Happy New Year!
To kick off 2022, I traveled to the United Arab Emirates for the first time and visited Dubai. I stayed at TRYP by Wyndham Dubai for five nights. To start, I do not recommend this hotel, sadly. While the location was great, there were just too many frustrations we dealt with, and complaints that fell on deaf ears. The rooms were extremely small, along with the other facilities such as the gym. Trying to call an elevator could take an upwards of five minutes at times, and there were language barriers with many staff that made basic requests like more washcloths impossible.
Outside of the hotel, there were many highlights of the trip. I’ll begin with a once in a lifetime experience.
Dinner in the Sky
Easily the most unique dining experience I’ve ever had, on the evening of NYE I was suspended by a crane 50 meters high in the sky of Dubai while indulging in beautiful scenery and luxury dining. Dinner in the Sky is located in Sky Dive Dubai and while pricey, a great bucket list item to check off. We enjoyed great music while enjoying a beef dinner with salad and a delectable dessert. It was most definitely a great start to the trip!
Your trip to Dubai is simply incomplete without a yacht experience. Dubai is globally famous for luxury yachting, as the sightseeing is unmatched and it offers a great way to explore the city. We found our tour on Viator and the pros were: good food, great view and luxurious experience but the cons were: limited space and seating and lack of entertainment. Overall we enjoyed ourselves. If you get motion sickness, do not forget to pack your Dramamine!
Travel to Dubai is also incomplete without a day trip to Abu Dhabi. This is where we were more immersed in local culture and got to visit the most beautiful mosque in the UAE; the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. While I do not recommend the vendor we used for our day trip, I suggest planning a day trip to Abu Dhabi to experience all it has to offer, to include the Emirates Palace, Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld. Keep in mind you will have to dress and behave respectfully.
Our desert safari experience was action-packed and incredible! After going to some markets and being given the opportunity to ride ATV’s, we went dune bashing with a professional driver at the wheel. This experience is not for those with weak stomachs! I’m happy to say I did it, but probably don’t need to again. After our arrival at Bedouin camp, we got to experience everything from henna painting, a belly dancing show and a full barbecue buffet dinner. I am realizing that my favorite vacation excursions usually involve animals, so of course, the camel riding was the highlight of my evening. I definitely recommend this tour and it can be booked on Viator as well.
Throw It in the Bag!
I don’t typically do much shopping on vacation, but I do like to pick up a few souvenirs for my nephew and daughter while away, and Dubai made that easy for me. The Dubai shopping scene is inclusive of immense and luxurious shopping malls, it’s easy to find world-famous brands and a shopaholic’s dream. We went to Dubai Mall, it’s allegedly the world’s second largest shopping mall and were overwhelmed! So if you’re a fashionista like my twin sister, leave extra room in your luggage to head home with goodies.
Know Before You Go
- Transportation: Unlike most destinations, I found that we got a better bang for our buck when we used taxis versus Uber. There was a fee Uber added with each trip and we found it was often cheaper to take a metered taxi versus a trip where the price was predetermined.
- Be Respectful: Keep in mind that you are visiting an Islamic country where locals respect their culture and traditional values. Do research before you visit establishments, and especially before traveling to mosques. You will want to have your proper attire beforehand, and remember to follow all of the rules! For example, in the mosque touching was not allowed, or any hand gestures so my husband and I took photos side by side.
- Melting Pot: Dubai takes the term melting pot to a new level as there are many nationalities from different parts of the globe residing there. Only 10% of the residents are citizens, so you will interact with people from everywhere! To illustrate, we had a server from Colombia, met a family from Ethiopia, and a tour guide from Pakistan. This can make communicating a bit more difficult as there seems to be many different languages spoken and no common accord.
- COVID, COVID, COVID: COVID is still wreaking havoc on the travel industry, and the current 24 hour PCR test rule is extremely stressful. There was a surge in tourism for NYE, and it was impossible to find a testing facility that could return results in 24 hours or less. We had an appointment set and the administrators never showed up. We spent our entire last day trying to find an alternate place to get tested. In the end, we went to Aster Clinic for our 24 hour test, but we were only able to board our flight with a rapid antigen test we were able to take in the airport. We had our PCR results in time for our flight to DCA from Canada. Be sure to book multiple COVID tests before your return as a backup, and remember to submit your insurance claim when you return!
I loved Dubai and would recommend you add it to your list of places to visit. I also think Dubai is a great option for a family vacation, as there are many family friendly activities available such as the theme parks and Dubai has a summery climate year round.
Have you been to Dubai? What did you love the most?
Thanks for reading!