If you were to ask me what are the top 10 places to visit in the world or which is the best vacation spot for families or which is the best place to travel to in 2019, I would have just one answer to it – Dubai. Dubai, undoubtedly, is one of the best cities to visit. And the best time to visit Dubai? It’s this. The winters – from November till April. Also, the Dubai Shopping Festival is just around the corner and which makes Dubai the best shopping destination, so why not! The flight tickets to Dubai right now might be expensive but go to Abu Dhabi instead. The flight rates are cheaper and you will actually enjoy this city. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are roughly one hour apart via road. So – road-tripping, baby! Just kidding.
Okay, so this is a long pending post.
I don’t know how I ended up being this lazy. But I guess it’s my moral responsibility to share a quick recap of my travel to Dubai as the 2020 Dubai Shopping Festival is about to begin and Dubai is again the hottest holiday destination this winters!
I went to the UAE during the year-end in 2017. I am sure a lot must have changed because Dubai is by far the most dynamic and ever-evolving and advancing city that I know. Anyhow, getting back to the post, I think I found Dubai pretty impressive. It is NOT overrated if you visit it anytime but during New Year. Dubai has everything to offer – a city with super impressive skyscrapers, beach and desert!
I have written about my tales of Abu Dhabi already. I totally discovered the child inside me and I had a lot of fun in Abu Dhabi. You can read the story here.
And I was so wrong when I thought that all the fun has already ended in Abu Dhabi and I am just going to a man-made city of skyscrapers. But before I start about Dubai, here are a few travel tips:
Is Dubai Safe? Hell, yes!
- UAE has an e-visa. You don’t have to go for any interview of in-person verification at any VFS. Also, if you have a US-Visa, there are very fewer chances that your visa will get rejected. The process is speedy. You will get your visa in a week or so.
- The best time to visit is from November to April as it is pretty pleasant during these months and you can even experience the foggy rains as well
- Since this is the peak season to visit Dubai, plan ahead else you end up paying a very huge amount for everything!
- Please check the Ramadan time before planning your visit during this time the business hours are shorter and the place is quieter. You might end up missing on to some right places.
- Dress modestly. Behave modestly. Avoid public display of affection. And you need to respect these unsaid rules!
- Sunglasses and sunscreens are musts during the day. A light shawl or jacket is a must during the nights as it gets breezy and cold at night.
- Install the Careem or Uber app to go from one place to another. Though I would suggest using public transport – the trams and the Metro. They are pretty convenient and have good connectivity.
- Also, install the Klook app to buy the tickets for the various tourist attractions at hugely discounted rates. I did the same, and I saved a lot!
- The last thing that I want to share is a personal choice. I was in Dubai for 6 days and I lived in 3 different hotels. These 3 hotels were located in different parts of Dubai. The main idea behind this was to explore all most all the sides of the city and trust me, nothing helps you more in doing that than staying.
Abu Dhabi to Dubai
After spending a good 3 days in Abu Dhabi, we travelled to Dubai via road. It was a pleasant and non-tiring journey, thanks to the flawless highways. Also, the moment you enter Dubai, trust me, you will be amazed to see the man-made beauty. It is undoubtedly super eye-pleasing to see all those skyscrapers, arranged in such a beautiful and creative manner!
I had lodged myself for the first day in the Jumeirah Lake Towers area in Pullman Hotel. This hotel has a fantastic view of the city. You can feel the development all around – it is just in the air maybe!
Places to visit at night in Dubai? Everything is lit! But yes, Burj Khalifa is the winner!
After having a quick cat nap, we decided to explore the nightlife of Dubai. Our first stop was Burj Khalifa (of course!). However, since I visited during the peak season – year-end holidays – the entry to Burj Khalifa was pretty expensive, almost four times the usual. We decided to skip it for that night. Then we proceeded towards this nightclub called 360 Degrees at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. This place is now permanently closed. I couldn’t find anything else that has opened in the area of this fantastic bar which changed the nightlife scenes in Dubai for over a decade.
However, it is was certainly one of a kind – at the end of the pier – you are literally partying in the middle of the sea with a great view of the Burj Al Arab, the iconic hotel of Dubai.
I enjoyed the vibes here, if not the food.
If you love food, Dubai is the place for you!
