One of the most popular holiday destinations of the world, Dubai has the distinction of providing maximum entertainment with the best of comfort despite the adverse weather conditions of sizzling hot days and chilling cold night.
The best time to visit Dubai is during the winter months, from November to April. January and February see heavy tourist traffic because of the Dubai Shopping Festival. During these months the weather is pleasant and suited for all kinds of outdoor activities. The much loved Dubai Shopping Festival is held during January-February and since this is the peak season, hotel rates and airfares tend to go really high. Book well in advance to get the best rates possible and avoid any inconvenience.
Here is a never ending list of events and excitement that Dubai can offer:
1. BURJ KHALIFA
The iconic structure which is 829.8 meters tall i.e., the tallest man made building in the world that got commissioned in 2010 is indeed the star attraction for all tourists. The breathtaking 360° view from the observation deck at 124th floor is just out of the world. The panorama spreads from the ocean on one extremity over the sky high cluster of sky scrapers to the sandy desert on the other extremity.
For the benefit of tourists there is a short multimedia video presentation on the 124th floor that tells you all about this massive structure and Dubai.
You can also choose to go right upto the 148th floor or roof top and get a larger view with binoculars at a slightly higher price. The super fast lift ride itself in this building from ground to the top is an awe inspiring experience.
The area inside as well as the area outside the building is full of activity. The well cut hedge lines, beautifully laid gardens and crystal blue water bodies have a lot more in store. In-fact the 30 minutes musical jet fired water fountain display is so amazing that you just do not want it to end. The display is even more amazing in the evening when colored lights add the glitter to the dancing fountains.
It is recommended that you book your tickets for the various shows inside and outside the building in advance to avoid standing in the long queues.
The tickets are priced AED 125 to AED 300 based on your time preference (morning/night). Night is prime time. Tickets for children between 4 – 12 years are 30% cheaper. Children below 4 are free. For the 148th floor trip which also includes the observation deck stop over will cost 200 AED -300 AED extra.
2. DUBAI MALL
Owned by the EMAAR Group this mammoth size mall almost as big as 50 international size football grounds was constructed in the year 2006. Most of the trades men and engineers who completed this building were from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
This mall is center place for the Annual Dubai Shopping Festival held in February and Dubai Summer Festival held in July/August.
This mall has in store for you abundant excitement be it just plain shopping, games and exciting rides, multiplex cinemas, endless eating stalls and restaurants, fashion shows and even ice-skating. The kid’s area ‘KidZania’ can keep children entertained for days.
This largest mall in the world (measured in overall area) has following to offer:
1. Under Water Zoo – It has a few hundred species of fish and marine life including sharks and rays. However, if you want to witness some very exciting moments in under water like environment then please visit the Dubai Aquarium (see separate heading below).
2. Shopping Area – It has over 1200 shops where you can shop just about anything under the sun. Garments, Electronic goods, Jewellery, foot wear, decoration pieces, food plazas, restaurants, hotels, etc.
3. Theme Park (SEGA Republic) – Almost 76000 sq.ft. has been dedicated to pure entertainment by way of 15 odd rides including Robotnik, Rope Rush and Xyclone. Rope Rush is a sort of obstacle course with very tricky and interesting obstacle. It has numerous amusement games, games of skill, redemption games and classic carnival games. It also includes a large maze (Lazeraze) and electric bumper car ride. In-fact the park is basically inclined towards SEGA video games icon Sonic The Hedge Hog.For the smaller children there is a more secure and safe soft toy area.
4. Reel Cinema – There are 17 commercial halls including the first THX-certified cinema in Dubai. There is a total of about 20 screen cinemas that gives you a wide range of movies to select from.
5. Rain Forest Café – This café is located in the mall and depicts the environment of a typical rain forest with the tropical rains and lightning show.
6. Metro Link – Now you can walk straight out of the metro station into Dubai Mall through an air conditioned foot bridge connecting the two. It is 820 meters long elevated bridge that connects the metro station to the Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa.
