08 January 2012


Shops at Gold Souk
Order of sections
- Highlights
- Fast facts
- Why might you want to visit Dubai?
- Overview
- How to get there
- City mapping
- Sights
- Tours
- Accommodation
- Food
- Shopping
- Transport
- Tourist friendliness
- Safety
- Tour idea
- More Photos
- Top Experiences
- Itineraries

- Burj Khalifa: the tallest building in the world
- The extraordinarily famous hotel: Burj al Arab
- Dubai's myriad malls

Fast facts
Currency- UAE Dirham
Language- Arabic is the official language, but you'll find many English

Why might you want to visit Dubai?
A city that is lately investing in tourism, Dubai offers visitors the world's most famous hotel, the world's tallest building as well as a bustling, multicultural metropolis with parts both Westernized and more historic. Besides, you have beaches and a desert. What more could you want?

Dubai, the biggest city in the UAE, and one of its emirates, has been growing at a phenomenal pace.

How to get there
Dubai Airport (link) is the airport serving the city, just about less than 10 km from the center (Bur Dubai/Deira). The airport is a hub for Emirates and flydubai. Many other airlines fly into Dubai too.

City mapping
Bur Dubai and Deira form the traditional heart of the city, situated on the left and the right bank of the Dubai Creek respectively. The Dubai International Airport is south-east of Deira. Sheikh Zayed Road connects Bur Dubai to Jumeira and Dubai Marina and further west.

sand dunes
Bur Dubai and Deira, hugging the Creek, are fine points to start exploring. On the Bur Dubai side, you have the Bastakiah District, home to good traditional Persian architecture. Nearby is the Dubai Museum whose building exterior itself is a marvel.

On the Deira side, you have the famous souks (note: some books may also spell this as 'souq'): Gold Souk and Spice Souk. You know you've entered the souks by nice gate-like structures covering the entire souk. Besides these, the Naif Market is also located here, on Naif Rd, and is a good place to shop for souvenirs and Emirati dress, among other things.

Burj Khalifa
On the Dubai Creek, abras can be rented- they are small boats which act as means of transportation through the river. You can also charter one, at around 100-120 AED (code for Dirhams) per hour. There are great views from here.

On the other side of town, around the Downtown Dubai area, is the famous Burj Khalifa. Tickets have to be purchased in advance (can be done from here) and cost 100 AED- however if you don't book in advance, and miraculously find one slot on the spot , you have to pay 400 AED per person. The observatory deck, although called "At the Top", isn't at the top of the tower, but it's at the 124th floor, and it affords great views over Dubai. Burj Khalifa is located next to Dubai Mall and entrance to the observatory deck is from the LG (Lower ground) floor of the Dubai Mall.

view from Burj Khalifa
Another extraordinarily famous building, the Burj al Arab (check link
for visit here) is also worth a visit. You cannot just enter and roam the hotel, you need a booking in advance- either at the restaurant, at the Skyview Bar (for which no under 21s are permitted) or for High Tea-
and you need to present the confirmation to the security outside.
Service is really very nice, and they can adjust to certain demands,
such as only vegetarian food etc.

Desert escapes while in Dubai are popular, and there are several companies which run this. This generally includes dune-bashing in the desert, followed by
dinner at the tour operator's camp in the desert. Some are even overnight. Pick-up from your hotel may or may not be included, check that out. We used Lama Tours for our excursion.

Burj al Arab
Check sites such as Agoda and Venere for hotels.

We stayed at the Moevenpick Bur Dubai . The hotel has rooms as well as apartments in a building behind the hotel. Location is good,
but you need to take taxis/buses/metro to get anywhere. There are
generally taxis waiting, or you may need to wait- but not for much

Hotel Review: Moevenpick Bur Dubai

>-----View from room

Rooms- 10/10
We had an apartment in a separate building next to the main one and the apartments were simply superb. There was a kitchenette and a balcony (our room was on a corner so it had a view of the skyline including Burj Khalifa and the area where the hotel was located ).
Staff- 8/10
Fine staff, nothing much else to say here.
Location- 8/10
Nothing much is walkable but taxis are easily available and as long as there's no traffic jam, the airport is around 15-20 min away. Not time-consuming to get anywhere else too, such as the souks, Burj al Arab etc.
Overall- Recommended.

Dubai Skyline
Saravanaa Bhavan- just a two minute's walk from Moevenpick
Bur Dubai- OK South Indian food. Opens at 7.30 for breakfast
too besides lunch and dinner.

Asha's - good North Indian food here at this famous restaurant in
Wafi City Mall in Bur Dubai. link

Sarpino's Pizzeria - at the Arabian Courtyard Hotel in Bur Dubai,
very close to Dubai Museum. OK pizzas and pastas.

