I recently went on a vacation to Dubai, and although this is not my first trip, I went after ages and I fell in love with the place. I was staying at the Dubai Marina., which is slightly far from the City Center. It is a lovely man-made canal city, filled with skyscrapers, residential towers, five stars hotels, the picturesque marina walk is spotted with cafes and restuarants while luxury yachts cruise alongside a few traditonal decorated dinner cruise dhows. the area oozes luxury, modernity, and you can almost smell the newness of the place.
|Dubai Marina Walk|
Many times in Dubai, I felt a sort of disoriented, I really could n't tell where I was... was I sitting in a cafe in Paris, sking on the slopes of the Alps..ok not quite, was I in a cleaner better smelling and newer Venice, where was I? On the plus side, you can enjoy so many different things all in one trip.
I also loved the multi-cultural aspect of Dubai, you see people from so many different places, here so many differnt languages it truly feels like a cosmoplitan city. The locals speak so many languages fluently, its astounding. I also saw people dressing up in so many differnt ways, those coming from warmer climes, were bundling up in boots and cardigans, others were basking in the sun in summer dresses and flats.
Ok enough eulogizing of Dubai, let me try and include more information-along side my praise.
How you choose to spend your vacation in Dubai will depend on a number factors, such as the age of your group, whether you are travelling with family, friends, or as a couple; your preferences; how long your vacation is and of course your budget. This list is from the point of view of a family holiday.
Things To Do/Places To See
1. Dubai Marina! If you are not staying there do check it out, plan to have dinner there, but try to catch it in daylight hours as well maybe book 'yellow boat cruise' and then a dinner at the traditonal italian style restuarant 800Pizza (be sure to try/buy their Balsmic Vinegar), or smoke shisha and enjoy some lebanese/morrocan/iranian food the choices are endless.
2. Mall of Emirates- Shop till you drop! Possible drop ofthe kids and hubby at the movies or the amusement park located within. Plan to spend a day here :-)
|Mall of the Emirates|
3. Ski World- Again located at the Mall of Emirates, you can spend an entire day with the Super Pass which cost 250-300 AED. If you can't ski you can go luging, enjoy a cable car drop, drag each other on sled, slide down a slope in tire, roll around in a gaint ball and then chill out in the mid slope chalet cafe with hot chocolate with marshmallows and whip cream!
If you don't now how to ski you can learn from an instructor at an additional cost.
|Ski World at the Mall of the Emirates|
4. Dubai Mall- Check out the larget aquariam in the world, or go ice skating, take pictures in front of the giant water fall. But best of all don't miss the musical dancing fountains, there's a show every 30 minutes from 7-11pm. Each timethe music and the 'dance' is different, my personal favourite is the one that sounds like a ballet! Most people take photos of the tallest building in the world the Burj Khalifa from here as well.
|Dancing Fountains at Burj Khalifa Lake outside Dubai Mall|
Make sure to the check out the Spice Bazaar it can be accesed from the fountain area outside Dubai Mall. There are coziest restaurants with intoxicating ambience, beautiful decor and healthy food located on the terrace. Bakers and Spice offers healthy tasty simple food as well as The Shakespeare Company.
|From Bakers and Spice terrace watching the dancing fountains|
5.Take a desert safari in a safety cage protected 4x4 Landcruiser. The driver will take you dune bashing near the Omani border, this beats any roller coaster ride I've been on, it lasted a good 40 minutes, I'm sure; and the driver steered with only one hand with a smile on his face, as we screamed, groaned and sheepishly laughed, by turns.
|Dune bashing during the desert safari|
Next you can go quad-bike rding or for the more traditonal experience ride a camel- to be honest the 'ride' is more of a photo shoot, but you get quintessential experience as the camel gets up and reluctantly sits down both times your hanging on for dear life, as you fear being thrown off like a rag doll by a child throwing tantrum andthen stamped on. I heard a few young men groaning with fear lol-their camel was in a mood!
|Bedouin style camps part of the desert safari|
This is followed by dinner, and entertainment in the form of belly dancing. Be sure to check with tour operator how many people are coming too few and it becomes creepy and and too many it becomes crowded-( Con I'd prefer the desert to the bathrooms though.)
|Upsy- daisy..camel version of take off|
6. Take a traditional Dhow Dinner Cruise, on colourfully lit dhow along the Dubai Creek, pass the financial district, city center, the old city with their traditonal houses and market.
|Dubai Creek Cruise in a tradional Dhow|
The food is okay, don't go with high expectations of fine dining-if that's what you are looking for book The Bateaux. The entertainment is hilarious with a comical and kitschy folk dance of what looks like two men boxing performed by one man in a funny suit...you'll understand when you see it.
Next is the 'Tannura Dance' this is another folk dance, perfomed strangely by a skinny man with a pony tail, with slightly feminine moves in dress with a full skirt, and trousers underneath...(I began to wonder..) ...he spins around likea dervish, all the while performing juggling tricks with da'fs or flat local drums, then spins faster, the lights go out and.....wait for it..his skirt lights up! He contiues to spin and removes his skirt juggles it, while another skirt appears underneath and also lights up. Quite colourful and amusing with the music, especially if there are children on board. Some cruises may also have belly dancing.
7. Oh how could I forget Jumerah Resort and Madinat Jumerah Souq, the place to buy antiques, souveniers and handicrafts.
|Antique/handicraft market at Madinat Jumerah Souk|
Be sure to take an Abra/gondola tour, and pass the great villas and decadent splendour that is Qasr Al Arab Hotel, Mina'a Salaam Hotel, Maalakiya Villas and more. Have a delicious Iranian kubide kebab, pomengrate juice, persian tea with saffron at Anar. I'm afraid my description does not do it justice. I was there when the Dubai Film Festival was taking place, and the Abra tour guide showed where Tom Cruise had been staying and where Shahrukh Khan had had eaten a few hours before! I didn't catch a sight of the stars, it would've taken too long to queue to catch a glimpse of them-I'm not that much of a fan, I'll look at pictures on my laptop from the comfort of my home :-)
8. Other places I didn't personally visit but might be high on your list if you have kids love sun,sea and sand is the Jumeira Beach, Wild Wadi Park and Atlantis. The Jumerah Mosque is also a beautiful and serene structure which deserves a visit. There are many themed malls, and you don't have to cover them all, there is even a shopping tour, soem of the otehr popular ones are Ibn Batuta, Wafi Center, Outlet Mall which located on the Al-Ain highway...if you really love a bargain I guess the trek would be worth it.