3. DUBAI AQUARIUM
This is the world’s largest aquarium made out of a 10 million liter water tank with features like a 50 meter under water glass tunnel where you can get a fish eye view of sharks and stingrays swimming overhead. There are more than 30,000 aquatic living beings including a huge collection of sand tigers, sharks and about 140 different species of marine creatures like fish, octopus, sea horse, stingrays and sharks. The aquarium is almost 3 stories high and reaches the 3rd floor of the Dubai Mall.
The things you can do/visit are:
- Walk through the aquarium glass tunnel.
- Under Water zoo.
- Under water observatory.
- Glass bottom boat ride.
- Swim and snorkel in a wire cage.
- Go under water with an oxygen tank and swim with sharks.
- Submersible Simulator ride.
- View films in the big screen theatre.
- Crocodile Park tour and Bird feeding.
- Back of house tour.
There are different packages wherein you can chose a combination of 4-6 different activities based on your time, availability, budget and area of interest from the list given above. The cost of each group/combination of activities varies from AED 100 to AED 300. Opening Hours 10:00 AM to 12:00 midnight daily.
4. SKI DUBAI
The facility in Dubai is nothing short of a pipe dream. Imagine skiing in near real conditions in the heart of the sizzling hot desert land and that to indoors. This is the only such facility in the whole of Middle East. It has five thrilling ski runs of different lengths upto a maximum of 1300 feet and also has a vertical drop of almost 200 feet. There is a chair lift, a free style snowboarding zone, place for toboggan runs and snow ball fights. You and your kids can play with the penguins and even enjoy a snow ball fight.
SKI Dubai is co-located with the Mall of Emirates very close to Burl-Al-Arab and the Wadi Water park. These places are easily approachable from the Metro Station of ‘Mall of Emirates’.
A word of caution regarding ski dress and gear as the temperatures inside is freezing cold and protective clothing is must. You can either get your own bag full of clothing or take it on hire at the facility with due consideration to proper fitting of gear like gloves, hats and socks. It is strongly recommended that you carry your own gear. This facility is open on all the days from 10 am to 11 pm and at times even till midnight.
5. ATLANTIS AQUAVENTURE WATER PARK
Known to be the best water park in the middle east this fun and adventure area is part of ‘Atlantis The Palm’ at Dubai.
On a single entrance ticket you have a whole day of entertainment and adventure thrills by way of water rides, corkscrew slides and chutes (some 90 feet high), ride through the shark tunnel etc. For the relaxing ones, float along the lazy river or lie on the beach and enjoy the calm while the kids are busy at the splash pool play area enjoying with floating rubberized sea animals. In-fact this is an entertainment area for all ages for a whole day.
Just in case you wish for more, then upgrade your ticket to include a visit to the Aquarium (Lost Chambers Aquarium) which is home to a plethora of marine creatures laid out in huge water tanks and viewed through themed tunnels around the ancient city of Atlantis. Here you get to see amongst other marine life, rainbow colored fish, sharks, rays, sea horse, jelly fish, baby alligators, variety of octopus and many more.
In-fact if you have chosen an up-gradation of your ticket you have the choice of starting your tour with either the water park aqua venture or the Lost Chambers Aquarium.
Among other exciting rides and activity in the water park if you hold a special liking for speedy thrills then make it straight to the Tower of Neptune Tunnels and zip down the awe inspiring 90 foot chutes of the Tower of Poseidon into the shark lagoon passing enroute through the serpentine Aquacon twisting and turning course ending into a raft with half your breath lost and heart in mouth daze. To get more of it just get into the Poseidon’s Revenge where a trapdoor opens just beneath your feet sending you on a slithering free fall water slide of about 80 feet before propelling you around a double loop.
For the kids they have arranged giant water buckets to splash around and enhanced thrill from the lightly stinging fountains and mini water plumes.
When you call for a break, you can rejuvenate and re-energize your batteries with some drinks and snacks at one of restaurants that hold a variety of choices for you. Of course this is at an extra expense. If you just want to relax on sandy beaches (manmade) you can hire a VIP beach Cabana also at an extra expense.
In all you have a whole day filled with enjoyment lined up in a manner that ensures not a single dull moment.
