24 Hour Guide to Dubai - My Trip Report
The United Arab Emirates was one of the first countries to be added to my travel bucket list, I had been fantasying abut this luxurious country for almost 10 years so when my friend got a job with Emirates and moved to Dubai, I was more than happy to fly over and pay her a visit. I spent four days in Dubai, the first two alone. Not wanting to drag my friend to all the touristy spots since she lived there, I tried to get as much done in my first day (I had a tour booked to see some of the other Emirates for the 2nd day). So based on that, here is my 24 hour guide to Dubai:
Midnight – 2am: My flight got into Dubai a bit after midnight and my hotel, Golden Sands 5 was about a 30 minute taxi ride from the airport. I was pleasantly surprised by my hotel room given it was one of the cheaper options (although they did tack on some unexpected service fees!) – large room with a clean bathroom, little kitchenette, large king size bed, free wifi, TV, little seating area and balcony.
2am-8am: Sleep! And get ready for your big day out in Dubai
8am – 12pm: After successfully navigating around Brunei, I was less nervous about stepping out solo. I had my map app in hand and stepped out of the hotel, ready to see Dubai. I didn't last ten minutes before I had completely gotten myself turned around and lost amongst the very similar looking buildings. And the 40 degree plus weather didn't help much either. Thankfully, unlike in Brunei, taxis are plentiful (and cheap!) and I soon gave into the heat and being lost and hailed one down.
I got the taxi driver to drop me at the Textile Souk and the drive in gave me glimpses into a taste of old Dubai. Unless you have cash to burn, the souk's are probably your best bet for souvenir shopping. From the first store I entered, I purchased a beautiful satin cushion cover and haggled it down to a quarter of the asking price (although he did ask for my number after the transaction so that may have had something to do with because my other haggling efforts weren't as successful). The textile souk boasts an array of cushion covers, scarfs, and fabrics. I heard that you get an outfit tailor made and delivered to your hotel the next day! There are also a lot of souvenir style knick knacks.
I couldn’t find any breakfast type spots here but there are plenty of Indian restaurants so I ended up going to one that looked clean and had a bunch locals eating there (a good indication of it not being food poison). It was pretty cheap, I had potato stuffed dosa that came with three curries for 9 Dirham ($3 AUD).
From the textile souq, I caught a quick abra ride across Dubai Creek to the gold and spice souq. Once you hop on the abra, the driver will come around and collect 1 Dirham off everyone. It’s so cheap and a nice touch of old Dubai, I would recommend catching an abra even if you don't have a destination in mind.
The Spice Souq is across the road from where you depart the abras. The spice souq displayed various spiced, many I had never even seen before. With our strict custom laws, the shopping here for Australians is quite limited but its a good spot to buy specialty boxed dates. The Gold Souq is a short walk from the spice souq, and to be honest it wasn't that great a sight unless you are a serious buyer. It’s just a bunch of jewelry stores and the only attraction for non-buyers are the gaudily decorated store windows, one of which features a dress of gold and another the world's largest gold ring.
12pm-1pm: I caught the abra back to the other side of the Creek and walked over to Dubai Museum. I was surprised to read the entry was only 3 Dirham, and although it wasn’t on my original plan for the day I thought why not! The museum illustrates how life used to be in Dubai before all the modernisation and glamorisation. You can walk through old style Dubai rooms, learn about the industries of old Dubai like Pearl diving and get to know about their customs and culture (I liked seeing the remains of a couple, buried in a traditional manner where it looked like they were embracing, kind of romantic).
|Old Dubai house at the Dubai Museum|
2pm-3.30pm: Not being fond of idle time whilst travelling, I could only manage an hour break before getting fidgety. I then caught a taxi to Jumeriah Mosque. It is free to visit the grounds and take pictures as you please but to go inside you must go into the restaurant area and pay 30 Dirham. A bonus is that the entry fee comes with a free camel milk ice-cream! Before you enter you are given a black robe and scarf to cover your hair (if you are female, you can also bring your own). A staff member then took us in and sat by the door on her phone and left us to look around and take pictures. It is small inside, with beautiful coloured tiles and chandeliers. After about ten minutes of picture taking, I was ready to leave and claim my ice cream. I had a chocolate camel milk ice cream in a cone and it didn’t taste any different to regular cow milk ice cream.
|Inside the mosque|
I was walked around the area a little, checking out some of the stores and taking some reprieve in an air conditioned bus stop (genius!) before hailing a taxi driver to Dubai Mall
3.30-5.30pm Soon after entering Dubai Mall, I was greeted by a large floor to roof wall of fish and sharks. I'm not sure why people would pay to go inside the aquarium when you can view that for free. I didn’t go into many stores, as much of it was out of my price range, but I doubt half the people there were there to shop, but rather see the sights of the mall. From the aquarium wall, I went and located the dubaidino, a large dinosaur skeleton erected in the mall. I then followed the signs to the mall’s indoor waterfall. Yup that’s right, waterfall. The man-made waterfall runs the entire length of the mall (four levels) and has structures of humans diving out from it. It’s actually quite nice and calming to watch.
The shame about the Dubai heat was that it stole my appetite and although my brain was excited to see all these American chains (for example, Cheesecake factory, Red Lobster, iHop) I had only seen on TV my stomach was like “Too hot to eat!”. But you should definitely come to the mall with an appetite because there are so many places to eat.
Right outside Dubai Mall is the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building (for now!). You can buy tickets to go inside, but I was satisfied viewing it from the outside. The outside area of the Burj Khalifa also boasts a beautiful view of the man-made Burj Khalifa Lake and city skyline. In the evening, the lake holds the famous Dubai Fountain dance, the world’s largest choreographed fountain system. Unfortunately my back was in quite a bit of pain due to my flight the night so I decided to call it a day rather than wait around for it.
6pm-Midnight: As I said, my back pain meant that my actual night was spent watching movies in bed and ordering room service, which was a lovely way to spend the night but not if you only have 24 hours in Dubai so for the purposes of helping you out, I will include my 2nd night. I would recommend watching the fountains and catching some dinner at the mall and then heading to Pier 7. Pier 7 has, you guessed it, 7 levels. When you ride the elevator, each level opens up to a bar or restaurant. We went on a Tuesday, which in Dubai is ladies night a.k.a ladies drink for free. So we rode the elevator, getting off on any level that looked interested and collecting our drink tokens. The balconies of these bars have a beautiful view of the Marina, unfortunately due to the heat you can only sit on the balcony for so long before you feel a bit faint. All these bars were packed, and you don’t feel like you are in Dubai at all as it is mostly tourists. After bar hopping, we caught a taxi to Mahiki, a Polynesian style club in Jumeriah Beach Hotel, to dance out the rest of the night. A tip for girls who don’t want to be bothered, put a ring on your wedding finger and hold it up to any guys who approach you, this worked a treat with the otherwise forward guys.
Hope you enjoyed my 24 hour guide to Dubai, stay tuned or like the page on Facebook to here more about my trip to the UAE.