The Basics //
[Touch Down] We arrived in Dubai on the 20th of October 2015 in the morning – It was already hot!
[Arrived Via] We flew to Dubai with Emirates – great food although we slept most of the way.
[Stayed at] The Sheraton Deira Hotel Dubai. It wasn’t too expensive, around $150 AUD a night for a twin room. The hotel was well maintained but a little out of the way. The pool was on the rooftop and there didn’t seem to be many tourist around. Although the service was good and the hotel wasn’t shabby – I would try somewhere closer to all the action next time.
Dubai Basics //
[Country] United Arab Emirates (UAE)
[Currency] UAE Dirham / AED (Arab Emirates Dollar) / Dhs / DH
[Currency Comparison] $1 AUD = 2.8 AED
$1 USD = 3.7 AED
£1 GBP = 5.3 AED
€1 EUR = 4.1 AED
[Climate] Hot desert Climate aka, extremely hot windy humid summers (pretty much April to October), warm winters (October to March)
[Language] Arabic however you will get along ok with English, especially in the tourist areas
[Religion] Majority Muslim however the government is fairly liberal (compared to its neighbours) and freedom of religion is respected – Just don’t be an idiot.
Worth a Visit //
So this place was incredible. Taken straight from the website (http://www.burjkhalifa.ae/en/index.aspx) …check out these facts:
At over 828 metres (2,716.5 feet) and more than 160 stories, Burj Khalifa is:
- Tallest building in the world
- Tallest free-standing structure in the world
- Highest number of stories in the world
- Highest occupied floor in the world
- Highest outdoor observation deck in the world – don’t miss out on this! you get a good view from up there
- Elevator with the longest travel distance in the world …but it is super quick (your ears may pop 🙂
- Tallest service elevator in the world
Talk about impressive! We booked our tickets online (if you’re smart you will too – the line is not a fun place to be standing) and managed to find the relatively well signed entrance in the Dubai Mall. Even though we had pre-boked, there was still a bit of waiting to be had…but the wait is more than worth it. There is a lot of info displayed as you get led to the elevators. The inner geek came out and I was taken away by the engineering and architecture of this world record breaking construction. The elevators themselves were damn impressive! And the view!!!!….well you can see for yourself (pics obviously don’t do it justice)
Moral of the story. Go. Go go go go. You will not regret it.
My hot tips: check out when the sun is setting for the day you are over there (a google search is all it takes) and try to get a booking (you book a block of time) that saddles the sunset. We managed to time it perfectly…got to see the city in full sunlight plus the sunset and the lights at night #winning
[The Dubai Mall]
Mall…more like a city. Over 1,200 stores, get rid of any expectations that you will see every store. Actually…just don’t have any expectations at all. Just know:
- You will get lost
- You will see way too many things that would cost more than your monthly wage
- Time will do that weird disappearing act and you will end up spending way too much time wandering around an indoor city thinking about all the sh** you want but don’t need (and can’t afford)
But most importantly…it is a consumer’s heaven. Plenty of places to eat, sit, shop and see. There is an indoor ice rink (standard for a desert) and a massive (and I mean massive) indoor aquarium.
Even if you’re not a big shopper – it is worth seeing. Check out the website if you’re not convinced…but I promise…there is something for everyone!
These fountains are found just outside of the mall (OK so I made it sound like they’re easy to find…but keep in mind, that mall is a maze!). As usual…Dubai delivers the goods. The World’s Largest Dancing Fountain…Didn’t even know that was a thing but here we are. Some of the water jets go as high as 140m and they really do bust out some awesome choreography to a good variety of music and captivating lights. The shows run quite often…every half hour in the afternoon and at night (Dubai doesn’t seem to wake up very early in the morning). I feel like we struck gold with the fountains dancing along to Thriller.
The shows don’t go for long…make the effort to check it out.
You do not have to be a kid to have the time of your life here. Aquaventure is located at Atlantis…the place where they literally built ‘The Palm’ islands. on a side note, Atlantis is (apparently) one of the most incredible hotels in the world…and judging by the standard set in the rest of Dubai…I don’t doubt it. To be honest, we didn’t step foot in the hotel although it certainly does look impressive from afar. At over $1000 AUD for a room, we didn’t even consider staying here (OK maybe we did – but it was never a realistic dream).
