WHAT TO EXPECT
Climate: It gets really warm during the Summer months where the temperature during daytime can go up to about 41C. Winter months are the most suitable and comfortable for travel as the temperature fluctuates between 14C-26
Good to know: The minimum drinking age is 21 and “drunk behavior” in public is not recommended. There are areas where photography is prohibited so always watch out for signs.
Dress Code: Even though temperatures can get quite warm during daytime you should always dress conservatively (Clothes that will cover your shoulders and knees) when visiting public places in Dubai. Again, keep an eye out for those signs. Also pack light warm clothing if you’re traveling in winter as it could get a little chilly during nighttime.
1. Getting around
- To and From the Airport: If you fly Emirates First or Business Class, your journey to and from the airport will be arranged through the airline itself. This is pretty convenient and free so don’t forget to request for it.
If not, you can book a ‘Marhaba Bronze’ service to fast track through the airport with zero hassle. Or just book an Uber.
- Taxi: We always used taxis as it was pretty convenient and fast to get from one point to another. There are two kinds of taxi, Uber and the meter taxi. Please be bear in mind that Uber in Dubai is expensive than the normal meter taxi. But it you’re to take a normal meter taxi please remember to carry cash with you as they do not except cards.
- Public Transport: It is forbidden to eat and drink in the metro. Cabins are reserved for different categories, so watch for the signs before boarding in.
2. Where to stay
During our time in Dubai we stayed at Atlantis, The Palm and the Shangri-La Dubai.
Atlantis, The Palm
Atlantis is more than a luxury resort; it is a magical paradise that holds the distinction of being the first hotel on the Palm. At times, you do feel overwhelmed given the size of this magnificent property. We could only cover about 1/10th of this place so we will definitely be back!
The Massive Lobby at Atlantis is bustling with tourists at any time of day, but don’t forget to take a moment to admire the high ceilings and the Dale Chihuly centerpiece that’s comprised of more than 600 pieces of blown glass.
Our room was on the 7th floor and we absolutely loved the views and the room décor. The room was spacious, clean and newly refurbished.
The private beach and (many) pools make for relaxing places to wile the day away, but if you want a more interactive experience, don’t skip the waterpark or the Lost Chambers Aquarium.
And bear in mind that nowhere else in the world will you find so many award-winning restaurants run by celebrity chefs under one roof. We patronized three bars and two restaurants during our stay and should say we loved everything about those places.
The Shangri-La Dubai
This sophisticated city hotel boasts some of the best Burj Khalifa views in town. This is the perfect hotel for you if you are looking to explore the city and also do shopping as it is located along Sheikh Zayed Road. The hotel is a 15-minute taxi ride to the airport, 10 minutes to Dubai mall and Burj Khalifa, 15 minutes to the Mall of Emirates and the nearest metro is 550 meters away.
The rooms are newly refurbished with modern and comfortable interior boasting views of Burj Khalifa and the sea. The room we stayed in had spectacular views of the Burj Khalifa.
Service is excellent; staff will remember you by name and are genuinely warm, helpful and professional. The fourth-floor pool area has a glamorous feel with amazing Burj Khalifa views, hot pink towels and white colored sunlounges.
The hotel has a great mix of restaurants. There’s an excellent buffet breakfast with a wide selection of pastries, fresh smoothies, eggs cooked to order, homemade sausages, variety of cold cuts along with Indian, Chinese, Arabic and Western hot and cold dishes.
Other recommended places to stay in Dubai (Luxury Accommodation)
There are 4 different hotels on this property making it the largest resort in the Emirate. The resort comprises of three boutique hotels and a courtyard of 29 Summer houses with over 50 restaurants and bars.
- Jumeirah Al Qasr
- Jumeirah Mina A’Salam
- Jumeirah Al Naseem
- Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf
A stunning landmark hotel of distinct pyramid shape with some of the largest rooms and suites in the city starting from 70 square meters. Raffles Dubai has 7 exceptional restaurants and bars making it an ultimate destination in which Dubai can be explored.
Four Seasons Resort at Jumeirah Beach
This elegant beachfront hotel has views of the calming waters of the Arabian Golf on one side and the glittering Dubai skyline on the other. The hotel houses two pools plus eleven tempting restaurants and bars. It is also the closest beachfront hotel to Downtown Dubai.
Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort
This luxurious hotel is nestled on the golden sands of the iconic Palm Jumeirah boasting 400 meters of private shoreline and surround views of the Arabian Gulf. Anantara is also home to the only over water Villas in the UAE.
JW Marriott Marquis
Soaring above Sheikh Zayed Road, JW Marriott is one of the tallest hotels in the world and boasts awe-inspiring views of the water and the Dubai Cityscape. The hotel has gracefully furnished luxury rooms and suites with marble bathrooms and delux bedding. The hotel is also home to 10 restaurants and bars offering flavors from around the globe.
3. Where to eat
Guylian Belgian Chocolate Café at The Pointe Mall
During our stay at The Atlantis, this became our favorite breakfast spot. It is only an 8-minute cab ride from the hotel. The Café is located on the Ground floor of the Pointe Shopping Mall overlooking the crystal blue waters and undisrupted views of Atlantis itself. The café menu showcases a selection of sweet and savory options, from freshly baked pastries, delicious Belgian baguettes and waffles to the signature chocolate desserts, slices and tarts which are perfect for all-day indulgence.
