Although most people head to Dubai to shop in the modern malls, make sure you take the time to explore some of the souqs (markets) in the older parts of town. On the Deira side of the Creek we visited the Spice Souq and the Gold Souq. When then crossed the Creek and checked out the Bur Dubai Souq.
The Gold Souq is a must see. Dubai has one of the largest retail gold markets in the world, and the Gold Souq has more than 300 outlets. Even if you don't want to buy anything it is well worth a browse as the window displays need to be seen to be believed. Window after window of gaudy displays of bright yellow gold bracelets and amazing necklaces worn by brides in Bollywood movies. There are also some more tasteful shops with lots of diamond rings and more 'normal' stuff. One other cool thing about the Gold Souq was the drain covers with a diamond on them.
The Spice Souq consists of some very narrow lanes, lined with small shops with displays of things like cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, incense, dried fruit and nuts. The spices are apparently imported from all over the Middle East, and are sold here straight out of large sacks. I must confess to have been disappointed in the Spice Souq, compared to the ones I had visited earlier in the year in Marrakech. The colours here were much more subdued and I was less inclined to chat to the shop keepers and learn about the spices.
The Bar Dubai Souq is located on the western side of Dubai Creek. Under beautifully restored wooden arches, you can browse in the numerous textile shops, and the occasional souvenir shop. Apparently the market is geared towards the large community of Pakistanis and Indians who live and work in Dubai. This market was very quiet when we visited and lacked that hectic 'market vibe'.
Lot's of bars, restaurants and craft shops... Newly made in traditional style.
Instead of paying 50 dhs for a boat ride, maybe it's better to do the real thing and pay 1 dhs to cross the Dubai Creek?
Deira is the most atmospheric side of the city with a distinctive Middle Eastern flavour. This is best exemplified in the area's souks, the traditional markets of Arabia.
You can see why Dubai has been called the "City of Gold" in the Gold Souk, a lively market littered with jewellers and craftsmen selling all manner of gold artefacts, including jewellery. It is far more than an opportunity to shop, you should admire the arched entrance and soak up the vibrant atmosphere as well as keeping an eye out for a bargain or two. It is impossible to fail to soak up something of the atmosphere of the Perfume Souk next door, just follow your nose to where craftsmen create unique perfumes from careful blends of spices.
More aromatic entertainment can be had in the spice sellers' area of the Old Souk by the river. The Old Souk also does a good line in just about anything else, make sure you check out the rugs and carpets.
The textile Souk is one of the main souks in Dubai. In my opinion, it is also the one with the most beautiful buildings of all Dubai souks. Here, you’ll find cloth of different kind, traditional clothing for locals and tourists as well as western-style clothing, mostly from far eastern origin. The textile Souk is not a place to find the big brands (although they may appear in fake form...), more to see fine cloth and look for a souvenir.
As with all souks, haggling and price-comparing is essential. Never take the first offer you get. As souks are one of the most traditional parts in arab cities, it is a part where you should pay a little more respect to local cultures than elsewhere. Women should cover legs and shoulders, if they do not want to attract unwanted attention.
Dubai offers everything if u have money.... much money
you can shop...shop...and shop (All sort off shopping centers, and Souks)
visit the desert...jumeirah Mosque (you can go in even if u not a muslim)
visit the city museum
cruising in the creek boats
and you can also ski...even if it is 45 Cº
The Textile Souq is a covered walkway just by the Dubai Creek near the Dubai Museum. When you come out of the Museum, you would see the Grand Mosque nearby. Walk by the side of the mosque towards the creek, the textile souq is on your left. Basically the walkway and the surrounding shops all sell textiles! This is the best place to shop for cloths, pashmina shawls and Dubai T-shirts. Bargain for your purchases if you intend to buy in bulk. There are also some souvenir shops on the way. But if you want to buy souvenirs, there is one shop beside the ‘Arabian Courtyard’ Hotel. The first quote is a bit pricey but surprisingly the place allows bargaining, so just bargain your way down!
