Dubai Things to Do Tips by Durfun
Dubai Things to Do: 701 reviews and 1,569 photos
I had to get a ticket to the Burj Khalifa open-air observatory on level 124. At 828m it is the tallest man-made structure to date. However you would not be that high on the public observatory.
Advance purchase tickets online cost 100 AED plus 5 AED fee, walk-in fees are 400 AED! You must have photo ID to collect your prepaid tickets.
The building has 57 elevators and 8 escalators, but to reach L124 you go straight up in one elevator. The ride is smooth, with the only indication you are moving being the digital floor counter chaging rapidly!
Your At The Top, Burj Khalifa visit begins in the reception area on the lower ground level of The Dubai Mall. Here you will be entertained and informed by a multi-media presentation that chronicles Dubai’s exotic history and the fascinating story of Burj Khalifa.
Leave the reception area aboard the 65-metre-long travelator on a trip that transports you through time, from the earliest days of Dubai to the present. Pause briefly at a unique viewing point for your first close-up view of the soaring Burj Khalifa, seen through a skylight framing its awe-inspiring height.
Begin your vertical ascent to the observation deck in a high-speed elevator, travelling at 10 metres per second. As the doors open, floor-to-ceiling glass walls provide a breath-taking unobstructed 360-degree view of the city, desert and ocean. By night, sparkling lights and stars compete for your attention.
Special telescopes provide virtual time-travel visions of the scenes beyond and below. You’ll see close-up real-time views as well as the past and the future, by day and by night. You can also walk the entire perimeter for the most comprehensive views. If you wish, adventure outside onto the open-air terrace to enjoy another perspective of the sweeping views below.
It was quite an experience to feel how windy it was in the open-air terrace & hence pretty cool temperature-wise!
In just 1,325 days since excavation work started in January, 2004, Burj Khalifa became the tallest free-standing structure in the world. Excavation started in January 2004 and January 2010 saw the Official launch ceremony.
Address: Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa metro
Directions: It seems a few hundred feet away from Burj Khalifa metro station, try walking there! It takes around 10 minutes, meaning the scale of the building eclipses the distance to it - it seems deceptively closer than it really is!
Phone: +9714 8888124
Views over the gulf
Right beside Jumeirah Beach Park that one has to pay for to enter, there is a free public beach. It is that bit closer to Burj Al Arab, being to the south of Jumeirah Beach Park.
You will not find any lifeguards here, but there are some advantages. One can drive their vehicle right up to the beach & park there. Also, you are allowed to take photos!
I had noted people advising to avoid this beach on Fridays (as it's a day of rest, hence large crowds at the beach), but this is certainly not the case till at least midday. You can pretty much have the place to yourself from 0700-1100 even on a Friday!!
The one gripe many locals & visitors voice is that there are often local men leering at the scantily-clad swimmers, often just sitting in their cars or otherwise, with no intention to enjoy the beach & water themselves!!
Address: Jumeirah road, Jumeirah
Directions: Exactly adjoining Jumeirah Beach Park, with green plastic dividers running right upto the water's edge, separating both beaches.
Entrance gates, with opening times notice
There are two good public beaches: Jumeirah Beach Park in Jumeirah, and Al Mamzar Beach Park north of Dubai Creek.
Each charge an entrance fee of 5 AED, but the parks are clean & welcoming. There are high towers for the lifeguards to ensure the safety of those playing/swimming in the sea.
However please note the signs stating no photography is allowed, and you risk prosecution if caught breaking this rule. Also, note that although there are several changing rooms, showers, and sinks, there are no lockers available. Hence, groups out together will put their bags/belongings on the sand with ideally one from the group taking turns in looking after these.
The beach is lovely indeed, with soft, fine sand, and warm, comfortable waters even during mid January. Views south include the majestic Burj Al Arab, with the skyscrapers of Jebel Ali further away.
Opening hours: Sun-Wed 0700-2230, Thu-Sat (and Public holidays): 0700-2300
Monday Ladies Day: 0700-2230
Address: Jumeirah Road, Jumeirah
Directions: Jumeirah Road, past Jumeirah mosque
Location of the museum
This comes highly recommended to understand the history, heritage, traditions & customs of Dubai city.
The museum entrance fee is a modest 3 AED, which is nothing for the amount of information & artifacts on display. You'll get to learn how this Emirate rose to such prominence in a relatively short space of time.
On display are maps of the ever-changing city over the decades & centuries. The open central courtyard displays various traditional boats, each made for a specific purpose. There are several small cabins around recreating traditional scenes such as interiors of houses, etc.
Weapons & their evolution is on display in the glass cabinets in a side building. You'll also see local musical instruments.
The largest section is the downstairs one, with manequinns depicting scenes from traditional ways of life, eg traders sitting by a fire, pearl merchants doing deals, a grocery shop, a spice stall, etc.
There's also a large room dedicated to the importance of fishing & pearl-diving.
Next is an educational room regarding the various productive regions around the deserts, how locals selected areas for settlement, the local animal species to be found in the region, etc. You also come to see how important palm trees were, from making houses to being used as fuel.
Address: West of meena bazaar
Directions: Nearest Metro is Khalid bin al Waleed. From there you go towards meena bazaar, and then turn right, crossing a large car park behind Arabian Courtyard Hotel. The museum is exactly in front of this hotel.
Other Contact: 2245252
4WDs ready for some more action..
This is a fun activity for sure. Most such tours offer quite a lot, starting with picking you up from your hotel, taking you out towards the desert, when they deflate the tyres to offer greater surface area to grip the sand before entering the sand dunes. After this, the wild sand dune bashing begins.
A convoy of 4-wheel drives tackles the sand dunes, with the drivers manoeuvering the vehicles with such skill, whilst throwing the passengers about the place. You will be holding onto the roll-bars so you won't literally be thrown about, but I'm sure you can picture the scene.
Some of the vehicles around you even end up on 2 wheels momentarily. That is just such fun to see.. it all happens so fast, before the vehicle returns on all 4 wheels.
The dunes are of varying heights, and descending them is even more fun as you see how steep the descent is! Then the driver works his magic by negotiating the drop with a great deal of agility & quick thinking in terms of the route to take to prevent an outright tumble!!
Such excursions end with a stop at a 'traditional' camp which is set up such that it blends with it's sandy surroundings. Here you get to pose with camels & ride them, sample Arabic coffe & dates, then look around the various stalls like henna painting, sand art in bottles, etc.
There would be a large central square where a man will perform a traditional Egyptian dance, followed by a woman doing a belly dance. A buffet is set up for which you queue up, and bring your plate to your tables surrounding the central square, so you can admire the dancing while eating & drinking.
Amongst the stalls is also a hookah-smoking place to experiment with this. Further up there are also open wood-fires to warm to whilst admiring the scenes & activity all around you.
After some time relaxing, the drivers call you to return to the vehicles so that you can be dropped off at your hotel.
This brings your half-day safari to an end :-)
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