Last year this month I was all set to leave for Dubai, aka the city of gold. Super excited that I was to be amazed by what lied ahead of me. Dubai has been known for its glory and opulence. Once just a desert city has now turned into a marvelous mix for everything your money can buy; from cars to horses to designer clothing. You name it and Dubai has it!
I left for Dubai from my city Chandigarh. Only a few flights operate to Dubai from Chandigarh at the moment and I must be honest here, as the quality and options of flights weren’t even worth saying good. We had an Indigo flight and it was even worse than government operated buses in India. There was no leg room and basically, all the workers traveling from Punjab to Dubai had boarded the plane.
We were not aware of the flights beforehand else we would’ve changed them. I would suggest scoring a good deal on online booking as flights to Dubai get really cheap at times if you fly in an economy flight like indigo. Having said that you can totally travel via luxury flights like Emirates airlines as well.
We booked a hotel in the Bur Dubai region which is more of a cheaper part of the city. But this is also the place with the most history that I was interested in. I had a great room with a great view. Every morning I would wake up to the look of the entire city; and the marvelous Burj Khalifa right in the epicenter of it all.
Accommodation Cost in Dubai
The great thing about Dubai is that the quality of everything is high everywhere; even if you go to a cheaper hotel. Maybe not as posh and best in class but it’s great for the money you pay. One night stay in a 3-star hotel depending on the part of the city you’d like to live in would cost you anywhere between Rs. 2000-5000. Online booking always has some schemes and offers which can help you save some cash.
Coming onto my experience, I had the morning buffet and stuffed myself with food thoroughly; because in Dubai the heat and traveling can take a toll on you. Quality of the food was great but it was more of an English breakfast not much a liking of Indians. I went in the month of Ramadan which falls between June-July but there was no food problem because of that. I didn’t even realize it until told by some people. It’s not the best month to visit though. I would suggest going somewhere around February to March when the weather is a bit more pleasant and the city is thriving.
What to See in Dubai
Dubai is an amazing place with a mix of culture and technology. Here are some of my top suggestions which are a must visit and do when they go to Dubai.
The Gold Souk
The gold souk should be on the highest priority for anyone traveling to Dubai. It is the soul of the city and this is where Dubai started its journey towards prosperity. It is a maze of shops and a market that has everything golden that you can imagine. This is a pure delight for ladies especially. I would like to mention here that much of the sellers present in the market are Indians. The designs and quality are very much comparable to India. The price was just slightly less but not greatly.
What I enjoyed the most was the experience of people walking up and down the streets and the beautiful wooden architecture everywhere. It’s well covered and thus you won’t be a victim to the intense heat. When in the souk one must surely check out the whopping $3 million ring which holds the record for being the largest gold ring in the world called the Najmat Taiba or Star of Taiba.
The ring has a certificate from the Guinness Book of World Records. It is placed in the showroom of Kanz Jewellers in Deira Gold Souk. You must also try the traditional Oud perfumes which are a delight for your senses. The fragrance so deep it will definitely ring a chord. Please note though that they are really intense and of course expensive. You can also buy some home decors and souvenirs for your friends and family in the souk.
This is another one of the Guinness Book of World Records in the city. As you may already know that the Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world at the moment. Standing at 2722 feet high from the ground, this is a phenomenal creation by human hands. The sight from the top is worth your while but it is crazy expensive. The VIP Lounge, Burj Khalifa costs AED 600 which is almost Rs 11,000. You can get cheaper options at Rs 7000-5000 as well but at a lower level. Best time to get a great shot of the Burj is at nights when the dancing lights come on.
The Dubai Fountain
Right in front of the Burj Khalifa is the famous dancing Dubai Fountain. The fountains are organized to dance at the beats of Bollywood, Arabic and English music. It is a nice pleasant break from all the hustle and bustle to just stand by the bridge and watch the fountains going up and down in an amazing momentum. The fountain show starts at around 6 PM and you can book a traditional abra ride in the fountain itself for AED 68. From this, you can imagine how massive the fountain is.
Dubai’s second name should be intense hardcore adventure sports. You can try anything here literally! Sky diving from the top floors of one of its gigantic buildings to surfing, Dubai as it all. I went for the Desert Safari. We were picked up from our hotels by the safari company in a land cruiser. We had like an hour of a drive into the next city called Sharjah. As you enter Sharjah you just see desert till the horizon. The desert safari will give you a high dose of adrenaline rush that one adventure junkie like me yearns for! I absolutely loved this experience it was so unique and different. If you have a bit of money to shell out to try out driving the car yourself. It is a must have experience.
