(SPOT.ph) Known for its wealth and modernity, Dubai is one destination most jetsetters check out at least once. It began as a humble fishing village in the early 18th century but has since evolved into one of the most progressive cities within the United Arab Emirates. Serving as the business and transport hub for this side of the Arab region, Dubai attracts travelers and expats from all over the globe. It’s no surprise then that’s there no shortage of exciting things to do.
Here are a few thrills you'll want to experience in Dubai:
Explore Dubai’s mega malls
Filipinos are no strangers to sprawling malls. Dubai, however, takes this seemingly mundane activity to a whole other level. The Dubai Mall, for example, boasts an underwater zoo and a state-of-the-art virtual reality park, while the Mall of the Emirates has its own indoor ski resort! If that’s not enough for you, the Ibn Battuta Mall, inspired by the famous Moroccan explorer of the same name, holds the title of the largest theme mall in the world.
The Dubai Mall, open daily from 10 a.m. to 12 a.m., is located along Financial Center Road. Mall of the Emirates, open from Sunday to Wednesday (10 a.m. to 12 a.m.) and from Thursday to Saturday (10 a.m. to 1 a.m.), is along Sheikh Zayed Road. Ibn Battuta Shopping Mall, open daily from 10 a.m. to 12 a.m., is located adjacent to Sheikh Zayed Road between interchanges 5 and 6. For more information, visit the websites of The Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates, and Ibn Battuta Mall.
Marvel at Dubai's cityscape from the world’s tallest building
A skyscraper amongst skyscrapers, the 160-storey and 828-meter Burj Khalifa continues to be the tallest structure on the planet. This landmark of human ingenuity was built in 2009, and houses the world's fastest double-deck elevator with a speed of 10 meters per second. Visitors can visit At The Top on the 125th floor, which is one of the world's highest outdoor observations at 456 meters above ground, for 370 dirham (approximately P5,000).
Burj Khalifa is at 1 Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai, Dubai, U.A.E. For more information, visit Burj Khalifa's website.
Pay homage to one of the world’s most beautiful mosques
Technically located outside of Dubai in the capital of Abu Dhabi, no visit to the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) is complete without a tour of the magnificent Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque. With its intricate murals and snow-white structures, it’s truly an awe-inspiring sight. Built by the late president Sheikh bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the mosque was meant to serve as a unifying symbol for the various cultures within the Islamic World. One needs to be extra careful, however, when taking pictures within this sacred structure as pop singer Selena Gomez recently learned. She was chastised by her millions of followers for posing for pictures with her ankle showing!
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center is at Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Sreet, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. It is open from Saturday to Thursday (9 a.m. to 10 p.m.). For more information, visit Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center's website.
Train like an F1 driver
If you’re a car junkie, then you definitely won’t be left wanting when walking around the streets of Dubai. There are probably as many luxury cars parked around the corner as there are people. The true automobile enthusiast would not be satisfied until they visit Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, which is the car manufacturer's first branded theme park established in 2010. It features pulse-pounding attractions like Formula Rossa, which is dubbed as the world's fastest roller coaster. There's also the Scuderia Challenge, which allows participants to train like an Formula One driver through a state-of-the-art simulator. Speed junkies, rejoice!
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. It is open from Saturday to Wednesday (11 a.m. to 8 p.m.) and from Thursday to Friday (11 a.m. to 10 p.m.). For more information, visit Ferrari World Abu Dhabi's website.
Spend a day in a four-in-one park
Only in Dubai can you find glow-in-the-dark installations, ice sculptures, eco-friendly art, and animatronic dinosaurs all in one park! Dubai Garden Glow opened in 2005 and has been a popular destination for locals and tourists alike for its eccentric, mind-boggling attractions. Open only during winter, it’s the perfect place to take kids and kids-at-heart looking for a different kind of sight-seeing experience.
Dubai Garden Glow is at Gate 6 and 7, Zabeel Park, Dubai, U.A.E. It is open daily from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., from October to April the following year. For more information, visit Dubai Garden Glow's website.
Dine like a sheik at the Burj Al-Arab
Burj Al Arab is a lavish hotel that looms over Dubai with imposing beauty. A supposed hideaway for the rich and famous, regular folk can experience the grandeur of the 202-room hotel by booking a traditional afternoon tea at one of their in-house restaurants called Sahn Eddar. You can splurge for a day and dine like royalty for at least 550 dirham (approximately P7,600) per person.
Party like a rockstar in Dubai’s nightclubs
Dubai may very well be one of the few Arab cities where drinking and partying is more than okay—and the numerous nightclubs in and around the area do not disappoint. For fans of over-the-top places, Base is a good choice with its spacious interiors and in-house pyrotechnics. If you’re looking to party with a view, White Dubai at the Meydan Racecourse Grandstand Rooftop is the spot for you. If you’re seeking an alternative night out, make a stop at Cirque Le Soir for an incredible circus show.
Base Dubai, open from Thursday to Saturday (10 p.m. to 4 a.m.), is located in the Dubai Design District. White Dubai is located in Nad Al Sheba. Cirque Le Soir, open from Monday to Tuesday and from Thursday to Friday (11 p.m. to 3 a.m.) is at Fairmont Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road. For more information, visit the websites of Base Dubai, White Dubai, and Cirque Le Soir.
Drink tea the Arabian Way
In the midst of the modernity, you may want to have a traditional taste of Dubai. The perfect place to experience this is the Arabian Tea House, which is regarded as one of the best restaurants in U.A.E. It is, after all, one of the first authentic Emirati restaurants in the region, having been established in 1997. Stepping into this tea house is like being transported into a bygone area. You’ll be greeted with lush gardens, traditional Arab finery, and a sumptuous menu fit for a sheik.
Arabian Tea House has branches along Al Fahidi Street, Corniche Street, Jumeirah Road, and Thawra Street. For more information, visit Arabian Tea House's website.
Visit a waterpark in the middle of the desert
It may seem ironic that one of the best waterparks on this side of the world is tucked away in the middle of a desert, but that’s Dubai for you! Aquaventure Waterpark Dubai has over 17 hectares of slides and man-made rivers. Get ready for a crazy ride down the Aquaconda, the world's largest waterslide. Find it at Atlantis, The Palm, a five-star resort located on a man-made island.
Aquaventure Waterpark Dubai is at Atlantis, Palm Island, Dubai. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to sunset (closing hours subject to change depending on time of year). For more information, visit Aquaventure Waterpark Dubai's website.
Camp out on red sand dunes
You’d be hard pressed to find a more adventurous way to explore Dubai's stark yet beautiful landscape than through a full-on desert experience offered by tour companies such as Desert Safari Dubai. The typical itinerary start with a 4x4 drive across the red sand dunes outside Dubai, a rest stop in a traditional desert camp, then a chance to bask in some local culture through dance performances. It’s a nice respite after spending the day among Dubai’s concrete mega structures.