6. DESERT SAFARI
This is a tour event that leaves you with a memorable life time experience. You get the true feel of the typical sand desert and its dunes. You are picked up from your hotel and taken in a 4*4 Land Cruiser/ Hummer fitted with steel pipe, roll cage and seat belts that provide the much needed safety while you zip across the slippery sand heaps of the desert. To put your thoughts to comfort, you are insured from the time you step into the car and accidents are extremely rare. Yet be prepared for a bumpy and swinging ride. This brings us to the cautious note that older guests and kids below 5 may like to refrain from the ride.
The activities that keep your excitement to the peak at all times include the following :
- Driving across the desert and dune bashing that lasts for 30-40 minutes
- Camel Ride
- Photography specially during sunset and with a pair of camels in the fore ground
- Intricate design with henna paste printed on your palms, arms and feet
- Bar facility on demand at extra cost
- Bar-be- Que at the camp side with camp fire and buffet dinner
- Sand sledging down the steep slopes of high dunes
- Belly dancing by professionals and you too can don traditional costumes and join in
- Enjoy unlimited soft drinks, tea, Arabic coffee and the Hubble Bubble (Hukka)
Ideal group size is multiple of six so that you have one vehicle to yourself. Yet even single guests would experience the same fun as you just cannot hold yourself getting friendly with the inmates of your Land Cruiser.
Do not forget to carry your camera as there will be umpteen memories you would love to carry back home. However, there is no point carrying an expensive phone, jewellery, watch or goggles etc. as there is no mobile signal in the area.
7. Dubai Dolphinarium
This is indeed a place for a family or friends group half day outing before you relax for the afternoon or evening bite. Which means you can enjoy for almost 3-4 hours pre lunch or pre dinner.
The entertainment would include the following:
- Dolphin and seal show
- Bird show at the park
- Cinema shows in 5D/7D
- Swimming with Dolphins
- Training for handling dolphins and seals.
- Mirror Labyrinth (Maze / Morass).
Here you will get to witness shows performed by famous bottle nosed dolphins and seals who are trained to perform wow- inspiring stunts and acts on the command of their trainers. Something you would find most extraordinary by these amazing animals. All of this in a huge pool with stepped seating all around in an AC environment.
The bird shows includes 20 species of exotic parrots that too perform amazing acts on the command of their trainer. These includes Blue & Gold Macows, Cockatoos, RedBilled hornbill etc.
Tickets are of two categories i.e normal and VIP but seating is on first come fist serve basis so it will be advisable to purchase tickets on time and reach 15 min before time to perch yourself right in the front row in the middle of the seating to get the best view.
The dolphins are six in number and named Kyushu Jerry Fekla kai & elvis and the show lasts about 45 minutes. You even get to see a magic show performed by the famous illusionist max on the 3 pm and 6 pm show that lasts for 20 minutes before the dolphin /seal show.
You can experience closer interaction with the dolphins by swimming with them under close supervision & instructions from a trainer. It is indeed a life time experience.
For more on this account you can even learn how the dolphins are trained by shadowing a trainer and watching him closely while he interacts with these amazing creatures. This trainer of the day activity is itself an exclusive 3 hour activity which is the only one of it’s in the world extended to tourists and is a lifetime experience.
Coming to some real fun on yourself and your ability to solve a mirror maze, you are put through a real challenge of wits. Here you have to apply your sense of direction and orientation to solve the labyrinth and get through this puzzling mirror layout path.
For more entertainment there is a studio where you can experience 5D/7D excitement through a lot of jolts thrown at you with flashing speed popping out of the screens all around you.
Infact 5D cinemas make you a part of the screen and make you actually experience the rain wind and other special effects. Where as in 7 D cinema the audience can actually participate in the screen story and even shoot targets on the screens
The various tickets and timings are listed below :
Dolphin & Seal Show . :
11 am, 3 pm , 6pm
Normal – AED 99, VIP – 120 AED, 11 Am show – AED 70 (discounted), Children below 12 – AED 50
Bird Show :
12:15 pm, 4:15pm& 7:15 pm (sat & Fri additional show 2pm)
Ticket – AED 50 ,Children below 12 – AED 30
Swimming with Dolphins :
11am, 12 pm, 1pm, 3 pm, 4pm, 5 pm
Shallow waters – AED 450, Deep Waters – AED 600
Trainer of the Day : 11am AED 800 per person (5 members per session)
Mirror Maze : AED 39
5D / 7D Cinema : Book tickets online as there is a heavy rush all day.
