Dubai is in the United Arab Emirates in the heart of the Middle East, just across the Persian Gulf from Iran, bordering Saudi Arabia, and not very far from Iraq and Syria. If you could go back and visit Dubai 40 years ago you would find nothing but sand dunes and a small fishing village. Oil has helped fund the city’s explosive growth, but now tourism is keeping that trend going. Dubai is now the 8th most visited tourist destination in the world.
This is just a small selection of the most popular Dubai tours and activities. Here are some recommendations for your next trip to the Emirate.
Top Sights to Visit in Cosmopolitan Dubai
No other building comes close to its 828 meters over more than 160 stories. But that’s not the only record it holds to give it a spot among the top Dubai tourist attractions. For $30 you can go to the top via the world’s fastest elevator which ascends 163 stories in 60 seconds. One advantage of being on top of the top of the world is that the view is served with canapés in Dubai.
One of the most fascinating things about the view from the Burj Khalifa is that you can see the desert that surrounds Dubai, which serves as a reminder of just how far the city has developed in such a short space of time.
The Palm Islands
These islands are man-made. From pictures it is hard to realize the sheer magnitude of what has been created. Each palm fawn island has beautiful beaches, million dollar homes, luxurious hotels, and shopping malls stretched all the way across.
The best way to see them is to take the subway/tram straight through the heart. There were around 100 studies done prior, in order to define the feasibility of the project. In the initial phase of research, hundreds of divers were investigating the rock formations under water in order to determine the project’s stability. The construction of The Palm Islands created additional 60 kilometer of shoreline in Dubai. More than 32 million cubic meters of ocean sand were used to make what we see today.
Burj Al Arab
This massive hotel is built on it’s own island in the middle of the Persian Gulf, and is every bit as opulent as it claims. The Burj Al Arab is the only self-proclaimed seven-star hotel in the world. This is one of the most iconic designs here in the city, and its incredible 321 m height makes it the perfect place to visit.
One of the best public beaches in the region just down below you, as well, this can be the perfect place to stay in if you’ve got the disposable income to afford such an excess.
Dubai’s Traditional Souks
Visit the spice, gold and perfume souks of Deira and Bur Dubai for an authentic Middle Eastern experience. You’ll hear loud haggling, and smell the incredible smell of coffee beans being roasted and the smell of perfumes and spices will hit you long before you step close to a stall. Each spice stall has mounds of spices stacked up outside it and the air is filled with the delectable aroma of nutmeg, turmeric, cinnamon and cardamom.
Going to Old Dubai is like being transported through time. You can see what Dubai was like before it fast tracked its why to being the first class city it is today. Don’t just accept the first price you are given. Always barter. The weight element of the price is set but the cost of the workmanship not.
Dubai Miracle Garden spreads across 72 000 square meters and more than 109 million flowers were planted here into fabulous sculptures of art. This is the largest garden in the world, opened on Valentine’s Day in 2013.
The flowerbeds in the Miracle Garden are so beautifully designed and decorated that you simply can’t compare it to any other park. You also can’t miss the Airbus A380 or the ceiling of brightly colored umbrellas, definitely a highlight of our 3 days in Dubai.
If you are looking for beautiful places in this cosmopolitan metropolis, you can’t go to Dubai and not take a desert safari. There are tour operators all over town selling packages. Go on a 4×4 adventure, get hypnotized at the swaying of the hips of a belly dancer, ride a camel in the middle of the desert, get your hands henna painted, and enjoy the golden dunes surrounding you.
There are also tours that offer sand boarding, and so much more.
If you are a fan of skiing on the Alps or any other kind of snow temperate, you’ll absolutely love the madness and fun that can come from winter skiing. This is 22,500 square meters of snow-filled area we are talking about, complete with a chairlift. A hotel next door also offers you a ski chalet experience that would fool anyone into thinking they were at a mountain peak in Europe. This sprawling indoor complex is one of the finest in the world and perfectly recreates the quality that you would expect if you were to have visited one of the traditional skiing hot spots. There are multiple runs and amazing snow (it’s always below freezing inside, so the snow doesn’t get crunchy). You can rent all necessary equipment and even take lessons if you like.
The Dubai Marina, an artificial canal city which is also referred to as New Dubai, is home to some of the city’s most affluent residents. Impressive skyscrapers line the canal, with the residents’ multi-million-dollar yachts anchored by the marina. If you are looking for things to do in the Dubai Mariana, this neighborhood features tons of high rise condominiums, cafes, bars, more shopping malls, beautiful hotels, beach access, and a waterway snaking through the center.
UAE Culture Tips
The most comfortable time to visit the UAE is December through February, when the temperatures typically sit in the 60s but, of course, that’s also the time of year when flights and hotels are most expensive. Shoulder seasons, such as May and September, usually offer less heat, and many discounts are still available.
Double-check your meds. The UAE has strict, zero-tolerance anti-drug laws, and thorough searches are conducted at its airports. Even medications that are over-the-counter in some countries those that contain codeine, for example, could get you arrested.
The UAE is rooted in Islamic traditions, so even in cosmopolitan Dubai, do as the longtime expats do and respect the culture by dressing modestly. Men and women should wear clothing that covers the tops of arms and legs, including the knees.