I’ve been to Dubai airport when I went to Europe many years ago but I’ve never go out and visit the city, last December we visited Dubai and Abu Dhabi in UAE for the first time.
How should you travel around in Dubai?
You can catch the metro, uber, taxi or rent a car and drive.
We tried all the above. The metro is pretty straight forward but it doesn’t bring you to many places. Taxi and uber is very reliable in Dubai.
We took a taxi from the airport to our hotel, it about 30 mins. Taxi are in meter and all taxi are pretty new with meter clearly stated the fares.
Dubai Airport is very efficient, my suitcases were already out at the belt waiting for me to collect once I came out from the immigration custom. The custom clearance were smooth and they used a lot of automated gates. If you were first time to enter the country, you may have to walk to the staff counter. Once you in for the first time, you can then use auto gates.
Dubai Airport has 3 terminal.
- Terminal 1 is for international airlines
- Terminal 2 is for budget airlines
- Terminal 3 is the exclusive international and the biggest in the world.
I tried all three terminals. We arrived in T1. T2 toilets are so dirty and crowded, we used T2 to flydubai to Baku Azerbaijan. T3 was the terminal we used to transit to Europe many years back.
Where to stay in Dubai
Below are the hotel that we stayed.
- Emirates Grand Hotel
The hotel is very convenient if you don’t have a car, it is nicely located to the metro and only 10 minutes drive to Burj Khalifa. We stayed here on first day.
There lot of eateries around the hotel. The hotel is apartment style, it comes with washing machine in the kitchen and a living room with big sofa. No slippers provided so have your owned, else is very dirty to walk around the spacious apartment.
- Carlton Dubai Creek Hotel
The hotel is close to the airport. We choose to stay here because we are going to pick up our rental car in the airport the following morning. At night you can do a Dubai cruise creek. There are also many eateries around this area, including Chinese restaurant owned by Chinese and Chinese supermarket.
- Rove at the park
The hotel is a bit far from the city and it’s for people who are going to the nearby theme park. There is a factory outlets nearby, within walking distance 15mins. Or you can drive there. We choose Rove at the park because it has a big carpark since we have a rental car with us.
Arrived in Dubai at around 6pm, we checked in the Emirates Grand Hotel and later walk around to get our dinner and go back to hotel to rest.
- Burj Khalifa – go up to the top and check on the view. The ticket is expensive to go up. We got the ticket to 124 and 125. The view is about the same when you look down from the plane. The elevator to go up is very fast and smooth. Lots of staff to make sure the lines are in order. Best to come when it starts so that you can avoid at least 2 hours of waiting time. Photographer in the tower charged very expensive price for the photo. If I listen correctly, it is 100 AED for a single photo. You will need no more than one hour up there. The place is quite crowded even though we came here first thing in the morning. I can’t imagine during peak hour like sunset.
- Lunch in Burj Khalifa food court. We have Korean and Chinese food from the food court. The set meal is about 45 to 55 AED, less than 20 SGD. The portion is big.
- Dubai Aquarium. There are different package and we choose “Ultimate Experience” cost AED 299 (SGD 110)
It has the following
-access to Dubai Aquarium and under water Zoo. To be frank, you don’t have to pay the ticket and you can see most part of Dubai Aquarium in the Dubai Hall. The under water Zoo wasn’t so impressive as well.
-Glass Bottom Boat Tour. There is a small boat which can sit up to 6 person touring on top of the aquarium. Honestly you won’t have a good view of the fishes from the top since it is so narrow.
-Fish Feeding. I would rather feed the koi fish in the lakes for free. The amount of fish food given to you is ridiculously little. Don’t waste your time here. The fish feeding area is also very small and narrow.
-Penguin Cove Interactive Platform. There are only a few small penguins in the interactive platform.
-10 AED F&B voucher at Aquarium Cafe
-20 AED voucher at Aquarium Retail Shop. Things are pretty expensive in the aquarium, since we have some voucher so we bought a little penguin thermo flask to bring home.
If you were to ask me should you visit the aquarium. My answer is if you have seen many aquarium in the world, then you can skip this one. If you don’t have any places to visit in Dubai and want to chill in the mall, then please visit the aquarium. Get the cheapest package. The rest are quite redundant to be frank.
Dinner at Dubai on second day near the airport, we are having Chinese.
Day 3 Fly to Baku Azerbaijan
Day 3 to Day 8 Azerbaijan
- Details are in a separate blog
Day 8 Baku to Dubai
Fly back to Dubai and stayed in Carlton Dubai Creek Hotel. At night we went for Dubai Creek cruise including dinner, entertainment on the boat and fire work since it is year end.
Day 9 Al Ain
We catch a taxi to the airport to pick up our rental car to drive to outskirt of Dubai. Tonight we are staying in Al Ain. It is about 1.5 hour drive.
Rental Car review
We were told our car was being upgraded with Mazda 3 hatchback. It has a small room for luggage behind but still the car is very powerful and stable since it is 2 litre car. It looks very new in red color and the wheels are huge so when it is running on the road, it is not bumpy at all.
