Although just over 4000km2 in area, Dubai packs a big punch for its small size. Showcasing some of the best tourist attractions in the world, this bustling metropolis has much to offer from world class cuisines to beautiful beaches. Whether you are looking for a relaxing vacation or an adventure packed holiday, Dubai has many things to see and do.
Below are a list of 10 things that are a little different from the normal tourist attractions and cater to many different budgets and tastes.
1) Burj at the Top
A visit to this cosmopolitan city would be incomplete without a trip to the tallest building in the world. Standing at a staggering 828 meters with over 160 floors, the Burj Khalifa is located adjacent to the Dubai Mall at the heart of the city. The observation deck ‘At the Top’ located on the 124th floor offers stunning 360º views of the city and is open to visitors all day. A typical tour lasts about an hour. The sun rise tour offered on weekends is an unforgettable experience and is worth getting up for. Make sure to purchase tickets in advance as these are much cheaper than ‘at the door’ tickets.
2) Desert Safari
Make the most of the desert experience with Desert Safari tours that take you into the desert in a 4WD. The tours include dune bashing (not for the faint hearted!), sand skiing and a traditional buffet under the stars followed by belly dancing. There are lots of fun activities such as camel rides and dune buggy rides, henna painting and traditional Arabic costumes. You can opt to stay overnight and wake up to see the desert sun rise. Tours offer convenient pick-up and drop-offs from designated locations across the city.
3) Take an aerial tour of Dubai
There is no better way to see the city than from the sky! Dubai Seawings offers a memorable tour with fantastic views of the coastline, desert and city, with take offs and landings on water.
4) Visit heritage places
The Dubai Heritage village, located adjacent to the creek in Bur Dubai, is constructed around an old settlement of houses, which have been restored to their original Village architecture. It offers a look back into the history of the city with books and pictures of Bedouin villages and the lives of their inhabitants. Quaint souvenir shops provide great bargains on trinkets, maps and other collectibles. There are many restaurants along the creek to enjoy dinner after a tour and most of these offer the Arabic shisha in different flavors. A great place to visit for a glimpse of old Dubai.
5) Dubai Fountain
Located on the 30 acre lake adjacent to the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Fountain shoots jets of water 500 feet up into the air to coordinated music and light. Designed by WET, the designers of the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas, these mesmerizing shows run to packed crowds every half hour in the evenings, every day of the week.
6) Feast on the different cuisines Dubai has to offer
Dubai boasts a cosmopolitan population of expats from all around the world including the Indian sub-continent, UK, Iran, Philippines and Pakistan. To cater to their varied life styles, the city offers different cuisines from around the world. For a lavish buffet at an affordable price, Dubai’s only revolving restaurant, Al Dawaar, located on the rooftop of the Hyatt Regency Hotel offers great views of the city. For the discerning palette, The Atlantis Hotel on the Palm Jumeirah has 20 different restaurants, bars and lounges with great ambience including the world renowned Nobu, offering Japanese cuisine and Kaleidoscope, which has great Indian, Mediterranean and Arabic food offered in a sumptuous buffet. Although pricey, the food and service are excellent, and the setting of the hotel makes for an unforgettable dining experience. At the other end of the price spectrum, lies Al Dhiyafah Street in Satwa, where you can sample Dubai’s street food at very little cost. The Iranian Pars Kitchen has a great sampling of kebabs and seafood straight from the grill, while across the road, Ravi restaurant offers delicious biryani and assorted Pakistani dishes.
7) Visit the Souks
To experience Dubai as it was before the economic boom and the subsequent crash, visit the old Gold souk, Naif souk and the spice souk (souk is the Arabic word for market) all located within walking distance in the district of Deira. The quickest way is to start at the Naif souk, one of the oldest in Dubai best known for its variety of leather, souvenirs and textiles. The old Gold souk, a short distance away, is considered one of the largest gold markets in Arabia and is packed with store after store of dazzling jewelry set in narrow lanes. Be prepared to haggle if you want to make a purchase. End your visit at the spice souk, adjacent to the gold souk, where the tantalizing aroma of spices from the Middle East and around the world will delight your senses.
8) Take a dhow cruise from the Dubai Marina or Bur Dubai
Old Arabian fishing boats known as Dhows have been converted for sightseeing tours, which start either from Bur Dubai or from the Dubai Marina. This is a great way to experience the dramatic skyline of modern Dubai and includes the famous 7-star hotel Burj-Al-Arab and the Palm Jumeirah with the majestic Atlantis hotel along its cruise route. All cruises offer dinner and shisha!
9) Go skydiving for an unforgettable experience
For the adventurous traveler looking for an adrenaline rush, Skydive Dubai is one of a handful of operators that offer tandem jumps over the man-made Palm Jumeirah islands and the Dubai Marina. These jumps are sometimes closed due to unsuitable weather conditions so give them a call before you decide to go out there.
10) Feed the sharks at the Dubai Mall Aquarium
If you have the money to spare, visit the Aquarium at the Dubai Mall for the thrill of a lifetime with the shark diving program. Actual dive time is about a half hour although you do have to arrive early for an orientation course.