I love being up high. As a kid, I was always climbing trees. When I was maybe 12 years old, I fell out of one from about 15ft up. Thankfully, some branches slowed me down and I only had the wind knocked out of me. For my 18th birthday, I convinced my dad to take my sky diving. It’s still to this day, one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. So when we decided to go to Dubai, I knew I had to go to the top of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. It’s 2,722 ft to the very tip, but the highest point we go is the 148th floor at 1,823ft.
On our first day, we buy tickets to the top for the following evening. There are two different tickets you can buy, peak and off-peak. Peak time tickets cost 500 dirhams (about $136!). We decide this is much too expensive and go for the off-peak ticket for 350 dirhams (about $95), meaning the earliest we can go up is 7pm and the sun will have long set.
After buying tickets, we head outside to take some selfies with the Burj in daylight.
The next evening we take the metro to the Dubai Mall. This costs about 6 dirham ($1.60) each, and is an effective way to get around the city. It also helps us offset the cost of everything else in this city. Nothing is cheap!
We get to the mall early so we head outside for some views of the tower at night. It’s so beautiful all lit up.
Then we walk around the mall for a bit before getting in line for our timed entry. Once everyone has arrived, they usher us into a quiet room where they serve tea while we wait for our tickets to be checked.
Finally we’re escorted out of the room and into a labyrinth of hallways and walkways. Our tickets allow us to go to the head of the lines and up to the 148th floor. It takes less than a minute and my ears pop on the way up.
On the 148th floor, I run around the entire perimeter, taking pictures from every angle. But the best views are on the observation deck looking out over the Dubai Fountain.
Maggie takes a quick look around, decides she’s seen enough and takes a “nap” on the couch. She’s not easily impressed.
Just as we’re about to head down to the 125th floor, one of the ushers comes in to tell us the fountain show is playing, if we want to see it from above. Everyone rushes outside to the observation deck to find a good viewing spot. It’s hard to hear the music this far up, but it’s a neat perspective.
After the show is over, we head down to the 125th floor for a slightly closer view of the city.
Interesting story Markus shared with us: the Burj Khalifa was originally supposed to be called the Burj Dubai. It was built to help bring international recognition to Dubai, however the city ran out of money before completing it. Abu Dhabi stepped in to fund the rest of the work, and a week before the official opening, to the surprise of the city of Dubai, renamed it as the Burj Khalifa after the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Now, every year on the anniversary of the opening, citizens of Abu Dhabi come to Dubai and the Burj Khalifa to “rub it in the faces” of the Dubai citizens that the symbol of their city doesn’t actually belong to them. This story amuses me.
We don’t spend as much time on the 125th floor as the views are similar to the 148th floor and there’s a lot more people to fight with for viewing space. There’s also viewing on the 124th, so we take the stairs down, walk around, then catch the elevator back down to the bottom.
At this point, we have to head to Nevine and Markus’ place for dinner so we don’t stick around longer, but we come back at the end of the week for dinner and get to enjoy more views of the Burj Khalifa, this time lit up with the colors of the French flag. Sadly, the Paris attacks happened on our first night in Dubai. I thought it was a nice gesture.
I’m so happy that we managed to get to the top of the Burj Khalifa. It was at the top (haha, get it?) of the list of things I wanted to do in Dubai and I personally thought it was worth the time (not sure Maggie did though). As for the expensive price tag, it’s on par with the cost of most activities in this city. I don’t regret going with the less expensive ticket and only being able to see the city at night. Maybe someday, when I’m independently wealthy, I will go back and see the view during the day.