City guide: Dubai

City guide: DubaiSeawings

Need a Dubai city guide? If you like your holidays full of sun, sea and shopping, then Dubai (United Arab Emirates) is the perfect destination.

12 PHOTOS
City break guide: Dubai
See Gallery
City guide: Dubai

Dubai is at its best during the winter (December - February). The days are warm and the nights are cool. This is also the time of year when the most of the city's premier events are staged, including the Dubai Shopping Festival (Jan-Feb), world-class concerts and shows (in the past these have included ColdPlay, Kylie Minogue, Elton John and Cirque du Soleil), and sporting events (The Rugby Sevens).
The city is best avoided during the hot summer months (April- September) as the mercury skyrockets to 40 degrees and up during the day with little respite at night. Travel during the holy month of Ramadan (the dates of which change each year) is also not advised, as many of activities are curtailed and restaurants and bars are shut or only offer a limited service during this period.

Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and Emirates Airlines offer daily flights to Dubai from most major airports in the UK. Once in the city, it's easy to get around. It's not necessary, or often possible, for temporary visitors to hire a car. However, taxis are both plentiful and inexpensive. The new Dubai Metro, is also a cheap and safe way to navigate the city.
To get a view of the city from the water, you can take an Abra (a small boat) for the princely sum of Dhs1 across the creek - look out especially for the old shows that line the edge. These boats still play an integral role carrying goods across the Gulf and the horn of Africa.

One thing that Dubai doesn't lack is a ubiquity of outstanding nightlife venues and top class restaurants. For cocktails and an unsurpassed view of the city, visit Neos at The Address Hotel. Bar 360 at The Jumeirah Beach Hotel is the place to go for a sundowner – located at the end of a long pier in the Arabian Gulf, it offers great views of the iconic Burj al Arab. Trilogy at the Madinat Jumeirah and Chi are nightclubs that often attract some of the best-known DJs around.

There are several thousand restaurants in Dubai that cater for all tastes - from those that will make the foodies salivate (Gordon Ramsay's Verre, where you can even enroll in a cooking lesson at The Hilton Dubai Creek and Gary Rhodes' Mezzanine at The Grosvenor House Hotel) to cheap and cheerful cafes such as The Lime Tree on Jumeirah Beach Road and More.

Visitors to Dubai are often boggled by the range of must-do activities available in the city. Number one on any tourists list at the moment is a trip up to the observation deck of the Burj Khalifa (AKA the tallest building in the world)...

However a trip on a sea plane with Seawings is a much better way to see the city from the air, particularly if you're interested in seeing the man-made Palm and the islands of The World...

Dune-bashing in the surrounding desert is a must for thrill seekers, while a visit to one of the city's many spas, such as SensAsia, is a must for those in need of relaxation. Kids (and lots of adults) love water parks, and in Dubai there are two to choose from - Wild Wadi (at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel) and Aquaventure (The Atlantis). Ski Dubai at The Mall of The Emirates is also a popular choice.

Dubai Mall is the world's largest shopping mall - it has hundreds of shops, a cinema, an ice-skating rink and a huge aquarium that's home to thousands of sea creatures, including sharks, sting rays and monstrous fish. Situated directly beneath the Burj Khalifa, it is also adjacent to the Soul al Bahar, which is a great spot for dinner, a drink and to see the spectacular dancing fountain - it rivals that other famous fountain outside the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.

Dubai was initially known as a trading hub, specifically for pearls, which makes the areas that border the creek and the port - such as Deira and Bur Dubai - a must visit if you're interested in learning more about the Emirate's history. The Dubai Museum is a good place to start, as is walking around the recently renovated area known as Bastikiya. You can also visit the Gold and Spice souks in Deira - it's a great place to pick up a bargain and to hone your haggling skills. To learn more about Islam, the Jumeirah Mosque offers a tour on Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesday and Thursdays - women need to make sure your head and shoulders are covered.

Although Dubai is an Islamic state, it is still thought of as rather liberal and English is widely spoken. Drinking alcohol is allowed in all bars and restaurants as long as they are located inside hotels. The only time when this is not the case is during the holy month of Ramadan, Islamic holidays (such as Eid) - so it's a good idea to check the calendar for booking your tickets and when the State is in mourning.

Despite the availability of alcohol, public drunkenness is illegal and can result in arrest, harsh fines and a stay in prison. Drugs are also strictly prohibited - a prison sentence can be expected for anyone caught bringing them in or found in possession of in the city.

Women do not need to cover their heads, but are advised to dress discretely when in public places to avoid causing offence, this includes covering your shoulders and avoiding short shorts and skirts.

Dubai is famous for its range of high-class luxurious hotels, from the self-classified seven-star Burj al Arab to the new Armani Hotel in the Khalifa. Three of my favourites, however, are:

The Park Hyatt -  which is located on the creek and home to my favorite spa (Amara) and two fab restaurants; Traiteur (a French brasserie that also does a brunch on Friday with an outstanding all-you-can-eat buffet and free-glow champagne), and The Thai Kitchen.
Al Manzil Hotel is four-star and therefore the cheapest of the bunch. However, the rooms are spacious and comfortable and what it lacks in opulence it makes up for in location. Situated in The Old Town (ironically one of Dubai's newest areas), it's within easy walking distance of The Souk al Bahar, Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa.
is one of Dubai's older hotels, but is also home to Verre, Gordon Ramsay's award winning restaurant. The food is fantastic and you can even book in for a cooking lesson with one of the establishment's head chefs.
To book a Dubai break, check out
Virgin Holidays, which offers some fantastic package holiday deals to Dubai from t £493.

One of the quickest and easiest ways to see the city as well as get your bearings is by hopping aboard the Big Bus Tour. They operate both day and night services and cover off all of the city's biggest sites as well as providing a commentary on the history.

To learn more about Islam, the Jumeirah Mosque offers a tour on Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesday and Thursdays. Ladies, make sure your head and shoulders are covered.

There are also a number of companies, such as Arabian Adventures, that offer day trips into the desert for dune bashing (driving up and down sand dunes), quad biking, wildlife safaris and cultural experiences and entertainments.

If you're interested in going further afield, a day trip to the fjords of Musandam (Oman) is a must. Hop aboard a dhow for a spectacular trip - you're assured of seeing dolphins, you can go snorkeling in the clear blue water and the history of the region is explained.

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS