It is challenging to describe Dubai as anything other than a city of contrasts. After all, it offers visitors the calm of the desert as well as the bustle of the city. You can have a day filled with the luxuries in life, and then also go back in time to “old Dubai.”
What’s more, you can shop, eat, and dance to your heart’s content, before indulging in world-class spa treatments, fascinating history, and beautiful culture.
As it occupies a central location at the centre of so many international long-haul travel routes, many people find themselves in Dubai for a long layover. If that is the case, but you are still looking to explore Dubai, then read on to learn about the four essentials for globetrotters.
1. Book great accommodations to experience Dubai hospitality.
Dubai is known for its hospitality; this is a place where locals are more than happy to welcome visitors as though they are old friends. When it comes to choosing where to stay in Dubai, you have plenty of options (although some are a lot more appealing than others!).
Many globetrotters like to opt to stay in holiday villas in Dubai, particularly if you and your travel companions are quite active. If such is the case, then staying in a villa at a mountain resort such as the JA Hatta Fort Hotel Dubai will be perfect as it boasts some of the most beautiful views in the city-state.
2. Enjoy the views from the world’s tallest building.
To be honest, your first stop in Dubai should be the Burj Khalifa, also known as the world’s tallest building. Heading to the top of the building will help you gain an appreciation for the scale of the city as you can take in views of the entire center.
Depending on the day (or more importantly, the weather), you may be able to see far into the distance. However, it is always worth a trip up to the top. Generally, the most popular times of day are sunrise and sunset as these are the most magical times to visit and feel as though you are on top of the clouds.
Tickets for the tower sell out on a daily basis, so make sure you book your visit a few weeks in advance of your trip.
3. Indulge in Arabic pastries.
One of the best parts of any trip to the Middle East is that you are able to spend most days indulging in all of the delicious Arabic pastries! Obviously, the most well-known is baklava, but there is such a wide array of different pastries around the continent that you will always have something to try.
In Dubai, you should undoubtedly taste Luqaimat (deep-fried dumplings that are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside), Maamoul (spiced date cookies), Umm Ali (a creamy bread and butter pudding), and Basbousa (an everyday cake served after dinner).
4. Go shopping in the spice and gold souks.
If you want to experience “old Dubai,” then you have to make a trip out to the spice and gold souks. While they are located a short taxi ride out of the downtown area, they are a must-do for your first visit to Dubai.
If you want to avoid the crowds (and who wouldn’t?), then make sure you are ready and raring to go at around 10 a.m. Generally, this is when most stores in the souks open and they will continue to be free of crowds until lunchtime.
Be advised that sellers can get a little intense in the souks, so you need to come prepared. That being said, you also should bring your haggling skills as the greatest deals always go to the strongest hagglers. To really get the most bang for your money, then you need to be ready to go back and forth on the price.
Plus, if you need to relax after all the haggling, just book yourself a boat trip in Dubai — you will be feeling zen in no time!
Have you ever been to Dubai? Is it on your travel bucket list? Why or why not?
Let us know your thoughts (or tips if you have been there!) in the comments below!
Thomas Grundner is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for JA Resorts & Hotels. He has more than 20 years of expertise in the hospitality and leisure industry – across international markets including Germany, Egypt and Spain. Grundner oversees all sales, marketing and revenue efforts as the company continues to build on its key growth and development strategies and further cultivates its unique blend of “Heartfelt Hospitality” and “Casual Luxury.”