Dubai Attractions & Places To See
So close, yet so far ! This has been my condition for so many years in terms of not being able to or rather not having visited any of the beautiful countries around the world. Dubai is one such place. My first international trip to Thailand, then Sri Lanka and now Dubai, in a way are all very close to India. Yet it has taken me so long. But now not for long. And I chose Dubai this time simply for “Dubai Attractions” and places to see & marvel.
I have always been intrigued by the marvelous structures made by the people of the Emirates. For me it always used to be that Emirates is a land of development, pro-progress and full of authorities who are willing to take a step forward into the future. As I posted on my Facebook timeline as well, it is really intriguing to see the positive difference in terms of infrastructure development and the way the land has changed, from what it used to be around 1990s. With natural obstacles like barren land (desert), for example, it is actually amazing to see the change. And I am not saying this because this is my blog and now-a-days it is a practice to write extremely over-the-top about a place – something you cannot really connect to – because the reality depicts a different picture. None-the-less this is not the case with Dubai. If it’s going to be your first or even hundredth international vacation, Dubai is a place any time. It was my first time in Dubai and right from the time I got off the aircraft, I was all attentive, trying to capture everything I could in those 4 days that I was there.
Where Should I Begin Describing Dubai ?
Located on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf, Dubai is the most famous & populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). UAE is the collection of 7 Emirates making it a country, out of which only Dubai & Abu Dhabi hold the final control on matters of national importance. From 50 Billion $ in 1990 to over 400 Billion $ in 2016 is insane growth. Dubai is the business hub across myriad businesses, including it’s aviation segment. I think it’s openness to doing the western-kind of business is also, to a large extent, responsible for people across the world looking at it as a pro-growth & non-extremist country. Perhaps the below picture explains the stark difference better:
[The difference between 2 images is nothing short of extra-ordinary | Image: Business Insider]
Now, among the various businesses, Tourism Industry was focused upon highly. So in this post, I am keen to share with you all what all Dubai Attractions & Places To See I found worth it, especially if it’s your first time in Dubai.
Dubai Attractions & Places To See
The Burj Khalifa… Most Popular Among Dubai Attractions
Undoubtedly, the most famous of the Dubai Attractions and the most favored place to see for the first time visitors to Dubai. The Burj Khalifa is a 160-storey building, currently the tallest building in the world. It has held this record in the Guiness Book since 2010 – when it got made.
- Tourists are allowed to go on Floors 124-125 (@ 200 AED pp) and Floor 148 (@ 350 AED pp) for 360 degree viewing experience, which is magnificent.
Textile, Spice and Gold Souks
Again, one of the most visited of the Dubai Attractions and among the favored places to experience. Located in the old town of Deira just across the Creek, all the three souks (markets) are one after another. Spice Souk, followed by Textile Souk and finally Gold Souk. Just after you alight from the Abra (boat), the aroma in the air fills you with different flavors of spices. Tourists get introduced to the aromatic spices, medicinal products, incense, rose petals and herbs stored in large baskets inside & outside hundreds of shops lined one after another.
Similarly with Textile & Gold Souks. DO NOT FORGET TO NEGOTIATE FOR BEST PRICE.
Burj Al Arab: Hotel & More
Burj Al Arab is one of the landmark hotels in the world, let alone Dubai and has been catching positive attention amongst the tourists here. Often referred to as the symbol of the ultra modern Dubai, it is definitely more than just a hotel. Mimicking the sail of the ship, this is the 3rd tallest hotel in the world standing at a height of 280 metres (920 feet) in air. Surprisingly, there are only 28 floors. Going by the builders’ track-record across Mumbai and the intelligence they use in making more & more compact houses (and giving boastful promises to home buyers), 920 feet would mean that in Mumbai, this would have been a 92 floor building (rationally assuming that the builders in & around Mumbai do not offer more than 10 feet ceiling height) 😉
It ranks No. 12 in Fifteen Most Expensive Hotels in the World. Over 25% of the room occupancies are from the Chinese.
- Good for posing in front of this hotel, on the beach next to it.
One of the most photographed mosques in Dubai City, this is the only one which is open for Non-Muslims. I appreciate the slogan at it’s entrance “Open Door, Open Minds” ! This slogan has a very powerful positive impact on the tourists of all faiths telling them that this is an opportunity for them & everybody else to learn the Emirati tradition, culture & religion is an open & casual atmosphere.
One is expected to be at the Mosque by around 9.00 am, although the registrations may begin by 9.45 am. The actual tour of the Mosque starts by 10.00 am and is conducted everyday for 60-75 minutes, except on Friday. You don’t need any reservation.
- The tour costs AED 20 person (above 12 years of age) towards water, coffee, dates and pastries etc
Dubai Fountain & Dubai Mall
Have a look at this video… Dubai Fountain Show
It’s not for nothing that the Dubai Mall ranks as No. 1 in the world. It is the largest mall in the world in terms of total area and 19th largest by saleable area, having multiple brands on all the floors here. Opened in 2008, this mall has over 1,200 shops including over 200 food & eateries shops. I found The Fashion Avenue & The Souk as the highlight shops selling fashionable clothes and jewellery shops / arab clothing / accessories respectively. The operational timing is from 10 am to 11 pm.
