Dubai & Abu Dhabi are well known for Rich-Boy-and-Rich-Girl’s shopping capital, but there are so much more things to do and see. I was lucky enough to travel with my best friend so this destination was full of adventure and we have a lot of amazing memories.
Some ideas before you travel:
- First of all, the weather. We traveled in January and my advice is for you to do the same: December till February it’s winter in the UAE and you can have a normal walk on the street. In July and August, temperatures the average is 45ºC and it is extremely humid.
- You should check if you need a visa. Here you can check.
- Take medicine with you. We had terrible belly pains from the food or water and it was really challenging to find an English speaking person at Pharmacy.
- You can rent a car or book an agency for travel to Abu Dhabi or another area. Try to book it in advance.
- Remember that the United Arab Emirates is a Muslim country that follows strict Muslim Sharia laws. So, I advise you to be a bit careful with the dress code and your behavior.
- Public displays of affection are not tolerated in the UAE (hugging it’s included).
- Try to avoid going there during the Ramadam, you will not be allowed to eat, drink, chew gum or smoke in daylight and in public, otherwise, you will get a fine.
- Alcohol tolerance is 0, driving with even a tiny percentage of alcohol is jail time. Same appliance for drugs.
- In Dubai, you can drink alcohol. Normally, only 4 to 5-star hotels can serve alcohol but people open regular bars and then they just attach it to a hotel. To buy liquor you need a special license which only expats can have.
- Internet is censored, many websites which you may need to use regularly are blocked – be prepared with a VPN installed.
In Dubai, you can travel via taxi (the shortest ride is 4 EUR) or metro (a single ride is less than a EUR). The distances are big in Dubai so calculate it accordingly.
Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa
The largest mall in the world and the tallest building on Earth (828 meters high). It’s impressive and we were amazed when arrived there. In the Mall, you can find any brand you want: from most luxurious to normal brands. the Burj Khalifa you can see from any point in Dubai, you can plan to visit it to the top- tickets here. There are two observation decks: the first one is at 124th and 125th floors, and a second on the 148th floor, making it the world’s highest observation deck. It won’t be the tallest one for a long time, as its two biggest competitors, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, are currently building two brand-new towers which will be taller than the Burj Khalifa.
The world’s largest musical fountain. It takes place every half an hour, from 6 pm to 11 pm. Fountains are similar to those outside the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
Souq Madinat and Burj Al-Arab
It’s not a normal Muslim bazar, some people claim that is a fake bazaar that tries to imitate the traditional Arab culture.
Burj Al-Arab is the most luxurious hotel in the world, with seven stars. If you want to visit it inside, you have to book a tour in advance or a reservation and eating at one of their restaurants.
Tip: if you want to take the beautiful pictures with Burj Al-Arab, you have to go to Jumeirah Mina A’Salam private beach.
The Palm Jumeirah
Palm Islands are three artificial islands, Palm Jumeirah, Deira Island, and Palm Jebel Ali, on the coast of Dubai. Creation of the islands started in 2001. Only Palm Jumeirah has been completed until now. Palm Jumeirah is the most famous fake palm-shaped island attached to Dubai mainland. You can find Atlantis Hotel replica at the top of the palm. You can get to the edge by a monorail that runs 20 meters above the street.
We went to search for a more traditional or “authentic” place and you can find that only in Deira or “Old Dubai”. Be prepared to negotiate the prices in the old bazaar. The gold price is set and there is no chance to get a better price.
The area was inhabited by Indians many hundreds of years ago, at that time, local Arabs were still Bedouins living in the desert. This place was one of the biggest centers of trade and industry, the main economic pillar. there is the Dubai Museum, built inside a fortress. Don’t have big expectations, there are only some pictures as Dubai doesn’t have that big history.
From Bur Dubai to Deira
Pay 1 AED and enjoy a fabulous ride in the abra, the traditional water taxi that crosses the Dubai Creek on the opposite side. The old wooden boat has a fishtail carved out of wood.
In Dubai, the desert is never too far away from you. You will take a tour in 4×4 Jeeps via sand dunes in desert safari (sit in front only if you are really brave :). There are multiple options to take the one day trip, we booked ours at the reception from our hotel. If you want, you can rent a tent for overnight sleep in the desert. The eco-friendly alternative is to go on a Heritage Safari, where you will have to drive, very slowly and quietly so you can enjoy the real power of the desert.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) consist of seven emirates: Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the best known of these – Dubai is famous for its man-made islands and huge skyscrapers, while Abu Dhabi is known for hosting sports events (example: Formula 1).
Abu Dhabi, the capital city of United Arab Emirate is not that famous as Dubai but it hides beautiful modern architecture and incredible things to do. I will try to tell you where we have been below
Sheikh Zayed Mosque
This is one of the largest mosques in the world, with the largest carpet and the largest ever chandeliers that dominates the main prayer hall. Next, to the mosque are reflective pools that help to amplify its beauty. Tip: try to go at sunset.
To travel to Abu Dhabi from Dubai you can book a tour. We took one driver and he took us to the main stops in Abu Dhabi. The driver was from India so all the way there and back we had a lot to chat about. He was working in Dubai (as a lot of Indians) and he was sending back home money every month for wife and kids. I was sorry to found out that he was allowed to travel back to India only once per year and his dream was to open a business back home, so we will keep the fingers crossed for his dream 🙂
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
The world’s first Ferrari-themed entertainment park. With 20 unique rides, this theme park is the closest you can get to feel truly fast and furious! 🙂 Here, you can find also the fastest roller-coaster in the world – the Formula Rossa (speed of 240 km/hour).
Royal Escapade to the Emirates Palace Hotel
It’s magnificent and opulent. You can take a walk in the hotel or have a cappuccino at their restaurant. This hotel is so elegant, the mother of pearl and crystals, I called it. This is the place where Sex and the City were filmed.
With the world’s tallest building, the world’s largest shopping center, the world’s largest indoor theme park, we had a really nice time and I hope you enjoyed reading about our itinerary for Dubai and Abu Dhabi!