This old heritage district is home to a large concentration of traditional Arabic courtyard homes with wind tunnels. Wander around the narrow alleys and marvel at the beauty of the old architecture – wind tunnels, wooden doors, quiet courtyards etc. The place is pretty quiet in the daytime and is nicer to wander around then and soak up to the Arabic feel.
Bastakiya is situated just by the Creek and is within walking distance from Dubai Museum and Textile Souq.
This is the area with a huge concentration of South Asians and is also a shopping district. You can buy an assortment of cheap and counterfeit items here (thanks to some Chinese traders!) Nice place to spend a late evening shopping for bits and pieces of items, electronics, DVD, gold, spice etc. The entire area is huge and you may get lost in it. So if you are tight on time, check your directions and keep track of where you are going. You can also cover the Gold Souq, Spice Souq and Perfume Souq which is near the square. You can also try some local food at some stalls set up opposite McDonald’s! Al-fresco dining (albeit not of the luxurious sort!) Try the kebab, roast chicken and cocktail! This place is worth a visit for it gives you an Arabic bazaar feel with a bonus package of experiencing Indian or Pakistani bazaars in the Middle East! Come at night when the weather is cooler and the crowd bigger. It is very crowded so be sure to take care of your belongings – not that I’m really concerned about safety.
It is not really a place with a sign saying ‘Perfume Souq’ but you would know you are here when the smell of Arabic or Indian fragrance permeates the air. The place is just near the Gold Souq. There is some number of shops here offering perfumes for sale for those who love the lingering smell!
When you are in Dubai, you just have to take picture of yourself with Burj al-Arab. This is the most luxurious hotel in the world - the only 7-star hotel! I didn't even know they have that many stars! Well, you can't enter the hotel unless you are a guest or have some reservations with one of the dining outlets. Although someone was telling me you can pay your way through for US$50. Don't know if that's true. But who cares? The sight of Burj al-Arab from outside is good enough. Don't miss it! You can take good and clear pictures from Souq Madinat Jumeirah or the nearby beaches. You can also drive up to the entrance (though you can't enter) and take a picture from there.
The Venice of Dubai - the Souq Madinat Jumeirah is a recreation of traditional Arabian souqs set in a Venice-like atmosphere. It is a bit pretentious but the atmosphere is great and the place is beautiful. Against the backdrop of the meandering canals and bazaars, you can have a nice view of Burj al-Arab - the 7-star hotel. This place is great for photo-snapping!
There are a number of food outlets for dining as well as shops selling all sorts of items like souvenirs, carpets, textiles, antiques etc. Nice ambience but expensive to shop.
This beautiful covered souq is best appreciated on a Friday afternoon when the shops remain shut in the main part of the souq, thereby allowing you to turn you head skywards and enjoy the carved Burmese teakwood arched pergola which covers the souq.
I am AMerican living in Dubai. It's a great city. It's hard to believe you are in the Middle East. Fow a great walking tour ask a taxi to drop you off at the Dubai Musium. From there walk toward the creek. You will come to very narrow alley way that is selling fresh flowers for the Indian Temple. Enjoy the smells and walk through. Go right at the end and walk along the cover shipping are. From there you can walk up and take an Abbra (Small wooden boat they use as a water taxi) across to the Irainin and gold souqs. The fare is only half a Dhs. Very cheap, so don't let the guy charge you Dhs. 20-50. Enjoy!!
I have been to Dubai more than 10 times and this is a list of the best things the city has to offer (only my opinion) and in no order: Dubai Museum, Majlis Gallery, Basta Art Cafe, Dubai Souq, Jumeirah Beach, the Creek, Vus Bar in the Emirates Tower for the view, Jumeira Mosque, Wild Wadi Waterpark plus countless bars and cafes!! Have fun!!
It is difficult to find culture in Dubai but it is possible through a city tour. If you are strapped for time in this city and you do want to see the highlights then nothing beats the big bus tours. Ask any hotel and they will guide you or tell you where to hop on the double decker bus. It is patterned after the bus city tours in the UK and it is the best way to see Dubai. They take to Jumeirah Beach, Gold Souq, the creek etc. It is great.