Back to the water park – there are quite a few different rides but one of my favourite things to do was to go around the whole park in a tube. Yup. Didn’t even have to get out. We lined up for one ride….that went for like…5 seconds…but it was worth it. You get an incredible view of the whole park just before you do a near vertical plunge into the water….it may not sound that great but hey…we all get our kicks in different ways…and it was one hell of a thrill!
The waterpark…like everything else in Dubai…is huge. Plenty for the whole family including yet another aquarium. This one was pretty cool…featuring fish bigger than me! All in all, it was a super fun day out. There are lots of restaurants in the complex (including some high end dining options) and plenty of taxis to and from.
My hot tip: leave just before closing time…there is a mad rush when the park closes and you will be waiting in line for hours. Literally…hours. We ended up catching the train to a nearby station and caught a taxi from there. Not ideal but better than standing in long arse line after a day in the sun! Anyways…didn’t get many pics because well….we were having too much fun – and my phone is already on its last legs, but here are a few sunny snaps…
What we didn’t get around to //
[Wild Wadi Water Park]
Another waterpark…it was a tough decision…but we went for Aquaventure based on a friend’s recommendation. Next time we head over we will definitely check out Wild Wadi though.
There’s something about an indoor ski park in a desert that makes me so excited. I don’t know whether it’s the fact that I have hardly seen snow, or that it just goes to further highlight how much money there is in Dubai…but damn…next time we are heading here for sure! Better learn to Ski before hand though.
[Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve]
I googled this a fair bit and I thought it looked really cool. I mean…its not everyday you visit a desert and Dubai is certainly a stylish one. Would be nice to experience a bit of desert wilderness.
[Items off my Bucket List]
- Burj Khalifa – World’s Tallest Building
[Most Memorable Moments]
- The view from the Burj Khalifa: I’ve stood at the top of a lot of tall buildings…but the Burj Khalifa casts a shadow on all of them (both literally and physically)
- Sandstorm: One of my most memorable moments was when we were standing on our hotel rooftop. We were checking out the pool and looking towards the Dubai city centre. I vividly remember feeling like I was blind – I had no idea where this ‘massive’ city was. I asked one of the hotel staff if he could show me where the city was. He smiled and pointed towards a seemingly empty hazy skyline. He must have seen my confusion and just said ‘oh, there is a sandstorm at the moment – you wont be able to see the city for a while’. Nice. A damn sandstorm! I was amazed and captivated by the fact that I was standing next to a crystal blue pool, at a hotel located in a desert and about to witness some of the world’s greatest engineering and architectural feats that I couldn’t yet see due to a casual sandstorm. Talk about juxtaposition…
- The sweets: There are so many sweet shops both local and international. Especially in Dubai mall. You can find everything there! Truffles, biscuits, cakes…whatever…it will be there. (Oh and dates galore. All kinds of dates. Stuffed dates, coated dates…dates for days!)
[Best Places to Eat]
We didn’t spend that much time in Dubai so I didn’t get to hunt out any particular foodie havens…we kind of just stumbled upon some cool places.
- We spent money we didn’t have at an Italian restaurant: Ronda Locatelli…which was delicious…but you paid for it.
- We also blocked up some arteries in ‘Texas Roadhouse’ restaurant in Dubai Mall. Not my choosing…but I didn’t protest either. Just allow time to hibernate afterwards.
Again…Burj Khalifa. Boom. Mic Drop. The best.
After it is all said and done //
Looking back, we did enjoy Dubai. The architecture, the sheer extravagance and OTT everything. I think it would be hard to find any other city like Dubai. Although the locals were nice enough, we did get irritated with the tourists. In a general sense, a lot of tourist seemed to have a grandiose sense of purpose and an air of arrogance – massive generalisation although I would be interested to find out if any one had similar experiences.
We still plan to explore Dubai again…and see a few of the sites we missed out on. In true Dubai fashion, I am sure it is going to continue to grow and develop and perhaps in a few years when we return, there will be another world record breaker to be seen!
Love and Safe Travels.