Driver seat is on the left different from all the commonwealth country and Singapore. We have our international driving permit together with Singapore driving licence but the staff didn’t even bother to look at the IDP, only look at our Sg driving licence.
Road Condition and traffic
The roads are easy to navigate especially once you are out of Dubai. Inside the city, it can get a bit tricky. Speed limit outside Dubai, like near Abu Dhabi and Al Ain is 160km/h. Quite shocking to me! You will see many big cars in Dubai running around the highway.
There are many large, multi-lane roundabouts! Sometimes roundabouts are up to 4 lanes wide, which confuses many drivers. So beware of the big roundabouts, use signals.
There are speed camera so beware and do not speed. We got a fine for speed limit in school zone area. We paid SGD97 (AED247)
In Dubai some places uses app to pay for the parking. So you need to download the app to pay for the parking. We didn’t have the apps download but a kind Indian UAE resident helped us pay for our parking and didn’t take our money.
Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, most of the parking is free at the attraction sites.
Where to stay in Al Ain?
- Mercure Grand Jebel Hafeet Al Ain Hotel
The hotel is located on top of the unique rock mountain high up 3000 feet. It was my first time to see such landscape, quite scary. Desert rock mountain without a single plant. It is a resort style hotel, it has nice view, especially at night when the city light up. The resort is cater for people who want to chill in summer, it has pools and other facilities for big group such as company team building. It is very windy and cold during year end. You need a thick jacket in the morning and night. The location is still not as bad, it takes about 20 mins to go downhill but it’s worth it. We had our lunch in the hotel, the menu offer mostly western fast food choice, not to our liking but the portion is big.
Places we visited in Al Ain after we check in hotel and had our lunch in hotel
- Al Qattara oasis
- Al Jahili fort
No entrance fee for both, no parking fees.
Dinner we had Chin Chin, a Chinese takeaway in one of the neighborhood. The portion of the food is big, we ordered a fried rice, fried noodles and chicken drumlet. I ate it for dinner and next morning lunch. The weather is cold so we can keep it till the next day.
Day 10 Abu Dhabi
Where to stay? Aloft Abu Dhabi
The hotel has a free carpark and it is only 10 mins drive to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Places to visit:
- Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Wear long loose fitting for both men and women. Women need to wear head scarf. Preferable colors are black and white. There are many abaya shops at the mall that connect the Grand Mosque. The entrance of the mosque is from the big shopping mall. There are food courts and restaurants in the mall. No tickets is needed but you need to pre-book online in order to get in. Scan the QR code, can be seen in the mall or you can go online to do the pre booking. There free parking in the basement and outside the mall.
Inside the Mosque, tripod is not allowed but you can hold it on your hand. Take as many pictures as possible because once you walk pass, you cannot go back anymore. Hand gesture is not allowed when you take picture inside the mosque.
- Qasr Al Watan Presidential Palace
The queue to enter the Palace is long, ticket is needed. You can get online or buy at the front desk. There is security checks and scan before entering the palace. Tripod is not allowed inside the palace but you can hold your tripod and do selfie.
Day 11 Dubai
Where to stay in Dubai? Rove at the park
Places to visit:
- Palm Jumeirah
You can park your car at Gateway Station for free for first 3 hours but please remember to keep your receipt or tickets for the monorail. Unlimited Rides covers rides from the Gateway Station at the entry of the Palm Jumeirah, to Golden Mile Galleria, Al Ittihad Park, Nakheel Mall, and Atlantis Aquaventure station at the final stop of the journey.
If you want to see the view from the top, you need to purchase the ticket and go the Palm Tower. Ticket sold at AED100 or sunset at AED158.
- Burj Al Arab
We were trying to drive in and park inside the Burj Al Arab hotel, but since we have no reservation on dining and staying in the hotel, we could not. Well, we can only view it from outside.
Dinner we had seafood paella in the factory outlet near our hotel at Rove at the park Dubai.
Day 12 Dubai
- Miracle Garden
We get our ticket online so that you can skip the queue. Come at 9am before the crowds rush here.
- Dubai Old Town
We park our car at Dubai Creek, since it was a weekend, there is no need to pay for the parking. There are lots of boat ferrying you to the old Town. We have Chinese food at Dubai Creek and went to the old town after lunch. Got a white abaya and some local scarf.
- Dubai Airport
Our flight at 10pm but we arrived at the airport at around 4 plus, it took a while to park the car and wait for our turn to return the key to the counter and there are some checks too on the car just to make sure there is no scratches and damages on the car.
The terminal is not very new and a bit messy so it is best if you can quickly check in. After that we have our dinner inside and did some shopping since we have some AED left.
Dubai is a melting port and I see people from all over the world coming here. I spent about 5 days exploring Dubai, Al Ain and Abu Dhabi. There are a lot of Indian living in Dubai. I also seen a lot of filipino working in the service industry like at the airport duty free, hotel and restaurants. In Dubai creek, I spotted some Chinese restaurants that are running by the Chinese and Chinese supermarket. In the pub, Chinese pop songs can be heard too.