Places you must see
I went to Dubai on a last-minute girl city trip in the summer and we had about 3 full days to spend, which is not much. Dubai is truly special city. It is literally built from nothing, but is now so grand in everything they do! So if you are in this Desert Pearl for a few days or you are having a layover, here are some tips on what to see, do and to expect.
Of course you must visit the Burj Khalifa (829,8 meters), THE tallest building in the world! Look how hard it is to photograph… You have nice views of the tower around the city, but the one that I liked the most, was around the Dubai Mall and the entrance of the Palace Downtown hotel.
… and if you have extra time you must go all the way up to the 124th or 125th floor. You can buy several types of tickets online, with each a special package (for example including a cafe stop, or to watch the sunset, or with the entrance of the aquarium, etc…).
Tickets start from 30 euros and up, so it is not so cheap. We didn’t have time to go, so it is still something that is on my list!
Right next to the Burj Khalifa you will find the second biggest mall in the world! It looks like a village on its own. You could walk there for hours and hours and not get bored.
You will find The Waterfall inside, now a favoured meeting point. This huge art piece, with diving fiberglass humans, covers 4 floors of the mall, being 24 meters tall and having a diameter of 30 meters. It has an unique water system. By regulating the water flow, the waterfall does not splash water at the end!
Outside the mall and in front of the Khalifa tower, you find what is the world’s largest choreographed fountain system: the Dubai Fountains. It has a performance at 1pm and from 6pm about every half hour. it is truly a spectacle worth watching, with music, and a light show. Even the Burj Khalifa lights up and gives you a performance!
Dubai is built in the desert, so you are still surrounded by it. It is perfect if you want to see the sands.
You can take a Desert Safari Tour, where you can enjoy a 4×4 ride through the sand dunes, ride a camel or a quad and finish off with a nice dinner with fun performances.
The 4×4 ride was fun! The quad ride was such a dissapointment as we expected a long trail for 20 minutes, but it was just a circle circuit. I don’t ride camels, so I just asked to shoot sime photos wth them instead. The food was alright, it is all you can eat and they come buy often, nothing fancy off course!
Reminder: the sand is HOT, wear good shoes for it. And in my opnion those desert camps are a major tourist trap. They try to sell you things or upgrade your basic option for more money. For example riding longer on a camel, or give you a VIP place at the dinner,… They are so pushy that before I knew it I bought that typical scarf they had. What was alright as I didn’t bring my own. So a note is: be kinda prepared!
The Marina district in Dubai is quite something. With the tall skyscrapers and the yaught club waters it reminds me of Singapore Marina Bay.
You can find the Dubai Marina Mall there (where you can also book the unique experience of the Xline, the longest urban zipline at the moment). Many other shops and nice cafe/restaurants can be found in that area as well.
As you can see on the picture: I was sweating! Dubai is not made to walk long distances during Summer time, that is for sure.
Burj Al Arab & Madinat Jumeirah
So the most luxurious hotel in the world is the Burj Al Arab having 7 stars!
We didn’t enter but it is spectacular to see it from the outside. If you are feeling like spending a few bucks more on your trip, you could always check out their spa options and have some relaxing spa time in a very unique and luxurious setting.
The Madinat Jumeirah is an other famous 5 star hotel resort in Dubai. You can enter it freely and roam around their own souks or take a boat ride on their manmade canals for about €20. We also had some hookah there, but I wouldn’t recommend to dine or have hookah there as it is very upscale and the prices are rather high!
If you want a nice Hookah place, there are nicer and cheaper ones around the Dubai Mall and fountain.
Visiting Abu Dhabi: Zayed Mosque
A thing that was on my bucketlist for a long time was entering the Grand white mosque of Abu Dhabi. I knew if I went to Dubai, I had to take a tour to see this. So if you want to visit and other Emirates, I highly suggest you to book a half day or full day tour. We made some other stops on the way of the tour, but off course the highlight is the Zayed Mosque.
To enter it, you must wear respectful clothing. So ladies, it is your chance to wear an abaya (see the pictures below). Usually the tours gives you one, but if not, you can always rent one on the spot.
The mosque is magnificent. The decorations are on point! It is also the house of worlds largest one-piece carpet and the world’s most expensive chandelier. Everything is just gorgeous really, even the toilets. And even if it can get quite busy, there is this serene feeling to it as most of the tourists visiting actually respect the place ( if not, there are enough security roaming around to keep an eye on them).
What to expect from Dubai
Now that I mentioned some main attractions that you can see, I want to give some viewpoints on what to expect.
Taxis are cheap
Dubai is not a city to walk. There are some areas that you can walk around, but to cover the whole city you have to take some kind of transportation. There is a Dubai Metro system but the taxis are quite cheap, specially if you share it with other travel mates. Make sure you take a meter taxi and if you want to pay with card, ask in advance as not all of them have a card machine yet.
An other thing which is quite unique in Dubai is that they have pink taxis for women only.
Is it safe?
I found so! Dubai is one of the safest cities in the world, having a very strict rules and laws system. You can actually end up in jail for many mild crime such as picking up a fight in public with somebody. Even public kissing could be a problem! They even reward people who call the police when they witness something fishy going on.
When it’s hot
.. it is VERY hot. Dubai has a hot desert climate. Like I said, if possible avoid going during the summer ( July / August) so you can actually enjoy your stay more. Even though it was super hot outside, everything inside and taxis have air conditioning so you won’t have to stay in the heat for too long.
Only a 15% of the population are UAE nationals. All the rest are foreigners living and working there. I found everyone super helpful and the taxi drivers are also very nice.
I would suggest to book your tours at your hotel or at a tourist information point.
We booked one from our hotel and everything went perfectly. We booked an other through the internet and it was an hassle and not what we expected at all. After a few complaints they did offer us a dhow cruise with dinner (traditional wooden boat) for free. So just make sure you read the reviews and all if you decide to book online.
Clubbing & Alcohol
Even though it is a muslim country, you can easily drink alcohol in bars, hotels, clubs and other licensed places.
We went to 3 clubs during our stay and we either had free entrance or a few free drinks! In one even both! The clubs look fancy, with some being high up in a skyscraper and the music in general is good too.
Personally, going with 3 girls, I found the people in the clubs sometimes super pushy. Offering us to join their tables, or just being annoying or staring all the time. We could barely dance in peace at some points. But I later found out that most of them are all tourists and not locals. So I guess everyone is having their YOLO moments when they go out.
Pin for later!
That is all I have on Dubai, I am hoping to return with more time when I go he next time. Thank you for reading and feel free to comment with your dieas and thoughts!