I recently returned from a week in Dubai, UAE. This was my very first trip to the Middle East. When I return from trips, I like to reflect on what was unique to the location and the visit. Every city is different, the food, the language, sometimes it feels the complete opposite of home. Those are the elements I travel for.
When I reflect on my recent trip to Dubai, there are so many moments that stand out in my memory, but I shortened the list to just 5.
These are My Dubai Top 5:
1. At the Top – Burj Khalifa at Sunset
I am a sucker for sunsets, so watching the sunset from the worlds tallest building is a must! On this particular day the sun was setting about 6:15pm so we purchased tickets for a 6pm tour to the 148th floor of the Burj Khalifa.
We took 2 elevators to the top – one went from ground level to 124th floor in 1 minute. I really didn’t feel a thing other than my ears pop.
The view was amazing from the outdoor observatory deck. The scariest part for me was worrying I may drop my phone over the edge while trying to catch some sunset shots.
After we took it all in, we made our way to the Dubai Fountains. Starting at 6pm and repeating every half hour until 11pm – the fountains light up and dance to sound of music.
A few boats were loading to take people out on the lake to watch. It was a really romantic setting, so for 60 Durham we went out on a boat to watch the fountain show.
After the fountains finish, the Burj Khalifa puts on a pretty impressive light show as well, so have your cameras ready!
2. Shark Tank – Aquaventure Waterpark Atlantis
Currently there are only 2 Atlantis Hotels in the world and Palm Atlantis Dubai happened to be right next to our hotel. Here you will find Aquaventure – the #1 water park in the Middle East and Europe.
We bought tickets on Expedia before we left because we knew this was something we had to do! My only regret was we booked so many things, we neglected to set aside an entire day for Aquaventure, as it deserves. It’s so much more than just a waterpark with water slides and lazy rivers, there’s also rapids, zip lines, dolphins, and so much more.
My absolute favorite ride in the whole park is Shark Tank. Imagine for about 30 seconds you’re flying down a pitch black water slide and can’t see a thing. Then poof you see the light and you’re going right through the shark tank. It’s the most exhilarating experience.
As you’re walking through the Dubai Mall, there’s no way to miss the Dubai Aquarium. Strategically located in the center of the mall, this 130 feet tank is home to over 300 sharks and rays. Mall visitors can watch divers feed the rays at 10am and the sharks at 2pm, each day.
We actually got to feed the rays while we visited the Dubai Aquarium. I put on some waiters and got right in the 10 million liter tank. I could literally see sharks swimming like 20 feet away. The whole experience was a once in a lifetime!
The purchase of a Dubai Aquirium ticket allows visitors to walk through the Aquarium Tunnel. This 270 degree view from inside the aquarium is an opportunity to really get face-to-face with aquatic animals.
Take two escalators up and you’re at the Underwater Zoo, where you can get up close and personal with the giant crocodiles, penguins, otters and more.
We wanted to do a lot of sightseeing throughout Dubai, so we decided to go with a Big Bus Tour. The Hop on Hop Off tour, includes 6 different city routes and 4 excursions.
We set off for an Arabian fortress. In about an hour we arrived at Al Sahra Desert. We were greeted with dates and Arabic Tea. As the sun set in the desert sky, I held a falcon, got a Henna tattoo and finally got to ride a camel!!
Riding a camel was #1 on my list of things to do before heading to Dubai. So glad I got to experience this! Along with the most amazing sunset!
5. Old Dubai
We took the Hop on Hop Off City Tour route to visit some local souk markets. We didn’t realize this was going to be one of the most epic adventures of our entire trip.
We got off at the Old Souk to have a look. We walked the shops and picked up some street food – Vegetable Somosa and onion bread, both were tasty. The Old Souk was a lot of beautiful chaos, so we headed down the street.
While waiting for our bus, we were beside this crazy busy canal. There’s all these boats coming and going, people are running and leaping onto to boats as they’re pulling away. So of course, we decided to hop on an Abra too. For 1 Durham (roughly .30 cents), they took us across to the Gold Souk.
We’re riding this old traditional Arabic boat, crossing Dubai Creek, flocks of birds are following us and our drivers yelling at boats that are just inches away. Off in the distance we can see a thunderstorm rolling in.
The Abra dropped us at the Gold Souk in Old Dubai – the original city. We smelled the spices, hassled some of the vendors and made people laugh. 10 Minutes later, while we’re back at the bus stop, it starts to rain, hail and flood!
When visiting another country, like UAE, it’s very important to consider the culture, religion, practices and rituals. Even more important is respecting those beliefs, even if they may differ from your own.
After galivanting around the city for a week, I gathered my thoughts on what to expect when visiting Dubai. The good, the bad and everything in between. There is not perfect place, every has it’s pros and it’s cons.
There are many activities in Abu Dhabi. deciding which ones to do, where to go and how to get there, is a little tricky.
Your best bet, is getting a 48 hour Big Bus ticket. Technically the tour begins at Marina Mall with 16 stops and can be finished in a day. There’s also a separate Yas Island route which would be ideal for day two.
With the 48 hour ticket, you could probably finish the entire tour in that amount of time. But if you’re limited for time, I would recommend:
Observation Deck 300 in the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers
With your Big Bus ticket it costs $10USD. The views are incredible from the 75th floor. It’s the highest public viewing area in the city.
People have asked so many questions about going to Cuba. The big secret is… it isn’t a secret at all! So I want to share it with everyone!
Miami airport offers straight flights to Cuba. Flights may also be available in other US cities. I have also heard of people flying from Canada and Mexico. I used ABC Charters to fly to Havana.
My next extended trip will be to China. My trip will span 10 days and my time will be spent mostly between Beijing and Shanghai. I think the #1 attraction to China for most people is the Great Wall, but here are plenty of other reasons to go!
I’m pretty certain I will eventually return to China for a second time. With so many incredible places to visit and things to see, there’s no possible way I’ll see everything I want to this time.
I’m sure 5 or 10 good reasons is sufficient, but I thought I’d really over do it and find 25 very convincing reasons to visit China. Let me know which ones really stick out to you!