My Travel Diaries: Dubai

I first visited Dubai in August 2014, and that is where my love affair began. Dubai is such a decadent, high-class city, I marvelled at everything around me. Dubai screams out luxury and splendour at every corner. It is the second largest city in the United Arab Emirates, and over the last 15 to 20 years it has been transformed into the bustling metropolis that it is today. It is predominantly man-made and boasts outlandish modern architecture at every turn. It has been created to wow and it truly does.

Dubai is home to the world-renowned 7 star Burj Al Arab, the worlds largest man-made island, The Palm, the tallest structure in the world, the Burj Khalifa, and not forgetting one of the most luxurious shopping malls in the world, Dubai Mall. The bigger the better definitely comes to mind when you see Dubai, everything is on such an outrageously extravagant scale. Dubai knows no boundaries. With construction work constantly on-going, Dubai is developing and growing by the day.

If you travel a little out of the city you find yourself in breath-taking red desert wilderness. Despite Dubai being so modern and ahead of the times, you can find local history and a more traditional way of living in the older town of Deira. You can experience traditional souks when you can barter over gold, spices, perfumes, traditional dress, etc.

When you see Dubai in all it’s splendour it’s hard to imagine that not all that long ago, it was nothing but sprawling barren desert. The scenery is spectacular in its own right. It’s such a diverse city with so much to offer. It can be every bit the relaxing holiday so many of us love, but it can equally be an adventure filled holiday where you can experience some incredible things. I wanted the best of both worlds.

It is my belief that if you travel somewhere it would be a sin not to experience some of what that country has to offer, and local culture. Travelling is such an enriching experience where we meet new people, experience other cultures, and expand our knowledge. After every trip I take it spurs me on to travel that bit more.

I have broken things down into categories to show case some of what Dubai has to offer. Please take this as fair warning, this post will be photo heavy. It is hard to put the camera down as you wander through Dubai taking it all in. You will also probably want to book onto the next flight bound for Dubai. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


Things To Do

There is definitely something for everyone in Dubai. Beach / pool days, shopping sprees, markets, desert safari, water parks, the worlds largest indoor theme park, trips into Abu Dhabi, nightlife and so much more. As I was in Dubai for one week we couldn’t do them all unfortunately, we decided on:

Burj Khalifa

One of Dubai’s most iconic attractions, standing at a staggering 830m tall making it the worlds tallest building! You can experience this from either the At The Top 125th floor, or At The Top Sky 148th floor. You enter through the lower ground floor in the Dubai Mall, and make your way to the lifts which take you from level 1-124 in less than 60 seconds! Not to mention countless ear pops! On this level you can walk 360 degrees around inside to take in the immense, jaw dropping views. There is also an outer observation area on this level to get an even better look. The views were incredible to say the very least. You can see out to the islands of The World, The Palm, The Burj Al Arab. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen. The Burj Khalifa is a must if you travel to Dubai. Prices vary depending whether you visit during peak or off-peak times. I would recommend pre-booking via your hotel concierge if you are able to do so.

Madinat Jumeirah Souk
Situated in the heart of one of Dubai’s most magnificent resorts. Madinat Jumeirah, sometimes refered to as the Arabian Palace, it has been created to appear as an ancient traditional Arabian village. It has stunning waterways winding throughout the resort where you can board a small boat, known locally as an abra to travel on them.

A must see place where you can get a real authentic sense of the traditional Arabian culture in the replicated ancient marketplace. It is filled with a real atmospheric buzz. Home to over 75 shops laden through its winding corridors and over 20 of the most popular restaurants, cafes and bars, there is much to see and do.

You can find a variety of items including souvenirs, traditional Middle Eastern clothing, footwear and accessories, brass and copper goods, gold, jewellery, and perfumes. Don’t forget to haggle over price if you do drop by.

Desert Safari

Definitely one of the highlights of my trip. I can’t recommend this enough! I loved every minute of it. This experience is definitely one for your inner adrenaline junkie! We were collected from our hotel by jeep. When you reach the desert you are taken on a thrill ride where you slide around on the sandy dunes as the jeep is thrown around like a dodgem car! So much fun but if your prone to motion sickness you might not enjoy it so much. After the fun on the dunes we headed to a campsite where camel rides, photos with a falcon, a traditional BBQ meal, henna tattoos, sheisha, and some traditional belly dancing are on offer. It was around 6 hours all in.

