Ok, so the plan I previously posted changed a bit due to the lack of time I had to explore Dubai. After flying, and exploring the city I knew I wasn’t going to be able to rush everything so I had to skip a few things and put them in my itinerary for a longer visit to Dubai in the future. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to visit the old town Dubai Creek. I couldn’t see the Dubai Miracle Garden either, which was a huge shame as it was opening two weeks later.
Don’t get me wrong, I was super excited to see all that Dubai has to offer but I couldn’t have been happier when I felt the hot dry desert air on my skin when walking out of the hotel. That being said it is only natural that the first thing I had to check out was the hotel pool. While I am not an experienced swimmer, I was just dreaming to lay down on a sun lounger by the pool, to feel the warm sun, and cool down in the refreshing water over looking the business district of Dubai. The pool was located on the 10th floor of the JW Marriott (at least I think it was the 10th as the floors didn’t all have numbers). It was fabulous. It was surrounded by different kinds of sun loungers, beds, and even swinging chairs. The view from the pool was truly amazing not only were you immersed directly in the city surrounded by towering sky scrappers and palm trees, but you could see the Burj Khalifa as well. I wish we had more time there but after an hour we got hungry so we decided to get ready and head up again to the Dubai mall. This time we got there during the day and it was more alive.
Upon entering the mall the first thing we spotted was a gigantic aquarium where of course every tourist (us included) had to take a photo. They also had a little tunnel that you could walk through and look up to see all of the sea life above, but we couldn’t be bothered to wait in the long line to walk through the tunnel, as it was such a short experience for such a long queue.
As I mentioned in my previous post the food selection was vast. However, I didn’t have any luck spotting good local cuisine that was simple and not too fancy. The Dubai Mall had a lot of American restaurants and fast food places. We walked around a bit and ended up in a German kebab place to get something quick to eat. It wasn’t fully satisfying but at least we got some energy to start exploring the rest of the huge Dubai Mall. I didn’t walk into any of the shops really but even walking window shopping took me a very long time. I’m still pretty sure I didn’t see everything.
After exploring the Dubai mall, we stepped outside on the riverside. Walking across the river there is a smaller shopping center, Souk Al Bahar which was a bit different shopping experience. You won’t find any fancy brands like Armani or Gucci or even regular shops like Zara here. It’s more for locals with pretty looking outfits and accessories for your home. We grabbed a coffee and sat outside by the river while we waited for our time slot for the Burj Khalifa which was booked for 4:30pm.
The sun was supposed to go to down at 5:30 pm so I figured it’s was going to be good timing to head up the Burj Khalifa. I did read however that the queue can take up to an hour so I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to see the views before dusk. Tip: Make sure you book your tickets in advance even before you come to Dubai. If you buy them on the same day they can be far more expensive. For example we bought two tickets (in advance) for around 230 AED, they were selling same day tickets for 500+ AED. The entrance is in the mall and it’s not hard to find it as there are plenty of signs. When you get to the ticket counter to queue for the elevator you can choose between staying with a standard ticket which will take you to the 124th floor or a more expensive ticket which will take you to the 148th floor and gives you free coffee/tea and biscuits. Be careful as the cashier will try to tell you your ticket is only going to take you half way up the tower and for an upgrade you can go to the top for only an extra 200 AED per person, THIS IS A SCAM. Also, after you get your reservation on your email, make sure you print your tickets as you have to exchange them for actual tickets by the gate. We forgot to print our tickets but luckily there is a shop on the first floor of the Dubai Mall called “Minutes” where you can print tickets for just 10AED per page.
When we finally got our tickets we were approached by one of the attendants by the lift. Since no one was really checking the times on the tickets we were able to head up an hour earlier. It didn’t take too long to get from the entrance to the top of the Burj Kahalifa, I believe it was around 20 minutes. So how does it feel standing on the top of the highest building inthe world? It was suprisingly fine for someone who normally has a fear of heights; perhaps I am just getting over that fear. The view was nice, but not what I was expecting because of the weather which made it a bit hard to see. I am not sure if it was smog, dust or fog but everything I was able to see was very limited. It takes about 30 minutes to walk around the whole floor and there is an outside observation deck, which is great for taking pictures and feeling the breeze. At this point I regretted getting there so early because I had to wait another hour for the night view. While they had little gift shop there was no café, which probably make sense since some people may never want to leave otherwise. After exploring the two floors and taking a break to wait for the sun to set I finally got to see the night views, which were better but still limited. Getting down took a moment as there were only two elevators.
Outside of the mall there is a small lake with the world’s biggest fountain show. The queues and the amount of people standing outside the mall during the shows can be a bit daunting. However, a helpful way to experience these up close is to take one of the boat tours which goes for around 140- 200 AED per person, while it wasn’t too expensive it was a short ride lasting around 15 minutes around the lake and then a stop for you to watch the show on the river away from the crowds. I was lucky as my boat driver let me sit in the front so I could feel like being on the Titanic.
And this is how the first day went by. As you can see I didn’t do much but at the same time I’ve done a lot. I didn’t have to go far to see so many different things. The Burj Khalifa and the fountains are definitely a “must see” in Dubai; even if the weather wont be that great it’s still an incredible experience
Second day impressions:
- Do some research about restaurants in the area you are planning on going too, otherwise you can walk around forever and you may just end up in McDonalds. I am sure there are plenty of hidden local places to eat.
- If you feel like ice-skating, you can do it in the Dubai Mall in the middle of Summer.
- Make sure you print your tickets for attractions like Burj Khalifa. If you forget just look for a shop called “Minutes” which is on the ground floor of the Dubai Mall or around Dubai as well.
- If its not busy you can get in earlier than your tickets say. You can also sit upstairs as long as you want; no one really checks or rushes you out at the Burj Khalifa.