We then ventured out in the Umm Sequim road for some excellent local cuisine and street food. This place has n number of places to eat and I was positively thrilled here – good food and pleasant location. I was so busy hunting for the local food that I forgot to take pictures! In fact, I have very fewer pictures.
To be very, very honest – I was there for 7 days, and I gained almost 10 kgs here. I overate. The quality of the meat is too good here! I am completely in love with the food here – both local and international! And vegetarian folks need not worry, you get the best hummus here. And there are a lot of options to try here!
My next day started a li’l late. And I was pretty upset because of that. I went during a time when almost every online service had stopped selling tickets for the activities and thus the available ones were at a very high price. And that made me start late that morning! But what made my morning perfect was the infinity pool of the hotel. I have never witnessed such a beautiful morning in the middle of any city. I am speechless, even my phone’s camera did not do justice to this beautiful view.
It actually felt like a dream world of Disney in a uber-modern city. You look around, you see clouds. You look down, you are above the floating clouds. And wherever you see, there are buildings emerging from the clouds. This was a delightful experience of my life!
And then, this was followed by a hearty breakfast.
The desert safari seemed like a distant dream on this day!
Anyhow, my late morning ended up with booking a trip to the Dubai Safari. It is better to book the activity tickets because they pick and drop you from your place of stay, helps you enter the area on priority and everything else. If you go to Dubai, going to the desert is a must. Not that it is different from any other deserts in the world but the safari experience – right from the dune bashing to the local artists performing to driving a buggy, it is all worth!
The trip started with a nerve-racking dune bashing ride in a Range Rover. It was indeed stressful because at any given point in time I felt that my car might just topple off and I will die in the deserts of Dubai – and that is not my dream! There are trained drivers who take you for this ride of your life and it is a long ride (at least they make sure it is!).
There are various desert-y things that you can do there. Play in the sand, which I loved, of course! You can do a camel ride, which I don’t really encourage. Go for the quad-biking. I did not do it because somehow it did not seem exciting as there was a limited 200m circle in which you can ride. Then there is this complete camp in the middle of the desert where you can have hookah and food and enjoy the evening performances.
Ride at you won risk!
What I enjoyed about the desert safari was the memorable dune buggy ride. So, you can rent a two-seater buggy and explore around the desert (and it is guided because getting lost in the desert is the most natural thing on this earth!). I have never had so much in my life. The only thing is, it is at your own risk. If you meet with an accident, the damage is all yours.
We returned back after dinner there – which is, by the way, was not the most exotic, but pretty much local – and not worth the money! But yes, by the end of the day, you are so hungry that you won’t really complain about the food!
Let’s talk about Burj Khalifa, shall we?
One thing that I usually try to do, to maximize my exploration of a city, book different hotels in the different part of the town. So, we moved to a li’l more North of Dubai and checked in to Ibis Hotel, Malls of Emirates. It is a complete business stay – small, cosy apartments with self-service. I just checked in there because of the next day I completely, like entirely from 10AM to 8PM, spent in the mall. DSF or no DSF, Dubai is the best place to shop! I had given infinite reasons here. I had the time of my life – even though I am not a shopping person!
After spending one whole exploring this mall, now it was time for Burj Khalifa. To be very honest, it is one ornamentally beautiful building. It looks majestic during the day and utterly mesmerizing during the night. However, during this peak season of holidays, I found it very difficult to get a ticket at a reasonable price. It was almost 500 AED per person for an evening ticket and day tickets were sold out. So, what seemed like a better idea was to go to the At.mosphere Restaurant on the 122nd floor of the tallest building of the world. Yeah, the cost for two people is around 500 AED and you get to sit there for as long as you wish to!
Top of the world and flying!
Trust me, you don’t need alcohol to get high when you are in Burj Khalifa. It’s already very trippy. The moment I stepped on the 122nd Floor, I could just feel the floor beneath my feet moving. Or rather, the whole place was moving. And then I was told that the place does move – like sways – for around 10cm. Yes, it is so tall. I was in awe of this place. The view of Dubai from a height of 442 meters is indeed mesmerizing. At.mosphere is a great place. You reach there in a private lift and I literally behaved like a kid when the floor number changed to 100. Yes, the shit is real!
The place greets you with super friendly servers and an amazing view of this utterly man-made city. The food is good and super fancy, which complements this ornamental building. After a very long time in my life, I had such a luxurious experience – on the top of the world – technically not, but yeah!