Kaleidoscope Buffet Restaurant, at the Atlantis
No matter what you’re craving for you will find it at Kaleidoscope. You can fill your plates with the foods of the world, from Chinese Dim sum and Indian curries to Italian pastas and French pastries to delectable desserts.
Do keep in mind that this restaurant can get really busy so don’t forget to make a reservation before heading off to dine.
Plato’s Lounge and X Bar
If you’re looking for a sophisticated bar experience, then these two won’t disappoint you. By nighttime, Plato’s transforms into an elegant bar serving eclectic tea-infused and champagne cocktails and unique Gin and Tonic concoctions. At X Bar you can enjoy classic cocktails with simple bar snacks while enjoying the epic views of the Palm.
The Dunes Café at the Shangri-La Dubai
This is a sophisticated all-day dining restaurant located on the ground floor of the Shangri-La Hotel in Dubai. Dunes Café offers a wide selection of mouth-watering dishes, prepared at live cooking stations by world-class chefs. If you happen to be a member of the Golden Circle (Loyalty Membership) you are entitled for a 25% discount when dining at any of their restaurants.
Feast at the Sheraton Grand Dubai
Since we were in Dubai during Christmas time, we had our Christmas Eve dinner at this lovely restaurant. The open kitchen and family style service at Feast made us feel very welcome from the moment we stepped in. There was a Santa going around giving everyone candy cane and taking pictures.
*We do prefer celebrating Christmas in Sri Lanka because our hotels do a fantastic job during this time of the year.
Other recommended Cafes
Shakespeare and Co. UAE (@shakespeareandco)
It is a UAE based Café Restaurant with 18 outlets the UAE. The concept features period inspired decor, an eclectic menu comprising of all day breakfast, and classic dishes from the world’s favorite cuisines.
Choix Dubai (@choixdubai)
It is all about having that Parisian Lifestyle in Dubai. Embrace the culinary lifestyle of the Avenue Des Champs Elysée’s, with a collection of Parisian delicacies from three Michelin start chef Pierre Gagnaire.
Secret Garden by L’ETO (@lovesecretgarden.ae)
For those of you who love floral themed cafés. This one is for you. With stunning flower installations that adorn every nook and corner, you’ll definitely be mesmerized by how seriously this cute spot takes their botanical theme.
*A few more you shouldn’t miss out on if you’ve got enough time to explore
- Cocoa Room (@cocoaroomae)
- Brunch and Cake Dubai (@brunchandcakedubai)
- Desert Garden Dubai (@desertgarden.uae)
- BOCA Dubai (@bocadubai)
- Ammos Greek Restaurant Dubai (@ammosgreekdubai)
- Friends Avenue Café Dubai (@friendsavenue)
- Mezza House (@Mezzahouseme)
- OFK Dubai (@ofk.me)
4. What to do
Go to the Top of Dubai
You can’t visit Dubai without going to the world’s tallest skyscraper, Burj Khalifa. The views from the top are incredible.
Explore Dubai’s old quarter
Dubai used to be a village of fishermen who lived around a creek. For those of you who wish to see what life was like before then this is the place for you. Things you can do at Dubai’s Old Quarter,
- Visit the Gold Souk
- Walk around Al Bastakiya Quarter – Oldest Residential Quarter in Dubai
- Visit the Coffee Museum
- Have a traditional lunch in an Arabic Tea House
- Visit the Dubai Museum
- Visit the souvenir shops at the Souk
- Shop at the Spice Souk
Leave the bright city lights behind and see what Dubai used to look like not so long ago.
Note: While the temps are cooler during the evening and morning tours, winter is the best time for a safari.
Watch the Dubai Fountains
Make sure to visit these fountains at least twice so you can admire both night and daytime shows.
Explore Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi, which is the capital of UAE has got many beautiful places that can be explored. A few include;
- Visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
- Visit to Qasar Al Watan
- Go up the Emirates Towers
- Visit to Louvre Abu Dhabi
- Visit to Emirates Palace
- Visit to Ferrari World
Visit Palm Jumeirah
A trip to Dubai is not complete without a visit to this tree-shaped island that can be viewed from Space.
Explore Madinat Jumeirah
It feels very much like Venice in the Middle East. Part of a 5-start resort where you can walk around, explore the souks and have food. Visit during dusk.
Visit Miracle Gardens
A visit to the beautiful Miracle Gardens is a must during your trip to Dubai. But do note that the gardens are only open during the months of November to March. The garden was launched on Valentine’s Day in 2013 and it occupies over 72,000 square metres, making it the world’s largest natural flower garden featuring over 50 million flowers and 250 million plants.
Visit Lost Chambers Aquarium
This is UAE’s largest aquarium (11 million liters) which houses over 65,000 marine animals.
Visit Al Seef Street
Launched in late 2017 and hugging 1.8km of Dubai Creek’s stately shoreline, Al Seef has two sections that can be explored. The heritage area featuring old architecture and a second space featuring more contemporary structures.
Go shopping at the Dubai Mall
For the ultimate shopping experience, you have got to shop at the world’s biggest shopping mall.
For the ultimate adrenalin junkies, there is no better view than the one that you get when you are falling out of an airplane from 12,500 feet above the ground. This one is not for us!