8. WILD WADI WATER PARK
This is a water park where you get to experience the heights of thrills and excitement through 30 different rides in the backdrop of the iconic Burj Al Arab. Infact the Wipeout and Riptide Flowrides are the most fascinating rides, the likes of which you many not witness anywhere in the World. Almost as good are also the Tantrum Alley and Burj Surj, which are ultimate ‘G’ force gravity defying rides.
The Wipeout is something just amazing as almost seven tons of water just gushing out every second across a moulded base producing a near natural wave that supports body boarding and knee boarding.
A word of caution for the not so strong, the elderly and pregnant women – quite a few of the rides are very tough and may not be attempted. Infact the supervising staff will also ensure that you are permitted only those rides which are not likely to cause harm to you based on your physical condition. For instance, the Master Blaster ride is available only to guests with weight less than 120 kgs for single tube and 180 kgs for double tube. For the little ones there is a separate arena at Wild Wadi Water Park which includes racing slides and water guns.
You are advised to carry waterproof cameras to capture everlasting thrilling memories. Else have someone take your pictures from below the rides.
Every Thursday night, from 8 p.m. till midnight, is reserved for women – ‘Women’s Wadi’. On other days except Fridays, the Water Park timings are from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. On Fridays, you have the late night Wadi from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The entrance feed is based on your height i.e., above 1.1 metres is AED 295 and for children below 1.1 m is 260 AED for a whole day.
9. DUBAI MUSEUM (Erstwhile Al-Fahidi Fort)
This is an eighteenth century structure which was originally a fort constructed at the entrance of the Dubai Creek to guard Dubai against intruders. The traditional architectural features prevalent during that era are clearly visible with the walls made out of blocks cut from coral rock and cemented together with lime mortar. It was in double storey wherein wooden columns supported the floor of the upper story. The ceiling was made out of palm fronds and mud plaster. The royal family was housed in this fort. This structure has to be refurbished with modern construction material and converted into a museum that houses old maps of the gulf region and shows the location of oil wells.
The right wing of the museum as you enter the museum houses military hardware used during that period and the left wing speaks of cultural development including different types of musical instruments. The basement has a vast display area housing artifacts and exhibits that tell us about the prevailing culture, traditional life style of people of Emirates.
10. FERRARI WORLD
As the name suggests, its all about speed and the thrills and shrills that accompany it like the Formula One racing cars. It is all about the most exciting rollercoaster adventure of gravity defying ‘G’ forces that your body is subjected to. At times you may feel your body parts might detach and fly away due to the sudden vertical and lateral drops and shifts at speeds over 200 km/hr.
You have various choices ranging from Go-Karting to F1 thrills on a state of the art simulator that literally gives you the feel of a F1 car. Other choices include Fromula Rossa which claims to be the World’s fastest rollercoaster with the highest loop on the planet.
You also get a chance to get close to F1 activity when you visit the Paddock areas where you get to enter a Ferrari Garage, have all the F1 gear and can also listen to the Ferrari briefing F1 style. At Galleria Ferrari you get acquainted with the vintage and modern Ferrari. The Ferrari World is situated on Yas Island which is about 90 minutes drive from Dubai International Airport. To avail Children ticket, the height of the child should be less than 1.3 m. Cost of ticket varies from AED 300 to AED 600 depending on the type of ride you select.
Timing – The facility is open throughout the year from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. These timings are increased by 3 hours – 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. during vacation period of December/January.
11. JUMEIRAH BEACH & PARK
The Jumeirah Beach is one of the most popular recreational areas of Dubai where locals and tourists gather every day with larger crowds in the evening and on weekends. It is a very neatly laid out area with the restaurant areas a bit higher from where you get a very nice view of the Persian Gulf and you can get on to the beach via beautified paths that connect it with number of bridges and having lawns, flowerbeds and palm trees around.
