Everyone associates Dubai with just world-class shopping. But during my trip here, I realized that but there is so much more to see and experience here than just wandering around in one of its many malls. This city has something for everyone – be it culture, art, history, architecture (modern and traditional), food, etc etc. And based on my own experiences, today I am sharing 5 must see places that should definitely be on your travel itinerary for your next trip to Dubai –
Explore the Old Town
A visit to the soul of Dubai, the Old Town, is a must. The Old Town comprises of Deira and Bur Dubai, which are separated by the old and historically significant Dubai Creek. Start your visit by walking through the Bastakia Quarter, which has the traditional houses, two stories high, with large central courtyards and the wind towers (for cooling in hot climate). The traditional carved doors with wooden bordering and beautifully crafted hanging lamps will definitely take you back in time. This area today represents the arty / crafty side of the city, with small museums, art galleries, heritage houses, souvenir shops, spice stores and cafes. Then continue your walk and visit the small Dubai Museum (a must for Dubai history and how it has grown over the last 2 decades), then walk and shop through the traditional textile souk, on to the promenade along the creek and finally take a dhow (a local wooden boat) to cross the creek and visit the Diera area. In Diera, visit and shop at the spice and gold souks, see the Heritage House (for a glimpse into the history and earlier way of life in Dubai), the Al-Ahmadiya School and finally finish the day with a dhow cruise while watching a splendid Dubai sunset.
Visit Jumeirah Mosque
The Jumeirah mosque is the only mosque in the UAE which is open to the general public and women. The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) opened this mosque to the public to raise awareness about the local culture, customs and religion of the UAE, and to thereby increase cross-cultural dialogue with guests. During this visit a local volunteer takes you around the different parts of the mosque, explains the customs and rituals and then answers all your queries on Islam. This is also a fantastic oppertunity to clear all your queries on Islam and its customs and see the interiors of a mosque.
Go up Burj Khalifa
In Dubai a visit to the Burj Khalifa is a definite must. This visit showcases the various architectural, design and engineering feats associated with this truly iconic building, which is the tallest building in the world. A visit to its 124th floor (Observation Deck) shows you some fantastic views of the Dubai skyline and some amazing photography shots.Though a word of advice – this visit is extremely popular and hence the tickets are sold out pretty fast. Hence make sure to book your tickets way in advance.
Spend a day at the Atlantis and the Palm Jumeirah
The Palm Jumeirah is an artificial cluster of islands, created and arranged in the form of a giant palm tree – complete with a trunk, a crown, 16 fronds and a crescent to complete the outline. At the tip of this is the Hotel Atlantis that houses numerous shops / boutiques, fine dine restaurants, spas, beaches, pools etc. However the novelties here are – an aquaventure park, the dolphin bay and the lost chambers aquarium. You can spend an entire day here and sample a bit of everything that this property has to offer.
A desert safari is a quick and easy way to experience the traditional Bedouin lifestyle in the deserts along with the adventurous “dune bashing”. A typical desert safari takes half a day and includes a pick and drop from Dubai, fun-filled dune bashing, camel riding, belly dance performances in a desert camp, sheesha-smoking, Arabic coffee and dinner (under a star filled sky). But do check on the reviews and rates with a couple of travel agents before finalising your trip.
Tips for the Trip –
1. For booking your flight to Dubai, be sure to check out fares on the Emirates for fabulous deals and connectivity from anywhere in the world. They also process a tourist visa for the trip.
2. Dubai has numerous choices for places to stay in and you can decide on a hotel based on your budget and proximity to things you want to see.
3. This city also has a fantastic public transportation system and provides good connectivity to all touristy sights and interest.