Where: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Who: Mr & Mrs Wanderlust
When: Jan 2015
What: Mrs Wanderlust's Birthday & Anniversary Celebration!
The Emirate of Dubai is the second largest of the seven United Arab Emirates but has the biggest population at over 2.1 million inhabitants. Size has been synonymous with Dubai as it continues to build the first, largest and the biggest constructions in the world. Dubai's dynamics are always transient and ever-changing with its constant urge to construct something better and bigger than the previous. If there was a Palm Island, Nakheel thought of the World Island. Burj Al Arab seemed too timid when Burj Khalifa cropped up, distancing itself to being a loner in the crowd. Dubai constantly dwells in a suppressive competition with itself trying to magnetize tourists to a dreamy world of attractions and unheard of luxuries. The emirate's scoring points lie in its entrepreneurial abilities to create the inconceivable found in its tourist attractions, landmarks, shopping centres, nightlife and hotels.
Although it strictly safeguards its traditional practices, it allows space for other religions to breathe, a rare quality among the conservative Arab world. Thankfully, it has been successful in shielding itself from extremism, much-needed for it to survive. Today, Dubai has emerged as a cosmopolitan metropolis that has grown steadily to become a global city and a business and cultural hub of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf region.
A newbie tourist to Dubai can get confused as it offers an exciting abundance of attractions, activities, shopping and nightlife. Here's a top list of things to do when holidaying in Dubai.
Roughly 75,000 KM away from Manila, it will take about 8-9 hours (depending on wind, and other factors) to reach United Arab Emirates. Time difference of -4 hours though will make it seem that travel FROM Manila Airport (MNL) to Dubai Airport (DXB) fast.
Several Airline companies serve direct flights from MNL to DXB, such as Etihad & Emirates (prices are a little bit more of higher scale, but definitely get better seat/space/etc.) And also local airlines and if you are lucky with a sale, you can always try the low cost carriers, seat space are a little bit cramped, but it still gets you to Dubai safely.
NOTE: Entry to Dubai requires visa, which is pre-arranged months or weeks before your trip. So plan accordingly.
Visa processing can be done by different travel agencies, airlines, and even hotel assistance at a certain fee/charge and may ask for different documents.
For our visa processing (also pre-arranged with packaged hotel accommodation and city tours), we were assisted by Citimiles Tours & Travel (click for the website).
This question ultimately depends first, your budget, then second is the area which is near your desired activities while staying in Dubai. But finding where to stay is not hard with the help of the internets.
Mr & Mrs Wanderlust's Reviews
La Villa Najd Hotel & Apartments
+ Expected just a simple room, room is with living room, mini kitchen and bathroom.
+ Comfortable bed and air conditioning.
+ Very helpful staff, from guards to lobby assistance and also room service.
+ Includes complimentary breakfast (Arabic or Continental) which were both great!
+ We thought the coin operated massage chairs at the lobby was genius after a whole day of exploring.
+ Near many establishments local restaurants, mini-marts, shops, & the Mrs' favorite, mall.
+ The nearby mall has access to public metro train which allows you to get to more places.
- The only issue is that the area has many new hotel/apartments and the name of hotel is not so known with taxi drivers. So better be ready with address preferably with the hotel's number so you can call them, and get to know the area.
- Has advertised free WiFi, however our phones were never able to detect their router.
Price: $$ 5-6,000PHP for 2
Service: 5 star - Service & staff were very helpful and nice
Facilities & Amenities: 5 star - Room has lots of space, and building is relatively new
Restaurant (foods): 4.9 star - Room service breakfast was great with choice of Arabic / Continental
Bar: n/a - No bars, however there is hotel nearby that has a bar and serves liquor.
Overall: 4.9 /5 star
Dubai is a very colorful city and you will definitely not run out of things to do here. Being like the melting pot in the Middle East. Different people and cultures are present, from the Emiratis which are the local people, to the different people around Middle East, and different other expats working from all around Asia, Africa to Europe. Groups with the most populous workers are Indians and Pakistanis, also included are our own 'kabayans' from Philippines.
1. Dune Bashing (Desert Safari)
Don't miss out on a chance to go on a Dune Bashing experience in Dubai. It's the ultimate adrenaline rush adventure as you challenge the sand dunes in an SUV wheeler. This thrilling ride is most of the times accompanied with quad biking, sand skiing, camel ride, etc. Also feel like the Bedouins who are the nomads of deserts, where they offer a one of a kind experience dinner + ethnic arabian dances and belly dancing show in a desert camp set-up with free shisha use, hand henna tattoo for ladies, and available alcoholic drinks.
2. See the tallest building in the world Burj Khalifa
When it comes to Dubai constructions, the sky is the limit in the literal sense of the word. Presently, Burj Khalifa tops the list for the tallest skyscraper in the world at a height of 2,717 ft. Part of the new development called Downtown Dubai; the tower is the address to the most elite hotels, shopping centres, residences and offices in the world.
A visit to the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, is a must do for every tourist who wants to experience the amazing panoramic view of the Dubai city skyline from the 124th floor 'Observation Deck'. The marvellous journey will take you through the vision and construction of Burj Khalifa and also let you shop 'At The Top', to take home a souvenir.
3. See the Dubai Fountain
Just at the back of Dubai Mall and near Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Fountain is a record breaking, musical fountain show located on the man-made Burj Khalifa Lake. Water is shot up in the air to an altitude of over 500ft and accompanied by classical & contemporary music from around the world. The fountain opened in 2009 but in 2010 the fountain's length was increased to 275m. Show starts at night 6:30PM but better be there earlier as it gets crowded and nowhere to get a clean shot.
