Stopovers are amazing things. They break up an incredibly long journey and give you time to recuperate. And you cannot beat that feeling of stepping off a 14 hour flight knowing that you can have a short rest and a much needed shower, before falling into a clean and comfortable bed. One of the longest journeys is that trek between Europe and Australia. So when we booked our flight we decided to take advantage and stop over in Dubai on our way back from Brisbane. The only problem with a stopover is you are tired and jet lagged but you are also in a new place and you want to make the most of it. Here are our top Dubai suggestions for making the most of your stopover.
First of all the easiest way to get around Dubai is via taxi. It’s a lot cheaper than you think, and realistically public transport isn’t great especially when you are limited with time. Our hotel had the option for us to book a private car to pick us up from the airport and take us straight there. This was perfect because we didn’t have to think much after arriving. We just followed the man holding a card with our names on it. The drive from the airport is incredible and we spent most of the time just staring out the window soaking it all in. There is sand everywhere constantly reminding you, you are in a desert but then you have the modern buildings giving Dubai that oasis feel.
The hotels in Dubai are an experience in themselves
The hotels in Dubai are flashy and luxurious. Ours alone had several pools, numerous restaurants, as well as a Marina view. You could actually spend days at the hotel just sipping cocktails and floating in one of the many pools. Unfortunately for us time was not a luxury we could afford, however we did spend an afternoon lounging around the hotel. I mean if you are looking for a cure for jet lag what could be better? If you are going to splash out and stay in a resort definitely make sure you give yourself some time to enjoy it.
Of course our first stop after settling into the hotel was the Burj Khalifa. It is accessible through the Dubai Mall, and at 828 metres high it certainly has its place in the Dubai skyline. You need to pre-purchase a time stamped ticket, so sometimes this means it is not always possible to go up straight away. If you are unable to book online prior and do have to wait then it is not the end of the world because the Mall of Dubai is certainly on the list of things to see in Dubai anyway.
Once up the observation deck is located on the 124th floor of the building. The view is just incredible although ours was slightly skewed as there was a lot of dust in the air. It is definitely not for the faint hearted, as when you look down cars become comparable in size to ants. I am not the best person when it comes to heights and when we step into a lift to get to the top of a tall building I do tend to panic. I then somehow manage to stress Dave out and we are both nervous wrecks by the time we reach the top. In the Burj Khalifa however you are treated to a multimedia presentation in the lift whilst making your way up. It was a welcome yet informative distraction to me.
Back on solid ground it’s a great time to explore the Dubai Mall. It’s actually the world’s largest shopping centre which includes all your usual shops and restaurants as well as an amusement park and an aquarium and an ice skating rink. It is well worth the visit especially in those summer months when you learn that air-conditioning is your friend. Next to the mall is the Souq-Al-Bahar with more shopping options as well as some waterfront dining. It’s a great experience and is more traditional in design that the mall itself.
Explore the Souks
Dubai has a lot of man made and modern wonders so we definitely recommend embracing the traditional side with a visit to the Gold Souk and Old Dubai. The souk has over 300 retailers and most of these do trade exclusively in jewellery however you can also purchases souvenirs such as genie lamps and shisha pipes. Across the creek is Bur Dubai which is the historic part of Dubai where you can get a boat across and explore the many souks and museums.
The monorail to the Atlantis
Another must see in Dubai is Atlantis, The Palm, hotel. We got the monorail over and this gives you a fantastic view of the island. The Atlantis itself is such an incredible building and the coolest thing about it has to be the water park. Due to our time constraints we didn’t get to spend a lot of time here so it might be one of those things that we add to our never ending “next time” list. Still it was worth the monorail ride.
Mall of the Emirates
If you get time we also recommend exploring the Mall of the Emirates. It is home to over 600 retail outlets as well as Ski Dubai. It is a large indoor ski resort offering skiing and snowboarding lessons, and to be honest it is a welcome relief from the heat outside. Due to the heat residents flock to the malls especially in the summer months.
With time running out and a 3am flight to catch this bring us to the highlight of our trip- the dune bashing. A 4x 4 picked us up from our hotel in the evening along with 2 other couples and we headed towards the desert. Eventually you lose sight of the flat scrubland and start to see waves of orange sand dunes. You drive in a convoy with quite a few other 4 x 4’s and it is such a thrilling experience. It can also be quite sickly so be prepared. A few of us in our car went incredibly pale afterwards. You also get a chance to take pictures and walk around in the dunes towards the end. It reminds you how vast and incredible the desert really is.
Afterwards you are driven to a desert camp to enjoy dinner and a show under the stars. It is such a beautiful experience and one that we will never forget. You also get the option to go camel riding or sand boarding. We chose the camel ride which was a really fun experience but I am not sure if I would do this again.
Dubai is a wonderful place to visit and we fell in love even for the short time that we were there. It is a great place for a stopover, and you can do this with any Emirates flight at no extra charge. So the next time you need a break between flights look no further than Dubai.
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