It’s a surprisingly difficult question to answer. It’s a very social atmosphere here, what with rock concerts, mall visits, beach parties, hotel stays and loads more all on the itinerary for People’s weekends. But if you are on holiday in Dubai, it’s quite likely that you have no more friends present than the people you are traveling with, and I’ve found there’s not much chance that they know much more about the place than you do.
But for the average tourist in the UAE, presumably from a country where the exchange rate is most likely more favorable than the one here (important advice: change your home country’s money into the local stuff, Dirhams, ONCE you get here rather than before) because for some reason, the currency exchange here remarkably take only a very minute cut off your hard-earned dosh.
Anyway, once you’re out of Dubai International Airport and in the hotel, you’re going to be wondering what to do first.
1. A Shopping mall trip
The best way to really get to know the country is to go to a mall. As the Lonely Planet guide describes it best, the life’s blood of the city flows through Dubai’s malls.
The best one to go to first, depending on location, is probably either Deira City Center, for those staying on the east side of the Creek, and for those in Bur Dubai and definitely in the Jumeriah/Umm Suqeim areas, is the most prestigious and biggest mall in the country, the aptly named “Mall of the Emirates”. From a giant indoor ski slope with real snow (Ski Dubai) to an American Style diner, this Mall has everything.
Be warned though, that despite its vast size, it can get incredibly crowded in the evenings.
People here say that Dubai has too many malls to count, although in reality there still really aren’t enough good ones.
2. A package desert safari
Yes, most likely I’ll undergo a barrage of criticism for this one, but if you are only here for a short time and do not have residing friends to do it with, a “touristy” desert safari is a great way to spend a half day. Order the trip (the hotel will have more information regarding the details) and for around 200 Dirhams per head ($60 USD) they’ll pick you up from the hotel in a Toyota Landcruiser (The 21st century “Ship of the Desert”) and take you for a whirlwind afternoon and evening involving dune-bashing, camel riding, sand boarding, sunset-watching, free drinks, a BBQ, and, to top it all off, a belly dancer. It’s quite expensive as an experience, but its well worth it for those with little time to take in much (I’ll leave you to guess what some of the aforementioned activities are).
3. Waste away the hours on the beach
Pretty self explanatory. Those staying at the popular Hotel Regent Beach Resort and Hotel Dubai Marine Beach & Resort, will find the silky white sands and the calm, turquoise waters of the Arabian Gulf unbelievably gorgeous.
Be warned though, although there’s very little chance of getting your stuff nicked while you ungainly lollop along the sand, whiter than sour cream and in danger of getting 3rd Degree sunburn, prices for beach drinks are staggering. Expect to pay at least $10 USD for a mediocre milkshake in a cheap cup you have to give back to them. Outside the hotels’ secluded area, there are other places to give you the complexion of a tomato, but they can be surprisingly crowded with guys who think they’re cool by playing loud music from their cars and sometimes pervy youths who don’t ever appear to have seen a woman before. But you survive…
That’s all for now folks! Thanks for reading!
Picture of Dubai originally posted by Marcel Ekkel