The food courts are good places to eat in the malls: good variety. They're often spread out, especially in Dubai Mall. For quick Lebanese fare in food courts, try Karim Express.

You can also buy things like pita bread, good baklava etc from supermarkets. Try the hypermarkets in malls like Deira City Centre (which has Carrefour).

The souks are traditionally the places to shop and still are an attraction now days. However, malls are very popular nowdays and are great places to shop. Prices may not be very cheap, especially of international brands.

-Dubai Mall (link)- This is the biggest mall in the world. The layout can be confusing, and don't count on seeing all the stores. Entrance to Burj Khalifa observatory deck is from LG level. The Dubai Fountain, also a famous attraction is also accessible via the LG level. The fountain dancing shows are at: 1pm, 1.30 pm and every half hour between 7 pm and 11 pm. There are 2 food courts. Located next to Burj Khalifa, near Sheikh Zayed Road. There is a big hypermarket here.

-Mall of the Emirates- (link) A very big mall on Sheikh Zayed Road. Home to many brands. SkiDubai (link) is located here. The mall has a hypermarket and a food court.

Surprise Surprise! This is Ibn Batutah Mall
(and not some historic sight).
-Ibn Batutah Mall- (link) This is an excellent mall, and one of the most unique ones in Dubai. It is themed on the six areas traveller Ibn Batutah visited- and divided into six 'courts'- China, Persia, Egypt, India, Tunisia and Andalusia. The decor is amazing here and it feels more like a historic sight than a mall. Still, it's good for shopping. Located on Sheikh Zayed Road. (And no, it's not just these two pictures which show the impressive part, every court of the six are beautiful.)

-Deira City Centre (link)- located in Deira, it's a very big mall with the usual brands. Has a Carrefour hypermarket.

Malls can be very crowded on weekend nights- Thursday night and Friday night.

China Court at Ibn Batutah mall
Other malls include Mirdiff City Centre, Wafi City Mall and BurJuman Centre.

See these two sites- RTA and Dubai Metro
Taxis are very common, and every mall has at least one pick-up and drop-off point, although queues for taxis can be long. Generally, in some malls, the pick-up point is located not far from the supermarket exit.

Dubai Metro

Sign towards Dubai Metro in Ibn Batutah Mall

Tourist Friendliness
Walking is fine in many parts of Bur Dubai and Deira and sidewalks are wide. Be careful crossing roads anywhere though. Luckily, there are pedestrian lights.
Abras at an abra station

Even at malls, taxis may refuse to take you to a particular destination, even when there is an attendant.

Taxis can be hailed, but don't expect one to stop on a busy road
with fast moving traffic.

Most of the locations tourists would generally visit: Bur Dubai, Deira and Sheikh Zayed Rd are largely safe to visit. Use normal precautions if walking with regards to pickpocketing and other petty crimes. Even during the evening you'll find much traffic in those locations and lots of pedestrians along the Creek. You should, however, be careful while crossing any road- traffic is fast and Dubai has a high accident rate. Even if traffic lights are in your favour, cross cautiously.

Although Dubai may remind you of a Westernized city, it is an Islamic place and tourists should be careful- no public displays of affection and even if you may see other Westerners wearing shorts/not covering shoulders, these are frowned upon- even in malls.

Tour Idea
Get to the Deira abra station (an abra is a boat) and charter an abra for around 1 hr, seeing Dubai by the creek. This would cost around 100-120 AED per hour. Alternatively, you can just take an abra from one point to another. Get off at Bur Dubai station and walk around- in the souks and finally to Bastakiah District where you can see some Persian architecture and see the Dubai Museum.
fireworks for the starting of DSF

DSF= Dubai Shopping Festival. Click here for details.


More Photos

Bastakiah District

Jumeira Beach as seen from Burj al Arab

Burj-al-Arab's famous atrium

Dubai Fountain

Kinda surreal...

Top Experiences
- Desert safari
- Roaming around the souks in Deira and Bur Dubai.
- High Tea at Burj al Arab.
- A ride in the abra.

Views from the abra ride

Souk at night

Desert safari

Itineraries (especially if the weather is good)
-One Day
Spend the morning among the souks and the Bastakiah District. If you want to visit a mall, go to Deira City Centre which is relatively close by and spend the evening in an abra ride around the riverside. Later in the evening go to Downtown Dubai to Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa (book in advance).

-Two Days
Follow the One Day itinerary for the first day except replace Burj Khalifa with Burj al Arab (high tea or bar; book in advance). On the second day, go to Burj Khalifa in the morning (book in advance) and go for a desert safari (book in advance) in the afternoon till night.

Last visit- Jan 2012
No of Visits- 1

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