Man-made islands, extravagant shopping malls, the world’s tallest building, and the world’s most luxurious hotel — all these can be found in what is considered as one of the fastest-growing and most futuristic urban destinations in the world: Dubai. If you’re not a fan of any of these, then what else is there in this city that could make you consider it in planning your next vacation?
Dubai has been stereotyped to appeal to those who have more cash than culture. There’s more to this city than designer boutiques and five-star hotels, though. Travel in Dubai and it could lead you to gold, spice, and textile souks, fine old traditional Arabian houses, and memorable postmodern architectural skylines of the southernmost part of the city. And to raise awareness and demystify the culture, customs, and religion of the United Arab Emirates, there’s the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. Following the motto of “Open doors, open minds,” it also gives one the opportunity to visit the heart of old Dubai and explore a wind-tower house.
And what better way to immerse yourself in another culture than to savor its unique cuisine? Travel in Dubai and experience food variety and quality that are surging ahead. From Jordanian to Syrian, North African to Iranian to Egyptian, ethnic treats from all over the Middle East are on the menu!
If the gastronomical journey isn’t enough to satiate your hunger and thirst for adventure, you could try the hot-air balloon rides, or go skydiving above the famous Palm Jumeirah, dive into warm gulf waters, sandboard in the desert dunes, and even snow-ski. These, along with festivals and events, are sure to keep you busy, whatever the time of the year you decide to travel in Dubai.
Be it sports, arts, culture, or food and entertainment, there’s always something going on in Dubai. There’s the Dubai Cup horse racing, Rugby Stevens, and the European golf tour on the sports front. The Dubai Jazz Festival and the Dubai International Film Festival are also other events to look forward to.
Once you’ve set your mind on traveling to Dubai, deciding when to go is the next step to getting there.
When To Go
Because of Dubai’s unique tropical desert climate, it is steamy and sweltering there most of the year. The best time to travel in Dubai is November to March, when the temperatures are moderate. If sun, sea, and sand are what you aim for, then spring and autumn are ideal for bronzing your body by day and then hitting air-conditioned bars, restaurants, and shopping malls to cool yourself down by night.
Despite the blistering heat of Dubai’s summer, it’s become a popular time to visit for families and budget travelers for the bargains that can be found. It’s the cheapest time to visit this spectacular city, but note that the daily average temperature is over 40 degrees Celsius from June to July.
How To Get Around
Despite Dubai’s tendency to hog headlines, it isn’t actually that big a city, nor is it particularly spread out. Going from one place to another should only take a relatively short period of time. However, it isn’t the most pedestrian-friendly of places and getting around is better done in something motorized rather than using just two legs. Thankfully, travel in Dubai has become a lot simpler. The days of monumental traffic jams and tedious waits for taxis have long passed.
The handiest and most popular way to get around Dubai is still the humble taxi, despite the millions invested in public transport. Dubai cabs come cheap and are plentiful, with long lines of them usually waiting at malls and other busy areas. There’s a minimum fare of 10 dirhams (around $2) that can get you through a decent distance. Getting a trip across town shouldn’t set you back anymore than 40-50 dirhams. As for the cab drivers, most of them are friendly and speak enough English to understand where you want to go.
Apart from the land taxis, local water taxis called abra are a convenient and traditional way of crossing the Dubai Creek and seeing some of the original city. A total of 4 abra stations line both sides of the Creek in Deira and Bur Dubai. The fare just cost just a dirham, with boat operations starting from 5 a.m. and lasting until midnight.
The Dubai Metro is another method of transport around the city. Launched in 2009, the carriages are near spotless, the platforms well-maintained, and the journey extremely smooth. The only issue, though, is that it’s aimed toward citizens. Apart from the mall, it doesn’t really link up the main tourist spots. There is one line — the red line — which runs beyond the airport down Sheikh Zayed Road toward Jabel Ali and continues through, stopping at some major malls along the way. That said, tickets are cheap, ranging from 2 dirhams to 6.50 dirhams, and are available at any of the stations.
Should you prefer to travel by bus, there is a well-serviced bus network with over 70 bus route service destinations across the city. The main bus stations are situated near the Gold Souk in Deira and on Al Ghubaiba Road in Bur Dubai. Nol cards are required to ride a bus, and they must be bought at the station before boarding. These air-conditioned buses generally operate from 5 a.m. to midnight, with fares depending on the distance traveled.
Lastly, there’s a new monorail that travels from the base of the Palm Jumeirah to the Atlantis Hotel on the island’s crescent. Fare costs 15 dirhams one-way and another 25 dirhams for a return trip.
Taking on these different modes of transport can be an adventure in itself. Hopefully, these, along with all the different sights, sounds and flavors the city has to offer would convince you to add Dubai to your own list of must-travel destinations.