The last phase of the trip has sadly arrived.
The next day we moved to further older Dubai side of Dubai. This was near the souks and the local market and I loved this part of the city for it is less touristy. We had shifted to one of the older hotels called the Grand Excelsior and trust me; this was the most hospitable and friendly hotels out of them all which I experienced in Dubai. It was old and not one of the many five stars of Dubai, yet it deserves all the compliments!
The next thing was to explore Dubai using the rest of the modes of transport. So, Dubai Metro train is certainly very convenient. And the Dubai Tram – connecting from the Metro too also opened a few days ago. And we took these two modes of transport to sail on a speed boat in the Persian Gulf. And yes, it’s thrilling in its own kind. I loved the experience!
The only thing that I might have repeated n-number of times is that this city is undoubtedly a man-made beauty. I mean where else would you find yourself sailing in a gulf, overseeing few of the world’s iconic buildings and people zip-lining between few of the tallest buildings too!
Dubai has been pretty happening in terms of the activities I did there. It was like I lived a life there – doing everything possible in the short tenure! I thought that it would be an excellent idea to just chill in the beautiful hotel but then there was this Hardwell concert happening in the Atlantis, The Palm.
Night life is super fun here!
I really did not imagine that I would attend one of my favourite DJ’s concert on a private beach. It was such a cute experience! And concerts in Dubai(or maybe anywhere outside India) is actually this decent! After having a very satisfying night at the show, I called it a day.
The next morning was not a very pleasant one because of the realization that it was the last day to roam around in Dubai and I still had a lot of things to cover! There was Dubai Miracle Garden, there was the Global Village, there was Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo and then there was, of course, the Gold Souk! Also, when I visited there, the Dubai frame was still under construction. I had even skipped the Lego Land, and there was the under-construction Warner Brothers Studio in Abu Dhabi. So, I decided that I will cover two places that day in Dubai and then come back again sometime when this country might have made some more unnaturally unbelievable things!
Penguins are the happiest creatures on this earth!
My first stop on the last day in Dubai was The Dubai Mall for the Underwater Zoo. Though I really feel sad whenever I see animals being captured in an artificial environment, but this place was magical. Also, I collected from the people at the aquarium that how the water salinity is maintained for the saltwater organisms and how they never overpopulate the regions. Well, okay, not convincing but if they say so. But then on my whole tour, I learned a lot of things about this place
There were too many species in this place – from the small fishes to the shark to the night creatures to the King Croc.
The entrance is via a glass tunnel, and there you find too many li’l small fishes welcoming you. And then the real zoo starts – where you find cute fishes, swimming along, greeting you. One thing that you should not miss here is the glass bottom boat ride, which helps you explore too many species of sea creatures. And they are very friendly.
Also, there is this shark conservation programme which runs in Dubai Aquarium to clear the myth around this majestic animal while educating people about shark’s importance in the wild.
I was the happiest creature in that aquarium – until I came across the penguin tank. Penguins are probably the happiest creatures on this earth. They are cute and they are always living their lives. However, their caging definitely made me sad.
Oh, I love crocodiles!
Moving on, just a few days ago, one of the King Crocs from Australia was brought in here and it was like the most majestic reptile you would ever see! When I say majestic, I am not exaggerating. And I love crocodiles.
They were scary – very!I left this place with a King Crocodile soft-toy(yeah, that is how much I love crocodiles and soft toys!). The next place was The Cheesecake Factory for a hearty lunch.
Right after lunch, we headed towards the Global Village without realizing that it’s a vast park which needs probably more than half a day. Global Village is one hell of a place.
It’s like a park where you have halls from different countries of the world with their amazing specialities, which you can experience and buy too! Let me share the things from Egypt hall :
Not to mention, Global Village also had rides – it’s an adventure park too! The rides here were scary – so no, I did not become a daredevil like I did in Abu Dhabi.
After having this fantastic experience, we headed packed to the hotel and packed our bags. We had our flight from Abu Dhabi next night.
The next morning we checked out, shopped locally in Old Dubai, had amazing shawarma and falooda and headed back to where we belonged with loads of memories to cherish forever.
Traveling should never stop!
But I am planning to go to Dubai again – for the new things which have been developed and build there. Heard about the World Islands? Or the Wadis which are a perfect place for hikes? Yes, those are my list next!