My Love Affair With Dubai and 24 Things To Do When You’re here

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Skydiving in Dubai
Exhilarating: Skydive over Palm Jumeriah! PC: Skydivedubai.ae

I have been lucky enough to live in Dubai for a while now – and not even one day goes by when I don’t discover something fun about this exciting city. And of course, it only helps that I stay at the 66th floor of a high-rise building in the oh-so-happening Marina. 😉

things to do in dubai
PC: Emirates247

From meeting people from at least 7 different nationalities every day to the awe-inspiring view of Palm Jumeriah, the kind of experiences you can have here and the stories you can live here, are truly one-of-a-kind.

things to do in dubai
Ziplining from Burj Khalifa. PC: physique-tv.blogspot.com

One of my favourite parts about Dubai are the people. Such courteous, super-friendly Habibis and Habibtis here! I won’t exactly call myself the most social person out there but even someone like me was able to make cool new friends here in no time.

The super-cool people of Dubai make this place awesome for me! <3
The super-cool people of Dubai make this place awesome for me! <3

From hunky men who politely open doors for you to hearing ‘thank you’, ‘please’, ‘sorry, ‘excuse me’ etc so many times in a day, you actually feel like you have landed in some kind of a heaven.

All right, so from what I have seen, heard and experienced here, I recommend these 24 things to do in Dubai, the whoawesome city:

1. Stroll Down the Marina Walk in the Evening: Glittering high-rise buildings, fairy lights on palm trees, yachts and cruisers dotting the placid waters – this place is the stuff fairy tales are made of!

things to do in dubai
The gorgeous Marina walk is just 2 mins from my house and is one of the most romantic places I have ever been to. PC: scoopempire

2.Go for a desert safari in Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve: Get into the groove of the middle eastern charm by going on a desert safari. With an eclectic itinerary consisting of camel rides, sand boarding, barbecue dinner, dune bashing and belly dance show, this is something you shouldn’t miss. You can find good deals for this safari on Cobone.com

PC: Funtoursdubai.com
PC: Funtoursdubai.com

3. Enjoy the 360-degree view of Dubai city from Burj Khalifa: This is one of those touristy things you’d be glad you did. There are two views available here, At the Top (Level 124) and At the Top Sky (Level 125+148). It’s better to book your tickets online otherwise you’d end up paying more than double the price for on the spot admission.

PC: tappinginshow.com
PC: tappinginshow.com

 4. Say Hello to the Dolphins at Atlantis, The Palm: The Dolphin bay at Atlantis offers a wide range of options where you can meet the dolphins, scuba dive with them and even swim with them! If you book your tickets early, you get a decent price cut on the tickets.

Dolphin bay at Atlantis
PC: atlantisthepalm

5. Shop, Shop Shop: When in Dubai, spend like an Arab. The malls here are so gigantic that you need a map to navigate them and yes, malls like the Mall of Emirates and Dubai Mall even hand out one! :O And if it’s gold, spices or perfumes you’re after, don’t forget to pay a visit to the souqs here. All in all, there’s simply no escape from shopping here – all you can do is read some tips to shop better in Dubai.

Shopping in Dubai
PC: alldubai.ae

6. Glide Up and Away in the Hot Air Balloon: Savor a beautiful desert sunrise, away from the hustle and bustle of the city by taking a hot air balloon flight. This is a truly spectacular experience over an ocean of sand dunes that shouldn’t be missed. Be on the watch out for good deals online.

hot air balloons over dubai
PC: Thomascook

7. Check out Palm Jumeriah from the Monorail: One of the easiest ways to get a good view of the Palm Jumeriah, the world’s largest man-made islands, is the monorail. Tickets can be bought on the spot and they are easy on the pocket.

Monorail to Palm Jumeriah
PC: Mazaatours.com

8. Cool Off in Water parks: Some of the most fantastic water parks in the world are in Dubai. The ones you shouldn’t miss out on are Wild Wadi Water Park, Aquaventure, and to some extent Dreamland Aqua Park. 

Wild Wadi Water Park. PC: expedia.com
Wild Wadi Water Park. PC: expedia.com

9. Take a Helicopter ride: What better way to enjoy Dubai’s landscape than a snazzy helicopter ride? If you plan in advance, you can bag some pretty good deals too.

PC: meandmytours.com
PC: meandmytours.com

10. Skydive over Palm Jumeriah: Skydiving is definitely not for the faint of heart but Carpe Diem! Skydiving over Palm Jumeriah is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and maybe this video below may inspire you to take the plunge.

11. Get a never-before-tried facial: The choices are as strange as limitless when it comes to getting a weird facial in Dubai. Facials consisting of snake venom, bird droppings, placenta, bee stings, caviar and a lot more are on offer for the beauty conscious.

Caviar Facial in Dubai
Splurge on a caviar facial in Dubai. PC: Beautyflash.co.uk

12. Snow Ski in Dubai: When you are able to play with snow right in the middle of a desert city, you can rest assured you’re in Dubai. If you come from a snowy place, maybe this may not be as spellbinding for you but for the rest of us, it is.

Snow Ski in Dubai. PC: alldubai.ae
Snow Ski in Dubai. PC: alldubai.ae

13. Visit Burj Al Arab, touted as the ‘7-star Hotels in the World’: Symbolic of modern Dubai, the distinct sail-shaped silhouette of this hotel stands majestically facing the Palm Jumeriah. It’s one of those perfect places to get your ‘been there, done that’ clicks for Facebook. Feeling rich? Book a room. 

