This post has taken us much longer to write than we had planned. So recapping, day 1 of our time in Dubai was spent learning about its history and visiting Old Dubai! And now, day 2 was to visit what Dubai has turned into!
We had opted to try a Hop On Hop Off Big Bus tour. We have never done this type of exploration of any city during the 9 years we have travelled. And the experience made us feel a little touristy. Here we were sitting in a double decker bus with our head phones plugged in, listening to English commentary (with choice of 9 other languages). Dubai is really spread out so to see what we thought we should see, we figured this would be the quickest and easiest way. Plus, we had heard advice this was a good way to do it. We don’t disagree.
Included with one ticket (220 Dirham for 24 hours or 295 Dirham for 48 hours), there were two routes: a red one and a blue one. The blue route would take us to all the big malls, famous hotels and man-made islands that we so often hear about. We picked this route first as the red one visited a lot of places we had seen the day before. There was also the option of upgrading to a “combo” tour which was a day and night ticket (total = 295 Dirham) which included a panoramic night tour with a Sound & LIght show at Wafi. We chose this option as we figured it would be a nice way to spend our last night.
As we were staying right by Burjuman Mall, this is where we picked up the Big Bus. The blue route went something like this:
Burjuman > Jumeirah Mosque > Mercato > Jumeirah Beack Park > Jumeirah Public Beach > Atlantis on the Palm > Souk Madinat Jumeirah > Mall of the Emirates > The Dubai Mall > Wafi > Burjuman
The stops in “blue” were where we visited on this trip. Yes, two malls and that was our day gone. But before you judge us for “just shopping” all day. We didn’t actually get to much of that at all. The air-conditioned malls are great refuge from the searing heat outside and that is, in fact, their purpose… along with being a place of entertainment.
In the Mall of the Emirates, we had lunch at a restaurant overlooking the indoor ski slopes. We spent a lot of time people-watching and feeling it was all too surreal to be witnessing indoor ski slopes. Then we just kept walking around and around the mall, quite aimlessly, until we finally decided that we needed to get OUT so we could move onto the next stop, The Dubai Mall. Now, this was where we lost A LOT of time.
Dubai Mall has the Burj Khalifa Observation Deck, Olympic-Size Ice Rink, Dubai Aquarium, The Dubai Fountain and a Gold Souk. We made a bee-line to see the aquarium (tickets purchased through the Big Bus operators) however upon entering the mall, we were welcomed with such icy cold air that we had to purchase ourselves a sweater each. How utterly ridiculous that we were in the desert and needed a jumper to escape the cold of the mall!! We are embarrassed to even confess that.
Anyway, the admission ticket gives access to two attractions: the aquarium and the Underwater Zoo. Not the best aquarium or wildlife park we’ve visited but pretty cool that they’re within a mall.
Before we knew it, we needed to head back to the hotel. Drop off our shopping, grab some dinner before we picked up the night city tour.
Dubai looks pretty impressive of a night. The 15 minute sound & light show at Wafi was a little anti-climatic though. The night city tour definitely showed us Dubai in a different light (no pun intended) and was accompanied with live commentary, therefore no headphones needed – YAY! Here are a few photos of the night.
We had toyed with the idea to do the 4WD sand dune safari and desert dinner for one of our nights here but the temperature was just too hot, we couldn’t imagine being outdoors for any longer than we had to plus we ran out of nights! Guess one day we will have to try that….either back here in Dubai or in another Middle-Eastern country!
Overall, Dubai was NOT our cup of tea. It is not a place we look for when we travel. Yes, there is great hospitality and lots of luxury. And yes, there are shops. And yes, the city probably holds the most world records for the tallest building or most expensive cocktail but that wasn’t enough to win us over. If it wasn’t for Old Dubai, we probably wouldn’t have enjoyed our 3 night stay.