How to spend a day in Dubai in between flights, including travel time from Dubai International Airport
1 Eat, sleep shop and be entertained at Dubai Mall – 13 minutes cab ride You might not think a visit to a retail location is a day out well spent but here there really is something for everyone. Aside from having far too many shops to actually visit in one day, the social experience at the Dubai Mall is important too. There’s something for all the family, including a cinema, aquarium, ice rink, Sega Republic, Emirates A380 Experience, KidZania, plus Dubai’s famous dancing fountain is on the shopping centre’s doorstep in front of the tallest building in the world – the Burj Khalifa. Downtown Dubai (04 362 7500).
2 See the sights from atop a double-decker bus – various pick-up points Purchase a ticket which is valid for 24 hours on a hop-on-hop-off basis. Tickets include entry to museums, boats rides and money off other cool experiences in the city. It’s an easy way to see the Burj Al Arab, the iconic Atlantis hotel structure on the Palm Jumeirah and experience the beautiful beaches. There are options for different routes - so you can focus on different parts of the city if you wish, or do them all. Tickets are available for purchase at the Big Bus Sales counters in all major malls. Narration is provided in a range of languages so wherever you’re from in the world you won’t get lost in the fast pace of Dubai. For more information call 04 340 7709 or email email@example.com
3 Wild Wadi water park – 24 minutes cab ride When the weather is intense where better to go than a water park to cool down and have fun at the same time? Splash about at one of the few places you can spend an entire day with your group. There are three restaurants, plenty of wacky water slides and an artificial surfing machine. Located in Jumeirah it’s also very close to the Burj Al Arab and the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. Dhs275 for adults (above 1.1 metres) Dhs230 for children (below 1.1 metres). For more packages and information visit: www.wildwadi.com
4 Enjoy a Camel Ride – hotel pick-up You can hop on a hump while relaxing on JBR beach (for about Dhs100 for less than 10 minutes) but we think the full experience comes with a trip to the outskirts. There’s an element of cliché to riding a camel through the desert, but it’s actually a great insight into the Bedouin culture that preceded the oil-rich UAE that we know today. What’s more, mastering the belligerent beast is half the fun. On camel-back, enjoy the tranquility of the desert at sunset and the darkness under the stars. Platinum heritage tours will demonstrate cultural activities such as camel rides, henna, falconry, music, dance, bread making and will provide the opportunity to learn how to prepare a local recipe handed down from generation to generation, before enjoying a scrumptious dinner under the stars. Adult: Dhs495 Child: Dhs395 (Rates for children aged 5-11).
5 Skydive over the Palm – 31 minutes in a cab Most people acknowledge this is one of the most thrilling activities out there – the ultimate bucket-list sport. There’s only one place to get a piece of the action in this city, and that’s at Skydive Dubai, located around the corner from the Habtoor Grand hotel. It’s one of the best ways to take in the awesome views of this man-made island. Just ask plenty of stars of have done the same on visits to Dubai. Tandem dives are Dhs1,700 per person, including DVD and digital still pictures. Skydive Dubai, behind Habtoor Grand, www.skydivedubai.ae (050 153 3222).
6 Relax at a beach club – 45 minutes cab from airport Located on an unrivalled spot on Palm Jumeirah’s Eastern Crescent is the Rixos. Its collection of nine restaurants and bars, including the world-renowned Eden Beach Club, provide a dynamic dining and night-life experience while Rixos Royal Spa provides a haven of serenity and relaxation. The resort is a popular destination for families, couples and groups alike, offering a comprehensive programme of daily activities for guests. The place can be accessed both via the road, by boat and by helicopter at the resort’s private jetty and helipad. Visit Rixos.com for more information.
7 Hot air balloon over the desert – 21 minutes to Dubai Outlet Mall in a cab If you’re willing to rise before dawn and take a minibus ride along a dark desert road to Nahe, a Bedouin village between Al Ain and Dubai, then you’ll be rewarded with the finest views of the desert you will ever see. From the basket of a hot air balloon 4,000 feet in the air. You’ll see the sun rise of the mountains, wild animals, a distant skyline and mile after mile of multi-coloured dunes. It is also the closest you’ll find to silence in Dubai. Dhs950; Dhs800 for kids aged five to 12. www.ballooning.ae (04 285 4949).
8 Have a hammam – 25 minutes in a cab Sometimes a standard spa is not enough to give you the rejuvenation fix you desire. At times like that, you need to take a trip to a hammam. These involve opening the pores in a steam room, then bathing with olive soap and mud before an intense exfoliation to get rid of dead skin – you’ll see old skin cells falling off in clumps. The tradition can be traced back to the Greeks but have been popular in Arabia for centuries. The word ‘hammam’ translates as ‘spreader of warmth’ and as the Islamic faith spread, so did the tradition of hammams. Most hammams around the world are communal, social affairs, but in Dubai’s spas the one-on-one hammam has, somewhat thankfully, taken off. One&Only Royal Mirage Spa, Al Sufouh Road, Jumeirah, Dubai. Open seven days a week from 8.30am to 10pm. (04 399 9999).
9 Have a yacht party – 23 minutes in a cab With the many man-made marinas and yacht clubs in Dubai, taking to the waters in a super vessel is a common pastime, and you may be surprised to know that it won’t cost you your life savings to hire one. If you round up a group of friends to match the yacht’s capacity, it can be a more than affordable pastime. Xclusive Yachts in Dubai Marina has a number of vessels of varying sizes for rent, with the smallest being 22ft. Vessels are rented by the hour (for a minimum of two hours) and you’ll head out into the Arabian Gulf and cruise along the stretch of sea in front of JBR, heading towards the top of the Palm Jumeirah. Cruising past Atlantis and towards the Burj Al Arab, you’ll be treated to a view of some of the city’s best-known landmarks from an entirely new perspective, and watching the sunset from a yacht near the edge of the Palm is immensely satisfying. Charter prices with Xclusive Yachts start from Dhs300 per hour for a 22ft rider with a three-person capacity. Prices rise to Dhs4,300 per hour for a 90ft catamaran with a much larger 65-person capacity. Minimum two-hour hire. Dubai Marina, www.xclusiveyachts.com (04 432 7233). See Sailing and yacht charter in Dubai
10 Swim with dolphins and sleep in luxury – 28 minutes in a cab Sometimes all you need when travelling is a good night’s sleep. So book yourself in for some time in a comfortable bed and you’ll even have time left to enjoy the perk of one of the city’s most awesome hotels once you’ve risen. Booking a room at Atlantis is not cheap (in fact, its Bridge Suite across the archway will set you back a cool $26,000 a night). But a night at this five-star funfair of a hotel means free unlimited access to Aquaventure, as well as preferential rates to swim with dolphins. When it comes to dining, Seafire was named Best Steakhouse at the 2011 Time Out Restaurant Awards, and Italian joint Ronda Locatelli is surprisingly affordable. Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, www.atlantisthepalm.com (04 426 0000).