Ah, Dubai – the city of the future. Where you won’t find one piece of trash on the street and every car is seemingly brand new. Located in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is a great destination for travelers who are on their way to Asia from the U.S.
Here’s what to see and do while you’re in Dubai:
The Burj Khalifa
The Burj Khalifa is famous for being the tallest building in the world! Plan a trip to the top for stunning views of the city, and get a very Insta-worthy photo while you’re at it. Purchase your tickets ahead of time to avoid waiting in line.
The Dubai Mall
The Dubai Mall is beautiful, and it’s a great place to escape the heat (just bring a sweater because the AC is cranked up inside!). The Dubai Mall features a huge aquarium, skiing, tons of restaurants and of course, shopping. Plan to have dinner outside on one of the air conditioned patios, and catch the spectacular fountain performances that start around 8pm each night.
Deira (aka Old Dubai)
If you’re looking to catch a glimpse of what Dubai was like before all the skyscrapers and swanky hotels, venture over to Deira, which is only a 20 minute cab ride from downtown Dubai. Check out the souks for some shopping, but be prepared to get hounded by eager sellers. Take a ride in an abra (small water taxi) down the Dubai Creek for some cool views of Old Dubai, and if you have time, pop over to the Dubai Museum for some interesting history about the region!
The Palm & Atlantis
The Palm, a manmade island, and the Atlantis Resort are other popular tourist destinations, thanks to social media. If you aren’t staying at Atlantis, you’ll definitely want to make your way over to the beach to take a look. We recommend taking the monorail for the best view of the Palm and Atlantis (if you take a cab in, it’s hard to see anything). Walk around Atlantis for a bit, then grab a cab to stop at the Burj Al Arab for a quick photo opp.
Visiting a mosque is a must in Dubai. At Jumeirah Mosque, you can catch a quick tour 6 days a week – just be sure to wear a scarf inside!
This is a MUST on your trip to Dubai! There are tons of excursions into the desert so whether you prefer camel riding or dune buggies, there’s something for everyone. Most tour companies even pick you up and drop you off at your hotel, so it’s super easy. Tours offered through Get Your Guide are great because you get to enjoy 45 minutes of camel riding through the desert followed by an authentic Bedouin experience which includes a sunset dinner, performance, henna tattoos and more. Make sure to wear a keffiyeh to protect your face from the sand!
Traveling to Dubai during Ramadan:
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and it’s observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting. Ramadan falls at different times each year because the dates are based on the Islamic lunar calendar. Be sure to check the Ramadan dates before your trip to Dubai, so you are aware, and can plan accordingly. Dubai is quite calm during Ramadan, so you can forget about huge crowds and lines (yay!). All of the tourist attractions are open, so no worries about missing out on items on your itinerary 🙂
Because everyone is fasting during Ramadan, restaurants are NOT open from sunrise to sunset. This doesn’t mean that you can’t eat, but it is hard to actually find food, and you CANNOT eat or drink (even water) in public. This is not an exaggeration. Most hotels offer food during the day, but you have to eat it in your hotel room. If you are traveling during Ramadan, you should immerse yourself fully in the culture and fast with the rest of the city from sunrise to sunset!
Dubai is a very progressive city, even during Ramadan. As a tourist, wearing shorts to an outdoor market or a bathing suit to a beach is totally fine. However, you should dress conservatively when you are walking around the mall or going to mosques because it shows respect. This means wearing longer pants or a long skirt and covering your shoulders.
You can pretty much forget about alcohol in Dubai during Ramadan. Even after sunset, a cold glass of wine is hard to come by in any of the restaurants. You might have better luck at the clubs, though!