ATV-4 in the Dunes
If you are a bit on the budget but still want to enjoy the sand dunes on a smaller scale; go for driving a Quad & ATV-4 wheeler drive! I had an absolute blast which driving this as well. The heat will hit you hard on this and the sand will fly right on your face but it is such a raw experience of the desert that you’d totally love it.
I’d suggest you wear loose, comfortable and breathable clothes even better would be to wear something that covers your entire body. The heat feels worse when your body is hit directly by the sun. When doing such adventurous activities you need to be comfortable enough to get fun out of the activity. You can get an hour’s ride on the Quad drive for around ₹1000-2000; which honestly isn’t bad. You can find these Quad ranges on the way to Sharjah. You can check them out while going for the desert safari. It will surely give you a pump!
The Dubai Mall
This is something high on almost every Indians list while traveling to Dubai. But I’ve ranked it low because it wasn’t something I look for while traveling. I thought it will just be a big lavish mall just like every other mall. But it got me in awe the moment I stepped in. This place is CRAZY! You will be awestruck by the humongous size of this mall. We managed to see maybe only 1% of it in about 2 hours. The rush was pretty bad; from Emirates to Indians to Americans you could find people from around the globe here. It had more hustle bustle than Cannought Place!
This mall has so much to offer that it would have taken days for me to explore the entire mall. It has a massive aquarium and I’m saying MASSIVE! It literally had sharks and electric rays in it. Though I’m not a supporter of keeping water bodies caged like this but having such a big aquarium standing 2 floors tall in a mall that too in between a desert city is remarkable.
Shopping in the Mall
I shopped a bit at Ted Baker. If you are someone who loves shopping or just loves swiping their credit cards, then this is your place to be. You have all the high-end brands that you can imagine from Louis Vuitton to Prada to Gucci, everything was at one’s disposal. It also had smaller brands like Gap and Hollister as well. One thing I wasn’t happy about the way Indians were treated by the company representatives in the stores. They’d consider Indians as non-customers and would give more importance to people either from the west or the Emirates themselves. Another great thing about the Dubai mall is the sight of the Dubai Fountain and the Burj Khalifa as you step out. One can basically spend an entire day while enjoying these 3 places throughout.
The Abra Ride
The traditional boat ride of the United Arab Emirates is the Abra. This will give you a very authentic Arabic feel.
The majlis gallery is sort of unknown to most of the travelers coming to Dubai. But believe me, this was one of my favorite places in Dubai. The gallery is a melting point for all the international and local artists to showcase their work of art. It is a divine pleasure for an art lover like me. When in the majlis gallery be ready to be enchanted by the mesmerizing artworks, like beautifully handcrafted traditional Arabic carpets which are priced at several lakhs. You can also get your hands on some gold tea cups and some beautiful tall teapots made of gold.
Dubai shows it’s opulence in almost everything. You can also sip tea or even have lunch in one of the many restaurants around the place. There are rooftops resorts, some great hookah places and you can even get yourself an English breakfast. All and everything under one roof. The entire complex of the Majlis is based on traditional desert homes which were made back in the day. The entire complex gives you a very rustic feel and I thoroughly enjoyed the splashes of art thrown throughout the complex. This place by far is my favorite in all of Dubai. It had such a genuine feel to it.
The one and the last thing you must do in Dubai is to go around the marine drive and book yourself a cruise. The experience of tall buildings around; and you having your dinner in a massive water machine is something only Dubai can offer. Slowly you proceed ahead and join the larger water body around the city. The marine drive is magnificent; an extravaganza beyond imagination. It lits up at nights and then having a drive around in a cruise with light air blowing is another delight you should definitely enjoy.
There are 2 kinds of cruises that you can opt for. There is the cheaper one which is towards the other side of the city in front of the gold souk road. And then there is the posh one around the marine drive. Now there is a hell lot of a difference in both the price and the experience. The cheaper one doesn’t have good food and basically, it was just a cruise experience without anything much. The expensive one offers a lot more for you to enjoy like belly dancing, hookahs, and an amazing array of food to munch on. Definitely, I’d suggest you go for the expensive one but it all depends upon your budget
Finally, I’m done with my list. Dubai has really tonnes of amazing things to offers and these are just a few of my recommendations and there is still a lot more to go and experience in the fantastic city of Dubai. I hope the information above was of help. If you have any questions; or need any other details; please feel free to ask in the comments section below; or at our Community Forum; and I will be glad to answer.