Let's face it: UAE heritage isn't really that extensive. First you had pearl fishers and bedouins - now you have luxury and riches seemingly without limits. There weren't really any dynasties and epochs inbetween. We were somewhat disappointed by seeing the same heritage exhibits over and over again: Dubai museum, Heritage Village, Diving Village, Sheikh Maktoum house, special mall exhibits, etc.
Unique Suggestions: If we had to chose one of the heritage sites, it would be the Dubai museum - it's the most extensive and has the nicest exhibits. Plus it's airconditioned....
Hint: summer is not the best time to visit the diving and heritage village - at least not during daytime; most of the exhibits are outside and it it simply too hot. Many of the stores are closed during the daytime for lack of visitors. The shops reopen during the evening hours when it cools down. Both places however have a great variety of activities going on during the Dubai Shopping Festival: arab dance performances, wedding demos (or real ones), flea markets, etc.
Fun Alternatives: Dubai MuseumRelated to:
- Historical Travel
Big Bus Company
A fleet of double decker buses take you around Dubai, where a 'tourguide' points out local sights.
Unlike a city such as London or Paris, there just isn't enough in the way of fantastic sights for this to be worth the cash. It's not even a very useful way of getting from A to B. As taxis are so cheap in Dubai, you'll get there cheaper and faster with a taxi.
Also, the tours only go 9 to 5, which just isn't long enough to hop on and hop off very often. 120 dhiram is just too much. If you're on a budget, decide beforehand where you want to go and either take the bus, or use taxis.
Unique Suggestions: You do get free entry into the Dubai Museum which is a mixed blessing. If you've paid for the bus, then make sure you get your money's worth and visit the museum too. But otherwise, the museum isn't necessarily a 'must'.
Put on your Walkman to drown out the drab commentary or sit as far away from the guides as possible. It really isn't worth listening to. Do just a little reading from a guidebook such as LP and you'lll know as much about Dubai as these guys do.
The tour of the beach end of town, past the Burj Al Arab could be worthwhile as you get some decent views, you also get to see the amazing construction work that is going on, such as the Palm and The World. However, the bus goes too fast to take decent photos.
The only plus point is that it does at least give you an idea of the size of the city and where things are in relation to each other.
Fun Alternatives: Use taxis to get straight to the sites / sights. Do a bit of background reading yourself!Related to:
- Family Travel
As you approach the public boat stop along the creek to catch a shuttle across, you will undoubtedly be given the opportunity to cross in a private boat. The trip on a public boat is very quick, and they only take as many passengers as can be seated, so unless you dislike sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with the locals, turn down the boat touts.
Unique Suggestions: Negotiate the fare.
Fun Alternatives: Take the public boats instead.
Photography (muslim women)
Photography is normally accepted around here, how ever taking photos for a Muslim women is too offensive . (incase you are in one of the traditional exhibition then it is allowed as you will take photos for a certain activity)
Unique Suggestions: In case you want to take a photo for women in traditional dress (i saw this alot in gold market) , take a permission first and am sure you will get a friendly answer.
No warm kissing in front of public !
Even though Dubai is a very westernized city, please remember that you are still in a Muslim county and people still have there own traditions. Kissing and doing other stuff inform of public is not accepted at all. But holding hands is fine ;)
Unique Suggestions: Just do that in your hotel room!
The Zoo - not for animal lovers!
As an animal lover I found this to be one of the saddest places I have ever been.
There is no physical cruelty but the animals are kept in cramped, smelly, badly ventilated cages with little or no air.
I saw a lot of signs of distress, particularly among the bears and big cats.
Unique Suggestions: Don't take your kids.
The best nightlife city!!!! BUT
Do not think that alcohol is readily available at stores. What beer you get in the stores are non alcoholic beers. They have licensed stores for selling booze and you need to have a permit ....
Unique Suggestions: Just enjoy the non-alcoholic beer and relax your in the middle east lol!!!!Related to:
- Women's Travel
- Beer Tasting
- Budget Travel
Don't do the Big Bus Tour
At 150AED (~US$40), this is the most expensive hop-on-hop-off tour bus I've ever been on. There's actually not a whole lot to see in Dubai, so most of the stops will be either a mall or a resort. The views you get are mostly of construction and skyscrapers. Sure, you get an overall view of the city, but there isn't much to see. Also, with the large ground to cover (a whole loop takes about 5 hrs) and the limited hours the bus operates (roughly 9-5 or 6), you can't really spend sufficient time at each spot.
Unique Suggestions: If you must go, catch the very first bus nearest to you so you can maximize the time spent on it. Also, select just a few spots to stay 30 min or hour until the next bus arrives (they operate every 30 min.). They do give you a few minutes on Jumeriah beach to get a good photo of the Burj so don't worry about that. You need to be on a separate tour anyways to see the inside. The Madanat or any of the malls may be a good place to stop for lunch. The Jumeirah mosque only allows visitors on certain days of the week and time (Sat, Sun, and Tue at 10 I think) so don't try to see that either.
