants along the Sheikh Mohamed Boulevard.
Our all time favorite for dinner was the Jumeirah Beach Walk, also called ‘’the Walk’’. So many nice restaurants with nice views directly at the chic marina on a wide promenade with impressive skyscrapers all around. Here you can enjoy people watching and the impressive buildings all around, while watching the sun go down during dinner and enjoying the lights all around you. It is a bit further away from downtown Dubai, but luckily taxis in Dubai are not that expensive.
Although we found most people in Dubai very friendly and respectful, it is obvious that their religion and culture differs a lot from the European ways. This is definitely not the place to do lots of cocktail drinking, flirting and dressing up in a sexy way. Keep this in mind when you visit the country. Here’s some tips and handy hints to keep it chic but respectful:
Dress modestly in public places, try to cover your arms, for example with a scarf, and try to wear pants, skirts or dresses which keep your legs decently covered,
Avoid public displays of affection,
Alcohol is not allowed and generally mostly available at hotel bars,
Respect their religion and the countries ways,
Be careful with bringing medication, they have very specific rules about what is allowed and what’s not. Look into this before you leave, and make sure to bring a medicine passport for prescription drugs. For example even a harmless sleeping pill can be seen as an illegal drug in Dubai.