Do you have a flight that has a long stop-over in Dubai? Why not make the most of this situation, and tack on a couple of days to your trip, and enjoy 48 hours in Dubai. You may not get to experience everything that Dubai has to offer, but you will definitely have enough time to enjoy all of the highlights in your 48-hour itinerary.
Dubai is such an interesting city in a constant state of flux. There is so much construction going on, there are cranes all over the city building bigger and better skyscrapers breaking records all the way. The fast pace of growth in this city can be head spinning. It is a city of contrasts – one that is firmly entrenched in its past while embracing & creating the future.
Facts about Dubai that you will need to know before you go.
Before you head to Dubai, it is important to brush up on the cultural expectations before you leave, so that you are not offending anyone, or making travel etiquette mistakes. The United Arab Emirates is a very patriarchal society, where women are not permitted the same freedoms and rights as the men. For example: When you arrive at the airport and look for a taxi to your hotel, if there are women in your party, you will need a “pink top” cab. This has a female driver who will take you where you need to go. Women are not permitted in a taxi driven by men. Women will need to be aware of the clothing restrictions that are put on them by the culture of the UAE.
Location, Location, Location:
Choose your hotel wisely. Where you stay is going to be amazing anywhere in Dubai. Almost all hotels are new / or new-ish so they will all be pretty spectacular. The majority of hotels are also very tall, so the views from your room will be great as well. The location of your hotel should be fairly central in order to enjoy walking around and exploring the city on foot as much as you are able to.
Hop on / Hop off: Big City Bus Tours
To make the most out of your time in Dubai, I recommend booking a “hop on/hop off” bus tour. These are the best ways to see the entire city, and the highlights you will want to visit. The best aspect of these bus tours is that as you see a spot that you want to explore in more detail, you can get off, and pick up another bus later in the day. These tours are perfectly designed to hit all of the hot spots: malls, scenic areas, Souks, historical places, and more. You get to see the beauty of the ever-growing city, and the architecture of the buildings on the rise.
There are different bus tour packages that are actually perfect to meet your needs for a limited time frame. Choose the one that is best for you.
Shopping: Old World vs New World
Dubai is a very wealthy city that has the best of the best of everything. You will find World-class shopping at its finest, including luxury and high-end brands from around the world. The most expensive and exclusive cars, fashions, jewellery, and much more. Many travellers will love Dubai for this, even if it is for just a ‘window-shopping’ experience, or to experience a “lifestyles of the rich and famous” kind of vibe.
In direct contrast to the luxury, this city also maintains the history of their culture. You will find many ‘souks’ (or marketplaces) that have everything you can imagine: fashions, textiles, gold, jewellery, gifts, and spices. A trip through the souks is like a trip back in time, especially given the ultra-modern aspect of the surrounding areas. Our personal favourite was the Spice souk, which is a feast for the senses. There are so many colours, scents, and tastes, you are sure to want to bring some spices home.
There are many amazing activities to do in Dubai to help you fully immerse yourself in the rich culture of the city.
Our favourite activity from our visit was the Desert Safari. Caravans of jeeps deflate their tires and take groups on a thrill ride through the desert that you will find exciting, amazing, and a little terrifying. The ride culminates with a dinner and shows in the middle of the desert. You get to feast on local cuisine while being entertained by belly dancers, and acrobats. There is a market where you can purchase hand-crafted items, and souvenirs, as well as camel rides. This tour can be arranged through your hotel concierge.
The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo is situated inside the Dubai Mall, an expansive shopping complex near the famed Burj Khalifa 160 story skyscraper. This World-class aquarium has the distinction of having the “Largest aquarium viewing window” in the world.
The beaches of Dubai are pristine, white sandy beaches with amazing blue waters of the Persian Gulf.
Located in the Mall of the Emirates, you will find “Ski Dubai”, an indoor alpine snow ski track. If you love to ski, they don’t let the weather stop you in Dubai.
Included in some of the Hop on / hop off bus tours is a Dhow river cruise. This is another great way to see the contrast of the city from the old world and the new – and future.
I would also recommend any visitor to be sure to visit one of the many mosques to appreciate the importance that faith plays in the lives of the people, their architecture, and their way of life.
To get the most out of your trip to Dubai, I highly recommend picking up a copy of the DK TRAVEL GUIDE for Dubai. These books are such a huge help when exploring a city for the first time. They help you navigate through the city, and find the key attractions, events, and sites that you will want to see. With easy to read maps, lists of attractions, focus on some key neighbourhoods, and ‘top ten; lists of restaurants, hotels, etc. are sure to make your vacation a success. In an age of technology, I find these books are indispensable when I visit a new city.
Enjoy your trip to Dubai.