Separate areas are allocated for kids to play with the golden and white sand, small rides, games of sorts, volleyball courts on sand, theater area and an exclusive area for food kiosk and bar-be-que. Infact you have to operate the bar-be-que yourself which adds to the fun.
To sum it up in short, this place has a lot to offer for all ages and can keep you busy all day. In the evening, the lights come on and it becomes even more attractive.
Special care has been taken for safety of the people on the beach. There are five watch towers, a rescue boat jetty and a fully trained contingent of life guards with medical support. Infact here is even a helicopter available at all times to transport patients and needing emergency specialized treatment at hospitals if such a need arises.
12. JUMEIRAH MOSQUE
This mosque is unique due to the fact that it is part of the cultural programme ‘OPEN DOOR OPEN MIND’ and open to public including non-Islamic.
You need to take a tour each of which lasts 75 minutes starting 9:45 a.m. and costs AED 20 per person. Children below 12 are free. Come attired preferably in modest clothing else the traditional attire is also available at the mosque, that can be borrowed.
This is a great opportunity to know about the Emirati culture and religion and is open six days a week Saturday to Thursday. Preformed groups of 10 or more persons must contact the management (SMCCU) who will arrange an exclusive tour.
13.BASTAKIA (OLD DUBAI)
Also known as Al-Fahidi neighborhood was a place exclusive to wealthy Persian merchants who were involved in business of pearls and textiles. The main reason for their attraction to this place was because of a tax free trade policy.
Located on the Eastern coast of the Dubai creek the buildings mark the entire length of the creek and show off their Arabian architecture in coral blocks cemented in lime and walls topped with wind towers.
If you are interested in History then this place has a lot to offer along with a very vivid insight of the royal life style of early Arabs, their love for flowery gardens and hedges, narrow lining of comfortable houses etc.
In fact most of the gorgeous courtyard buildings host art galleries that showcase the art work of local artists and various artifacts that tell you about their interests as well as craft-work and fashion.
14. HERITAGE & DIVING VILLAGE
This heritage village gives you an insight to the era/times when Dubai earned its revenue mainly from pearl trading and smuggling valuables.
The heritage gets highlighted when you witness the striking contrast between the centera flat, sand coloured houses with traditional wind lower (bastikiya) and the ultra modern structures/tall glass and concrete buildings along the Dubai creek.
This village is located near the mouth/entrance of the Dubai creek and here you can get to see the way of life that existed more than a couple of centuries back. Artifacts of traditional craftsmen like potters, weavers, metal smith and jewelers are displayed in handicraft stores and museums/exhibitions all along the market street. You can carry back a lot of souvenirs from here.
The Diving village has a vivid collection of pearl-diving artifacts and lots of black and white photographs depicting the tough life of divers. Infact pearl diving competition was one of the most popular sports which attracted pearl divers from all over the world. Here the divers went deep down to fetch back as many pearl shells (oysters) as possible without any diving gear. They held their breath under water for well over two minutes at a time.
The heritage village displays a Bedouin settlement having huts made of dried palm leaves nicely woven together and then pasted with mud plaster.
For entertainment at the village apart from the mock-up of a traditional tented Bedouin village that is set up having all the house hold chattels like utensils, self defense weapons and swords and chests, you can enjoy a camel or donkey ride as well. Performers keep you entertained with traditional music and dance shows at times. You can visit this place on all days between 8 am – 10 pm except that on Fridays they have mid day break from 11 am – 4 pm.
15. DHOW CRUISE
This is the most appropriate activity lasting two hours with your loved ones, whether it is a honeymooning couple or a few friends who just want to be together undisturbed or even a single person wanting to spend some quiet time by him/herself admiring the splendor of nature in moonlight along the Dubai creek while you are served with a variety of wine and continental platter of your choice by way of a buffet dinner. If you choose to relax on the upper deck then, you also have a full view of the amazing dwellings on both banks of the old township, the heritage village including Sheik Saeed’s bungalow, many parks, the golf club as well as modern highrise buildings while you glide along the smooth waters of Dubai Creek.