Another highlight is that the Dubai Mall Management have built the Dubai Fountain just outside the mall, which is nothing short of splendid. The lake water is spread over 30 acre land, has about 6,500 lights and 25 colour projectors. When the show starts, the water can shoot up to 500 feet in air. Evening 6.30 pm is the best time to be here to experience this marvel.
- There are no charges for the Fountain Show
This is how close I could go to the Palm Jumeira. An artificial man-made offshore reclamation development has resulted into something billed as the Eighth Wonder of the World. The Palm Jumeira is tree-shaped construction, having upscale homes, restaurants and hotels, with the “topmost part of the tree” occupied by Hotel Atlantis, that has the world’s costliest suite, pegged at $25,000 per night (equivalent to INR 16 Lacs per night).
Although the structure & the overall engineering is indeed worthy of mention everytime, I felt that the real excellence of this can only be captured by common people & tourists only if they are above the surface of the earth. At surface level, you can see the upscale brands but not really see what it is. So, the secret here is that I visited the lounge of 3 Five-Star hotels like Gloria (on their 41st floor), JW Marriot (on their 52nd floor) and another one at 61 floor, tried their coffees – the lowest priced item on the menu – and took pictures of these. The pictures of these Dubai Attractions are to my satisfaction but I think they would have been even more beautiful had I climbed higher (say 85th-90th floor). Also, having 3 cups of cappuccino back-to-back is not really great !
Desert Safari – Must Do In The List Of “Dubai Attractions”
[Dune Bashing is one of the sought after Dubai Attractions | Source: Flickr/RobertYoung]
Desert Bashing, although not a budget friendly activity, still gets tourists & vacationers alike. More than solo travelers, there are friends and families who prefer to try out the activities. Typically, Desert Safari is organized and conducted by professional tour & travel companies. It consists of Pick Up from any point in Dubai wherever you are staying, Morning / Evening Dune Bashing for about 30 minutes, photo-shoots, camel ride, watching belly dance performance, dates & coffee, Henna Painting, Buffet Dinner etc.
- Even 1 person can do this, but if your group is of 5 or more people, the entire vehicle becomes yours
- Approximate charges for all these activities hover around 250-350 AED per person
Take An Abra (Water Taxi)
[Dubai Attractions list have to include an Abra ride | Source: Flickr/RobertHaandrikman]
An Abra is one of the oldest ways of traveling in Dubai and indeed, one of the better Dubai Attractions. The boats take you up and down from Deira old city centre to the other side of the town (to the Souk markets etc). One time crossing costs only 1 AED and takes about 10 minutes of travel. Alternatively, you can hire an Abra for an hour or so, on the spot after speaking to the driver.
Dubai Museum & Bastakiya
[Dubai Museum is located in Al Fahidi Area | Source: Flickr/RobOo]
[Bastakiya was home to wealthy Persian merchants | Source: Flickr/FabioAchilli]
Dubai Museum and Bastakiya both are located in the old part of Dubai, known as Al Fahidi (Bur Dubai). Al Fahidi is a fort and Dubai Museum is inside this fort. The fort got built in 1787 and has been a residence of the ruling family as well as government servants. Do check out the wonderful maps at the entrance and the wooden boats in the courtyard, apart from the weaponry and musical instruments.
Bastakiya, on the other hand, has been home to several wealthy Persian merchants, who mainly dealt in textiles and pearls. This was built in the 19th century. The small patches of roads distinctly resemble the old times of Dubai, where I can only assume that life was much slower & more traditional. While walking down those streets, I was actually feeling the era, if I may say so. No wonder these 2 places need to be on your “Dubai Attractions” bucketlist.
All these Dubai Attractions are worth watching, especially if you are coming here for the first time. There are some others like Dubai Aquarium, Dubai Zoo, Water Park etc that the kids will love. While I am all going positive about the place, the infrastructure, the discipline, the openness in the air etc, there is no discounting the fact that your biggest challenge will be the heat. Having visited in September – October 2017, the heat was at an average high and I could not bear walking on the roads.
Things I Would Like You To Note
- Due to hot & humid weather, do carry hats / caps / mineral water / sunscreen lotion with you at all times
- I figured a day pass of AED 22 (called as NOL Card) was good enough to travel in Metro, Bus and Tram any number of times. It is valid till 11.59 pm on the date of issue. Tap the card at the machine both time, entry & exit. When you return your expired NOL Card at the ticket counter (say at any of the Metro stations) and opt for a new card the next day, you get 2 AED off on the new card. So effectively, the second NOL Card will cost you AED 20.
- If you are landing after 12.00 am on any day, I suggest you take this day pass of AED 22, for you get to use it for more time. Metro station is right outside the Airport.
- I don’t know if there is any other ticket / card that is even cheaper but then, I didn’t really bother as well.
- With about 43% Indians already, I never really felt like I was in an alien land. As such, I could find Indian food and Indian restaurants pretty easily. A chicken / mutton dish in these restaurants will cost you around 35 AED. For all veg dishes, the cost will be 5-8 AED cheaper.
- No tap water, of course. In India, the servers in eateries & restaurants ask you if you’d like to have normal water or mineral water. Not here. But it is needed as well. Costs 4 AED for 1 litre.
- Everybody advises to dress conservatively. But jeans, t-shirts, shorts are all okay, except at places of worship.
- Liquor is not easily available anywhere anytime. Tourists are expected to visit only licensed shops & restaurants that are allowed to serve liquor, to avoid getting into the wrong side of law.
Is there anything I have not included ? Do share your experiences and questions.