First Timers Guide to Visiting Dubai

When we went travelling in June, Dubai was our first stop and it quite literally took our breath away. The skyline was the most incredible I have ever seen and it’s home to the most beautiful and ultramodern architecture. The tallest building and biggest shopping mall in the world are also situated in Dubai. We squeezed a lot into the 3 days we had because there’s so much to do and see, so here’s my guide of absolute musts if you are jetting off to this incredible city, especially for the first time.

 

STAY IN THE MILLENNIUM PLAZA HOTEL

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This is a 5-star hotel that is located on ‘Sheikh Zayed Road’, the main road that links Abu Dhabi to Dubai. We got a room upgrade to a premium room on the 37th floor and it was probably the nicest hotel room we stayed in during the entire trip – and we stayed in a lot of hotels. It was in close proximity to all of the tourist attractions, with a metro station only a 5 minute walk away and a Subway restaurant around the corner. We also had access to the most amazing infinity pool that overlooks the city. I would highly recommend it!!

 

VISIT THE BURJ KHALIFA

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You can’t go to Dubai and not visit the tallest building in the world! It is the most surreal sight ever because you get a full 360 view of the city: you can see dessert, the ocean and the palm islands from the 125th floor. I would advise booking online in advance because you have to select a specific time slot on your chosen day. It is approx. £27 p/p, depending on the exchange rate, but I promise it is 100% worth it.

VISIT THE DUBAI MALL

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You have to actually walk through the Dubai mall to go up the Burj Khalifa, so you are best doing these in the same day. Although, you could visit the mall everyday for a week and still not get around every shop – it is massive (a literal shopaholics paradise). Aside from the abundance of shops that range from designer to high street, there are other ‘must see’ attractions in the mall:

The fountain

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Life-size divers plunge down three-storey high walls of water in this incredible feature.

The aquarium and underwater zoo

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This is the worlds largest perspex-window. Although it is free to view, it is well worth buying tickets as you get to walk through the tunnel which takes you through the tank.

Note – you are not allowed to show your legs or shoulders in the Dubai mall, so remember to cover up.

GO TO PIER 7 FOR DINNER AND DRINKS

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Situated on Dubai Marina, Pier 7 has seven different restaurants ranging from premium Asian food to classic pub-style food.

To dine: Asia Asia

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This is definitely not cheap Asian cuisine. It was the most expensive place we ate on the entire trip, but it was worth every penny. The decor is stunning, the food is delicious and the staff treat you like royalty. Also, v big thanks to Michael for taking me out to celebrate because I passed my 3rd year uni exams!

To drink: The Scene or Cargo

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We went to The Scene for drinks and it was fab. It was busy, but not too busy with good music, a laid-back atmosphere and an outside seating area so you can enjoy cocktails on the marina. When we went, there was a promotional deal of 5 cocktails for about £30 which is an amazing price compared to everywhere else – especially when they look and taste so good!

DO A DESERT SAFARI

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If you do one thing in Dubai, let it be this. There are so many different tour groups online, which makes it difficult to know what one is the best. However after reading probably too many reviews, we booked the sunset Arabian Nights Tour, and paid roughly £65 each. This includes: the driver picking you up from and dropping you back off at your hotel, sand dune bashing, sunset photo opportunities, a camel ride, sand boarding and entertainment. The tour companies also set up a camp for tourists in the middle of the desert with free soft drinks and food and a chance to purchase any professional photos taken of you.

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I would highly recommend the tour – we had a great day and night and met some lovely people. However, I would advise you skip the camel ride if you can as they were extremely distressed and kept whining, crying and jumping anxiously. I sincerely regret doing it as it only lasted a couple of minutes and was merely a photo opportunity and I ended up crying the full time as I was devastated for the poor camels.

VISIT ATLANTIS, THE PALM

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It would have been way too dear for us to stay at the Atlantis during our trip, but it didn’t mean we couldn’t go and see it! We got a metro from the Burj Khalifa that takes you right onto the palm island; the ride is worth it even to see the scenery. If you are not a guest you can dine at some of the restaurants, including Gordon Ramsay’s, and admire the beautiful hotel from the boardwalk. You can also purchase tickets into its infamous aquarium, but we didn’t bother because we had paid into the one at the Dubai Mall. You can also go to the Aquaventure Waterpark, but you have to be a hotel guest to use it.

OTHER THINGS TO DO

We couldn’t do everything we wanted either because we didn’t have a lot of time, or because it was Ramadan when we went so not everything was open or easily accessible. If I ever return, I will definitely try to tick these off my list:

Visit the Burj Al Arab

See the Dubai fountains at night

Go to Zero Gravity Beach Club

Go to one of the iconic beaches

Do a yacht tour 

Get drunk at one of the many nightclubs

 

 

 

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