Dubai is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE). And also one of the most progressive emirate. It’s a multicultural melting pot and a hugely popular destination both for business as well as tourists.
Dubai is a dessert city with some amazing infrastructure. It’s a short flight from Europe and Asia making it a very popular holiday destination for short breaks. It’s a foodie heaven and because more than 80% of the population is from outside Dubai you will find restaurants catering to cuisines from all over the world. Lots of global restaurant chains and loads of expat communities.
Dubai’s amazing infrastructure makes it very easy to travel with kids using the public transport. A couple of years back the metro system was set up in Dubai. It’s different to the London tube in the sense that the Dubai metro does not criss cross the entire city but rather runs across the city one line covering the length of the city running parallel to Dubai’s Sheikh Zayeed Road (Dubai’s main road) and the other line overlapping Line A at two points and mainly covering old Dubai. Here are some pics from the metro.
Best time to visit Dubai
Our trip was in February and the weather was lovely. Such a brilliant change from the UK cold. I’ve however been to Dubai several times on work in all seasons and the best time is between November and February. October and March are also allright. However April to September is very avoidable…it’s unbearably hot and dry, with peak summer temperatures going well over 50C. Dubai is located on the Persian Gulf backed by the Arabic Dessert so it never really gets cold. Depending on when you visit it’s either pleasant/warm or scorching hot!
How long do you need to be in Dubai
For most people 4-5 days would be enough. We were there for a week and we could have easily spent another week and still had loads of fun. Neel and I loved it and the kids also had such a blast. Our trip was divided into two – the first three nights in the main city and the last four nights at the Atlantis….which for me is a holiday by itself. Will do a seperate post on this.
My cousin who lives in Jumeriah Beach Towers (JBT) was kind enough to host us for the first three nights. If we were staying at a hotel of serviced apartment I would have probably picked something in Downtown Dubai close to Dubai Mall.
My cousin and her husband took us to the Dubai Marina the first evening we were there. This is located right next to the Jumeriah Beach Towers. The beautiful waterside promenade is full of restaurants with al fresco dining, shopping outlets and stunning panoramic views!
We had a lovely al fresco Chinese meal, the kids had a blast, we strolled around and just soaked in the beautiful atmosphere. What a gorgeous start to our Dubai holiday!
The largest mall in the world – over 1200 stores, spread over 4 levels, with a total floor area of more than half a million square meters.
Even if shopping is not your thing – there are numerous restaurants and cafes where you can relax, have a bite or a drink.
The Dubai mall is also a base for numerous attractions – Burj Khalifa, Dubai Ice Rink, Aquarium, Underwater Zoo, Souk Al Bahar, Dubai Fountain, Fountain Broadwalk.
Such an amazing experience to up the world’s tallest building! The Burj Khalifa is an engineering marvel and draws visitors from all over the world since it opened in 2010.
Stunning view from the top and its equally beautiful during the day and at night. Make sure you choose a clear day to go up to get the best views…
Dubai Fountain Show + Fountain Broadwalk
We had lunch earlier at Wafi Gourmet (Dubai Mall) and sat on one of the outside tables overlooking the fountains. It was beautiful to have a bite and watch the beautiful fountains and the Burj Khalifa…..the kids were just mesmerised!
The Dubai Fountain is officially the largest and the most expensive fountain show in the world. It’s one of the most popular attractions in Dubai…..and I’m not surprised. It’s just spectacular!
We were already so close to the fountains and I couldn’t figure out how they could be so different from the broadwalk (which takes you slightly closer to the fountains)
I thought that would be so in your face that you wouldn’t get a perspectivce. I was mistaken! The broadwalk was an absolutely amazing experience. Entry is 30 AED per person and honestly I don’t think we would have bothered to pay….however we got a free entry with our Burj Khalifa tickets so decided to go. And to me personally the experience was even better than going up the Burj Khalifa!
The shows are 30 minutes apart (starting at 6pm upto 11pm) and you can be on the broadwalk for however long as you want. We stayed for two shows.
The Broadwalk is an inflatable walking path set up in the fountain pool area and walking on it gives you this incredible floaty feeling of walking on water.
There is also the Dubai Fountain Lake Ride – which takes you on a traditional Abra along the fountain show. This would also be an interesting experience and we will probably do this next time.
So in conclusion – the Dubai Fountain Show is beautiful water art – a combination of music, lighting and stunning synchronisation…..the kids were blown away! Would highly recommend…
Souk Madinat Jumeirah
A souk is an arabic market and Dubai is filled with them. The Souk Madinat is a modern take on the traditional Arabic market place and is an architectural masterpiece.
It’s picture perfect with it’s winding alleyways, and quaint shops, waterways, and lovely ABRA boat rides….all overlooking the stunning Burj Al Arab.
We visited in the evening and it was breathtaking….the pictures don’t do it enough justice. However I believe it’s just as picturesque during the day……and you can capture better pics! I will certainly check that out the next time I’m in Dubai…
The Dubai souks are located in Deira, which is north of the Dubai creek. We crossed the river from Bur Dubai in a traditional boat called ABRA and the ride was lovely.
The Spice Souk is one of the most popular souks in Dubai. The narrow lanes are filled with small shops selling every single spice you can think of.
It’s a beautiful, colourful sight and the aromas are intoxicating. Fresh stocks arrive everyday transported by dhow (an Arabic sailing vessel) from various countries.
You need to be a savvy shopper at the souks else you will get ripped off. Every shop you go to the first thing they would ask you is which country you are from and quote prices accordingly. Fortunately I’m born and brought up in India and completely understand their strategy, so know how to deal with them. One smart guy who didn’t believe I’m Indian tried to quiz me by testing my knowledge on spices by pointing to various spices and asking me what they were…haha…he was surprised!
Traders are willing to bargain so make you use all your negotiation skills! If you know what you want, and can bargain well….you will get some amazing deals.
Other than the spices there were some very skillful artisans making some beautiful handmade souvenirs. My daughter was very fascinated by the rows of colourful sand and how beautifully the skilled artisans would make gorgeous images by pressing sand into little glass bottles and she a camel in the sand and he made it for her in just a couple of minutes! Truly fascinating!
Overall, I loved the experience of going to the spice souk and would definitely go back.
This sums up our three days in Dubai…before we headed off to the Atlantis. Here are some of the things we would have liked to do in Dubai but didn’t have enough time. So hopefully we will be back here soon…
- Jumeirah Beach – supposed to be one of the best beaches in Dubai. It’s got outdoor shops, cafes, restaurants, outdoor gym, children’s splash play areas, etc.
- Dubai Opera – is located in downtown Dubai, next to the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall. The striking building is shaped like a dhow (an Arabic boat). Probably not the most child friendly place, which is why we left it out on this trip.
- Dubai Safari Park – a gigantic park where you can enjoy hundreds of wild animals from all over the world.
- Dessert Safari – I had heard some great things about the Safari….it’s one of the best ways to discover the beautiful Dubai dessert – riding through the sand dunes, watching the beautiful sunset and having a lovely local meal. The only reason we kept it off our list for this trip was because of my son who has a congenital heart condition. We felt the experience may not be too safe for him.
- Dubai Miracle Garden – the world’s largest natural flower garden featuring over 50 million flowers.