Burj Al Arab looks especially stunning during sunrise and sunset. PC: Wejobz.com
Burj Al Arab looks especially stunning during sunset. PC: Wejobz.com

14. Set Sail On A Boat ride or a Dinner Cruise in the Evening: From Bur Dubai to Marina, you can take a boat ride or a dhow dinner cruise easily from the docks. What’s more is you can even rent a boat/cruise to yourself for a private party!

Take a Dhow Dinner Cruise one of the evenings you're in Dubai. PC: alwasldhow
Take a Dhow Dinner Cruise one of the evenings you’re in Dubai. PC: alwasldhow

15. Stand to be Mesmerized by Miracle Gardens: If you thought that flowers growing in the desert sand were a dream, Dubai has made it a reality in its Miracle Gardens. It’s the world’s largest natural flower garden where more than 100 million blooming flowers are maintained round the year over 72,000 square meters of area. The only catch is that the Miracle gardens open only during the winter season.

Dubai Miracle Garden
Miracle Gardens in Dubai live upto their name. PC: miraclegardendubai.net

16. Chill out at Madinat Jumeriah: Designed to resemble a traditional Arabian town, the Madinat Jumeriah is the largest resort in Dubai. It offers stunning views of the Arabian gulf and has several nooks and crannies for you to explore.

PC: Jumeriah.com
PC: Jumeriah.com

17. Join in the Revelry at Funky Dubai bars: Be it the Chillout bar which is constructed from ice or Cosy Bur Dubai Drinkery, modeled on a spaceship, you’ve got a lot of options to choose from!

eclipse bar
Eclipse Bar: One of the most popular sky-high bars in Dubai. PC: whatson.ae

18. Explore Arabian Gulf with Deep Sea Diving: Prepare to get enthralled by the flora and fauna of the Persian gulf. Many tourist companies offer scuba diving tours which are aimed at beginners as well as experienced divers. You can check Cobone or Groupon for useful deals.

PC: touristattractions.ae
PC: touristattractions.ae

19. Rejuvenate Yourself at a Spa: The Arabs may have invented the art of pampering as can be seen by the great number of spas and massage centers all over Dubai. You can get yourself a few unique experiences here as well (it’s Dubai baby 😉 ). One of the high-end spas that have been making a splash lately is the Salt Cave Spa where salt therapy is used to promote relaxation and health.

salt cave spa
Salt Cave Spa in Dubai uses salt therapy for relaxation and rejuventation.PC: thenational.ae

20. Watch the Dancing Water Fountains: With Burj Khalifa as the backdrop, these musical fountains at Dubai Marina mall will make for one of the highlights of your Dubai trip. The fountain show takes place every 30 minutes (latest update) and from cheesy Bollywood song tracks to western classical music, you get to see the fountains dance on different kinds of music.

21. Visit the Dubai Museum in Al Fahidi Fort: For the history lovers, Dubai Museum in Al Fahidi Fort offers enough repository of information to understand the growth leading up to the modern day Dubai. This museum can sometimes be like a breath of fresh air when the swankiness of Dubai gets too much to handle.

Dubai Museum
PC: dubaiculture.gov.ae

22. ATV and Quad biking: Get the adrenaline pumping by quad biking across those mirage-filled sand dunes.

Quad Biking Dubai
PC: talenttourism.com

23. Go Around the World in a few hours at Global Village: See the major attractions from around the world at the global village in Dubai. This is your one-stop place to pick up souvenirs and savor cuisines from around the world. You’d have guessed by now that the Emiratis don’t live life in half measures so this ginormous cultural fair is peddled as the ‘world’s largest tourism, leisure, and entertainment project’.

Global village Dubai
PC: globalvillage.ae

24. Dance the Night Away At a Beach Party: Dubai is known for its lively nightlife and make sure you make the best of it while you’re here 😉

Beach parties in Dubai are a great way to make new friends. PC: whatson.ae
Beach parties in Dubai are a great way to make new friends. PC: whatson.ae

Useful little hacks and tips for Dubai:

  1. Get a NOL card as soon as you land here – this card is valid on buses, metros, tram and even water taxis and will make getting by here so much easier.
  2. If you’re here strictly for tourism purpose, get a du or etisalat SIM card from your tourist visa. Don’t buy the SIM card at the airport as that would be double the cost of getting it from a store outside. If you’re looking for a job in Dubai on your tourist visa, it’s better to get a SIM card on a resident’s visa – would save you a lot of heart ache.
  3. No eating in public places during Ramadan. All the restaurants would be closed during day time so take that into account while planning your Dubai trip.
  4. Prefer RTA (authorized Road Transport Authority) taxis always.
  5. Few places like Global Village and Miracle gardens are only open in the winters (~Sep-Mar). So schedule your trip accordingly.

How long is your trip to Dubai? If you need any help or suggestions, let me know in the comments below! 🙂

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Aparna Ghildiyal
I’m a true blue gypsy at heart. YES is my buzzword. Planning a travel adventure? You can always count me in. Treat me to good food, and you can be my friend forever. Fashion has been my guilty pleasure ever since I was a little girl who loved poring over the sparkling jewels and opulent gowns of Disney princesses. Keeping fit and showing love to my body is what keeps me feeling good. I LOVE those looooong discussions and stimulating experiences concerning spirituality, religion, and things beyond – the explorer in me is forever fascinated by these. A neuroscientist-turned-writer-turned-online marketer, my little 5-year-old career has seen me wearing multiple hats. In my world, there are no rules chiefly because I ain’t got no motivation to make or break ‘em.

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