Saturday, 4 April 2015

Top 5 Things to do in Dubai

After my dental elective in the summer of 2013, on the way back to the UK we stopped over in Dubai. We were flying with Emirates who allowed us to extend our stopover in Dubai by 7 days for no extra charge! 

What language is spoken there?
Arabic but it is very easy to get around as most people speak English and signs and menus are in both languages.

What is the currency?
Dirhams. At the moment, it's around 5 Dirhams to the pound

How do I get around?
Getting around is easy with the bus and Metro systems. Taxis are also really cheap and its easy to flag one down.

Local culture
Dubai, together with the whole of the United Arab Emirates, is an Islamic area therefore you should dress modestly when out and about - make sure your knees and shoulders are covered at least. At the beach or in expat areas things are a bit more relaxed. Also be aware not to drink alcohol or appear drunk outdoors or to kiss in public as this is also frowned upon.


Luckily, we knew people out in Dubai to help give us an idea of what to do whilst we were out there, but for those of you who don't, here are my top 5 activities you must do out there!

1. Burj Khalifa

The tallest building in the world is not only pretty impressive from the ground, but amazing when you're up at the top. When I say at the top, it's not really at the top - probably three quarters of the way up but apparently any further up and the altitude would make you feel ill.

We went up to the 'top' at night time but they have these cool telescopes where you can see what the views are like day and night, and also what the landscape was like only a few years ago when the area around was just desert. It's amazing to see how quickly the area has built up in a relatively short time.

If you're scared of heights I would probably just stick to the view from the bottom and every 15-20 minutes there is a fountain show with music at the base of the building so check that out instead.

Night view from the top of the Burj Khalifa

2. Deira

An underrated area of Dubai in my opinion. We stayed in a hotel in Deira which is much cheaper than some of the more popular areas. You also get a taste of the large Asian ex-pat community here with cheap and delicious food everywhere.

The highlights of the area are the Souks - my favourite being the Gold Souk which is filled to bursting with tonnes of bling! Even if you're not looking to buy gold I would still recommend it and there are other things to buy there not just gold, from souvenirs and trinkets to traditional Asian clothing to belly dancing costumes and shisha pipes.

Endless amounts of gold in the Gold Souk


3. Jumeirah


The location of the 7 star Burj Al Arab and as well as the famous artificial archipelago Jumeirah Palm Sands.

If you're also looking for a beach there's one right by the Burj Al Arab just down the road from the Wild Wadi Water Park.

To get onto the Palm, there's a monorail where you get a pretty nice view of all the island. It which runs down the centre and terminates at the Altantis Hotel where there is an aquarium as well as another water park.


View of the Burj Al Arab from Jumeirah Beach


4. Malls


Dubai is a great place to shop! There are a staggering 69 malls throughout Dubai, all with their individual character!

Some of the malls I visited were Deira City Centre, Dubai Mall and Ibn Battuta malls.

Dubai Mall is the biggest and most visited and is just by the Burj Khalifa. It holds the Dubai Aquarium and underwater zoo and on our first night, we were surprised to find we could visit the aquarium at 1am!

Ibn Battuta mall is a bit further out but is really quirky as each of the different areas of the mall are a different region the arabic explorer Battuta visited.

One of the other famous malls in Dubai is the Mall of the Emirates which houses Ski-Dubai, an artificial ski slope in the middle of the desert city! 

China Court in the Ibn Battuta Mall


5. Desert safari


Venture out of the city into the surrounding desert. There are lots of tour companies who will arrange this for you and activities when you're out there include dune bashing, camel riding, quad biking and sand-boarding.

Depending on which company you end up with, there is may also be a camp set up with other things to do: holding falcons, dressing up in traditional arabic clothing, henna and shisha all culminating in a buffet dinner with magicians, belly-dancing and the traditional Tanoura arabic dance.


Out in the desert!


Dubai was a great place to visit, especially after spending 6 weeks in Africa. We definitely appreciated our nice hotel room, the ease of getting around at night-time and of course the shopping!
Like the other big international cities across the world like London, Hong Kong and Singapore, there is lots of do even after the sun goes down but it is also easy to escape to the beach to relax!

To see some of my other general travel tips see my previous post here.

Are you planning a trip to Dubai soon? Found this post useful? Or have you been and got any other top things to do that I've missed? Please leave your comments in the section below!


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