After almost four years, I was thrilled to be back to UAE for a family / fun trip.
In my trips, as much as I love the historical background as much as I enjoy the vibes of the city. And Dubai is one of these cities that is buzzing with life and energy. A fusion of East and West reminding me of New York.
The choices are endless, and every day a new concept is born.
Let me guide you through my last trip, and I will also add some of the places that were recommended to me but I did not have time to visit.
When to go
I usually plan my trips between December and March as the weather is at its best conditions. You might face some sand storms, but expect sunny days most of the time.
Though you can pay with USD in many shops, it is better to have Emirati Derham as the exchange rate will be higher in the shops. I use Al Ansari services and they are all around UAE.
Getting there and getting Around
I usually book my tickets on Air Arabia and so far it was working well for me. Affordable and with good deals.
Wifi is available almost in every mall and place, hence it was easy for me to keep using my Careem App to move within the city, the perfect thing is that if you had credit in store, you don’t have to pay cash and the app is so reliable that it made all my transportation easy. When I did not have access to wifi, I would simply stand and take a passing taxi, min tarif is 5 AED.
When I started asking friends about hotels, the first thing they told me is the need to define the area in which I would like to be. Keep in mind that the Emirate of Dubai is divided to zones, from the old city in Bur Dubai, to the marina, Jumeirah, Downtown and other areas. I opted to narrow my searcin Downtown, as it is closer to many attractions such as Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa, Dubai Frame, City walk… My choice came upon M Hotel Downtown by Millenium. Located few minutes away from Dubai mall, and with views overlooking the canal or the city, it was the best choice. Expect a helpful staff and neat rooms. I rarely care about hotels breakfasts as I usually prefer enjoying the cafés.
What to do
You simply cannot come to Dubai and not visit the Dubai mall; its iconic presence as the largest shopping destination, with many attractions such as the aquarium, it is busting with options form high end to street wear, restaurants, cafés and more.
You can drop by Souk Al Bahar with a beautiful interior reflecting the old souks
This year, I wanted to explore the old city, so I went to the Gold, textile and spices souks. Located in Deira, around 20 minutes away from Downtown, Just grab your camera, and open your senses and listen to the talented sellers showcasing their products and speaking different languages to attract the potential customers. Make sure to bargain for the best price.
The gold souk usually closes from 1 till 4 pm so you organize your visit accordingly. However the other souks are always open.
Day trips from Dubai
Knowing that I personally stay with my brother and his family in Ras Al Khaimah, I will recommend three day-trips form Dubai:
a- Abu Dhabi: (1 hr 30 minutes trip ) visit Yas Island where all the adrenaline rush in form of race cars and Ferrari world, or Warner bros themed park. And definitely you cannot piss the picturesque Sheikh Zayed Mosque.
b- Sharjah: ( 30 minutes trip ) what marks me the most is how “elegant” this emirate is. With a lot of attention to the architecture and art scene. It is known for its museums and its blue dome old souk. Put this city on your list.
c- Ras Al Khaimah (1 hr 30 minutes trip ) a more conservative Emirate, RAK is known for its beautiful nature, Jebal Jais where you can get your adrenaline fix with seaplane, hiking, and the longest zip line via ferrata, the desert side for a camping experience as well as its resorts all around the sandy shores.
While there enjoy the coffee at Icons, a casual lunch at Shakespeare and Co, or some Indian dinner at pepper mill.
Where to eat
I enjoyed many tasty meals during my previous visits, and this was not an exception.
A new destination was calling me: La Mer Dubai where you can spend your day by the beach and indulge in many cafés and restaurants serving different cuisine.
We ate at Zouzou a fusion between Turkish and Lebanese cuisine. You cannot miss their meat pot and their bread!
As for dessert I scream for Ice cream! Endless choices of flavors and tasty cones!
If you are looking for a homey food while at Dubai mall, then head to Markette , I enjoyed my kale salad with feta and roasted pumpkin.
I was a bit deceived by Caffe Nero, as in USA the latte was way tastier.
Another unmissable destination is JBR where finally I had the chance to try Aprons and Hammers which earned its reputation as the ultimate seafood destination. While the salads lacked proper seasoning, the mussels and the shrimps bucket where to come back for!
For the health conscious (like me) Vibe should top your list. Nour, the owner, decided to create a place where people can work and eat healthy without breaking the bank. That special salad was so nutritious and the seasoning of the avocado is addictive.
One last destination that is close to my heart is The city walk. It had expanded tremendously since my last visit, yet you can still feel it is cozy. On V day, I enjoyed a sunny morning on the terrace of Urth Caffe , Savor their aromatic latte, the delicious chocolate espresso scone and the unique green tea muffin.
That sums it all, make sure to leave room for some spontaneity as this is what makes the trip fun. So grab your camera and beautiful spirit and start roaming!