4-Day Weekend in Dubai
On my way to Delhi early this year, I decided to extend my transit in Dubai and make a long weekend of it. After all Dubai is a fascinating city where everything is glossy and tall. Not to mention the amazing nearby islands popping up from the Persian Gulf. My family arrived at Dubai International Airport early in the evening and we enjoyed a restful night at the hotel.
Who does not want to watch the world from atop the tallest building of the world?
Hello, Burj Khalifa! It took two lightning-speed elevator rides to reach the 148th floor. We went to the outdoor observation deck to check out the cityscape. Looking down we saw the Dubai Fountain far below us, the modern Dubai downtown and the Dubai Creek that weaves along the city.
Just a short distance away is the famous Dubai Mall with shops from many up-scale brands such as Nike, Louis Vuitton, the luxury Omani fragrance house, Amouage and more. It is a great venue for serious shoppers and for just window shopping too. Surprisingly, this mall is also a fun family destination. The Dubai Aquarium inside the mall has the largest aquarium window in the world with a 10-million liter tank. The best yet, mall visitors can be awed watching the sea life through this huge window for free. We were mesmerized by the aquatic creatures. For AED 173 (about US$47), we ventured into the Underwater Zoo, Aquarium Tunnel and beyond! All this made us quite hungry. In search of food, we had to decide between the Cheesecake Factory, Japanese and Middle Eastern cuisine. We decided to follow Dubai’s weekend tradition of a Friday brunch at Galleries Lafayette Le Gourmet.
Boat rides and sunset cruises are my weakness. We took a wooden boat ride across Dubai Creek passing by the glittering skyscrapers to reach old Dubai. The Old Souq (Old Market) with fabulous smell and colorful shops offered a very different experience from the modern Dubai. We walked pass old buildings, inhaling the atmosphere of a different era and admiring the architectures of yesteryear. The merchants might be hawking their wares in your face but if you are not interested then just avoid eye contact. If interested in any souvenirs, do bargain, starting at half-price or even less. We found Arabica coffee and Arabic coffee pots in the Spice Souq (Spice Market). We picked up some Dubai dates and camel milk chocolates to treat ourselves.
The Gold Souq (Gold Market) is a labyrinth of covered walkways. The streets are lined with narrow shops and each shop window is packed full of glittering deep yellow 22 carat gold, silver, diamonds and other precious metals and stones. Everywhere I turned, I was surrounded by beautiful gold jewelry. Being overwhelmed, I had such a mixed feeling of envy and humor, giggling and wondering who in the world needs so much material goods!
After dinner, we strolled around Dubai Marina and watched colorful brightly lighted wooden Dhow boats cruise down the Marina. This was a great end to an adventurous and enjoyable day.
On Day 2 we went off to Jumeirah Palm (an amazing palm-shaped man-made island. We passed by luxury villas and houses that occupy the palm branches of this island. We snapped some photos of the iconic Atlantis hotel. Then we strolled along Jumeirah Beach and had lunch at one of the many food outlets along the beach.
Followed by more window shopping in Souk Madinat Jumeirah. Here we found everything from spices and slippers to locally made jewelry. The Souk Madinat Jumeirah is a traditional Arabian bazaar, full of incredible finds. Wander through the stands and stalls under ornate lanterns and wood carvings, immersing yourself in the shopping culture of this traditional Middle Eastern marketplace.
We enjoyed spectacular view at sun-down at the outdoor bar. We capped our visit by watching the colorful dancing Dubai Fountain from the Waterfront Boardwalk outside of the Dubai Mall.
What you need to know before your trip to Dubai
- Dubai is the most cosmopolitan city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This country is made up of seven emirates. The capital city is Abu Dhabi.
- The best time to visit Dubai is between November to March. The shoulder seasons are during the spring (April and May) and autumn (September to October). The country is very hot the rest of the months.
- There is a myth about drinking in the UAE. In fact with sunshine all year round, it is popular to have sun-downers at many outdoor bars. Just be sure to enjoy your drink in the hotels and restaurants that offer alcohol. Being an Islamic country, alcohol is only available in licensed venues.
- The UAE is a conservative Muslim country. During our Dubai tour, we wore our typical vacation outfits just like most other visitors. You are fine as long as you maintain modest clothing. If you plan to visit a mosque like Jumeirah Mosque, wear modest, loose-fitting clothes. For men, it is better to wear long pants. Women can wear pants or full-length skirts or dresses, with long sleeves and a scarf to cover your head.
- On my Dubai trip, I got my tourist visa on arrival at the airport immigration free of charge. Just make sure your passport has at least 6 months of validity and a couple of blank pages, and present your air ticket for your onward journey.
- The crime rate is low in the UAE. Enjoy your sightseeing with common sense and awareness of your surroundings.
Recommended Journeys To Dubai And The Rest Of United Arab Emirates
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