Monday, August 2, 2010

Things to do in Dubai

We did manage to fit in some fun stuff while we were in Dubai. If you ever visit, here are some things to check out:

- Burj Khalifa- world's tallest building. I couldn't even get it all in a picture it was so tall! We went up to the observation deck on the 125th floor. I think it is over 200 stories total. It was very modern and pretty, but for some reason it didn't seem that high because all the other buildings are so high too! The observation deck is called At The Top and the entrance to go up is inside the Dubai Mall on one of the lower levels.

- Dubai Mall- world's biggest mall. It is apparently the size of 50 football fields?! It was really nice. Tons of stores including lots of designer stores like Versace, Fendi, etc. I went in Jimmy Choo and tried on a pair of nice heels just to feel what it was like to have on a pair of Jimmy Choos. They also had a lot of the same stores we have in America like Forever 21, sephora, H & M , etc. (Do they were those kind of clothes under those black robes?? I would love to know!) They also had an indoor ice skating rink, movies, a huge arcade, a huge aquarium, and lots of very cool/interesting sculptures/design elements in this mall. There was also a section called The Gold Souk and a souk across this small pedestrian bridge called Souk Al Bahar, but they both were way too nice and fancy to feel like a souk and the stores just felt expensive. It was pretty though.

- Dubai Fountains- right outside the Dubai Mall. This is like the dancing fountains at the Bellagio in Vegas, but I think this one is bigger. We watched one of the daytime shows and one of the nighttime shows. They were nice, but I still like the Bellagio show better. I think the way these fountains were laid out and our viewing point made it not as pretty as when I saw the Bellagio one.

- We also went to the Sahara Center in Sharjah (not as nice as the other malls but they had an indoor roller coaster- I didn't ride it, but some in my group did) We ate at the food court here a couple times throughout the week because food courts were way cheaper than the hotel. They are pretty much like US food courts- Mcdonalds, Chinese, pizza, KFC, Subway, etc. The Mcdonalds even had a McArabia (basically a pita sandwich). They also had a grocery store downstairs which was nice for stocking up on bottled water and soda. We called the Sharja Center the "Northgate of Dubai". Northgate is a not so nice mall in Durham, NC. It isn't as bad as that at all, but compared to all those other grandiose malls it wasn't as nice.

-Mirdif City Center-another mall! On "singles night" we went as a group to this mall for indoor skydiving. Some in our group did it, but I didn't. I wanted to save my money to buy gifts at the souk! It looked pretty cool though. They also had a bowling alley, indoor soccer, and this challenge course/rock climbing wall in this mall. P.S. when you see "City Center" don't automatically think that is the same mall you went to the night before. There are many different "City Centers" I swear I have never seen so many malls in all my life!

-The Blue Souk- I don't know if this was the official name of the place, but that is what everyone called it because it was blue. It was the only real souk we got to visit unfortunately. It was in Sharjah and was the most "ethnic" thing we did while we were there. It wasn't like a traditional "market" because it was indoors, but it was little shops where you bargain the prices. They had gold, carpets, jewelry, souvenirs, and lots of scarf/pashmina stores. I was a sucker for the pashminas and bought a lot for gifts for people. I definitely worked on my bargaining skills here.

-Eye of the Emirates- it is like the London Eye. It was this beautiful huge ferris wheel. The best part was each "cabin" was air conditioned! It gave a great view of the city! The most interesting part about the ride was the people in the one behind us got a "talking to" for sitting beside each other and him having with his arm around her. Public displays of affection are not allowed. They were a young Arab couple and didn't appear to be married. All I know is they moved to opposite sides of the cabin after their talking to! They also have a thing where you can take a water tour here. I wish I had done this, but my group didn't. Another group did and said it was cheap and totally worth it. It takes you around the marina and past the Shiek's house apparently. They also have lots of restaurants, Cariboo Coffee, Dunkin Doughnuts, and a yummy gelato place here.

-Wald Wadi- a huge waterpark that was really fun...I am going to write more about it in a later post. We got great views of that 7 star hotel- Burj Al Arab- from here too (the famous one shaped like a sailboat) because it was right next door.

-Mall of the Emirates- we went here right after the waterpark to get dinner. We got to see the indoor skiing here. I think the skiing was 200 Dirhams (or about $60). Some people did it, but I saved my money. If you do go to do the indoor skiing bring gloves. They give you everything but gloves, and the people who did it said their hands were so cold! I really don't remember much else about this mall. By that point I was really getting sick of malls.

- We went and ate at a traditional Arab restaurant one night. It was REALLY good. They had the best hummus ever with pita bread, a delicious salad, pickled vegetables, and I had the Shawarma. It is this chicken on the huge skewers that they wrap us and grill in a flat bread. It comes with some kind of white sauce that I can't even describe. But it was really good. I also had fresh strawberry juice here. Fresh juices are really big over there and really good!

- Ibn Batutta Mall- we went to this mall the day we were set to leave because we had to check out of the hotel but our flight wasn't until midnight. Seriously, another mall? I don't even want to know how many malls they have there! This one was cool though because it was based on the explorations of this famous explorer- Ibn Batutta- and each section had a big display and decorations based on the country- China, Persia, India, Egypt, etc.

We did not get to see any of those man made islands (the palm tree or the world) but I wonder if you would even be able to tell what it was from the ground? If I would have had a window seat, I would have looked for it from the plane, but oh well! The internet pictures are probably better.

Other tourist tips I have:

Girls wear long pants, skirts, or dresses (capris are ok) and cover your shoulders. The one day I wore a knee length short sleeve dress I would've given anything for a pair of pants or something because I felt out of place. Also take a nice bag and sunglasses and sandals (I wouldn't wear tennis shoes...everyone wears sandals or flip flops). You want to make sure they are nice though or else you will feel out of place in all those fancy malls.

Don't plan on walking anywhere. It is too hot. We walked from the Dubai Mall stop on the metro to the Mall about 4-6 blocks away and we were drenched in sweat. The metro is really nice and there are cabs everywhere for a good price. Plus your feet will already be hurting from walking around those huge malls all day!

Keep a currency converter card with you. It is easy to think prices are high when you see something for 100+ Dirhams, but you have to remember that is only about $27-$28. It is easy to get confused when you are trying to convert it in your head, so it is nice to have something that says 5 dirhams= $xx, 10= $xx, 25= $xx and so on.

Take a outlet adapter/voltage converter with you. I got one at Target for $20 that was a combo adapter/converter and it was perfectly labeled and easy to use and everything I tried with it worked perfectly.

They have a different sense of time than us. I don't think things open early, more like 10 am. From 1pm-4pm some things will close (like the Blue Souk) for lunch/nap time (how nice!!) But things stay open late- at least until 11 pm. And remember their weekend is Friday and Saturday.

Get bottled water and soda from the grocery store. It is so much cheaper! Red Bull was cheaper too- like $3 for a 4 pack. Sodas and water were less than a dollar and packs of them were pretty cheap too. They only drink bottled water there and if you buy it at the restaurant or hotel it will be much more, so stock up at a grocery store and carry it with you.

Don't let the weather scare you. Yes, it is hot, but most everything is inside and if you are in a hotel's cooled pool (or the cooled water at Wild Wadi) it is very nice. I wore SPF 50 and didn't get any sun. On the last 2 days I even spent an hour or so at the pool without SPF and I was fine.

I highly recommend a trip to Dubai. It is very exotic and beautiful. And just observing the people is fascinating!

1 comment:

Shoshanah said...

I can't believe how many malls you went to! And I think that indoor ski slope is one of the coolest things. If I ever went to Dubai it would be something I'd want to do.