I really enjoyed my time in the United Arab Emirates. Those seven days just flew by. I went into this trip expecting there to be a lot of downtime, relaxing on the beach, floating in the water and catching up on my reading. Little did I know exactly how much there is to do! We went to the top of the Burj Khalifa, spent a day in Abu Dhabi, went on ever waterslide at Aquaventure Waterpark, bashed some dunes in the Arabian desert and visited two aquariums. And that doesn’t even include hanging out with Markus and Nevine and eating some amazing food! If you are planning a trip here and looking for more information, or if you’re just curious about this part of the world, I’ve put together a bunch of information I think will help!
Target Audience –
One thing I noticed several times on this trip is that Dubai is a great place for families. From the aquariums to the waterpark to the sand dunes and dinner show, kids are everywhere. Admittedly, it’s a long way to travel from the US for a family vacation, but if you find yourself heading this way (or you live in Europe or somewhere else close by), you won’t have trouble finding something to do. It’s also a great place for adults who still indulge their inner child. I enjoyed the waterpark and aquariums immensely. You can find almost anything you are looking for in this city. Sailing, sky diving, shopping, skiing, desert and even mountains are all within reach. However, if you’re looking for a culturally rich, historic civilization, you’d be hard pressed to find it here. Dubai is about as modern a city you can get and little is left from the days it was a small fishing village. There are a few older buildings in Old Dubai, including the gold and spice souks, but nearly everything else you see was built within the last 10 years and caters to the modern world.
Cost Analysis –
Dubai is expensive. Probably one of the most expensive places I’ve ever been. And that’s with coupon discounts and a lot help from our friends Nevine and Markus! They drove us around at times, recommended ways for us to save money, cooked us dinner and even bartered for us in the souks. Seriously, watching Nevine, who grew up in Lebanon, shut a vendor down when he tried to rip us off was one of the best lessons in negotiating I have ever seen. I only hope I can negotiate that well in the future. That being said, these numbers are a bit skewed because I only paid half the hotel bill and taxi fares, and the other reasons I listed above.
$2130.54 for 7 days! If you take out airfare, that’s an average $204.62 per day. I don’t really know how I feel about this, except that at least every other country I visit should seem cheap by comparison. A few notes on what’s included in the categories above.
- Activities – $330.38
- At The Top Burj Khalifa ticket – $95.37
- Dubai Aquarium – $27.25
- Aquaventure Waterpark and Lost Chambers Aquarium – $95.37
- Dune-bashing tour (this is half the normal cost due to an Entertainer coupon) – $40.87
- Beach chair rentals – $27.25
- Ski Dubai (this is also half price due to an Entertainer coupon) – $44.28
- Miscellaneous – $90.95
- Tip for our hotel porter – $1.36
- Power cord for my computer (mine refused to work for some reason!) – $89.59
- Souvenirs – $77.93
- Since we were here right before Christmas, I did a bit of Christmas shopping. I also bought myself the typical magnet and Christmas ornament that I try to buy in every country I visit, as well as some postcards.
General Information –
A few helpful tips I picked up along the way and want to share with you!
- Before I left, I carefully planned my wardrobe to be able to handle the heat while still being conservative enough to not get kicked out of whatever establishment I was in. But when I got there, I saw every manner of dress possible, from shorts and tank tops, to full burkas. There is such a large western influence, it didn’t seem to matter what you wore, unless you were going into a mosque. Nevine confirmed that it isn’t important. Any dress code goes here.
- Dubai is incredibly safe. I think this is mainly due to very strict punishments if anyone is caught breaking the law. Nevine told us that you can leave your phone and wallet on a table in public, walk away and no one will touch them. She also said that if she were to be harassed by a man, the onus is on him to prove he wasn’t, not on her to prove he did. I didn’t put any of this to the test, but it did make me feel safer!
- The metro is incredibly cheap and efficient, linking most of the main attractions in the city. It’s often times more efficient than taking a taxi as the roads are complex and confusing. There’s a car near the front that is strictly for women and children, if you aren’t comfortable sharing space with the men. Maggie and I rode here often, but mostly because it was the closet car to get on. We never felt unsafe in the rest of the train as well. Just make sure you’re back by midnight when the train shuts down, or you’ll be forced to taxi back.
- I’m not sure how easy it is to get an Entertainer book, or if the cost is worth it, but if know someone who has one and you aren’t traveling alone, it’s a great way to get discounts. Most of them are buy one, get one free.
- Everyone speaks English here. Wherever we went, we were always greeted in English. It’s one of the biggest reasons I had a hard time feeling like I was in a foreign country. Usually I try to learn a few basic words to get around, but as most people in Dubai are from somewhere else, Arabic is often not even understood by those we interacted with. Anything written in Arabic will also be written in English, same with anything recorded (such as in the metro).
Miss a post? Links to everything I wrote on Dubai below!
Dubai or Vegas?
Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
The Burj Khalifa
Adventures at Aquaventure Waterpark
Lost Chambers Aquarium
Dune Bashing the Arabian Desert
Abu Dhabi for a Day
Ski Dubai – Skiing in the Desert
Dubai Nights – Beaches, Souks and Other Miscellany