Itinerary: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Have you ever dreamed of being treated like royalty and becoming an Arabian prince or princess? No? Maybe ? Absolutely? Either way, I have, and I recently made all of these dreams come true during a trip to Dubai. I had the absolute pleasure of traveling there with Emirates, who planned the whole trip from start to finish, and of course hooked us up with their famous business class seats (which I think are some of the nicest airplane seats in the world). Needless to say, I am basically head over heals for the Emirates brand. Before I get into this love affair, let me preface that I had flown Emirates business class before back when I went to Cape Town, and it was an absolutely life-changing experience. The service is great, the seats are spacious, the food is fresh and the entertainment selection is out of this world. Every time I have traveled with them (press trip or paid flight), sitting on that plane is fun — it’s part of the trip, not just a way of getting to the final destination. It’s also a great excuse to sit back, relax, watch TV and drink a little too much 😉
Where I Stayed
We stayed in the V Hotel which was extremely modern. The rooms were very spacious, but if you want more of a traditional feel, I would look into a different hotel.
Where I Went
Most people think Dubai is all brand spankin’ new — it’s a new city with new buildings, malls, and every high end brand you can think of. And while this is true, it doesn’t mean that Dubai has no history. It actually does have a rich history where many cultures collide. One of my favorite parts of this trip was visiting Old Dubai, and going to the souks and local food spots.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah
This place is completely opposite of Old Dubai. Souk Madinat Jumeirah is brand new with gorgeous architecture, man-made canals, and updated, modern indoor souks. You can get a great #insta here near the Burj Al Arab.
La Mer reminds me of Santa Monica, California. It’s this beautiful, bright mural-filled beach town with hip shops and great restaurants. You can tell this is a hotspot for expats, as the beach is really crowded. There’s also a playground and waterpark nearby for children.
Jumeirah Beach is another public beach to checkout. We went during the time of the Dubai Food Festival, which was right on the water (highly recommend checking it out if you go!) but this is just a great place to go if you are in need of a nice beach or want to have a quick picnic outside.
Arabian Dessert Safari
You can’t go to Dubai and not checkout the dessert. I don’t care how you do it, but it’s a must. We did a big trip with Arabian Adventures, but I recommend going in your own private jeep to drive around the sand.
This is the tallest building in the world. Do I think it’s worth spending a lot of money to ride an elevator to the top? No. Do I think it’s worth it to spend money to dine at the restaurant on one of the top floors? Yes. The building was so tall, I couldn’t get a great photo, so here’s the view from the top.
The Dubai Mall
The mall is a great place to go if you visit Dubai during the dreadfully hot summer. There are lots of shops and a fun food court. I don’t personally love malls, so I got bored here quickly, but it’s a great place to go see.
Where I Ate
Old Dubai Food Tour
One of my favorite things we did during this trip was the Old Dubai food tour with Arabian Adventures. New Dubai has such an eclectic, modern food scene, with a lot of international influence (particularly influence from the U.S.). But Old Dubai, on the other hand, is full of traditional souks, spice markets, and hole-in-the-wall food joints. Traditional Emirati food is strongly influenced by Turkish, Lebanese, and Indian cuisine, while incorporating lots of fresh Middle Eastern spices. While you’re here, get your hands on some saffron!!! It’s much more affordable here and extremely fresh. I can’t tell you the names of the places we went to for this food tour, but I can tell you that we tried Lebanese juices and flatbreads, dates and candy from a sweet shop, Indian food from a small place in Little India, and we were supposed to go to a Pakistani restaurant, but it was closed for prayer. Don’t do your food tour on a Friday.
Atmosphere at Burj Khalifa
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, Atmosphere at Burj Khalifa is one of the nicest restaurants in Dubai, with much more modern, western cuisine.
Who knew that Dubai had such great Thai food? Well, Thailand is basically the vacation spot for expats living in Dubai — it’s only a 6 hour flight — so needless to say, the Thai food game here is strong. Located in the Madinat Jumeirah, this restaurant is great for any occasion. You have to get there by boat through the manmade canals that weave through the resort. The restaurant is beautiful, yet casual, and there is outdoor and indoor seating.