Dubai. This is a name that immediately conjures a city in your mind which is full of Glitz, Glamor, Excess and Extravagance. A city which is traditional yet extremely accommodating of the modern. A city constantly under construction with more new and ground breaking ideas; be it The Palm or the World Islands. A city which has defied its geographic limitations (being a desert) and proved that it can have everything (including ice skating and skiing). A city that has something for everyone and will make you feel at home, no matter who you are.
We had a chance to explore Dubai (quite by chance) last November. We had actually been planning to visit numerous other places, but for one reason or the other everything kept getting cancelled. In the end, we gave all of it up and booked a ticket to the cheapest place available then, which was Dubai. A trip to this place made us realize that contrary to a lot of prior notions, there is a lot more to Dubai than shopping. And don’t get me wrong, we did shop a lot but we also saw numerous other beautiful sights and experienced a different character of this city.
Now as a tourist, Dubai has a lot to offer but it’s also spread in various directions. It does have a fabulous public transportation system with taxis, buses and a metro but because of its size and weather, you need to use a public taxis quite a bit. Hence for a budget traveler (with no private vehicle), I am listing all the groupings of the tourist and some non touristy destinations that you can explore together, and save on the transportation costs of traveling to the same areas again and again.
- Bur Dubai – This is the Old part of Dubai and has the following sights –
- Bastakiya Quarter
- The Dubai Museum
- Meena Bazaar
- The Souks
- A Hindi Lane
- A walk along the promenade for some old houses, heritage villages and small museums.
- A dhow ride to Diera from an abra station
- Deira – This is just after crossing the Dubai creek (about 5 minutes ride) using a dhow (boat) and can be done on the same day as Bur Dubai. The things to see here are –
- The Spice Souk
- Heritage House
- Al-Ahmadiya School
- The Gold Souk
- Karama – A short bus / taxi ride from Bur Dubai, and you reach the Asian part of Dubai. A must visit for experiencing the local character of this place.
- Other Malls close by i.e. a short drive away from this area are –
- Wafi Mall
- Diera City Centre
- Burjuman Mall
- Festival City Mall
- Downtown Dubai – This is the new commercial district of Dubai, with quite a few hotels, offices and the famous Burj Khalifa. The sights to see here are –
- Burj Khalifa
- Dubai Mall – Shopping, Aquarium and the Ice rink
- Dubai Fountains
- Jumeirah – This is the coastal part of the city and the things to see here are –
- The Jumeirah mosque
- Jumeirah Beach and the cafes around
- Burj Al-Arab – the only 7 star hotel in the world
- Madinat Jumeirah
- Majlis Ghorfat Um-Al-Sheef
- Wild Wadi Waterpark
- Dubai Marina – This is the clearly the New Dubai where a lot of construction is underway and quite a few new sights to see.
- Mall of Emirates and the Ski Dubai
- Take the monorail and visit the Palm Jumeirah
- The Atlantis and the Lost Chamber Aquarium
- Festival City Mall
- Ibn Batuta Mall
To plan my own trip, I had used the following resources –
- Ishita’s Post – Things to do in Dubai. A must read for all who are planning a trip to this city
- Lonely Planet Dubai
Tips for the Trip –
- The weather in Dubai can be at extremes, hence be sure about the weather before planning a trip here.
- Dubai is not a very walkable city, hence budget extra for the transportation.
- Dubai is quite liberal in terms of dressing and you can dress as you like.
- Taxis in Dubai do not like to take short distance fare, hence if any of the taxi drivers misbehave with you, you can complain. These complaints are taken very seriously.
- Unlike a lot of other international cities, Dubai does not have the pedestrian crossing signals. Hence always cross roads near the traffic signal, when it is red.
I shall write detailed posts on each of these areas i.e. on how to reach them using public transport, all things to see and our own experiences here. 🙂 And though we spent 9 days here, we couldn’t see everything.
Since I have just visited this place once I may have missed out a few things. So please feel free to drop in a comment or tweet at traveler_budget.