If you have a sturdy stomach I would say everyone should do this. The red desert was incredible to see. It was the first time I’d ever saw anything like it. It was also the first time I’d been on a camel. Quite an experience in itself, hold on tight when they get up, but especially when they’re getting down to let you off! Very harsh and abrupt to say the least, and very undignified. I’m not sure how I managed to stay on!



Shopping

If like me you love to shop, Dubai will be your playground! Even the smaller shopping malls are jaw dropping! Nothing about Dubai is low-key, and their shopping malls are no exception. When it comes to shopping you have so many places to choose from.

Dubai Mall

Dubai Mall is one the largest shopping malls in the world sprawling across a massive 3.77 million square feet! I kid you not, you will walk for miles in this place so if you only do one thing, wear comfortable shoes. I didn’t do this and my feet suffered for days!

With over 1200 shops to choose from there is something for everyone, from high street, to high-end Dubai Mall has it all. Including an indoor ice rink, indoor aquarium, cinema, water fountains and of course the Burj Khalifa.

Mall Of The Emirates 

With an impressive 630 plus shops to choose from, Mall Of The Emirates is another great spot to do a bit of shopping. It is considerably smaller than Dubai Mall, but still a sizeable mall nonetheless. I didn’t find this as busy, and it has a much better layout, I didn’t get lost once in here. Here you will find a range of shops including department stores, high street and luxury designer goods. There is also a large indoor ski slope and cinema.

Dubai Marina Mall

The smallest of the three malls I visited, but equally impressive to see! At night the mall is illumined by millions of beautiful lights. It is right beside Dubai Marina, it offers over 140 stores, a wide range of restaurants and cafes, and it also has a direct link to Pier 7 which offers a variety of bars and restaurants.





Nightlife 

I only sampled one night out in Dubai, and that was a Tuesday as it was ladies night. Generally on a Tuesday or Wednesday a lot of places run ladies night promotions where by ladies get so many complimentary drinks from a selected menu, I actually found a couple of spots that offer unlimited complimentary drinks on these nights!

I did some research on what was handy for us and we decided to head to Pier 7 beside Dubai Marina. You can access it directly through the mall as well as via it’s own entrance. There are 7 restaurants / bars within Pier 7, and they all take part in ladies night. I read really great reviews about it and it wasn’t far from our hotel so it made perfect sense.

You can choose between Fumé, O Cacti, Cargo, The Scene By Simon Rimmer, Abd El Wahab, Asia Asia and Atelier M. Overall we enjoyed our night, I did find some bars a bit limited for drink selection, but as it was complimentary I wouldn’t complain. One thing I really didn’t like, and this will apply to any bar in Dubai, is that you can smoke inside and being a none smoker I really disliked it.

Getting Around

It really couldn’t be easier, or cheaper depending on which method you use. Of course there’s the standard taxi you can hail down, or find outside of most hotels. I didn’t find them too unreasonable, it is the more expensive method to get around, but it is direct. You can also take a private taxi which your hotel can organise for you which cost less than your standard cabs.

Then you have the option of pubic transport. Dubai have a brilliant transport network and it is so inexpensive. The metro line connects all of your major tourist stops, some of the stations take you right into the malls without having to step outside. The metro has two classes of travel to choose from, gold class, and standard. A standard day pass is 22AED, and for gold it is around 45AED.

Alongside the metro you also have a tram line which you can connect to using certain metro interchange stations, the tram takes you down to Jumeirah beach and stops off at numerous points on route. There are also bus links you can use too and you only need the one day pass to allow access to them all. I’d actually recommend using this method of getting around. The public transport network is so clean and it runs so frequently. They operate from around 0530 until around 2230.

Have you travelled to Dubai? I would love to get some feedback on how you enjoyed it.

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16 Comments

  1. Wow this is such a detailed post – are you sure you don’t work for the Dubai tourist board? 😉 It sounds like a great place to visit no matter what you like in a holiday. My friend is just back from there and she randomly did a skydive!!

    V

  2. This post is so well written. I’ve been there and you did it justice. Its such a fun holiday to go for. I love how many pictures you included.

  3. I’ve never had Dubai on my places to go but seeing your photos and how you talk about the place I think I may have to go one day. Your photos are gorgeous by the way!

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