Fun Alternatives: Unfortunately, there's no good public transportation system around Dubai so you're limited in ways of getting around. With all the traffic in the city, a taxi to each individual place will end up costing a lot. If you're with another person or two, try to organize a customized tour that takes you to the Dubai museum, Burj (inside too), and the Jumeirah Mosque (inside). Maybe also a few hours at Emriates Mall if you want to try the indoor skiing or shop. I can't think of anything else that is interesting to see at the moment. The Palm/World Islands aren't complete.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Don't do the Desert Safari Tour
The standard 'thing to do' in Dubai seems to be a Desert Safari tour which takes you dune-bashing in the dessert, sandboarding, camel-riding, and to a dinner/belly-dance show. The dune bashing itself was okay, but the other activities were lame. The sandboarding is down a tiny slope, not big enough to do any turns, and you get to go down only once (unless you queue up again after the long line). After having the done the real thing in Namibia, this was just pathetic. I can't even call it sandboarding. As for the camel ride, there is only a few camels so you are again queueing for it. The dinner was okay, but nothing special. Same with belly-dancer. If you're a seasoned traveller, this tour will be cheesy as hell. Btw, most of the camels we saw were fenced in as if they are on display for tourists. I think they are more interesting if seen in the wild - and there are some. This was disappointing.
Unique Suggestions: Don't use Oasis Palm. They seem to be the largest tour outfitter there, at least for this tour. There were about 20-30 4x4s all in a big convoy bashing around the desert. At each of the 'activity' stops, you are competing with all these other people on the tour for a ride on the sandboard or camel, or for the food. Use a less advertised outfitter and make sure that they are not going to lump you in with 50 other people.
Fun Alternatives: If you've never been to the desert, you're better off going to the real thing - like Namibia or Egypt. Maybe even to an oasis in Oman (Al-Ain), though I didn't make it there myself. If you're easily entertained, go for it, but otherwise, just skip it and enjoy the pool at your hotel.Related to:
Modern and cosmopolitan city but..
still very muslim city, can not really relax completely and go out with shorts or dressed summery when the country is really hot! forget beer or wine in restaurants that are not in the hotel, start taking juice and water :)) Alcohol served only in restaurants that are in hotels (and not in all too!) No kising or hugging your loved ones (adults mean) in the streets etc..
Unique Suggestions: well.. we have to respect their rules, no?
Fun Alternatives: BEHAVE :)
Extra Costs for Taxis, At least AED 4
Dubai has introduced a road toll system. Toll gates have already been installed by the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) near Al Garhoud Bridge on Shaikh Rashid Road and the Fourth Interchange near Mall of the Emirates on Shaikh Zayed Road.
As visitor, you will notice that Taxi drivers are adding AED 4 to your travel price each way as they have to pay that amount to the government.
Some of them already started using alternative ways, to avoid this extra costs, but they surely will spend more time to reach the destinations.
Reports here say that raffic on Shaikh Zayed Road is due to be reduced by 25% after introduction of the toll. Currently, around 130,000 vehicles use Shaikh Zayed Road every day, and about 8,000 vehicles per hour cross Al Garhoud Bridge during peak hours in both directions.
Unique Suggestions: Dubai toll free system sat to resolve the trafic jam in main roads, but it adds costs to the travelers, and add trafic pressure on the alternative roads which delay your arrival times.
Fun Alternatives: The light train system not out yet, I would recommend that you leave earlier.
I walked through some of the Souks in Bur Dubai and Deira, and the prices are definitely higher that what you would get in other places. A smoking pipe that costs 10 dirhams in Dubai costs 5 dirhams outside Dubai.
Unique Suggestions: For some reason, t-shirts are sold for very cheap in the souks.
Also, the shop keepers expect you to bargain, so don't hold back. They know that you can buy stuff from other places too, so they are willing to bargain too.
Fun Alternatives: There are tons of gift/craft shops on the road while driving through the desert outside Dubai. If you plan on being in Dubai itself, then Souks are the best way to go for inexpensive trinkets. Else, shop outside.
Electronic shops beside gold souk
Beware of imitation goods though it may look genuine with a reliable make on it. I was looking for a Sony portable DVD and I saw one in a shop managed by Indians. i asked if it was genuine and he said it was. Upon inspecting, the Sony name was badly printed and the labels peeling off. So becareful....
Fun Alternatives: Prices just the same or maybe slightly higher but at least you have peace of mind. Buy at Plug Ins, radio Shack or at some of the electronic shops in Emirates mall.
This is not the developed place its made out to be
In fact it is still very primitive, even brutal at its core. Please avoid this destination and spend your money, your time, and your energies on a better place that won't slowly suck the life force out of you without you realizing it.
Taxi drivers and detours
90% of the taxi drivers are foreign workers from Pakistan. They are in most cases reliable and honest. But it's wise to know where you are driving and take notice of the route. I had a Taxi sightseeing where the driver drove a detour on the freeway. I don't think he did it on purpose, and it was not a big problem since the taxi prices are cheap in Dubai. My mobile phone with GPS showed that we were driving in the opposite direction of where I should go.
(For those who are interested in gadgets: Garmin XT GPS program with middle east map on a Samsung Omnia HD mobil phone).
Unique Suggestions: Have a GPS to show the direction you shall go.Related to:
- Road Trip
Probably the best hotel I have ever stayed in. Service was amazing including your own personal...more
The Palm Jumeirah, Crescent Road West, PO Box 27722
Good for: Couples
It was a great stay! Absolutely everything was top notch! When we were planning a trip to Dubai, I...more
Explore the World
- Grapevine Hotels
- Auckland Hotels
- Kuala Lumpur
- North America
- Hong Kong
- Darwin Hotels
- Lyford Cay Hotels
- Wennappuwa Hotels
- Restinga Smir Hotels
- Rarotonga Hotels
- Ho Chi Minh City
- Nuns Island Hotels