If you are planning for a visit to Dubai and looking for “Things to Do,” on TripAdvisor; you will find some 420 activities listed with visit to the Dubai Fountains at the top. Expedia, on the other hand, lists visiting Burj Khalifa’s 124th Floor as its top thing to do in Dubai, and 171 other activities. We, however, narrowed our list to 5 must things to do in Dubai.
Let’s be honest; we take vacations to rest and relax, and not to get up early in the morning with another busy schedule similar to home. Is it possible to do say at least 50 activities in Dubai? Yes, only if you are either a resident, or have scheduled a month-long trip. However, No disrespect to TripAdvisor or Expedia, we believe below are the top 5 must things to do in Dubai. Yes, visiting Burj Khalifa and Fountains are on the list, but not at the top.
1- Desert Safari
We selected Desert Safari as our top must thing to do because it contains all the elements. From driving in the city to the desert; seeking individual thrills by riding quad bikes and sand surfing to dune bashing group adventure; and from watching desert sunset to belly and tanoura dancing shows. The best part: Free hotel pick up and drop off service; buffet style food, and full half day of excursion. TwoGlampers highly recommend Oceanair Travels. Read our review of Oceanair Travels experience here.
2 - Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountains
Dubai is all about big, best, and beautiful. Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountains are no exception. Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world, and its 124th, 125th, and 148th observation decks are the highest a non-resident can visit. Dubai Fountains, shooting water as high as a 50-story building, can be viewed either from ground level, or the observation decks. There is no time limit to stay at the observation decks. Our tips: Watch both the sunset, and water fountains from the observation decks. Then take a fountain lake boat ride to watch fountain show up and close. TwoGlampers recommend buying tickets directly from the Burj Khalifa website. Our full review and experience to Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountains here.
3 - Dubai Beaches
Let's be honest; who would not visit a beach at a place with the best beaches in the world? If you are not staying at a resort with a beach; a visit to one of Dubai's many public beaches are the next best thing to basking in sun, sand, and sea. Most beaches are affiliated with hotels and resorts and may charge a fee. However, there are also free beaches open 24 hours a day. Our advice: Check before you visit or be prepared to pay a fee. Our caution: In Dubai, bikinis are for beaches only and not streets. TwoGlampers stayed at the Anantara Resort and Hotel which had private beach access. You can read all about our stay at the Anantara, here.
4 - Gold Souk
If you are ever to buy one and only one thing in Dubai; TwoGlampers recommend buying gold. The best place to buy gold in Dubai is the Gold Souk. Gold is more reasonably priced in Dubai, and gold jewelries are much trendier than most western countries. There are also Silver shops, as well as gift shops, in the souk, for the budget-conscious travelers. Our opinion: Know the 24 carat per gram gold price before heading to shop. Buy 22 carat gold and not less. Bargain and haggle no matter how touristy you look like. Our full review and advice to the Gold Souk can be found here.
5 - Dinner Cruise
If you are a couple; what a night to end your vacation in Dubai with a romantic dinner cruise! There are many cruise operators in Dubai and almost all of them provide the same services: A trip around the creek, buffet dinner, live entertainment, and a few other activities. However, dinner cruise on the last night of vacation yields multiple benefits. Our choice: Booking directly with Rustar's five-star dhow dinner cruise including pick and drop service. Rustar operates the biggest 'dhow' - wooden boat - in the world. Please view our experience with Rustar Cruise, here.
As we mentioned, at the beginning, TripAdvisor lists some 416 activities under its "Things to do" in Dubai section. However, we believe, if you resort to these five must things to do in Dubai, you will cover 80% of Dubai. On the other hand, if you have time and budget, we also made a list of Ten Must Things to Do in Dubai. Both articles, this and Ten Best Things to Do in Dubai, were written with budget and time in mind. TwoGlampers believe that the two most important costs of any trip are travel (airfare, gas, rental car etc.,) and accommodation costs. Third most important cost is the food.
As you can see from the above; two of the five activities include dinners, and two activities are completely free. In addition, Burj Khalifa is located in Dubai Mall where food is available at a very decent price. A meal at a good restaurant in Dubai can cost upwards of hundred-dollars. Planning for activities which include food can result in saving significant money. Dinner Cruise and Safari alone saved us almost two-hundred dollars on food costs. After all, TwoGlampers are all about traveling in four star style at a two star budget!
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