4. Shop till you drop at the Dubai Mall ( Visit Site )
Just below the tallest building, Burj Khalifa, you can see one of the biggest malls in place.Dubai Mall is the world's largest shopping centre and is part of the new Downtown Dubai mega-complex. It opened at the end of 2008 with 635 retailers. In 2012, it attracted 65 million visitors - more visitors than New York City attracted over the same period.
The Mrs would love it and Mr will not-so love it, and you will both go home with aching feet. Good thing some pharmacies in the mall sells the famous ethyl chloride spray (the ones they use in world cup for injured / hurt players) that you can use to ease the muscle pain on your feet. ;)
5. Shop and try Skiing at Mall of Emirates
The words winter and desert are diametrically opposite yet Dubai manages it by constructing a Ski resort inside the Mall of Emirates, which is another contender for the largest mall in the world. Featuring 22,500-square metres of ski area covered in snow all year round, the indoor ski resort features various ski jump slopes and play areas to entertain children and adults alike.
6. Experience the beach near Burj al Arab
Everyone dreams of staying at the Burj Al-Arab, the most extravagant hotel in the world. However, world's first seven star hotel developed by Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts chooses its customers and not vice versa. Burj Al Arab's billowing sail enjoys being a focus of public attention with its glittery gold interiors, ultra-spacious suites and the heightened level of luxury offered. Room rates start at $8,000 USD and can easily go up to $25,000 USD with their Royal Suites.
Oh! You can also have a tea or maybe coffee but be prepared for a $500 or more. Also reservation is best to avoid any disappointments.
7. Spice Souk & Gold Souk
Included in the Dubai city tour is the Spice and Gold Souks (souk meaning market). Here you would see different spices from cinnamon rolls to the ever so expensive Saffron. Also available and was on our 'to-buy' lists are the "oud" or wood + flower that are burnt like an incense and would leave your room smelling good for days. And in the same topic of good smell, you can also choose different authentic Arabian perfumes & oils that will make you smelling good for a very long time.
For the Gold souk which is just along the same street from the Spice souk in Deira, you can immediately see the sparkling and evidently expensive, luxurious and lavish jewelries made of gold with other precious stones in it. And just displayed outside the market are the prices of gold per gram which is strictly followed by the stores. Added to the value of the jewelry is also the craftsmanship which may make the jewelry more expensive. Definitely the gold market will awe you, whether you are a fan of jewelry or not.
**Protip: While it is nice to shop in Gold Souk, try to look for shops with 'kabayans' or other pinoys as especially if you are a newbie to avoid being charged for a jewelry at a higher rate, and will be able to give you a few tips as well.
8. See the Dubai Creek
Historically significant landmark in Dubai, it has been a silent witness to the city's changing faces from the early pearl divers to the country's first oil exports. Dubai Creek links 2 districts of the city, Bur Dubai and Deira. Boats and ferries are also available.
9. Awe at the flowers of Miracle Garden
Deserts are typically thought of to be a dry wasteland. The Dubai garden miracle showcases a wide variety of different flowers that are arranged in different shapes. The blooms of these flowers have been fashioned to look like hearts, stars, igloos, pyramids and other figures. The floral patterns will change with the season, so any returning visitors will get a brand new experience. Dubailand intends to attract close to a million visitors every year with the majority of them coming to see the Dubai flower garden. The garden is currently open from 10 am to 10 pm and stands as a testament to Dubai ingenuity.
Special thanks to fellow desert Bedans Bonnie & Shap and not to forget their little Shiloh for taking time to meet us and bringing us there even if it is a bit far from our area, and also for treating us a nice dinner.
***Protip: While the light is best at time when the sun is up, it is equally hot as well. It is better if you go there either early morning, or after the sun sets. First because it is not that hot, second is that the flowers also produce more scent on both early morning and evening.
10. Visit / See the Palm Island
When innovation meets hard work, the results are astounding as seen at the Palm Islands in Dubai, an ambitious project visualized by Nakheel Properties; these man-made islands were constructed to accommodate the ever-growing tourist influx in Dubai. Shaped to resemble a palm tree, the Palm Trilogy defines everyday luxury living.
***Protip: You cannot see the palm shaped island when you drive on it. You can either see it from above through the maps, or for the best and our recommended view read on;
11. Skydive at the Palm
For the adrenaline / rush seeking people, see the palm like you would never see from the ground. Above 14,000 ft. jump from a plane with a professional skydive instructor to see and feel something you can never feel. The intense wait, a racing heartbeat, a raging adrenaline rush, moments of insanity, then a strong gust of wind, shooting down at 210 km/hr.Skydive Dubai, the world’s premier skydiving location, neighbouring the luxurious manmade island The Palm Jumeirah and the Dubai Marina. With these beautiful and breathtaking views is becoming popularly the people’s number one choice for skydiving.
WATCH: MR & MRS Wanderlust's Skydive Video
12. Visit another Emirati State: Abu Dhabi (Also click here to view our page about Abu Dhabi).
If you have more time, you can also visit another state of United Arab Emirates, which is Abu Dhabi. It is like the "richer big brother" of Dubai. Its ruler, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan was the one who helped Dubai in their financial crisis 2007-2010. He also helped funded the tallest building which was supposed to be named Burj Dubai, but due to the tremendous help in funding during the financial crisis Burj Dubai renamed Burj Khalifa in honour of the President of the UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi.
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