All of this you can enjoy in the cosy comfort of A/C environment in the lower deck or open air upper deck as well as very well planned safety arrangements and emergency medical kit.
You get picked up from your hotel around 7 to 7:30 P.M. and land up at the boarding point, ‘Deira Creek’, behind National Bank of Dubai right next to Sheraton Creek Hotel. The cruise time is 8:30 P.M. to 10:30 P.M. and the cost including dinner is around USD 35. Drinks cost extra.
16. SKY DIVING DUBAI
This is something that beats all thrills and infact for a moment you may miss a beat as well. The dive is from height of about 4000 meters, i.e., around 13,000 feet from a small plane that takes you to that height. As you have your skydiving highly experienced instructor on your piggyback you have nothing to worry. As you jump off the plane and take a free fall for about a minute that seems like 15 mintures, you are able to catch your breath in 20 seconds and start enjoying the 120 miles per hour free fall. Your instructor then pulls the chute open and you start descending at a very gradual pace till you hit the ground that takes about five minutes. During this glide you can enjoy the scenes below as the ground objects get larger and larger as you get closer to the ground. There are expert cameramen close to you who will take pictures and make a movie you can carry back home to relive every moment of this thrilling experience.
There are two dropping zones in Dubai. One is Over the Palm Jumeirah and the other is away from the city in the Desert Campus area some 35 km from Dubai. Both offer the same thrill but at a different price. The Palm Zone drop costs about AED 2000 whereas the Desert drop costs AED 1700. This includes the video graphing and pictures, etc.
17. DUBAI HELICOPTER TOUR
To get an aerial glimpse of this grand city Dubai, you can take a 12 minute chopper ride that will hover over all the attractions of Dubai including the iconic structures of Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab hotels Commencing from Dubai Festival city, cruising along the Dubai Creek will get you a bird’s view of the skyline including the high rise towers, glamorous hotels and sprawling malls. You also get to see the expanse of the golden sand beaches, the golf course and the striking contrast of old city of Dubai with their historical wind towers clearly standing out. Over the Heritage Village, you can easily spot the prominent Sheikh Rashid’s Palace. It is recommended that you carry a camera with a zoom lens to capture pictures in a clearer format.
Though 12 minutes is a short time but light refreshments will be served on board while the commentary by your guide fills the air.
18. DUBAI QUAD BIKING
If you are ready to sweat it out in the bright desert sun and enjoy riding adventure then this is the place. A four wheel buggy with protective frame is available for going cross country over the golden sand dunes with sudden leaps and drops over never ending slopes.
The towering sand dunes with steep slopes and loose sand with the complete area to yourself with no fear of oncoming traffic you can test your wits to any end you desire. Please take every word of advice given by your guide very seriously so as to get the best out of your riding time.
To be able to get a quad bike you need to be atleast 15 years old. You will be provided with goggles and a helmet. And a word of caution – this is not a racing session, so enjoy the half day guided quad bike safari under the supervision and advice of your guide.
The cost for 2 hours tour is AED 600 and for four hour is AED 990.
19. DUBAI GOLD SOUK
Dubai is famous world over for cheap pure gold and gold ornaments. Infact the gold market is flooded with gold shops and every shop has a vast variety/range of gold quality that may suit your budget right from 100 percent purity i.e 24 karat downwards. To be sure of not getting cheated you can never go wrong at the Old Dubai Deira Gold Souk. Most tourist tour buses plan a stop at this market for a reasonable time. Even if you do not plan to buy gold, it is a great experience visiting a gold shop just for fun and passing time.
A word of caution for those who may choose to buy the yellow metal is that you must learn to haggle and bring down the price by close to 25%. Infact the catch is in the cost of making cost as the cost of gold is common to all shops and listed not only on the net but also posted outside all shops. Hence your haggling needs to be targeted at the making cost which the shopkeeper usually pad-up as a cushion for haggling. It is worthwhile visiting different shops and checking on the variation in making cost before settling for a final price.