Arrived at the Dubai airport very late at night, and customs was relatively easy to go through. There were cabs waiting right at the exit for passengers. Just like most places in the world these cabs are prepared to rip you off, don’t just settle for the price they give, research how much it should cost before you get there that way you’re not over paying. * Also a good (very inexpensive) option is the metro.
My hotel was about a 15 minute cab ride from the airport, and happened to be in a good location, near everything in Dubai. For only $80/night I couldn’t complain. I arrived at the Ibis World Trade Center Hotel at about 1am, the front desk was courteous and eager to help. After check in I immediately went to my room to go to sleep. My first thought about the room was it was clean, but tiny. To be completely honest I didn’t mind the size of the room because I only planned to sleep in there (but for those of you who care about the size of your room I’d see if they offer suites).
In the morning it was time for the exploring to begin. (I had tried to book a city tour for the morning but offices in Dubai do not open until 9am and the tour started at 9am so that didn’t work out. So if you want to book an early morning tour make sure you book at least 24 hours in advance). It’s hard not to be captivated by all the beautiful buildings Dubai has to offer, and also how they manage to keep their city so clean. I heard rumors that the Metro in Dubai was expensive so I decided to walk through the city (I actually covered a lot of the city on foot).Eventually after a lot of walking I wound up at the Dubai Mall. From where I entered it looked like any other mall, but once I went to the actual mall I realized I was in for a big surprise. The mall had an ice skating rink, water fall, amusement park, movie theater, aquarium, and so much more. The Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world (based on total area) and I easily got lost inside this mall.
I didn’t have time to visit the Aquarium that was inside the mall but you could get a nice look at some of the fish from just passing by (it looked like a giant fish tank inside the mall). The fish tank had sharks, stingrays, and so many other fish. Also while walking past, I noticed about five scuba divers inside the tank, they were cleaning the tank and feeding the fish (I also think they just swam in the tank for entertainment haha).
After taking some time to explore the mall, it was time to head back to hotel to get ready for an excursion I booked. Right outside the mall was the Burj Khalifa. This building is really magnificent and something everyone who visits Dubai should make time to see. (I will go into more detail about this later.)After resting up it was time to hit the desert. On the way to the desert the driver stopped at a super market (which the locals obviously knew the trucks stopped at). As soon as you walked inside the super market locals were trying to sell you turbans, scarves, and local dress. They obviously aren’t use to people telling them no because as soon as you walk in they start dressing you and then ask you for the money. Being from New York it was easy to take it off and tell them “no thank you” but others weren’t as lucky, haha. The first stop after the super market was an ATV spot. To rent an ATV it cost 100 AED which is about $27 USD. This was a lot of fun and I highly recommend it to whoever does the Desert Safari Tour. It was a pretty decent size Arena and you can ride around for however long you’d like. I honestly found this the most fun of the Desert Safari Tour.The next part of the Desert Safari Tour was riding through the desert with your driver. The driver drove fast through the desert, up and down all size sand dunes. This was very exciting and felt like being on a roller coaster. This was so much fun and my second favorite part of the Desert Safari Tour. I have a video from this, I’ll have to upload it to YouTube and add the link to the blog later (stay tuned for that video).Finally after the ATVs and the ride through the sand dunes we arrived at our camp. I thought that we were going to be able to ride camels through the desert, but instead they gave us a quick camel ride through a coral (kind of like a pony ride at the zoo). The one thing I really disliked about the Desert Safari Tour is that they tried to nickle and dime you for everything at the camp. You want Shisha? – OK its free (as per advertisement), you want one that actually tastes good? That’s going to cost you. You want Henna? – OK its free (as per advertisement), you want one that’s going to go past your finger? Oh thats going to cost you too. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the experience but I wish that they weren’t trying to get every bit of money they could out of you.After the sun went down the entertainment started. There were three different entertainers, a guy in a dress, a guy who danced with fire, and a belly dancer. The guy who danced with fire was my favorite, he did so many amazing tricks, and never once lit himself on fire, haha. The guy in the dress did a couple of cool things, and I’m still not sure how he didn’t get dizzy (his whole five minute act he was twirling around). The belly dancer didn’t belly dance that well in my honest opinion, but it was entertaining to say the least. There were so many places to book the Desert Safari tour through but I think the place that offered the most for the best price is GoDubai.com . You can book your package by clicking the link here. The Desert Safari Tour started around 230pm and ended at 9pm (from pick up to drop off).
After the night ended I tried to find a bar to grab a drink, which I knew wasn’t going to be too easy of a task. I went to the hotel bar but the atmosphere was horrible. There was no one in the bar except for me and one other person. I looked online and couldn’t find any bars listed except hotel bars, all of which were absolutely empty. Eventually I started roaming the city, when this Angel of a man told me about McGettigan’s. When I arrived there the atmosphere was awesome, live music, the bar was packed, the bar tenders knew how to mix drinks, it was a great night. So anyone visiting Dubai looking for a good bar with a great atmosphere you should definitely check out McGettigan’s. Click here for their website. Its right by the World Trade Center stop on the Metro.
The next day I did the Dubai City Tour, and I wish I would’ve booked it through GoDubai.com . My city tour consisted of a lot of gift shop stops (which were called “museums”) where we were being pestered into buying things, the GoDubai.com itinerary for the city tour looked so much more interesting. I booked my City Tour through Desert Dunes Tours & Safaris.
Last but certainly not least was the Burj Khalifa “At The Top” tour. During this tour you took the elevator up 124 stories, and it got you to the top in exactly a minute. My ears popped atleast 5 times during the ride to the top. I definitely recommend doing this. It only costs $38 USD if you go during peak hours, and the view from the top is amazing.